4/15: "Take the day off..."

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

And on the Sabbath, the Lord saith "take the day off..."

Lakeathon 2007
Table of Contents

4/10: Welcome to Lakeathon 07
4/11: About your correspondent
4/11: Trip from Chicago
4/12: Getting water wings
4/12: Early arrivals
4/13: Lakeathon Day 1
4/13-14: Aerial blogging
4/14: A busy day
4/15: Whoosh...
4/15: "Take the day off..."
4/16: Last day of Lakeathon
4/16: Lakeathon wrap-up
P.S. #1: Sun 'n Fun
P.S. #2: SnF Splash-in
P.S. #3: My sweetie...
P.S. #4: The trip home

Well, for the first day in a week, my feet didn't leave the ground.

Seems like the heavens decided that today wasn't the day for flying. In the morning some pretty exciting thunderstorms rolled through. Throughout the day, the skies cleared, but the winds remained as high as 20 kts with gusts up to 30 kts. Flyable for some, maybe, but I'd rather work up to the big leagues gradually.

So instead, I enjoyed the morning seminars, lunch with a big group at the Harbor Side (via car this time), and a relaxed time at the airport puttering around the plane in the late afternoon.

The morning seminars were once again extremely informative.

Leading off was John Staber (punctuated occasionally by his wife, Judy), speaking about the history of Lake Amphibians, his project to restore "Skimmer One", the original XC-1 prototype Colonial Skimmer.

As many know, the Skimmer was the direct progenitor of the Lake Amphibian. Designed by David Thurston, it looked very similar to today's Lakes. In fact, as John pointed out in his talk, they share the same FAA Type Certificate, and many of the parts in his restoration are ones from more recent models that fit perfectly.

John is doing the project as a not-for-profit organization, and has received many donations of cash, parts, and help. One way that he and Judy are raising money for the project is by offering their new CD: "A History of the Lake Amphibian, 1946-2006" It includes over 1600 pages of scans of amazing material. Photos, original design sketches, brochures, articles, biographies, this compilation has it all.

They are offering the CD for free, but asking a suggested donation to the project of at least $60. If you're here at Lakeathon, I highly recommend it. You'll learn tons of stuff about your airplane and its development. If you're not here, contact John at to order your copy.

Click here to hear John's presentation.

After John's talk, we were treated to one of the most informative sessions of the convention: the Lake Instructors Forum. Five highly experienced Lake instructors spent over an hour taking questions from the audience. Some of the tidbits I picked up:

  1. Watching birds fly can provide clues to wind direction and speed. Birds will always take off into a significant wind.
  2. Full-stall landings are to be used as a recovery technique, but only when the aircraft is too slow to fly, and only in LA-4's, not Renegades.
  3. In preparation for a "dunking," you should have a plan: Keep things stowed and tied down in the cabin; have your life jacket on anytime you're operating on water; unlatch the door prior to impact if you know ahead that you are making an emergency landing; when underwater, find and hold on to a reference point like the throttle BEFORE releasing the seat belt; have practice at finding, unlatching and releasing the seat belt; do NOT inflate flotation devices prior to leaving the cockpit; do NOT use auto-inflating vests.
  4. Towing by FBO's: Better not to...
  5. Most common mistakes seen in recurrent training: not looking out the window to verify the gear position; holding the incorrect pitch attitude when landing on the water; not keeping the nose high; not allowing enough time to slow to descent speed prior to a glassy water landing; poor coordination during turns; not checking that the wheels are in the correct position, especially for water landings.

John Staber emphasized: "Amphibian pilots should be extremely uncomfortable whenever the gear is down." The all-star panel included: John Staber, Tim Kramer, Ken Lindsay, Art Stifel, and Paul Furnée.

Click here to listen to the panel discussion.

During the announcement of door prizes, Marc Rodstein mentioned that if you're looking for custom embroidered Lake Amphib stuff, you can visit: 

Next up was Jim McManus, the new president of the Seaplane Pilots Association. Jim spoke about SPA's efforts on advocacy across the U.S. on behalf of seaplane pilots and our access to the nation's waterways. Jim is a hull kind of guy, flying what he calls a "baby Lake" (Searey). He was quite moved by the camaraderie and community of Lake owners and operators represented by the LAFC.

Jim encouraged all seaplane pilots to join SPA. He also provided 3 free one-year memberships, and copies of SPA's excellent Water Flying Directory as door prizes for the drawing. In addition, he presented a free 1-year membership to Jill Gardy of Walled Lake, MI, who just earned her pilot's license and is working on her seaplane rating. (Jill is shown here on the right, with new seaplane pilot Jamie Schoepflin, l.)

On a personal note, I strongly recommend joining SPA. They are working hard on our behalf to keep waterways open to seaplanes, and provide great support if you find yourself in a local battle over access. I speak from experience, having gotten involved when the City of Chicago recently proposed to ban seaplanes from within 3 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline. With SPA's help we were able to put the brakes on this ill-advised proposal. If you need a more selfish reason to join SPA, be aware that Steve Reep's excellent book on Lake flying technique, "Go To Hull", is out of print, but SPA members can download it for free from the members-only section of the SPA website:  You can join online at that site.

Click here to hear Jim's presentation.

After Jim, Paul Furnée spoke for over an hour, answering audience questions on a wide variety of topics, and urged everyone to contact their elected representatives to oppose the user fee proposals currently before Congress. He related personal stories of absolutely crazy and unsafe situations that occur regularly under Europe's onerous user-fee system; things like people landing in IFR conditions after the tower closes to avoid fees; being charged $600 for an in-the-air instrument clearance to a major German airport, etc.

Some of the other topics Paul touched on:

  • The declining service provided by the FAA to GA, including the difficulty in getting field approvals on repairs
  • Wheel bearing life
  • Maintenance of hydraulic systems
  • Landing on the hull in snow
  • Landing on unprepared surfaces (e.g. emergency landings; do them wheels-up on most anything other than pavement)
  • Aux. fuel pump usage
  • Using GPS speed measurements for water operations (keep step taxiing at or below 30 kts)
  • Fuel bladders and filters

You can hear Paul's whole presentation by clicking here.

After the seminars, the wind was too high for practice work for me, so a group retreated to the Harbor Side for lunch (this time via car, see earlier posts.)

Late in the afternoon, I drove to the airport to putter around in N8012D, cleaning and organizing things. As the sun got low, there were some beautiful scenes on the ramp. A few shots appear below.

Tomorrow: Morning flying--hopefully the wind will still be strong, just a little less than today.


Ramp Panorama

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