This is an excerpt from a report made to the Aviation Safety Reporting System. The narrative is written by the pilot, rather than FAA or NTSB officials. To maintain anonymity, many details, such as aircraft model or airport, are often scrubbed from the reports.
I filed a VFR flight plan as a private Part 91 pilot in my Lake Amphibian aircraft. I was given a cross border squawk code and was using it flying north towards my destination. My aircraft has a current IFR pitot static system certification and my instrument ticket is current.
On a VFR flight in suddenly deteriorating ceiling and visibility, I was flying low over the water en route to ZZZ1 in what is clearly Class G airspace. I was under some pressure to arrive at a certain time due to Customs wanting a landing within 15 minutes before or after the filed time of arrival. I have quite a bit of experience flying low over the water in Class G airspace, able to land in low visibility ceiling conditions.
While flying low over the water I suddenly and completely unexpectedly hit the water. I had already configurated the plane to a flaps down, mixture full rich, prop pitch flat attitude, for a water landing were it necessary to do so. But I did not anticipate the plane hitting the water and when it did so the let down on the water was extremely violent. The plane pitched up in the air and back down slamming onto the water extremely hard. The plane came to a stop and myself and my single passenger were in dense fog.
I climbed out of the cockpit with the plane on the water and stood on top of the cabin and looked at as much of the airframe as I could see to ascertain if there was any damage in the place as detectable in that portion of it visible floating above the surface of the water and saw none.
There being no visibility and ceiling sufficient to fly in we displacement taxied for some 20 minutes. Being on the surface of the water and too low to contact anyone by radio my passenger called [number] and informed them that we would report back airborne if we were able to find a ceiling and visibility adequate to fly in.
After 20 minutes of displacement taxiing on the water we got airborne and arrived a short time later in ZZZ1. I received priority going into the pattern because we did not get an up and locked light on the gear and wondered if we would get a down and locked light before landing the plane on the runway back to ZZZ and do a grass landing adjacent to the runway gear up rather than do that on the water or suffer a gear collapse landing on the runway.
When I cycled the gear down I got a down and locked signal on the panel and proceeded to land the plane on the runway without incident.
I flew home later that day and have not been able at this point to find damage to the airframe. It may be the case at the time of annual when I pull up the floorboards I will discover some bent frames, but that is to be determined when I perform the inspection.
The takeaway lesson in all of this is that despite not liking to set the plane down in saltwater because of a several hour clean up to prevent corrosion, it is obvious to me that I need to be willing to do so if encountering lowering ceilings and visibility as I did when the event occurred.
Primary Problem: Weather