Do you hold an Israeli pilot certificate? If so, are you looking to add a seaplane rating? Well, I’ve found the guy. Probably, the only guy – in the world – who can help you. How’s that for a niche market?
Rich Hensch, owner of Florida Seaplanes, is that guy. From his time working with United Nations peacekeepers last century, Rich formed the relationships it took to become an approved seaplane instructor for Israeli certificated pilots.
I asked Rich to put that in a real world example. “As far as I know, there aren’t any seaplane instructors in Israel,” started Rich. “So if an Israeli pilot want to earn a seaplane rating, he’ll come over to the U.S. and we’ll train him. Once he passes the checkride, their Israeli-issued pilot certificate will be updated to include seaplane privileges.”
That’s pretty cool. A unique option for a flight operation that earns “a good percentage of their business from overseas.”
What if you only possess a U.S. pilot certificate? Fear not, Florida Seaplanes has you covered there as well, of course. They train single-engine sea (SES), multi-engine sea (MES) for private, commercial and ATP certificates. And for owners, they offer full service maintenance, repairs and float installations, including dolly takeoffs for straight float set-ups.
Hearing about the dolly takeoffs got my attention and spurred my memories. When I was a kid growing up on Shady Acres airpark, I remember watching a neighbor takeoff from a homemade dolly in his Cessna 185 on straight floats. Taking off to the south, 208th Street crosses about 20 feet from the departure end of the runway, so a beat-up old pickup was positioned at the end of the runway for the dolly to slam into. That was fun to watch and everything happened as they’d planned.
I was relieved to learn that David Hensch, Rich’s son and a Florida Seaplanes instructor, is learning the ways of dolly takeoffs from the experiences of those who’ve gone before. Using a borrowed heavy-duty dolly – from Boca Grande Seaplanes – David flew from the dolly in a Maule on straight floats.
“After you start the engine and it starts rolling, things happen fast,” said David. “Before you know it, you are at liftoff speed.”
Land-based straight-float operations. How many seaplane-rated pilots have logged that kind of takeoff?
Seaplane — like backcountry — flying has a romantic appeal for many. Perhaps being a niche of a niche makes it so.
One of these days I’ll make the time to add a seaplane rating to my certificate. Florida Seaplanes might just be good fit.
Want to learn more? Call Rich or David at 386-248-2010 or visit them online at FlyFloatplanes.com.