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Favorite option: If you want this item to be marked as a favorite, click on the black heart.   Traveling Lessons Learned by a Novice Searey Owner  
Sauers, Jeff - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    Note: I'm not the seasoned story teller that Dan Nickens is, and don't want to sound like I'm preaching to the choir, since y'all know a lot more about this plane than I do. Just passing along my experiences fir those who care to read!

I decided to build a Searey for several reasons and my top three are probably different than yours:

1. I wanted to be able to relax and enjoy flying more over the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries, where I spend much of my flying time. And a seaplane allows that without constantly worrying about ditching. 2. There are not many platforms that are as good for aerial photography. The high wing and sliding windows without the bubble canopy that most LSA's have, make it perfect for photography. 3. I often have to travel to surrounding states to do architectural photography, which is my bread and butter, and although its not a fast airplane, with my 914 engine and Airmaster prop, it is similar to the Cessna's that I've flown (rented) for many years, and I'm ok with that.

As a new aircraft owner, I must admit I am anxious to use it whenever possible. And since I am accustomed to long road trips, combining a couple of 3 hours legs is well within my comfort range of travel, and much preferable to airline travel (no offense to the ATP's in the crowd). So since the airline flight I had scheduled was less than optimal, I checked the weather a day in advance and decide to cancel my airline flight and take the trip last week, from Baltimore to Huntsville Alabama in my Searey. My plans were to fly down on Wednesday, photograph a hotel on Thursday, then return on Friday. Based on current winds I estimated 6.5 hours flying time to get there.

So now that I'm back, I wanted to just pass along the 5 major lessons that I learned on this trip about traveling with a Searey.

So here goes:

1. This is no-brainer stuff, but whatever your flying time is for a particular destination (no wind condition), add at least 20 knots of headwind and use that time for calculating the trip. That will also help to determine what is a reasonable reach to utilize the aircraft for travel.

Baltimore to Huntsville is too far! (I'm talking about quick turn around trips) Ended up with almost a 30 mph headwind with a GS of about 75 to 80mph the whole way! Over 9 hour flight time for the day with the extra fuel stops I had to make. Had I factored the headwind into the initial flight planning (regardless of what the winds actually were), I would have nixed the trip this time. I was exhausted at the end of the day to say the least. Yes I knew the morning of the flight that I was going to have headwinds, but actual winds were much worse than forecast.

2. Traveling long distance using MOGAS only, is an exercise in frustration.

Despite my preflight planning to use nothing but MOGAS and bringing my Alaska Bush Pilot Fuel Bladders (a great recommendation from Chuck Cavanaugh), I ended up using a lot more 100LL than MOGAS.

My first fuel stop was going to be south of Roanoke VA. I called in advance the two airports in the area that had Mogas, only to find out that one was closed due to runway repairs, and the other I could not reach by phone but found out thru the grapevine that they could not sell Mogas to transients. Only locals. Knowing that , I called Jeff Arnold, to see about landing on Claytor Lake, and emptying my fuel bladders full of Mogas into my tank. Jeff was on vacation and was bummed that he wasn't going to be around to welcome me to his place for a quick stop. Nevertheless, he recommend a nice boat ramp on the New River, just south of Claytor Lake to fuel up. (thanks for the tip Jeff!) So I was set. I would have enough fuel to reach my 2nd planned stop which was a Mogas airport.

Well, long story short, I could not make any of my planed fuel stops due to headwinds. Although a did fill my tanks with my bladders at an airport, the rest of the stops were 100LL only. And believe me, when you know the trip is going to be that long, you don't go out of your way, or make extra stops for Mogas!

Although I had nice tailwinds on the way home, (indicated 110 and 120mph GS), I chose an easterly route to stay clear of the T storms, and the Mogas stops were WAY out of the way! So 100LL it was!

3. Bring Sunscreen

I didn't. And I failed to factor in the Searey "greenhouse effect". With a 3.5 hour early afternoon leg to the SW, I looked a little silly with a towel draped over my arms and legs like a huge bib.

4. ADS B/ Nexrad Weather really helps on long trips!

I took off from Huntsville(heading home) at about 8:00 am with a forecast of VFR all of the way to Baltimore with the possibility of scattered t-storms developing along the way. They did. But the Nexrad gave me the ability to see how they were developing all the way up to Baltimore. As I was approaching southern VA, it was clear that on my present course, I would meet up with a doozy, face to face.

But the radar also made it very clear that deviating to the west, and toward mountains, was a much better option than deviating to the east where all of the sunny weather was. If I deviated to the east I would have to traverse multiple storms just to the north. However, going west around the backside of this one storm, would put me behind the others and would allow clear passage almost all the way home before the next batch moved in.

Without the radar, I don't think I would have turned toward dark skies, and the mountains, but would have continued on unknowingly , until I had to emergency deviate to the east then would be facing multiple storms and having to set down somewhere.

You can see my deviation toward Lynchburg VA and the foreboding sky. Yes, it looks, like I'm cutting it close. But inflight Nexrad data can be delayed compared to actual weather radar, and I can tell visually, that although I may get a shower, I've got a pretty large separation from the really dark stuff. And I'm seeing sunny skies just beyond a small band of showers, that are shown in the other photo(visibility is better through the showers than it appears in the photo).

And sure enough, the sunny skies returned and stayed with me almost all the way home. Unfortunately, nearing home base(KMTN) , I ran in to an un-penetrable line, over my home base and moving southeast down the bay. So I had to set down at Bay Bridge airport, and bother Helen Woods, while she was getting ready for another CSP event the next day. But she was hospitable as usual, and as soon as I had a break, I returned home safe and sound. The last photo shows a t-storm over the bay that I was circumnavigating.

5. SFRA Flight Plan- "The FAA wants you to call them!"

I mention this last, although it happened first in the timeline. But since it only applies to us northerners, not everyone may be interested. Filing SFRA flight plans in a Searey is a pain in the butt! I've filed many in Cessna's so I am very familiar with the drill. But only 2 in a SREY and both were fumbled. Although the model code SREY is listed as an official ICAO model code, it is rejected when filing the flight plan. So instead. I've had to file ZZZZ(for all the un-official models), then list experimental in the remarks section.

I decided that since I had a long leg, I wanted to fly direct from KMTN over Dulles Intl. as opposed to flying around the SFRA. And depending on your altitude, they'll let you do it. When you file this type of flight plan, your are basically specifying an entry gate and an exit gate( gate names are identified around the perimeter of the SFRA airspace). These flight plans do NOT have to be closed. When you exit the airspace and they terminate services, the flight plan is then automatically closed. So when I called to activate it, the controller first acted like he couldn't find it. Then when he did, he said that they have to file another since I wanted class B clearance as well??? Never heard that before since I've filed probably 100 SFRA's before. While I was flying through the airspace, twice they asked me what my final destination was(usually not needed for an SFRA flight plan). I wondered if they filed a regular VFR flight plan on my behalf without telling me that specifically. So when I exited the airspace and they terminated services I asked them that exact question. They treated me as if I didn't understand how SFRA flight plans worked, an said no, no controller would do that.

Sure enough, I get all the way to Tennessee, where I land for my 2nd gas stop, and the woman comes out of the FBO and the first thing she says to me is "The FAA wants you to call them"! (Every pilot's favorite words So I call: We've been tracking you for hours! You didn't close your VFR flight plan"! I couldn't help but snicker, "I never filed a VFR flight plan. I filed an SFRA flight plan and check the tapes, I even questioned ATC when I left the SFRA to confirm that THEY didn't file one for me"!

OK, Ok, I admit, I should be using flight following for such a long trip, but being based at a tower controlled airport and always flying in and around the SFRA and DC airspace, it's nice to not have to talk to somebody all of the time.

So there it is. Lessons learned. I will still use my airplane for quick turn business trips, but they will most definitely be shorter distances. Boy, what great experiences you gain from this type of flying in a Searey though!


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IMG 1814

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IMG 1808

Mark MacKinnon - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    Nice report, Jeff. I have not done any long distance traveling in mine, mainly due to the Rotax/fuel issue. I do not like burning Avgas. Yes I can do the 25 hr oil change thing but it's a pain enough as it is to change the oil.     
Jim Ratte - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    For 100LL on the road, you can use Decalin or TCP to pass the lead through. Nasty stuff from what I hear...     
Nickens, Dan - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    Nicely flown, Jeff. Thanks for taking us along for the highlights (and especially the lovely view of highlights provided by the bay storm). While you could be right about quick turn business trips, if you have time to spare I'm confident your SeaRey will be by far the most fun way for tax deductible travel.     
Buck Bray - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    Sounds like a great adventure Jeff. The Searey is like hiking with kids. Are we there yet gets best replaced with enjoying wherever
we are when time allows. I seldom go straight unless hopping between lakes because the rivers meander so nicely through personal
IMAX adventures. We do have a lot of fun water options up this way- other than the Salt-away washes.
Don Maxwell - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    Good job, Jeff. The most important thing I've learned from Searey cross-country flying is to allow at least twice as many days as seems the most you might possibly ever need. Or to put it another way, leave too soon and don't have a schedule. That way you can enjoy the ride instead of worrying about hurrying or being late.

I always use premium car gas when it's easy to get and I don't have to carry it more than a hundred yards (and then only if I have two equal-weight containers for balance). Which means I mostly use AVGAS on trips. Sometimes I remember to take along the Decalin, but I don't worry about that, either. I just change the oil twice as often and don't sweat it. Besides, buying AVGAS supports the little airports I prefer to land at.

I've done a few 10 or 11 flying-hour days, but only by mistake. If a trip looks like it will take longer than about 6 hours, I figure on stopping overnight in the middle. Sometimes I don't stop, but at least on those occasions I'm not pushing myself too hard to have fun.

Really, it's all in one's head--as when Dan Nickens waxes eloquent and says things like "The faster you fly, the sooner you have to come down."
Jeff Arnold - May 22   Viewers  | Reply
    "I would not want my Searey to go any faster because I would not have as much time to enjoy the flight". I believe Dan Nickens deserves credit for that quote or something similar.     
Dennis Scearce - May 23   Viewers  | Reply
    Great summary, Jeff. Any of us that has attempted a multi state journey in a Searey can relate to your story. I have cancelled numerous flights after checking ADDS / winds aloft to see that I could ride my bike and get there sooner. But it sure is fun when it's a tailwind and you are showing 110 mph ground speed!     
Sauers, Jeff - May 23   Viewers  | Reply
    I actually had a bottle of Decalin onboard which I used. I first attempted to pour an ounce into the tank without using a funnel. Of
course I got it all over my fingers (it has a very weird consistency). Then I used my funnel. The point is, I think the Decalin is much
safer to carry, (and won't melt the skin off your hands), than the TCP. But I have no experience with the TCP other reading the
warning about not carrying it with you.
Mark MacKinnon - May 24   Viewers  | Reply
    Right, I carry Decalin for that reason. Not supposed to carry TCP.     
D'Angelo, Kevin - May 27   Viewers  | Reply
    Kudo's to you Jeff for your ambitious trip in a Searey. I have made many trips from Buffalo to Sun n Fun in the Searey and like said here the best flying is the leisurely trip or go by other means. My long trips have always planned as an adventure looking for water to splash in and also for gas stations close to the water to take the two Cavanaugh gas bags to fill my tanks. If I have to stop at a airport for fuel it is a boring trip. I have a garmin 496 that I use the pointer to point ahead at a lake and click nearest fuel and then click the map to show how close it is to the lake in the auto mode and what shoreline conditions to get ashore. Usually meet very nice people and interest in the rey along with food with a view . Try to meet up in the finger lakes or Adirondacks this summer knowing that it might take a few tries. Chuck has failed the last few tries but we keep trying- remember the goal is to have fun and enjoy the true delight the Rey has to offer.     
Carr, Frank  - May 27   Viewers  | Reply
    Jeff, You're no longer a novice, that's for sure!     
Robert Richardson IV - May 27   Viewers  | Reply
    Jeff, I have been flying in and out the SFRA for over 4 years, to include doing splash and goes in the Severn River and on the
Western shore. The acft type problem you occurred is a result of Potomac transitioning to NextGen, which seems to lack the SREY
type. According to the FSS rep I spoke to, file ZZZZ with the remark "acft type SREY". That has worked for me.

as to your 3 reasons for flying the SR, I quite agree it make a great camera platform.

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IMG 0212

Shannon Moon - Jun 06   Viewers  | Reply
    Nice report Jeff. I may have to think about those fuel bladders to make it easier for me to get Mogas on long trips as well. My 5 gallon
race cans are not a good fit for the cockpit.

BTW, it was nice meeting you in person in the Rotax course today!
Sauers, Jeff - Jun 07   Viewers  | Reply
    Yes. It's a small world. Shannon and I sat next to each other in a Rotax class and did not know each other until we stood up and
introduced ourselves to the class. The only two Searey owners in the class. Birds of a feather........

And of course we've been trading stories during breaks! Its been great!

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