A float plane is a type of seaplane that can take off and land on the water with one or more floats. Many RC models can be converted temporarily or permanently by swapping the landing gear with a float kit. The floats are attached beneath the fuselage to give the plane buoyancy.
Any body of tranquil water large enough to take off and land makes a great spot for flying a float plane. RC float planes are a tremendous amount of fun and if you have access to a body of water, you might enjoy this sub-niche of the RC hobby very much.
There are many types of RC float planes. Among these are Park Flyers, Trainers, Sport Airplanes, Scale Airplanes, and RC Jets. Some seaplanes have a boat-like hull built into the main fuselage. The Icon A-5 is a great example of a modern light -sport seaplane with a hull.
Park Flyers are small planes powered by electricity. Some park flyers are ready to fly when they arrive, but others need to be assembled. This airplane is not just for amateurs, but it is great for beginners. The benefits are they are less expensive and more durable than airplanes made from balsa wood, and they can be flown almost anywhere. Park Flyers also need much less gear and accessories other kinds of RC float planes.
Trainer Airplanes are configured especially for beginners. Trainers are powered with electricity or a nitrogen-fueled engine. These airplanes are larger than the park flyers and they are built from balsa wood. It is imperative that you have instruction from an experienced pilot before attempting to fly with a Trainer Airplane. Trainer Airplanes are not toys and they can be dangerous in the hands of an inexperienced user.
The Sport Airplanes is the next plane up from a trainer. Sport planes generally use an electric motor and they are flown just for fun, rather than for competition. It requires a little more skill to fly a sport plane than a trainer, but these planes are usually more stable than a trainer.
Scale RC Airplanes
Scale RC Airplanes are replicas of full-scale airplanes. Some people exert a huge amount of time and effort in duplicating every detail of its full-scale counterpart.
Jet RC Airplanes
There are many different types of Jet RC Airplanes. Some are powered by pusher propellers, some are propelled by ducted air fan units, and some are powered by genuine gas turbine engines.
Jet RC Airplanes are very fast and require a lot of skill and experience. If you want to fly jets, the best idea is to begin with an electric powered jet and ascend to the faster, more powerful jets. Jet RC Airplanes are very expensive; the turbine engines alone can cost thousands of dollars, and this not counting the cost of the airplane and electronics. They appear much like full scale jets.
What to Consider Before Buying an RC Float Plane
There are many things to consider, but perhaps the most important are buying a plane that is suitable for your current needs, and the type of float you will purchase.
Trainers are most suited to a novice. Purchase a trainer that is easy to repair with just a few parts that are easily available. You buy a trainer with accessories such as batteries and chargers that are dependable and available.
Another consideration is what floats to use. The two main float configurations are single float design and twin float design.
- Single float design- in which a single large float is mounted directly underneath the fuselage, with smaller stabilizing floats underneath the wings and;
- Twin float design-with one float mounted beneath each wing.
The benefit of the single float design is its capability for landings in rough water. This is a long central float that is directly attached to the fuselage. The smaller floats provide the aircraft with good lateral stability.
The dual float design facilitates mooring and boarding on full scale aircraft. On RC planes twin float kits are manufactured from durable lightweight waterproof foam. They are mounted in place of the landing gear (wheels) with pre-bent wire struts that slide straight into the landing gear slots on the underside of the fuselage.
For beginners, Hobby Zone’s Super Cub can be equipped with a pair of floats and it makes a good RC float plane for a beginner, and it is relatively inexpensive.
A review of the literature suggests that the best RC Float Plane overall is Flyzone’s Tidewater. The Tidewater is fast and easy to assemble. The Tidewater’s tough, factory-built airframe fastens together easily. It is easy to handle, and has reliable flight characteristics. Taking off from water, grass or by hand is easy. At full speed, this float plane is very fast and has a lot of power. When you want to land, just aim the plane towards the wind, decrease speed and maintain wing balance. The plane practically lands by itself.
The dynamic power system gives this float plane a lot of muscle for and exciting aerobatics. It has a magnetic hatch and this permits easy access to the battery for fast changes. The motor and propeller are positioned above the wing, so they do not come in contact with the water. This location also helps protect the pilot when he is hand-launching the plane. The Tidewater will go into almost any vehicle fully assembled, with room to spare. If necessary, the major sections can be quickly disassembled and reassembled at the flying destination.
Fly zone has replicated the look of a full-size seaplane in the Tidewater’s trim design. Its fuselage is designed to eliminate water spray and deliver excellent handling, especially during takeoffs and landings. The twin floats are configured for excellent water handling and they can be quickly installed without tools or screws.
Remember, RC float planes are a lot of fun, and if you have easy access to a good-sized body of water, take advantage of it!
Scratch Build RC Seaplane