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Thread: Pilot PA-12 on floats

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jay Burkart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Smithfield KY

    Pilot PA-12 on floats

    Sent by Tom March:

    Are you considering an ARF plane to put on floats to fly off the water? In the middle of last winter I was weighing that decision. It had to be electric powered so I could fly on the spur of the moment when the lake was calm for a while – I have three glow powered planes already that are 1/8, 1/6 and 1/3 scale but they take time to get ready to fly. I enjoy relaxing flying – shooting touch and goes and scale like aerobatics. Keeping the wing loading down was high priority along with having a 10 to 15 minute flight time and good performance. From past experience with my glow powered planes I knew that the 1/6 scale would be able to handle a little more wave action than the small 1/8 scale and the cost of battery packs is more reasonable than for 1/4 scale. I set up a spreadsheet – including wing loading, wing cube loading, power loading and all the standard items to compare almost a dozen planes that seemed reasonable.

    There are a number of attractive planes available and having a matching set of pre-built floats is convenient but they were all too heavy and made for a high wing (or wing cube) loading (a wing cube loading calculator is available at Although there are no matching pre-built floats to go with it, one plane stood out – Hobby Lobby’s 1/8 scale Pilot 1 Piper PA-12. It is beautifully made, often seen on floats in full scale and can easily be adapted to floats. On wheels - set up with the recommended motor and battery pack the wing loading is a light 16.2 oz./sq. ft. (WCL 7.29) On floats the final wing loading came in at 19.7 oz./sq. ft. (WCL 8.88) with a larger AXi 2826/12 motor (which fit right in by eliminating the spacers used with the recommended motor) and a larger ThunderPower 3900 mAH Li-po battery. By modifying the battery tray slightly you can slide the battery up into the motor mount box and avoid adding any nose weight or having to use Velcro to hold the pack in place (see photo).

    The floats are critical. Light weight, correct length, design and setup make or break the floatplane. Mark Smith ( made a set of V-bottom 34 inch, 4 3/8 inch wide (at the step) foam cores for me. I finished them using Z-poxy finishing resin and 2 layers of ¾ oz cloth on the tops (so I could easily wrap it around on the bottoms) and one layer of Mark’s 2.3 oz. cloth on the bottoms. More details of the setup are available in an article on this web site (click on the picture of the water rudder on the home page). Jim Held has a great article on Mark’s web site on finishing – use that as a guide. You can sheet the bottoms as he shows and they will be more rugged than just using cloth but will weigh a bit more.

    The PA-12 has wonderful flight characteristics on floats. The plane is on step in a second and in the air in less than thirty feet. Climb out is strong with a power loading of 103 watts/lb. The roll rate is scale and aerobatics are realistic. Stalls are straight ahead with no tendency to drop a wing as you can see in the picture of the landing approach by the nose high attitude just before touchdown. Flight times are a minimum of 10 minutes with lots of aerobatics and 15 plus minutes shooting touch and goes and level patterns at half throttle.

    Our thanks to Tom March for this great addition to the PA-12

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails PA-12 on floats1.jpg   PA-12 on floats2.jpg   PA-12 on floats bottom front strut.jpg  

    PA-12 on floats3.jpg   PA-12 on floats4.jpg   PA-12 on floats5.jpg  

    SAM Grand Champion 2004.07,10,12

  2. #2

    Re: Pilot PA-12 on floats

    That is so cool!!!!

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