Did you ever think of making a boat fly or a plane float? Well there is such a thing, and it's called a seaplane, and that's what you're going to learn about.
There are different kinds of seaplanes. Floatplanes use boat floats (called pontoons) at the bottom to float on water. Only the pontoons of a floatplane touch the water. The fuselage stays above the water. Floatplanes are good fishing planes, because the boat floats at the bottom hang out to the side so you can stand on them. They are also good rescue planes because they can go on water to save people from drowning. And of course, like most planes they are good for sightseeing.
There are also flying boats. A flying boat stays afloat on its watertight fuselage, which acts like a ship's hull in the water. Most flying boats also have small floats on their wings to keep them stable. Flying boats are cool because they act like sleds in the water, because they just slide through the water when they land. There are also amphibians that can land on water or land.
Amphibians can be either floatplanes or flying boats. They are special because in addition to being able to float on water they have retractable wheels for landing on, well land. These planes are very versatile because you could go fishing and then mountain climbing on the same plane.
There have been some really famous flying boats. Howard Hughes (a famous pilot and aircraft designer) built a plane called the Hughes H-4 Hercules. It was nicknamed the Spruce Goose (even though it was made of birch), and is the largest flying boat ever built. The Spruce Goose was built to hold 792 people. Hughes flew the plane only once in 1947. Today you can see the plane in McMinnville, Oregon where it is on display. The Spruce Goose was important because it showed that the principles which make flight possible are not limited by the size of the aircraft.
So now you know about amphibians, flying boats, and floatplanes.
"Florida Seaplanes." 10 December 2004 <http://www.geocities.com/flseaplanes/start.html>.
Lienhard , John H. "Seaplanes." Engines of Our Ingenuity. 10 December 2004 <http://www.uh.edu/engines/engines.htm>.
"Seaplanes." Wikipedia. 29 March 2005. <http://en.wikipedia.org/>.
"Spruce Goose." Wikipedia. 29 March 2005. <http://en.wikipedia.org/>.
Photographs of seaplane and Spruce Goose have been released into the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.
Copyrighted clip art image of seaplane from "Microsoft Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1> (October-March, 2004-2005). Clip art available only to licensed users for non-commercial purposes.