-There I was, all experienced, no training and almost wrecked...

First, no...that's not me or my plane in the picture above. I've seen this happen though and it could have been prevented. Here's the story of how you can prevent it too.

17 years ago I had just bought my Searey and I can remember it like it was yesterday. I had known for years this day would come somehow, one way or another. We all have the story of how we go from the original idea of getting one to the day it actually comes true (and for those of you not quite there don't ever give up hope).

Well, it's time to take her for a ride! But wait- I'm getting ahead of myself just a little...

I've known about the Searey planform for quite a while, like 1992 a while. I've also known Kerry and Paige, the Richter family business and the history even before the moment I would actually fly my plane. I had watched from afar the exploits of this bunch of former hang glider/ultralight turned amphibian scene from the pages of magazines and news clips for years. As a hang glider pilot myself I had known about the transformation taking place in the way the flatlander pilots down in Florida were dealing with not having a mountain to jump off of. The Iron Thermal was being attached to all kinds of aluminum and Dacron. Boat hull shapes were being applied to the fuselages and wheels became optional. It was a dream to some of us (me) and reality for others (them).

Jump way ahead to when I moved to Florida and began to revitalize the dream and ponder the problem of no mountain for miles. One consolation was that I got a boat! And one day a Searey flew right over top of us at about 50' with the pilot window slid back and the wave he threw to say hello! My wife looked at me and said, "Uh, oh..."

Well, it turns out I actually bought that very aircraft. MK055 was officially mine and I was going to be a Searey pilot! Now, I had been flying for a while professionally as an Airline pilot and Flight Instructor and personally with gliding and GA and thought it might be wise to get some training. I also knew that for this machine I would need a Seaplane Rating to carry my friends and family. So, having already flown with Kerry a few times for demo rides I felt that I could certainly handle all the aspects of this challenge. It was simply a matter of checking the boxes and learning about a new style of landing. I was truly beyond excited at this point. To me, the lifestyle imagination of having a plane in my backyard to jump into when I felt like it was the pinnacle of being a pilot.

Well, I got my ratings, had fresh ink on the ASES seaplane certificate, took one more ride with Kerry and felt like all the preparation for the moment of truth were well under control. I was a highly experienced Intermediate rated hang glider pilot, professional airline ATP Captain, Instrument Flight Instructor, Sim Instructor, IOE Instructor, newly minted ASES Seaplane Rated certificated accident waiting to happen and wouldn't know it until a few days later.

The weather was perfect. I took about an hour getting everything ready. The preflight was meticulous and I was ready to go. Nervous energy was empowering me and I was at the height of awareness. I got in, started the engine, ran the checklist, taxied out and into the water, brought the gear up (manually, back then...) looked around and thought, "Well, its now or never"

The liftoff was completely uneventful and I was climbing steadily and trying to take it all in - the sound of the engine, the whistle of the wind, the speed, the trim, the stick pressures, the scan of the instruments. It was all brand new even if I had seen this movie a couple of thousand times. So, I did what all good Searey pilots do and leveled off at about 800', took a look around and thought I had gone to heaven! She was flying straight and hunted a bit with the rudder and pitch but it was manageable. I was getting used to the response of the controls for this particular bird. They all have their own manners and this one seemed to be introducing them gradually, one by one. I started a turn back towards the takeoff area and flew over everyone, slid the window back just a little (darn that sure is windy) and managed a wave.

I took a few laps and tried to work out the feel of this and that because it wasn't quite like all the others. There were some really new nuances that made it feel 'loose' compared to the other trains that track perfectly. This one liked to skid and yaw, pitch and porpoise in very subtle and yet unfamiliar ways. But it was all manageable and I felt I would eventually get used to it. I was thrilled and wanted to get down and call the first flight complete! So, I set up for my landing...

Well, when the water droplets finally settled I looked around to see if anyone (everyone?!) had just seen that. I was down and safe but it was absolutely the opposite of what I imagined. I had bounced and splashed in grand fashion not once but 4 or 5 times before coming to rest at a reasonable attitude and minimal speed to taxi back to shore.

Confusion and Doubt arrived immediately and brought plenty of luggage that meant they were going to stay for a while. They are not my friends but they are my family and sometimes you can't choose your family because they just show up whenever they feel like it. But I was determined to find out the cause of what happened. I was initially trying just to find out what exactly did happen and set myself to it's discovery. And I did...

Well, that's the story of how SeareyTraining.com came to be in it's earliest form as CaptainSpeak, LLC and my one-on-one training of hundreds of Searey pilots. It was the result of my quest to understand the very core of what this aircraft would do in all regimes of flight and float. It took me months of study and years of practice until I started to deliver the content that you will find in these courses.

What's the lesson here? Well, it's about getting training by a real flight instructor that has the experience of owning, operating, teaching and learning in the actual aircraft for hundreds of hours. Do not make the mistake that so many others - me included - have made. Some of them are no longer with us...

Take the time to get this right and you will live the life of your dreams as a well trained and understood pilot. Get it wrong and you'll see water droplets come from places you didn't know it could rain.


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