In a seaplane as a passanger
A Seaplane on the shore of Abbadia Lariana.
People that climb on board a seaplane, have many various reasons other than being pilots. Most people want to simply experience the pleasure of being in the cockpit, and being able to observe the instrument panel, and help guide the aircraft. Other reasons can be to experience the speed, acceleration and movement on a three dimensional axis, or to observe the scenery that flashes quickly past your eyes. But aside from that there are many more strange or complex reasons to boarding a seaplane.
The possibility of carrying out a flight, is a tool in the promotion of the world of aviation, it is for this reason, most of the activities practised by the Aero Club Como, are encouraged by the Italian association of Aero Clubs.
Furthermore the aero club acts as a 'primary school' for the Air force pilots and for Airline pilots, such as Alitalia.
Seaplanes at Campione d'Italia.
Seaplanes are the only type of air transport that people come into contact with, when they are ignorant of the world of aviation and airports. People decide to take to the skies, as they casually stumble across these strange machines while taking a walk around the lake. The water surfaces that the Aero Club Como have established, on the Po and the channel of Cremona, in the port of Ancona or that of Mantua or La Spezia, to name but a few, have exposed many people to an aviation environment that wouldn't usually have been in at an airport.
Very often seaplanes are not flown by your general aviation enthusiasts, pilots, military etc. but by families or individuals who find seaplanes by chance, people for whom a ride in a seaplane is an extraordinary experience they will remember for their whole life. In many cases those who board a seaplane are seeing an airplane up close for the first time.
A note written in the Guest Book of Aero Club Como.
From a test flight
to a license
The cross section of people who fly is vast, with regard to age ranging from babies to 90 year olds. Children usually fall asleep after a few minutes due to the hypnotic sound of the engine or propeller; adults almost always look out the window. Then you have the aviation enthusiast, that isn't a pilot but just dreams of taking hold of the controls. The latter, in particular when young are likely to have experience on simulators at home, and after a first flight do a more complete test flight with an instructor and eventually decide to enrol as a pilot. This is one of the main reasons why the Aero club Como is encouraged to broaden the pleasure of flying to as many people as possible.
For children, as much as adults, much pleasure
is given by sitting in the cabin and taking
the controls in your hands.
The seaplane as a means of spreading Aeronautical culture
There are notable benefits that can be produced by providing a test flight, even if they don't lead to immediate membership of the club. A flight is a good way in general to consolidate public relations, and promote aviation. Many tourists who have flown during their holidays in a seaplane are understood to have gone on to signing up to a flying school in their home country. What more, it is recognised that some people have a negative attitude towards airplanes, as they 'make to much noise', after having taken part in a flight these people become more open minded to the benefits that seaplanes serve to many people.
Flights for whooping cough
There are certain flights that have a direct reason, one of them being potential curing for the illness 'whooping cough', prescribed by many doctors, and thousands of children have been taken to altitude in a general aviation aircraft. Where it seems that the virus responsible for the whooping cough is neutralised by a slight change of the PH of the blood, induced by the sudden change in pressure. It is completely harmless for the host and all humans.
In a seaplane to cure a fear of flying
Another type of therapeutic flight that can only be done in seaplanes is for a fear of flying. The seaplane that flies above the water can return to the surface, in a few seconds, thanks to this fact the confidence of many people with this phobia is increased. The steps to flying can be taken gradually and reassuringly, always with at the discretion of the passenger if they want to return to the surface. It's left to say that based on experience at Como, the possibility of such a safe experience is rarely unsuccessful in curing to at least some extent the fear of the passenger. We have had very few passengers who have requested to return to the water surface, and for the record none of them exploded into a state of panic, screaming and crying.
Seaplanes for socialising
Sometimes a member or guest of the club, requests to be taken to the shore near an event, for a party or gathering of friends. This unique way of arriving at an event helps leave a lasting good impression that is made even better if the pilot offers the other guests a short flight around the lake.
For those who express an interest in signing up to a flying course, the club offers a 'trial flight' sat in the command seat, with an instructor on your right. The future pilot can try the principals of flight manoeuvres after a theory briefing, in order to give a more complete experience.
A flight for lovers
The club with its objective to research more and more occasions to promote aviation, has in the past, proposed flights for valentines day, aimed at couples wanting to experience the emotional flight experience together, promoted by the slogan ' Baciatevi in indrovolante', kissing in a seaplane. Some people have chosen to propose marriage in flight, to then pass this special moment together surrounded by the most beautiful surroundings.
Couples taken on flights on Valentines day. On the left the couple who got engaged at 300 feet above Bellagio, an event celebrated with kisses and a bottle of champagne.
First time flight at 92 years old.
There are countless birthdays and anniversaries that people want to spend on board a seaplane flight. The most popular being anniversaries of marriage, sometimes couples even open a bottle of champagne mid flight and propose a toast.
«At least one flight in my lifetime»
Many older people, take a flight, having expressed after much thought that they would like to try something different, and that they have never done before, or even to see their hometown from altitude.
The very last Flight
The law allows many people to scatter the ashes of their loved ones from a seaplane, generally into the lake or over a place of specific significance.
Celebratory flights of many important aeronautical events of the past take place, the club has organised in the past, on the 17th December 2003, a celebratory flight to commemorate the first ever flight by the Wright brothers. With the whole fleet flying at the same time, there were many participants, all celebrating this very important moment in human history.
Commemorative flight of 17 December 2003.
Flights for Children
This type of flight has great results of promoting aviation; the aero club offers this special flight to children every year during the Christmas period. From the first of December to the Epiphany, the club holds pleasure flights, for the children who have submitted requests, generally accompanied by an adult. The flight takes place above the first basin of the lake and the city of Como.
The flight is offered free, but any contributions are greatly appreciated. The club itself and its partners fund the event. For most children it is their first flight experience that leaves them feeling very enthusiastic. For the pilots it's wonderful event too, by adding to the excitement of the little ones that recognise parts of the scenery, their own neighbourhood or even house. Since the initiative was thought up, the aero club has taken more than 5000 children on flights. The record set in 2005 was of 954 children.
In the region of Como, this is surely the most important initiative of aviation promotion ever, maybe nationwide.
Children flying on Club's seaplanes.
In the region of Como, this is surely the most important initiative of aviation promotion ever, maybe nationwide. Additionally in collaboration with its sponsors the club hands out merchandise as well as offering flight experiences and organising events on the ground from year to year.
One year the club had possession of a cockpit of an F104-Starfighter, from the Air force, in which thousands of children were able to take position in the command seat and observe the panels and take the controls in their hands. Another year many simulators were installed in the hangar, operated by the children carrying out basic piloting commands, on other occasions simple elastic models are made to fly in the hangar or in the square; a great way to teach the kids about aeronautic principals.
Children from Perledo who flew on request of the city council, that offered them the flights. On the right, the cockpit of an F-104 in the hangar, for the joy of the youngest.
Children of the association “Magica Cleme”
at the Aero Club.
Flights for people who are handicapped
Sometimes the club, or its members offer flights at their own expense, to deserving people affected by handicaps or illnesses.
In the autumn of 2008, to set an example, the partner Cambiaghi organised a day of flights, activities in the hangar and a trip in a seaplane to a restaurant. Collaborating with the hospital San Gerando di Monza, the children from the Blood oncology ward were offered a chance along with their parents to have some fun, outside of the hospital walls.
Flights at the request of city councils
Often a city council requests that the club make available one or two aircraft, when special guests are in town, to give them a tour of the lake from above and make a good impression.
Events and cultural organizations of the local area with the presence of Seaplanes.
A large interest in seaplanes all over Europe
Seaplanes generate a large amount of interest, especially in areas where they are rarely seen. Every summer the aero club receives many requests to bring the seaplanes to the lakes, rivers or coastlines of many European countries. Sometimes these trips abroad are for reasons of recruitment, such as the trip to Biscarross in France, south of Bordeaux. Other trips are one offs to commemorate historical seaplane events.
25.000 people gathered to see the seaplanes of the Aero Club in Mâcon,France, on the Saône, where in the 30's the huge aircraft of Imperial Airways landed, directed to the eastern colonies of the British empire.
In other cases the club organises, for its partners, interesting cultural trips. Such as direct flights to cities where there are exhibitions or museums. The closest trip is to the silk museum at Garlate, but other tourist destinations are available that have or had hydro-culture such as Mantua, Venice and Genoa.
Seaplanes at the jetty of “Villas in Blevio”.
Seaplane at Home
Many high-end guests rent houses on Lake Como, wishing to experience life on the lake. It happens that some people who see the seaplanes passing backwards on forth, sign up as members to the club, and show up everyday wanting to be transported with their friends and families for runs on the lake.
A Treat for guests in the area
Sometimes, tourists that are passionate about aviation don't even know about the existence of the Aero Club Como when they plan to visit the lake. When here they follow the flight path of the passing seaplanes in order to find the point of departure. Ultimately finding a hangar full of seaplanes, a pleasurable discovery that allows them to experience something really unique.
A flight in a historic aircraft
The club possesses a 1953 Cessna L-19 "Birddog", an ex military aircraft from the wars in Korea and Vietnam. In addition a 1946 Republic RC-3 "Seabee" and a 1947 Macchi MB 308 are being restored and will soon be usable.
The club is more than happy to offer the flight enthusiast the chance to fly in those historical machines.
The club member Gerolamo Gavazzi, offers members and some lucky passengers the exceptional opportunity to fly in the Caproni CA100 I-ABOV, the oldest seaplane in the world, weather permitting.
On the left the L-19 "Birddog", of 1953. On the right, the Caproni CA 100. Of 1935.
Below, the Macchi MB 308 and the Republic RC-3.