Sliding the canopy back and climbing aboard the SeaRey at the company’s factory in Tavares, Florida, I was first struck by the roominess of the cabin, which is actually as wide as a Cessna 182. After a quick start-up, we taxied down the ramp and into Lake Idamere. On land, as on water and in the air, handling the airplane’s minimal controls was an easy and intuitive process.
After throttling up for takeoff, we were on step in a matter of seconds and airborne moments later, climbing to 1,500 feet at about 750 fpm. As we settled in at a cruise speed of about 90 mph, I took in the expansive visibility afforded by the panoramic windscreen and canopy. For a high-wing airplane, the SeaRey provides an unparalleled view of the horizon, and with the ability to open either side of the canopy while in the air, fliers can opt for their preferred amount of that breezy, outdoor feel.
While a good enough airplane on terra firma, the SeaRey is in its natural element when it gets wet. Conditions were choppy as we lake-hopped around central Florida, but the SeaRey’s fiberglass hull proved its brawn as it maneuvered atop the larger waves. Step taxiing in the airplane is just pure fun, as the SeaRey pivots atop the water’s surface with a level of agility reminiscent of a Jet Ski. After you’re done playing around, you can take advantage of another key SeaRey characteristic — the ability to taxi directly out of the water. Simply deploy the gear, pull the stick back, add power and taxi on out.
Like any LSA, the SeaRey isn’t the fastest airplane around, but for those pilots seeking a scenic flyer rather than a no-nonsense traveler, it’s a ton of fun. For more than two decades the amphib has offered pilots looking for a little adventure an affordable avenue for a low-and-slow brand of escape. Now, they’ll build it for you too. — Bethany Whitfield
CubCrafters Carbon Cub SS
The Carbon Cub pulls from the heritage of the legendary Piper Cub, with essentially the same wing and fuselage shape. Where the airplane really shines is on short, unimproved surfaces. The 180 hp CC340 engine — a modified version of the Lycoming O-320 — has no trouble bringing the Carbon Cub to the sky. The empty weight comes out right around 900 pounds, and even if you fill it to the LSA weight limit of 1,320 pounds, the power-to-weight ratio is excellent.
The Carbon Cub can be fitted with a variety of tire sizes, but the one I flew had 29-inch tundra tires. They were ideally suited for our mission — landing on the sand dunes near Pismo Beach, California. Ben Hodges, general manager of California Cubs, which sells CubCrafters airplanes, was at the controls, and his landing was surprisingly smooth, likely because of his skills but also partially thanks to the Carbon Cub’s optional landing-gear upgrade, which uses polyurethane donuts as opposed to bungees. After enjoying the beach for a few minutes, we switched seats, and it was my turn to fly.
I enjoyed the feel of the Carbon Cub — easy to control, no surprises. I comfortably rested my hand on my leg to hold the center stick, but I would have liked it to be an inch taller.
The strong power-to-weight ratio gives the Carbon Cub an impressive climb rate. Published figures are 2,100 fpm at max gross weight, which we exceeded by a couple of hundred fpm while climbing out at around 75 mph with a light fuel load. Playing around with stalls, we never saw a real break. And with the Dynon showing 29 mph indicated, we were just about able to maintain altitude with 1,000 rpm worth of power. Slow flight felt stable while straight and during turns, which also made landing the Carbon Cub easy.