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Upintheair

waterlanding/sealanding Helicopters with floats

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Dear Forum,

 

this will be my first post, so I will use it to also introduce myself and say thank you for letting me join the forum!

 

So I have a boat (which is unfortunately not big enough for a helipad).

In summer we are usually anchored at our favorite anchorspot for several weeks and I have to leave several times during that due to work commitments, which is a choppy and long tender commute.

 

However having a Helicopter with floats, like the R44 clipper would help cut the commute short and make our schedule so much more flexible.

 

So my Question would be if it is possible to use a helicopter with floats to anchor next to your yacht or tie it up alongside for a few days apiece.

The conditions would be:

-salty water

-light swell (nothing major)

-water depth between 3-5 meters (anchor could be carried on boat)

 

What helicopter models should I look at? Which issues do you think would arise? What else should I consider?

 

Thank you very much for your help!

Looking forward for your input, it will be very much appreciated!

 

 

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Helicopter floats are usually only used for short duration landings on water. The salt water environment would destroy a Robinson very quickly. Boarding from a boat would be a risky maneuver. Helicopters cannot bang against things like a tender.

 

I also fly seaplanes, I would never leave my seaplane in salt water overnight. My Mermaid amphibian seaplane weighs about 1000 lbs empty, I could put it ont he upper deck of my boat with the tender crane. It would take the entire upper deck and not leave room for a tender.

 

I would recommend using a larger faster tender.

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A bit off topic, but Rick can you get a pvt seaplane rating straight away, or do you have to be rated on land first?

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Thanks for your answers. They are really thought through and I do appreciate them.

Seaplane would have more disadvantages to commute though, because it could not land on our finca at land.

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There are a number of seaplanes with the capability of using land OR water to land on. We call them amphibians naturally enough. Check out the Searay for one. (Cheaper than a helicopter, too!)

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Sorry to be off topic. The seaplane is very fast compared to a boat tender. You can practically operate in about 18 inch chop. There are not many 90 knot boats that can operate in chop.

 

My Mermaid is a light sport amphibious seaplane. A helicopter pilot can, in theory, get a light sport rating in a seaplane in just a few hours. A DPE is not required, just an instructor endorsement and a flight check with a different instructor. Airplane skills and reflexes are very different from Helicopters.

 

An amphibious flying boat is complicated by two different landing combinations. It is very important to land wheels up on water and wheels down on land. You must learn to read the water and choose good landing zones.

 

If I were to operate a helicopter from my yacht anchorage I would get a 40 x 80 ft barge and dock my boat to the barge. The barge would have much less motion than a boat. You could do normal maintenance and washdown. Steel barges are a bit rough and not very expensive. Corrosion would still be bad.

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The barge option sounds interesting, just googled it and barges in the required size are actually quite cheap.

 

Regarding the amphibians, I do know them and have flown as pax inside as well, however our finca does not have a landing strip that is licensed (really difficult to get in Europe). However Helicopters are no problem whatsoever to land here, even though size wise both would theoretically be able to land.

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Does anyone have any experience anchoring a barge in an anchorage at sea and using it as a helipad? As far as I saw barges are mainly used in canals and rivers, so I am not sure regarding their seaworthiness.

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Does anyone have any experience anchoring a barge in an anchorage at sea and using it as a helipad? As far as I saw barges are mainly used in canals and rivers, so I am not sure regarding their seaworthiness.

Well, "barges" come in all sizes. so- yes, I've landed on them at sea. The biggest had two swimming pools for an international crew leisure,when they weren't running the BIG crane pulling up the dead oil platform. The smallest was probably 80-100 feet in length. Smaller is harder, moves more in any sea or swell. I've never landed on a stationary barge the size you're proposing. Making a good landing on open water is challenging. keeping it stationary first and then adequate height estimation are very difficult, a deck is far better for a helicopter.

You will want to choose your deck surface/coating very carefully for non-skid while wet and durability- the skids tend to chew up the deck coating. Have a good tie-down system to secure the bird, and use it.

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I dug through some old photos to see if I could give you a better idea of the size of the barge we used.

 

2gvvqyv.jpg

 

mhfudg.jpg

 

jiknxk.jpg

 

For what it's worth, when I was giving tour rides off this I had approximately 500 hours and landed to this in 3 - 5 foot seas. The deck was pitching and rolling pretty good at that point. As with anything in this business - know the risk and mitigate it to match your degree of acceptance. Wasn't as difficult as it would seem.

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I dug through some old photos to see if I could give you a better idea of the size of the barge we used.

 

2gvvqyv.jpg

 

mhfudg.jpg

 

jiknxk.jpg

 

For what it's worth, when I was giving tour rides off this I had approximately 500 hours and landed to this in 3 - 5 foot seas. The deck was pitching and rolling pretty good at that point. As with anything in this business - know the risk and mitigate it to match your degree of acceptance. Wasn't as difficult as it would seem.

Nice, I was thinking of doing something like this too, what are the regulations? I imagine there are a bunch of government agencies you have to deal with, Coast Guard, Army corps, etc.

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Nice, I was thinking of doing something like this too, what are the regulations? I imagine there are a bunch of government agencies you have to deal with, Coast Guard, Army corps, etc.

 

Good question since we were boarded by the Eglin Air Force Range Police and arrested lol. It got thrown out of court but not before I got in trouble with my Reserve Chain of Command since Eglin's Commander banned me from all Eglin AFB properties making it impossible for me to go to drill on the weekend...

 

For what it's worth the owner of the business had a letter from Florida's Department of Environmental Protection whom held the underwater lease that gave us implicit permission to use the parcel.

 

However, there was another letter of agreement between FDEP and Eglin for Eglin to maintain the 99 year lease properties and therefore had "Power of Attorney" -for lack of better word- to maintain the leases as they saw fit.

 

For whatever reason, trying to make an honest buck we were the front page of the Destin and Fort Walton newspapers and Pensacola TV News for weeks on weeks as people either seemed to love us or totally hate us - mostly due to irrational fears of course.

 

If you were honestly trying to do this I'd say you would need to have everyone on your side - city council, etc, etc, and by the time that happened you would have wasted years and millions...

 

The other operator in Destin who had a helipad right on Hwy 98 who I also did some flying for almost went out of business before they even started with all the ridiculousness of local yokels coming up with all kinds of BS they had to comply with before they could open their doors.

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Good question since we were boarded by the Eglin Air Force Range Police and arrested lol. It got thrown out of court but not before I got in trouble with my Reserve Chain of Command since Eglin's Commander banned me from all Eglin AFB properties making it impossible for me to go to drill on the weekend...

 

For what it's worth the owner of the business had a letter from Florida's Department of Environmental Protection whom held the underwater lease that gave us implicit permission to use the parcel.

 

However, there was another letter of agreement between FDEP and Eglin for Eglin to maintain the 99 year lease properties and therefore had "Power of Attorney" -for lack of better word- to maintain the leases as they saw fit.

 

For whatever reason, trying to make an honest buck we were the front page of the Destin and Fort Walton newspapers and Pensacola TV News for weeks on weeks as people either seemed to love us or totally hate us - mostly due to irrational fears of course.

 

If you were honestly trying to do this I'd say you would need to have everyone on your side - city council, etc, etc, and by the time that happened you would have wasted years and millions...

 

The other operator in Destin who had a helipad right on Hwy 98 who I also did some flying for almost went out of business before they even started with all the ridiculousness of local yokels coming up with all kinds of BS they had to comply with before they could open their doors.

Wow, That's shocking. Whats the difference between this and some billionaire landing his helicopter on a yacht? Reason I ask is becoming I'm thinking of starting a tour business here in SF and since there're no landing spots nearby I could buy a barge and land on it to pick up people, as long as you're not moored I don't see how the city can regulate it, as long as you're in public waters. The FAA doesn't seem to any rules against vessel landings. If the vessel is cruising in public water, and someone wants to land a helicopter on it, I don't see how that could be against any laws, from what I see the issue is if you moor somewhere.

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Not moored?

 

So does that mean you'd constantly be sailing your barge around the bay during business hours?

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Not moored?

 

So does that mean you'd constantly be sailing your barge around the bay during business hours?

it seems necessary to avoid the gov going after you. I remember reading a while back about some company that wants to build a floating city for tech workers in San Francisco and he said if he moored he would have to different rules applying to him then if he was simply floating. besides Diesel is cheap!

The biggest issue is always the government, they're always ruining the party!

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I think that was Apple?

 

So then I guess you'd have a boat to take people from say, Pier 39 out to the barge, then back after their flight was over?

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I think that was Apple?

 

So then I guess you'd have a boat to take people from say, Pier 39 out to the barge, then back after their flight was over?

Sure basically the barge would be floating around and a small ferry boat would shuttle people back and forth, not the actual barge.

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Wow, That's shocking. Whats the difference between this and some billionaire landing his helicopter on a yacht? Reason I ask is becoming I'm thinking of starting a tour business here in SF and since there're no landing spots nearby I could buy a barge and land on it to pick up people, as long as you're not moored I don't see how the city can regulate it, as long as you're in public waters. The FAA doesn't seem to any rules against vessel landings. If the vessel is cruising in public water, and someone wants to land a helicopter on it, I don't see how that could be against any laws, from what I see the issue is if you moor somewhere.

 

FAA was cool with it. We were technically in "public waters".

 

We pulled spuds and drifted it every week and logged it with a GPS. Otherwise we needed a 10 Ton (?) tug to push us around ($$$). If the barge was motorized then you would need to have a six pack license - the Coast Guard guy that came with the Eglin Range police was jumping up and down about us not having the six pack license. Just another local yokel trying to apply rules that didn't apply/exercise his authority.

 

At some point you have to touch land either with the barge, the aircraft or a taxi/shuttle boat so at some point you will have to have some kind of permission/license/something.

 

The only way they couldn't grief us is if someone pulled up in their own boat and came aboard. Since we parked next to what is called "Crab Island" -major party spot on a sandbar with waist deep water- in Destin we had a lot of customers like that.

Edited by Jaybee
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FAA was cool with it. We were technically in "public waters".

 

We pulled spuds and drifted it every week and logged it with a GPS. Otherwise we needed a 10 Ton (?) tug to push us around ($$$). If the barge was motorized then you would need to have a six pack license - the Coast Guard guy that came with the Eglin Range police was jumping up and down about us not having the six pack license. Just another local yokel trying to apply rules that didn't apply/exercise his authority.

 

At some point you have to touch land either with the barge, the aircraft or a taxi/shuttle boat so at some point you will have to have some kind of permission/license/something.

 

The only way they couldn't grief us is if someone pulled up in their own boat and came aboard. Since we parked next to what is called "Crab Island" -major party spot on a sandbar with waist deep water- in Destin we had a lot of customers like that.

So the conclusion is it's doable regulatory wise or not? Because otherwise I need to completely change my business plan. I asked Dan Crowe of Palm beach helicopters for advice he said it was doable. Do you have facebook? I would be really interested in discussing this in more detail.

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barge1_2018_Apr_26_04_49_08_AM_000_Custo

I was thinking of something like this

or this

pad2_2018_Apr_25_02_43_22_AM_000_Customi

 

suspension_system1_2018_Apr_12_06_50_11_

This even has a suspension system to alleviate rocking from the water

The advantage to the pontoon design is it's lightweight and can be towed by a small boat, the barge is super heavy but larger and less susceptible to rocking.

Check this guy out

3690581444001_5681973791001_image_151336

Various floating helipads I've found on the net

Lascar_Helipad_close_to_the_Great_Barrie

 

helicopter_on_reef_platform_cair_29327_1

 

R441.jpg

 

australia_728.jpg

image061.jpg

 

helipad_platform_7.jpg

 

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Something like this would be pretty cool too, you could carry a lot of people on board

Kukai_Boating_nz_984x358.jpg

 

heli_harbor.jpg

 

I suppose this is a bit overkill

rGGoAe5.jpg

 

094651413.jpg

 

closeup_helipad.jpg

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