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Thread: Amphibious Floats - gear up/gear down vs water/land

  1. #1
    OVEREASYGUY's Avatar
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    Amphibious Floats - gear up/gear down vs water/land

    My friend has a new set of amphibious floats and on the top of the floats it has a ball which goes back and forth between Gear UP and Gear Down.

    I can't believe they would label them this way instead of Water/Land -- as I have seen on other floats.

    I looked at a wind sock once and proceeded to land down wind. At my local airport instead of a windsock they have an airplane - it's always pointing into the wind - so you just pick the runway which makes most sense so you are landing in the same direction as that airplane is pointing - it makes it impossible to screw it up.

    The consequences of screwing up landing with gear down with amphibious floats are horrible! You end up upside down.

    I know the way my brain works it sure wouldn't be long before I ended up upside down with floats labeled gear up/gear down!

    You are landing on a lake - you look down and the ball is on LAND - how can you not realize you need to move the lever and pull the wheels up and make the ball move to the WATER setting? You only need to use about two brain cells!

    Gear up/gear down seems simple when you don't have anything else to think about but when all this other stuff is going on - the brain can short circuit and you do the wrong thing. I am certain it takes twice as many brain cells to get this right! I always try to keep as many brain cells available as possible for other more important things!

    If I had a set of floats labeled Grear UP/Gear DOWN i'd sure change it - fast - i wonder how hard that is - if it comes from the manufacturer labeled that way -you probably can't just change it?

    My friend I hope you don't screw up and land in a lake with gear down - but if you do i'm sure going to blame that labeling!

    Cliff In Maine

  2. #2
    WileyHunter's Avatar
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    Can't your friend just add his own labeling? Replacing the factory labeling 'could' cause problems somewhere in this litigious world we live in, but I can't imagine that additional labeling would hurt.

    IMHO, use what makes sense to you.

  3. #3

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    Would a checklist help? The best thing, in my opinion, is a very short checklist done on downwind with some thought given to each item, then a gear check on final, also with some thought given to what is going on.

    Speaking of checklists, one of my students has a 20-item engine start checklist for a Cub-like taildragger. First item is "stick back" - such difficult-to-remember items like "starter engage" are also on this checklist. Now this is just an opinion, but I think a checklist should be as short as possible, and used religiously. I use Cigar Tips and Gumps.

  4. #4
    OVEREASYGUY's Avatar
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    RE: check list idea:

    I'd have to have a check list which said:

    Gear UP = WATER
    Gear DOWN = LAND

    I have no problem with the check list - but having such listed on a check list just adds to the complications.

    so sure use a check list but I still think it's completely idiotic to have the ball on the floats labeled with Gear UP/Gear DOWN - instead of WATER/LAND

    That's my view anyway.

    Cliff in Maine

  5. #5

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    Lets look at this objectively.

    If you land with the gear up on land there generally will be two things to worry about.

    (1) The cost of any repairs.

    (2) The embarrassment of having been so stupid.

    If you land on water with the gear down you and or your passengers may die.

    Landing an amphibian is not a task that is difficult nor does it need to be done without " Thinking "

    I teach when turning final in an amphibian """" ALWAYS """" ask this question.

    " Where am I landing and where is my gear? "


    Then check that the gear position is correct for the surface you are about to land on.

    That works every time and you will never die through not thinking.

  6. #6
    aktango58's Avatar
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    When getting set for landing in ANY airplane, there are not any items more important to be concerned about than a pre-landing checklist, including gear situation....

    If you think that the chicky-poo behind you chatting is more important, please go to sailboats...

    If you only have four brain cells to engage, or willing to only engage four... please go to crew racing...

    Flying, and float flying, is not a mundane activity. It is NEVER the same, even if it looks like it is.

    Put a set of castors on the bows, and training tires in the step, and you have just made the most COMPLEX aircraft known to man, with the added bonus of 'I will kill you for forgetting' on the side.

    In training, we were taught to say: I am landing on land, my wheels are down... check the switch-lights and mirrors to confirm; or I am landing on water, my wheels are up- check switch-lights and mirrors to confirm.

    One note: this is where the STANDARD approach, using PROCEDURES that are hammered into you, ALWAYS following the same PROCEDURE will keep you alive.

    Prelanding checklist on downwind, centerline check at 100'.

    Chuck, I like your simple question, same idea as the 'landing on water', just different way to get there-

    Cliff, One should have a basic understanding of their equipment, and have their head in the cockpit for flights, especially in an amphib.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  7. #7
    Gary Reeves's Avatar
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    I have got to go with the flow here. I also fly an amphib cub half the year. The indicators are up and down. I know what they mean.

    The float wires go to up or down, the announcement goes to up or down for water or land and I check the gear visually.

    My hand rule is to always land with at least one notch of flaps and never ever touch the flaps until I have set the gear first.

    If your "friend" screws up because he cant understand the labels he should not be in a airplane- let alone a float plane - let alone an amphib.

    GR

  8. #8
    n40ff's Avatar
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    If your "friend" screws up because he cant understand the labels he should not be in a airplane- let alone a float plane - let alone an amphib.

    Ditto

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    Cliff was woried about my markings, The floats are the baumann 1500 amphibs they are mechanically operated with a flap type handle. Handle up gear up Handle down gear down, I have no electrical in my pa-11 so you have to do a visual at all four gear indicating points. with the gear up you can see the nose wheels. I don't have mirrors yet, I have no flaps to worry about and I check and recheck when on final! In the past I took off on my strip on my dolly and when it was time to remove the floats landed on the grass. (no big deal but the wife didn't like it) I only have about 100 hours float time but am very confident in my and the airplanes abilities as I wear my cub so I know what it will do and what I'm capable of. Cliff it's like do you have to be told that you are going to use flaps for landing? I know of some one who landed gear up and they have the announcer for the type of landing they are doing. So it's a matter of paying attention to what is going on at that time. And no the 90 hp with amphibs won't get out of your strip but I can get in with no problem.

  10. #10
    aktango58's Avatar
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    No amount of gadgets/indicators and warnings will replace brains in the cocpit... Told to me by a corporate pilot; I believe that.

    That being said, a really simple, yet great way for a reminder I saw used was a little sign on the dash...

    Green square that said LAND-GEAR DOWN

    With a cloth hinge and a velcro tab you had a red square to cover the green one that said WATER-GEAR UP

    In the prelanding checklist the pilot would determine which surface, have the appropriate square showing, then adjust the gear.

    Make it part of the checklist, and NEVER allow yourself to not follow the checklist... even if you do a balked approach.

    On this, if you DO a balked approach, don't change your mind and land, go around, do a downwind and checklist, then land.

    Have fun with the bird.
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  11. #11

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    I struggled with the wording of the placard after installing electric retractable wheel skis last winter, and finally came up with SKIS and WHEELS, so far so good.

    It would seem WATER and LAND would be about as simple and foolproof as you could get.

  12. #12

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    It really doesn't make any difference how you label them - you still have to give it some conscious consideration. A lot of aviation is motor skills, but cognitive skills come in to play when you are configuring and deciding on a course of action. A checklist backs you up, and should make you think.

    Opinion.

  13. #13
    n40ff's Avatar
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    I use to fly a Seabee with the owner/friend. He said that ever since he started flying an ampfib., his routine from then on for ANY aircraft/EVERY landing was the same....,

    Landing on WATER, Gear UP!

    Landing on LAND, Gear Down!

    He insisted that I do the same.

    All the time I flew with him, that was his routine even when landing a fixed gear on land. He was a CFI and although he didn't teach this to non amphib. students, I would observe him saying, "Landing on land? Gear Down" under his breath even when I was landing his Colt during my BFR.

    Not a bad idea to always be absolutely aware of where you are and what you are doing. Gizmos and placards don't do it, you got to have your brain turned on...

    FWIW

    Jack

    PS. BTW, my instructor in the club where I flew a Beech C35 observed that it wasn't a bad idea when he heard me say aloud, "Landing on LAND, Gear Down"

    My current instructor gave me an odd look when I did it in his C150 on my last BFR.........

  14. #14
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Don't let Cliff fly it.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers

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    As you go through the checklist for landing.....Point at the operation like airline pilots do. They POINT at the gear handle when going through the checklist. "I'm landing at an airport" Point and say "Gear down." I"m landing on that lake." Point and say "Gear up!" Helps to clarify.

  16. #16
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scruffdog
    As you go through the checklist for landing.....Point at the operation like airline pilots do. They POINT at the gear handle when going through the checklist. "I'm landing at an airport" Point and say "Gear down." I"m landing on that lake." Point and say "Gear up!" Helps to clarify.
    And, say it out loud. Don't just think it to yourself. Actually hearing the words helps to emphasize the point.
    N1PA

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    I have been thinking and going over this in my head and the thing I keep coming back to is that you really have to verify what is going on and that your gear is in the proper position, when you say the position also it's easy to be saying one thing and actually seeing something else and it not registering. I have so much of my life invested in this plane and floats that I really can't afford to screw it up. Life and Money, I don't have any extra to spare.

  18. #18

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    I do the point and talk stuff, but then I talk to myself a lot anyway.

    Yeah - finally you see what we are saying. Think about what you are doing.

  19. #19
    Grant's Avatar
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    Point & Talk.....Me too.

  20. #20
    aktango58's Avatar
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    Good QUALIFIED instructor

    Good Checklist habit

    Head in the game at ALL times

    Verbal checklist for every landing

    Fishing pole to continue fun once safe on water
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  21. #21
    OVEREASYGUY's Avatar
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    Ok I think everyone missed my point - no kidding if you get good instruction you can do it just right! However SOME good pilots do screw up now and then. So if simple labeling can reduce the screw ups - why would anyone deliberatly put something more complex?

    labeling things WATER/LAND is WAY simplier then GEAR UP/GEAR DOWN

    heck it even has fewer characters so the label can be shorter!

    if you don't agree you are just plan wrong!

    Ask some non aviation people what they think it means when your floats ball setting says Water vs Land - i bet they get it all right.
    Ask them what it means when it says gear up and gear down - i bet a few get it wrong?

    Well that's my STRONG opinion for now!

    cliff in Maine

  22. #22

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    Cliff, we understand what you are saying and your idea is not wrong, however it adds another layer of words to describe something simple.

    The gear is either up or down, these descriptions have been used in aviation forever.

    The secret to not landing with the gear selected in the wrong position is using a thought process that clearly identifies that the gear is is the position for the surface you are about to land on.

    Keeping it simple and workable is the secret, not adding another set of words.

    Remember that the above is only my opinion.

  23. #23
    n40ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OVEREASYGUY
    Ok I think everyone missed my point - no kidding if you get good instruction you can do it just right! However SOME good pilots do screw up now and then. So if simple labeling can reduce the screw ups - why would anyone deliberatly put something more complex?

    labeling things WATER/LAND is WAY simplier then GEAR UP/GEAR DOWN

    heck it even has fewer characters so the label can be shorter!

    if you don't agree you are just plan wrong!

    Ask some non aviation people what they think it means when your floats ball setting says Water vs Land - i bet they get it all right.
    Ask them what it means when it says gear up and gear down - i bet a few get it wrong?

    Well that's my STRONG opinion for now!

    cliff in Maine
    Sorry but you are WRONG.

    Special label works for ONE airplane, Gear up or down works for EVERY amphib.

    Best to learn simple routine, either:

    Land on land, Gear Down. or

    Land on Water, Gear Up.

    Or as someone else said, Where am I landing and where is my gear.....

    Works every time, every airplane.

    Of coarse if one's head is up one's butt, no label is going to help...just collect the waterlogged pieces, put them in the box, into the hole, and throw the dirt on top....

    Jack

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    Or as someone else said, Where am I landing and where is my gear.....
    That was me ....

    Been using that check turning final when flying an amphib. since 1954.......never landed with the wrong gear position for the landing surface yet.

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    While I agree with you and disagree with overeasyguy, he is not wrong. He said it was an opinion, and opinions cannot be incorrect.

    Where folks get in trouble is when they get distracted - say, by an engine failure or something. That is when you need to think for a minute while setting up for a landing. No checklist or legend on the float will substitute for a little thought about what is next.

    That's my opinion.

  26. #26
    n40ff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob turner
    While I agree with you and disagree with overeasyguy, he is not wrong. He said it was an opinion, and opinions cannot be incorrect.

    Where folks get in trouble is when they get distracted - say, by an engine failure or something. That is when you need to think for a minute while setting up for a landing. No checklist or legend on the float will substitute for a little thought about what is next.

    That's my opinion.

    Yes, you always say, "opinion", whatever....

    He is the guy who first said we were "wrong", so I followed his lead.

    In my honest OPINION, he is WRONG!

    Jack

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    Cliff, I was just thinking about diffrent configurations of airplanes, when you put skis on the next time will you put a plackard that say's something like, don't use full power near snow banks unless you have a grader near by? You said you purchased a set of straight floats also and they are great fun but you will need to think about what you are doing with them also (such as is the water deep enough? is that a rock I thought I saw in the LZ? ect.) I won't say anything if you screw up PROMISE. The rebuild looks great so you need to keep it that way.

  28. #28
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Douten, maybe you need those universal language symbols that they use nowadays, like the turtle and the rabbit throttle positions, you could have a slow flying Blue Heron symbol just like the real ones that seem to appear from nowhere just as you are about to touch the water for the water landing position,and the back end of a deer running away from you with it's white tail flopping up and down that appear from nowhere just as you are about to touch the grass, and stay right in front of you all the way down the runway, for the runway landing position,

    Glenn

  29. #29
    aktango58's Avatar
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    [quote="Douten"]Cliff, I was just thinking about diffrent configurations of airplanes, when you put skis on the next time will you put a plackard that say's something like, don't use full power near snow banks unless you have a grader near by? quote]


    A pickup works for a cub also...

    don't ask how I know
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

  30. #30
    AK49's Avatar
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    I have been flying an amphib 206 for a while; most often from one surface to another in AK (requires THINKING about next surface).

    There are solid points to take away from here - and those that work. As an old-timer taught me in the beginning:

    1) ALWAYS on short final - Where is my Gear? Saying it out loud DOES help. Make it a habit and you'll be surprised when the short-final sight picture fills the windscreen, you'll find yourself saying it automatically. This serves as a last double-check to make sure your brain is working with enough time to pour the coals to it and try again. (I sometimes get whimsical looks from passengers when saying "Short Final, Gear Down" out loud in the PA-12 on Bushwheels, but no harm done)

    2) Don't hesitate to put the gear DOWN EARLY. Sometimes I'll think.. geez, this is a little far out, but it really doesn't hurt anything (Gear extension speed is same as Vne on Wip 3730s) & Really due to the fact that most accounts of people who have landed gear-up mention that they HAD THOUGHT ABOUT IT but were DISTRACTED by a radio call, passenger etc. -- the gear-before-flap habit as mentioned earlier is a good one as well.

    3) If executing a go-around, DON"T PICK THE GEAR UP !! Unless of course you are in a twin that necessitates it for performance. But most float planes will climb & perform just fine with gear extended. This is the second most attributable cause - when the pilot DID EXTEND the gear the first time, but an anomaly happened, or something was different about the approach and he got out of the normal habits of checklists, etc. and w/o running through a checklist again, forgets to drop the gear the second time. (this is also where the 'last-thing-you-do' or 'short-final' double check helps).

    4) Saying out loud and TOUCHING THE GEAR HANDLE helps. If landing on water, it simply acts as a double check with no action required. I have been guilty of running through GUMPS, etc. in my head while being completely pre-occupied looking out the window for current winds, traffic, etc. Something in the way our brains are wired, if I actually say it and reach out my arm to touch the gear handle, it registers as the synapses fire and commands REAL attention for me to THINK about landing surface and gear position.

    For what it's worth, I have both colored Green=Land and Blue=Water placards as well as the audio advisory system (w/ flashing lights) .... I find over time, like everything else on your panel, a person gets used to it and it loses efficacy and you just don't look at the placard every time. Often my eyes spend very little time inside the cockpit in busy airspace while doing gear, flaps, etc. by feel.

    Additionally, MIRRORS ARE INDISPENSIBLE as lights are not dependable as floats & sensors take a pounding in waves etc. for confirming gear position and locked.

    The best bet, especially for Amphib Floats where the needs change based upon landing surface and the penalty for putting the gear down on water is far worse than forgetting to do the same on land - is finding a way that works for you to actually THINK about gear position and landing surface EVERY time. Afterall, it only takes once...

    Kevin

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