06 May Showing the versatility of the Husky, Angus Whyte kindly shared this story from one of his floatplane clients.
“During the Summer of 2018 I had the pleasure of flying with Captain Keith Lakin, a retired British Airways Captain.
A big thank you to him for the following:”
A Flight to Remember – and NOT Forget!
This summer I achieved a long-held ambition to fly a seaplane! In fact, it was my daughter who spotted the opportunity for a ‘Splash & Go’ experience arranged via the MerseyFlight flying school based at Liverpool airport.
The aircraft they use is an Aviat Husky A-IC, owned and operated by Angus Whyte, a highly experienced instructor and examiner. Rather like a modern version of a Super Cub, the Husky was designed and built by Christen Industries, who also created the Pitts Special. Based in Afton Wyoming, the company is now owned by Aviat Aircraft Inc.
The Husky is top of its class in performance, having a gross weight when amphibious floats are fitted, of under 1000kg owing to the extensive use of the Dacron polyethylene skin material. A lively 180hp Lycoming engine and a constant speed high spec Hartzell prop, allows the aircraft to take off from water in 278m and deliver a high rate of climb thanks to clever wing design.
After the usual paper work, Angus gave me a thorough briefing and I quickly realised that despite his day job as a Jet2 737-800 Captain his real passion over many years is for seaplanes. In 2014 he finally went to Wyoming to specify the fit and livery he wanted for his own aircraft. Yes, he arranged the cool registration too, G-ODIP! It was then crated and shipped to Swiftair Aircraft maintenance based in Leicester who put it together.
There’s a trick to being shoehorned into the rear seat, but once there it is surprisingly comfortable. There are rear stick, rudder and throttle controls but the instruments are all neatly mounted forward, such that Angus needed to lean sideways for me to see them fully.
The take-off from John Lennon’s runway 27 was astonishingly smooth and short and we were soon at 1500’ enjoying the view of the 1930’s art nouveaux of Speke’s original terminal building – now a stylish Crowne Plaza hotel. It was a perfect day for flying and I was quickly invited to take control. It was a lighter and more responsive than I’d imagined.
‘Head over there’ said Angus pointing to the mouth of the Mersey. No compass heading was necessary! The views of the old docks and estuary were superb, as were the sandbanks off the Wirral coast, one of which was home to dozens of grey seals basking in the sunshine. Turning southwest we headed for north Wales where the land came up to meet us. Taking back control for a while Angus pointed out some lakes and reservoirs. Noting the orientation of some conveniently located wind turbines, he positioned downwind to a lake and set the Husky up for a water landing. A loud automated voice, which must be manually cancelled, forces you to check the wheels are up. If they’re not, there is a risk of ending up in the water nose first!
After a smooth landing on the ‘step’, the Husky settled onto the floats and we taxied back. I was surprised how much even 10kts of wind affected directional control, which is helped by two small rudders fitted to the floats. Natural weather-cocking on water, ensures an into-wind take off and in no time, we were climbing away. We then executed a couple of neat ‘splash & go’ circuits, before heading off along a long reservoir, low level to the delight of the local anglers.
Sadly, we were soon heading back to Liverpool and instructed to join the circuit via the ‘Jaguar – Landrover Factory’ VRP. Slotting in behind an Easyjet aircraft we settled onto the approach, and were again obliged to cancel the voice command to check the gear was indeed extended from the floats. Angus likened the exercise of touching down on four wheels, to landing a supermarket trolley!
It was a terrific experience and one I would recommend to anyone.