Lake Amphibian operation, Part 1
This is part one of a series of ten articles made available by John Staber, Owner of Skimmer One.
It is not the intention of these pages to teach one how to fly the Lake Amphibian, but to give an overall view of the operation of Lakes. It is written by a person who has owned 16 Lakes and Skimmers since 1964, and instructed in them since 1967 and accumulated over 5000 hours in all makes and models. It is highly recommended by Lake instructors and Lake pilots alike, that one get training from a Lake qualified instructor for both land and water operations. The Lake is not a difficult aircraft to fly (in fact, flown properly, it is quite forgiving), but is different enough so that both the high time and low time novice in the Lake can make unfortunate mistakes.
Preflights: yes, two of them. One for the aircraft and one for the boat. The aircraft preflight is similar to any other except one must climb up on the cabin roof to examine the engine and its related items. Always step on the rivet lines where it is stronger, even though the first leading edge skin on the wings is of heavier aluminum just for this purpose (also diving from). One should never install wing-walk material on Lake wings. Take extra care to ensure that all screws and bolts are tight, since if they decide to leave the plane, they are going to get help from the pusher propellor. Should there be any oil leaks, it becomes quite obvious as compared to the standard “tractor” engine where the oil is on the belly of the plane. The Lycoming 0-360 and I0-360 have an 8 quart oil capacity. It is recommended that they be filled to 7 and kept up to 6 quarts because of the slight downward angle of mounting. The control surfaces are all operated by push-rod tubes except from the wing root to the control wheel and should be checked for full travel since water flying calls for their full deflection at certain times. Landing gear should be checked for hydraulic leaks at the actuators and flexible lines and the shimmy damper checked for proper tightness and cleanliness. The trim actuator in the vertical fin should be checked, likewise. The flap actuator is in the fuselage under the propellor on the left side. Should the battery be mounted under the floorboards or in the baggage compartment, the vent and tightness of the terminals should be checked regularly to avoid sparking in the closed confines of the hull.
The boat preflight is just as important. Since the hull is watertight (or supposed to be) it will hold water or whatever else that can get in. It will take on water in a rain storm. If there is a fuel leak or hydraulic leak it will remain in the hull. There are plugs in the lowest part of each watertight compartment; one in each float, one on each side of the nose gear, one at the step, and two in the rear-most compartment behind the wings. Seven in all. They should be kept lubricated to prevent seizing and be snug, not super tight. The most aft plug should be drained when the tail is the lowest point of the Lake, as when nosed up on a steep beach. It is most important that they all be in place before a water landing is made. Check the operation of the water rudder at this time. There has been much concern lately about transporting biological growth from one body of water to another. Now is the time to remove any growth or weeds clinging to the hull, water rudder or landing gear!
Content and pictures courtesy and copyright of John Staber, Owner of Colonial Skimmer SN #1; John has flown and worked on Colonial Skimmers since 1964. In 2011 he published a book on the restoration of N6595K which can be purchased on his website: http://jstaber.com/books/skimmer/ If you are interested to learn about Skimmers and Lake Amphibian Aircraft, come visit and chat with John on www.seaplaneforum.com