Scotland on Floats – Summer 2017
We wish you a very warm welcome to
we want to help promote
Secondly, we aim to help you put the FUN back into your flying - without having to travel abroad or spend a fortune.
How are we going to do that ?
We are promoting Scotland as a destination both for seaplane instruction and adventure sports by touring extensively - making the airframe available as a quality photo opportunity for tourism, whisky, fresh-air and adventure sports industries - and we are introducing pilots to the sheer freedom and beauty of flying floatplanes around the stunning, world-class environment of Scotland.
If you already have a Pilot's Licence (NPPL, PPL, CPL, ATPL, FAA) then you are ready to embark on a voyage of discovery - to rediscover flying as it should be. No landing fees and no clearances - you work out the wind direction and water state and then you choose your landing area. You will learn the skills of taxiing, mooring, docking, sailing and much much more. You can add a seaplane rating onto your licence by completing (on average) between 5 and 10hrs of flight training for the SEP( Sea) Rating. You will also need to pass the written Seamanship Exam. Alternatively you can fly as PU/T under instruction without the stress of an exam at the end, spend a few hours visiting restaurants, beaches, castles and then log the time as your biennial dual-flight with an instructor.
Initially 'scotlandonfloats.com' are offering shared ownership of G-DRAM, where you can learn with us as we rediscover the exciting qualities and joys of Scotland. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details of shares and promotional opportunities.
2017 - LATEST NEWS – 2017
July 2017 – A delayed start to the season due to technical difficulties at the annual, but thankfully all is now fixed and the year is up and running!! And what a busy one it is looking so far. Had the privilege to fly with Arthur Williams as he toured round Scotland in his beautiful Piper Cub – hopefully some of the excitement might be coming to your screens in the autumn!! Watch this space!! We’ve also had several pilot visitors from overseas adventuring their way around the stunning west coast of Scotland. Still a few spaces left for some of our Seaplane Safaris into August and September – remember we can do 1,2,3 or even 4 day adventures. Took part in another of the Royal Aero Club RRRs Air Racing weekends on 3+4 June at Llanbedr in wildest Westest Wales – and this time, headed home triumphant – proud winners of The Gower Cup. Hoping to return to Alderney this year in September to try and improve on our Second Place in the 2016 Schneider Trophy. Congratulations to Roderick Morton in his Lake Buccaneer, who pipped us for First Place by an excruciatingly tight 7 secs !!
September 2016 – Once again, Wee Dram thrilled the crowds at The Scottish Airshow, held at Ayr seafront on Saturday 3rd September.
January 2016 – DRAM is now in for her annual maintenance, and all things going well (ulp!) should be back in the air for early March. We’ve already got some 3-4 day adventure trips booked up with clients for May, June and September – and a couple of possible students lined up for the summer – so, if you fancy putting some va-va-voom back into your flying, then please do get in touch, and we will get the good weather on order. First Air Race of the season is at Abbeville on 9+10 April 2016, so that’s a definite plan to go and defend the Battle of Britain trophy. And September could hopefully provide a repeat, with a Scottish Airshow at the start of the month, and the Schneider Trophy at the end of the month.
September 2015 – A massively eventful month, with ‘Wee Dram’ giving her first ever Air Display – in front of over 100,000 spectators - at the Scottish Airshow on Saturday 5th September 2015. Wee Dram felt hugely privileged to share this stage with the Red Arrows, the Catalina, B17, Swedish Historic Flight and, for the last ever time, the Avro Vulcan. This culmination of 5 months planning, practice and obtaining of the necessary approvals and Display Authorisation from the CAA.
Later in September, Wee Dram headed to Alderney in the Channel Islands to take part in the famous Schneider Trophy Air Race. Originally instigated in the early 1900s as a race purely for waterplanes, Wee Dram became the first floatplane to race since the Supermarine S6 won the trophy for Britain in 1931 !! The trip included flypasts at the grave sites of several past Schneider trophy racers and personalities, including Howard Pixton, Lady Lucy Houston, RJ Mitchell, Flt Lt Sam Kinkead, Flt Lt Waghorn. Although on the day we didn’t win any trophies, we won a load of new friends and a lot of respect. I think we’ll be back to try again in 2016…..
July 2015 – Once again journeyed across Europe to Lake Wolfgangsee for the simply breathtaking - Scalaria Air Challenge 2015 – the trip included a nostalgic trip home for DRAM, to Reims. The last time she flew there was in May 1969, when she was built ! Stop-offs at Headcorn, Le Touquet, Reims, the fabulous Dornier Museum at Freidrichshafen, Tannheim and a few shuttles at Salzburg, were the order of the day. The return trip a week later via lunch at Kitzbuhel, dinner at friendly Hohenems, and a breakfast trip to the old museum at Villingen-Schweningen preceded a welcome chillout with good friends at Dijon-Darois and the excitement of Aero Restauration Service !! The one day (9hour) trip home from Dijon into 30kt headwinds was a rather more gruelling undertaking, stopping off at Caen and Gloucester for some well earned tea and cake !!
May 2015 - What can I say? A month into the flying programme and it has already exceeeeeded my wildest expectations. This year it was decided that, as DRAM is a seaplane, she should enter the Schneider Trophy (please Google it if you are not aware of its significance). Initially this had been the plan in July 2006 when the floats were to be first fitted, but due to circumstances on the other side of the Atlantic they were delayed by 6 months, and the moment passed. Handicapped Air Racing, is organised by the Royal Aero Club and involves getting an FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale) Race Licence, insurance approval, a Royal Aero Club Handicap and partaking in two races prior to the Schneider itself (27th September 2015) on Alderney. Some common sense maths were applied to the principle of 45degree bank racing turns at speed, and Turnberry lighthouse became a practice turning point for one glorious spring evening in late April.
The race weekend at Abbeville in France (9/10 May 2015) presented itself as the perfect opportunity to get all these requirements completed, and have a continental adventure into the bargain. Seven days were set aside, and leave scrounged from the day job, and despite 30-50kt winds, a safe yet steady, route was negotiated to Abbeville, with social stops at Gloucester and Shoreham on the way out, and Cambridge and Sleap on the return. My trusty navigator flew in from Copenhagen and rendezvoused with DRAM and I in 1920s style at Brighton City (Shoreham). And so, the adventure began. Slightly nervous about flaunting the kilt after the Election Result, our whisky and tasteful shirts were warmly welcomed into the Racing fraternity, and a keen interest was taken in the two headwind generators that were attached to our amphibious aerial chariot. Saturday dawned with a sporty 20-25kt wind, resulting in the most challenging race conditions that the ensemble could remember (that may be due to old age and whisky). Despite this, Team DRAM finished a very respectable 10th out of 17, and there was much hearty congrats and cheering at the lively evening dinner.
Sunday, the Battle of Britain Trophy race day, saw perfect conditions, a gentle 10kts, and few cumulus at about 1500'. The 5 laps of 23 miles round the Somme estuary flew by (scuse the pun) at 131mph ias, and as we turned the final corner (having overtaken a Cessna152 at the second last turning point - 5kts faster) we started to get worried. Where was the swarm of RV8s and Rallyes that had screamed past us by this stage yesterday? Keeking over my left shoulder I could just see them a mile or so behind, approaching the last Turning Point .... but by this stage we could see the finish at Abbeville Airport. We passed over the Somme canal at 700ft, at which stage we could commence a final dive to 100ft toward the finish line. The nose went down, the airspeed rose, 140, 150, 160..... the altitude wound down 600, 400,200..... the line of poplars and the A16 tollroad flashed past underneath.........we could see the fear in the truck-drivers eyes .....yet, we nervously held our line, looking over our shoulders expecting to be bypassed at any second ......but it never came......the finishing line rushed past with a huge black and white chequered flag and we pulled up into a gentle climb to 1200ft and had a nervous giggle to ourselves......"did we just cross the line first?"....then the doubt sets in......."I think I cut one of the corners at TP1"......."we can't have won"........"NO WAY" . We waited for all the other racers to cross the line, join the circuit and land ahead (we needed a little more care as we could only use the intermediate exit and didn't want to hold up the landing stream with our supermarche-trolley-like taxiing tendencies). And so, to the grass parking, engine shutdown, adrenaline still racing, and the calming tick-tick-tick of a gently cooling 210HP, 5.4litre Continental flat-six (IO360DB)...... Chilling out on the grass in glorious 24deg sunshine, listening to the skylarks celebrating overhead, this felt good. A local aviateur in his World War One Royal Flying Corps SE5a replica completed the picture with a celebratory flypast (or he may have wanted a closer look at my hi-vis screaming pink and yellow beach shirt (seaplane flying de rigeur attire)). Whatever, the kindly committeee sidled up to us and with a wink of congratulations, suggested that we might like to check the results. Partly in disbelief, partly embarassed at our beginners luck and partly humbled to be the winners of such a prestigious trophy on the 70th anniversary of VE Day, we were warmly applauded and welcomed into the racing fraternity. No longer racing virgins, now we have a trophy to defend next year, and a tiny thought that maybe, just maybe, we are not in the Schneider to merely take part any more ...... addiction has never felt this good.
2014 - Well, what looked as if it would be a quiet year turned out wildly busy, way beyond expectations. The highlights were getting two more instructors up and running, helping to take some of the pressure off the one-man-band. It also enabled us to get 4 ab-initios though their SEP(Sea) ratings, including the first to qualify at Loch Doon (a former WW1 seaplane base) since 1918!! History in the making. On top of that there were numerous 3-4 day training safaris around the west coast, taking in Oban, Mull, Plockton, Wick, Inverness and all points and lochs in between. Another highlight was a trip to the Orkney Folk Festival, Fair Isle, and the northern reaches of the Shetland Isles and Out Skerries - including landings on Scapa Flow, Lerwick Harbour (the first since Charles Lindberg) and St Ninians Isle. But the total highlight of the year was DRAM being used as the star of - David Beckham's Haig Club Whisky advert. Now shown across the world, on inflight airline videos, in airports, on TV stations and repeated in late 2015. Anyone else needing a seaplane to shine on their video … have a look at what can be done !!
2013 - Managed a few flights over the winter - weaving amongst some spectacular snowy mountainscapes - but by heck the water was bloody freezing - we need more jetties in Scotland, to save having to paddle!! After her annual maintenance DRAM was back in action early April. A two week jaunt at the end of May all around Scotland, as far north as Cape Wrath, and taking in about 20 different lochs, picking up flying students at various locations on the way. Camping at Plockton, lunching at the rollvan on Loch Lochy, or slumming it in the occasional 4star hotel. Variety, and good weather, was the spice of 2013. In July, we took the FlyScotland message to Scalaria Air Challenge 2013 at Lake Wolfgangsee in Austria. We lunched at the Red Bull Hangar at Salzburg, and were entertained at Lake Wolfgang as VIP guests, by the hosts and sponsors (Gulfstream, Lufthansa, Mercedes and Scalaria Hotel). We were treated to amazing flying displays by Team Red Bull, and we took in some sightseeing amongst the spectacular alpine backdrop. We look forward to returning in 2015 and meeting up again with the Catalina, the Dornier Do24T, Beavers, Cessnas and Super Cubs from Germany, Norway, Poland, Switzerland, France and Italy. The sad event of the year was the last ever RAF Leuchars Airshow. As a wee boy in short trousers I well remember being lifted over the fence exactly 40 years ago, at Leuchars 1973, to sit in a Hawker Hunter cockpit - and that set in chain an inspiration and chain of events that led me into aviation as a career. Forty years later, it was a privilege to show other youngsters around Wee Dram. Hopefully the inspiration can be passed on to the next generation.
A summary of 2012. An incredibly exciting year. Started with some flying and interviews around Skye and Loch Ness, with French TV Station Magneto who are putting together a series of documentaries on what inspires pilots around the world. Series due to go on air in May 2013. In mid-May we headed south to the bi-annual Biscarrosse seaplane meet - stopping off at Dunkeswell, Dinard, Chateau Monhoudou and Amboise en route. Returning (after enforced delay due to wind, rain and low cloud) via Caen (with 40kt headwinds), Gloucester and Halfpenny Green. Good to catch up with old frriends and get the low down on the next adventure ..... which was ...... a trip to Norway and the Arctic Circle at the end of June 2012. First leg was 3hrs, direct from Prestwick to Sumburgh, and then a 197nm hop over to Bergen. Now beer may be £10 a pint, but what a stunningly beautiful country - and can't wait to return. Planning started a few months in advance, getting local advice (thanks Cyrus, Frank and Daniel) on fuel availabilities and charts. The adventure continued north, stopping off at Kristiansund, Bronnoysund (for the longest day), crossing the Arctic Circle south of Bodo, and then carrying on as far as 69 Deg North. Spent 4 amazing days based at Helle on the Lofoten Islands - thanks Frank :) - taking in the Trollfjord, VFR flying at midnight, beer-drinking with Wideroe crews and doing lots of inter-island splashing about near Harstad and beyond. All too soon we had to head south again, keeping a weather eye open for the hoped for hop back across to Scotland. A nightstop at KristiansUnd then we headed for some landings at Geirangerfjord, Bergen and lunch at the beautiful Rosendal Fjordhotel. By this stage low vis and clag had settled in on Scotland and showed no sign of shifting. So, rather than heading off on a 260nm direct route with 350nm endurance and no diversions, we headed off on the southerly route toward Denmark and the low Countries. We got as far as KristiansAnd until the weather socked us in yet again - nevertheless, we met up again with Daniel (who was night-stopping with a Wideroe Dash 8) and made the most of live music, tasty beer, free coffee and wifi and the Italy v Germany World Cup semi - now poor Daniel knows what it feels like to be a Scotland fan ..... Eventually we had to adandon DRAM for 3 weeks and fly home by (whisper it) Ryanair. Still that was the excuse for a return rescue 3 weeks later .. but therein lies another tale :)
2011. Was grounded with a
broken arm during July, but fully back flying by mid-August, just in time for
some late summer adventure and training. Islay Airshow
(Aug 13th), and then a week around the west coast of ScotlandRAF Leuchars Airshow (Sept 10th), including Story-Telling
sessions about “Wee DRAM” for the kids. Schneider Trophy Commemorative Flypast
December 2009 - Happy Christmas and a Prosperous 2010 to all those who like a
DRAM. The latest Christmas present will be a
totally new engine for DRAM in February 2010. Ordered through
Richard Boddie at Norvic Aero
Engines. This Factory Exchange Continental IO360DB will get DRAM off the
Private Cat back onto the Public Cat and available for rentals, revalidations,
shares and instruction. More to come in the New Year including
.... a 2 week adventure to
17 Sep 2009 - Videotime .... Spent a fun Thursday
afternoon and evening making a movie with a pal from work. Headed up to Loch Eck for some beautiful scenery and glassy water.
The music is by two Scottish bands .... 'The Red Hot
Chilli Pipers' and 'The Chair'. If you wonder what all
the fuss is about seaplanes and
12 Sep 2009 - Leuchars. Fortunately it was no repeat of 2008 .. at least not as far as the weather is concerned. A simply stunning sunny east-coast day, with over 45,000 visitors and some superb displays. Many many thanks to Derek, PopPrune, Seaton the Duck and Ricardo - who all helped out with showing dozens of kids (large and small) around the intricacies of a seaplane. We also sold a few photies and raised a wee bit for Help for Heroes. You can read an enthusiasts report of the show here. Despite the parking chaos, despite the lack of Tornadoes and despite the curry running out in the VIP tent ... it was a cracking day out. We were lucky enough to be right on the centreline of the Reds display, but they still caught us napping coming in over the trees - that WOULD have been a superb picture if the camera had switched on quicker ... anyway, we are all looking forward to 11 Sep 2010, the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain - the summer leave has already been booked. Hopefully see you there !
Aug 2009 -
Alderney/Jersey/Ireland - The Mysterious Tale of the Disappearing Bicycle .... A word of warning ....
if you visit
25 July 2009 -
Loch an t-Seilich - (
15 July 2009 -
June 2009 -
30th May 2009. A certain little aeroplane had a
significant birthday.... and to think she took to the same French skies less
than 3 months after Concorde
001, F-WTSS not a million miles away in
22nd-25th May 2009. Headed south from Orkney and across the
water to the International Seaplane Festival at the Share Centre near
Enniskillen. Enniskillen is situated on Lower Loch Erne and was home to 2 flying
boat bases (Castle Archdale and Killadeas) during
WW2. On the Saturday, 5 seaplanes (from Northern and Southern Ireland,
18-21st May 2009. Went 'stravaigin' around Scotland, visiting Loch Shiel, Loch Morar and a few more lochs near Achnasheen, with overnight stops at Plockton, (where we took part in a mini retro-remake of The Wickerman) and Peterhead Longside, (where we were warmly welcomed and biscuited by Alfie, Ken, Bruce and the Buchan Aero Club). Then on to the Orkneys, for a quick overnight visit to the Orkney Folk Festival.
1-3 May 2009 - Glenforsa Yakathon -Celebrated Mayday in style with a camping
March 2009 - Springtime stretch
of the wings. Two sunny days spent splashing around Loch Venachar
(lunch at the Harbour Cafe ),
Loch Earn, Loch Rannoch and Loch Laidon before
About "G-DRAM" - The first Cessna 172 Amphib in Europe.
operate a Reims/Cessna FR172F "Reims Rocket" on brand-new Wipline
2350A amphibious floats. This aircraft (G-DRAM "Spirit of Scotland")
is no ordinary Cessna 172 -
with EASA approval G-DRAM becomes the FIRST (and ONLY) certificated amphibious
Cessna 172 in
by Reims in
Why travel thousands of miles to
WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING ?
November 2008 - Tucked away again for winter, we can all relax and enjoy restful nights, not worrying about tie-downs and the wind whistling down the chimney at 3am .....
September 2008 - RAF Leuchars Airshow - Mark your diaries. This is THE premier Airshow in
August 2008 -
Scottish Island Hop - DRAM's
summer holiday for 2008 was a 1000 mile epic island-hopping adventure with a
tent and folding bikes. From Prestwick to Cape Wrath (not strictly an island),
Orkney, Eday, Sanday, Westray, Papa Westray, Fair Isle,
Lewis, Harris (with a boat trip to St Kilda as a non-flying bonus), then back
to the mainland for a couple of days camping at Plockton
before a successful CAA checkride at Lochearnhead - Scotland now has one more Seaplane
Instructor :) Finished off (where else) on
1-4 May 2008. Biscarosse Airshow,
Well we made it !! Stopping off at Ha'Penny Green,
friendly Lasham, Guernsey for a tasty lunch (Hi Colin
and Sam!), Dinard, Quiberon (Hi Pierre!) and La
Rochelle - 5 days, 900 miles, many storm dodges and many lunches later, G-DRAM
and her tired crew splashed down on Biscarosse Lac
near Bordeaux. 2 fantastic days of seaplanes and sunshine,
and the promise that we will return in 2010 - (the 100th Anniversary of the
first ever seaplane flight by Frenchman Henri Fabre). We spread the word
29 November 2007 - Tucked away for the winter. After the horrendous weather of 2007, the decision was taken to hangar G-DRAM over the forthcoming winter. She is now safely tucked away and should re-emerge next April with a new C of A and fresh annual completed.
27 April 2007 - Finally .... back on the water
again !! Probably the best
weather day of the year so far .... well
.. DRAM is back !! :) The engineers at ACS in
We got airborne and had a wee splashorama ....
February 2007 - GOOD NEWS !! -Repairs are now well under way, and we expect to be back in the air by Easter. God Bless the insurance, God Bless the engineers and God Bless everyone at Glasgow who helped secure DRAM and prevent further wind damage later in the week. Nice articles on our plans in this month's Pilot and Today's Pilot Magazines :-) A BIG THANK YOU to Ron the Loss Adjuster, Brian and the Insurers (sounds like a band doesn't it?) and all at Glasgow Airport who helped out in our time of need ... The Flying Club, BAA Ops and Works Dept, Air Traffic, the Fire Service, mates Stewart and Neil (for holding the ropes), Bob, Brian and Steve with the Hi-Ab (for not dropping it off the back of a lorry on the M8 in the middle of the rush-hour) and to all the well-wishers who emailed, phoned and commiserated on Scottish Radar 127.27 .... Thank you :)
1 January 2007 -
Happy New Year (NOT) - Not the
best of news at 9am this morning. Gusts of 80mph last
night snapped the two fixed tie-downs and dragged G-DRAM (and another 4 large
concrete tie-downs). Damage to left float, awaiting
assessment :-( ....... in best Victor Meldrew voice
... "I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!" - 4 other aircraft damaged at
Cumbernauld, and a hangar blew down in
20 December 2006 -
FIRST FLIGHT - successful 2
hour test flight on land and water. Aircraft re-positioned to Glasgow Flying
17 December 2006
- G-DRAM rolled out the hangar
11 November 2006 -Full bare metal respray with photochromatic paint, completed by Eastern Air Executive at Sturgate Aerodrome (01427 838280) - Oyster leather Interior completed by Aircraft Interiors (01902 345251) -G-DRAM flown to Perth for float fitting by Air Charter Scotland (ACS) Engineering (01738 552503).
September 2006 - Float shipment delayed until October 2006 - respray now expected September/October with float-fitting and completion in November 2006.
May 2006 - Floats have now passed FAA and EASA STCs, are due to be shipped from Wipline in July and fitted by end of August - with expected rollout mid-September 2006. Respray now scheduled for end of September 2006. First lessons planned for Summer 2007.
If you would like to register your interest for flying next year, or if you just want to blether about float-flying, then please feel free to contact us on - email@example.com - or by mobile phone 07710 460694