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What is an Amphibious Plane?
Amphibious planes are commonly called seaplanes which could either land or take-off from both sea or lake and land. They are typically used for rescue missions, utility or reconnaissance during war times and now are being used by sportsmen, explorers, commercial and private companies or individuals.
Small amphibious planes are typically about one to three-seater planes with a single engine and fly for a short period of time as compared with bigger airplanes. They have fixed wings, with floats and have less capacity to carry passengers.
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Examples of Small Amphibious Planes
Common small amphibious plane manufacturers and models are Colonial Aircraft Corporation (Thurston Teal/C-1/2 Skimmer), Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation (J2F Duck), Waterbirds (Freedom S100 Amphibian), Canadian Vickers (Vedette), Progressive Aerodyne (Searey) and Zenith Aircraft Company (Zenith STOL CH 701). The Thurston Teal (C-1 Skimmer) is a two to three(optional)-seat amphibious plane manufactured by the Colonial Aircraft Corporation. The plane was designed by David B. Thurston. The Thurston Teal is a monoplane with high wing, tip floats and T-tailed. There are about 23 C-1 Skimmers were built. The improved model of C-1 Skimmer is C-2 Skimmer IV.
The Grumman J2F Duck is a two-seater utility amphibious plane which was first introduced in 1936 and was used primarily by the United States Military for its utility transport, patrolling, reconnaissance, rescue and other special missions both before and during World War II. The plane has a single engine. It has a large central float and retractable landing gear. The seating arrangement is forward and rear for the pilot and passenger, respectively. There are several variants of J2F Duck and have been operated or used by other foreign countries not only by the United States like Argentina, Columbia and Mexico.
The Freedom S100 Amphibian is a two-seater (side by side) amphibious plane manufactured by Waterbirds, LC in North Little Rock, AR 72118 USA. It is described by the company as a special light sport aircraft (SLSA). The company website provides the detailed features of this aircraft like cantilevered strutless wing, t-shape tail and high wing, spacious cabin, programmable flap control, high glide rate of 20:1 and low stall speed of 70Km/h. In terms of convenience, the company takes pride in the fact that the aircraft could be assembled and disassembled in 45 minutes by two people and could be transported on a trailer. To see a sample image of this aircraft, you can click on the link in the References section.
The Canadian Vickers Vedette is a three-seat amphibious plane designed and built to meet the conditions in Canada. It was powered by a single engine, has a maximum speed of 95 mph and weighed (gross) of about 3, 155 lb. It served the Royal Canadian Air Force as a utility aircraft in survey, reconnaissance and patrolling missions. There are variants of this aircraft with designs that are externally visible. About a total of 60 planes were built. The first aircraft flew on November 4, 1924.
The Progressive Aerodyne SeaRey is a two-seat amphibious plane. It is a monoplane aircraft with a high wing and retractable landing gear. In the cabin, the seating arrangement is side-by-side for the passenger and pilot. The top speed of the aircraft is 113 mph.
The Zenith STOL CH 701 is a two-seat amphibious plane which was first introduced in 1986. It is a kit aircraft designed for sports pilot and aircraft builders. It was designed by Chris Heintz. The aircraft is ultralight and meets the category of a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).
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One good source of information about of these amphibious planes is UsedAirplanes.com, an aviation marketplace, where you can view different seaplanes for sale sorted based on MFG, Model, Year, Airframe Hours, Price, Serial # and State available. This website provides a unique venue to either buy or sell used airplanes. It features used airplanes across different models, manufacturers and location where they are available. The website also provides links to other aviation marketplace websites like UsedAircraft.com, Aircraft for Sale.com, flying/flight schools like Flying.com and Aircraft/Pilot Clubs.
Another good website is Trade-a-Plane which provide amphibious planes for sale. It has also links that provide details on aircraft engines, parts/products, aviation services and other features. In its aircraft advanced search feature, you can search based on category, make, model, special use, last updated, keyword, sorting, model year, interior year, year painted, price, serial number, registration number, city, state and country.
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Future of Amphibious Planes
Given that there are online venues of aviation enthusiasts, aviation or flying clubs, aviation marketplace and if you couple it with the rapid advancement in technology, the use of amphibious planes will be an exciting area for private individuals who would like to avail and enjoy the luxury of flying or owning an affordable seaplane.
Image: Thurston_TSC-1_Teal_N897TB_Lakeland_FL_22.04.09R by RuthAS under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
THE THURSTON TEAL AMPHIBIAN, http://www.seabee.info/teal/teal_history.htm
Zenith Aircraft Company, http://www.zenithair.com/stolch701/index1.html
Progressive Aerodyne, http://www.searey.com/the_searey/index.html
Canadian Historical Aircraft Association, http://essexbest.com/history_of_flight.php