Would you believe that in this place, whose gentle urbanization is interlaced with a glorious natural environment,  there is an airport with a 1500 x 150 meters runway ?

The airport is there, just in the middle of the “postcard” : it’s the Como international water aerodrome.

Water flying, an activity with almost zero impact

Seaplane : the perfect means of transport in natural environments

Water aerodrome : an airport made of uncontaminated natural elements, simply water

Seaplanes are a dream for administrators and land surveyors, as they require none, or very little infrastructure. No runway, parking nor crossings. They only require what is already present in nature, water. Needing only some light infrastructure for passengers embarking and disembarking the aircraft, consisting of a jetty or slipway.

The seaplane has no negative effects on the water; it doesn’t discharge oil or other fluids into the lake. The fuel used in aviation doesn’t contain toxic additives present in other fuels.

The department of ecology of Washington USA use seaplanes for collecting data, and water sample, considering, as it’s the only method that doesn’t contaminate the research.

The propellers of the aircraft are completely out of the water and thus don’t disturb sediment, marine life nor other life on the water surface.

The floats that are in contact with the water are not treated with toxic paints, and the small trails that are left don’t factor in the erosion of the banks nor disturb the animals that live on them.

If an area doesn’t eventually seem suitable or becomes unsuitable due to whatever environmental issues, usually there are nearby areas that can be used as an alternative and the cost of transferring the activity is nearly “zero”.

Seaplanes and birdlife

A myth can be soon disproved, that flight has a negative impact on birdlife. The reality is actually quite different. Seaplane usage areas, in fact have become in many cases true sanctuaries, as often the only natural spaces in an otherwise urbanised area.
It should also be said that pilots view birds as representations of the perfection of flight. Nature is a much more refined version of human technology thanks to thousands of years of evolution compared to only just over 100 years of flight for humans. The safety involved in takeoffs and landing, having to avoid in-flight collisions, temperature, air density, visibility, meteorological phoemomena  are problems shared by pilots and  birds.
That is why pilots have a protective feeling for birdlife.

It is not uncommon to see nests under the docks of a seaplane base.

folaga
A coot brooding its eggs, well sheltered inside the dock of Como seaplane base. The bird goes in and out from underwater, as a beaver in its lair.

Seaplanes have in many context an active role in the protection of the environment, being able to land on whatever surface to collect samples and accomplish tasks.

Contenitori di lavarelli a bordo degli idrovolanti dell'Aero Club per ripopolare il lago
Quick transport of frys from a lake to another with an Aero Club Como seaplane. Death rate is reduced to 1/10th with this method.

The activity of the seaplanes, in relation to other activities

seaplane-canottieri-Ternate

The activity of the seaplanes on the lake is very light, when the seaplane is on the surface at low speed or even at the shore it can be considered as any other vessel (conforming to the same regulations). The takeoff, landing and flight procedures, only last a few seconds and the strips of water used for both procedures are carefully selected in order not to impede other vehicles on the lake.

The operations of seaplanes are compatible with other activities.

The pilot always has the possibility to abort a take off or landing if the conditions are not adequate or an issue is spotted on the lake. The friction of the water can very quickly reduce speed when the power is cut. You can easily state that there are no incompatibilities between the seaplanes and any other form of transport on the lake.

A tool to discover the natural environment

The seaplane, an aircraft that can operate in areas with no infrastructure, is the ideal means to discover nature. And is an effective means to go back to civilization.

A service for the community in emergency and environmental welfare

Seaplanes are useful means of transport in emergency situations, but also for routine checks and environmental welfare.

A pictorial conclusion

On the theme of the relations between seaplanes and the environment, we let three pictures talk. They show how a seaplane can harmoniously stay even in the most uncontaminated environment.

Priest Lake Horses
Priest Lake Horses A Republic Seabee on the shore of a small lake of North America.
seaplane-Newfoundland
seaplane-Newfoundland A Newfoundland stamp of 1933. A tent in the forest, a canoe and a seaplane, it’s real idyll between nature and technology.
Sesto-Calende
Sesto-Calende The Aero Club Como L-19 on the Ticino river, at Sesto Calende.