Yes, that’s right, there are Amphib LS aircraft docking on water. What comes to mind are words like dock, wharf, pier or quay. Actually, these words describe four different structures or areas that all serve a similar purpose. Meaning, the loading and unloading of a water-born vessel.
So, you can dock your hard drive to your computer or even dock a spaceship to the International Space Station. But for those of us here on earth who fly planes that float, they all mean a place to secure our craft without getting our feet wet. For ease of discussion, we will consider the above all a “dock”.
High-wing float-equipped aircraft have the ability (or advantage) to pull up alongside a dock. Physical docks have things like pilings and other vertical obstacles to look out for. In the typical hull-configured amphibious light sport aircraft, docking can become a bit more of a challenge.
But you know, in the aviation community, if there’s a challenge, there is most certainly going to be a readily available solution. Enter the affordable, soft-sided, infinitely-configurable composite floating dock.
There are several manufacturers to choose from, so do your homework. We’ve listed a few below. Some are plastic, some are inflatable and some are rigged with lifts. These are all designed for the marine industry, not aviation, but they’re all adaptable. For the amphib light sport, you want a configuration that allows you to pull straight into an area. The area needs to be short enough to not touch the wings, tip floats or the tail feathers. Additionally, it must be long enough to both secure the aircraft and to allow a stable platform for the pilot and passenger to load and unload. The “floating” aspect takes the worry out of changing tides or lake levels.
And there’s another cool feature that you may want to consider. Ever noticed the “slide up” floating docks that are used extensively for Personal Watercraft and small boats?
Now I’m not sure that driving the plane (wheels retracted) up the incline is the smartest and safest technique, but certainly winching the craft up and forward is a good solution.
The surfaces are smooth, non-abrasive plastic. Some feature plastic wheels to keep from scuffing the keel and the hull. Time to launch? Just a gentle shove and down she slides (don’t forget the “painter”; that’s nautical-speak for a bow line).
At a recent boat show I saw a demo of a system that uses a net under the hull. It uses air or hydraulics to lift the boat/plane out of the water, snuggly sitting on a hammock. If Jimmy Buffett had a light sport amphib instead of a Caravan on amphibian floats, I’m pretty sure his plane would spend a lot of time in the hammock!
When to comes to Amphib LS aircraft docking on water, there are several ways readily available.
Super Cub Owner, Super Petrel Aficionado