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What are the regulations regarding water skiing with ASEL aircraft, as in touching your tires down in a particular body of water such as a lake or river? Sometimes referred to hydroplaning.

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    $\begingroup$ Do you mean a) skimming the surface of the water with the aircraft's tires, or b) towing a water skier behind the aircraft? $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jun 7 '18 at 18:27
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    $\begingroup$ Choosing between the two sounds like settling. $\endgroup$ – Therac Jun 7 '18 at 18:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife I can’t quite see how you would initiate b) - catch bungee type rope? exit flying aircraft with water skis attached? It would at least be conceivable with a float plane, but on a land plane... interesting! $\endgroup$ – Cpt Reynolds Jun 7 '18 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ Water skiing, water skimming and hydroplaning are all terms used to describe the intended activity. $\endgroup$ – Pilothead Jun 7 '18 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ @CptReynolds I don't know either, but I would bet a lot of fake internet money that someone somewhere has found a way! $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jun 7 '18 at 23:06
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enter image description here
(bush-air.com)

I couldn't find any regulations for it. But the closest thing to an official mention of it I found was in a 2009 piece on Anchorage Daily News, where an unlicensed pilot water skied, hit a sandbar, and it didn't end nicely for his Super Cub.

The FAA regional counsel said:

The practice is called water-skiing, and it is not encouraged. It was developed for landing in tight quarters, like sand bars where space is short, but doing it wrong can be disastrous.

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No regs against it but is strongly discouraged. If an accident did occur, you’re likely to be cited under 14 CFR 91.13 Careless and Reckless Operation and the incident will probably be used as evidence in a Wrongful Injury/Death lawsuit.

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The original useful purpose for skimming was to allow landing by bush planes in tight areas near water. This is what is meant by skimming:

enter image description here

Youtube

and there are no specific regulations against doing it.

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Like a lot of things where there are no legal prohibitions, the real issue is if you have in-motion hull insurance or not. If you don't have in-motion hull, knock yourself out. If you do, better make sure its covered, otherwise you'll be in for a surprise if you mess up.

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  • $\begingroup$ Most insurance companies I have dealt with won't even cover insurance for an accident on a dirt strip; it has to be an "improved" runway i.e. paved and lighted. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Jun 8 '18 at 2:04
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No "hydroplaning" with tires or "skimming" with skis is not illegal.

It's very common in Alaska and was supposedly started (~1930-1935) by bush pilot "Bob Reeves" delivering freight with skis from Valdez Alaska mud flats to higher snow covered altitudes and glaciers. It's now common among J3 Cubs with balloon tires (often Goodyear Blimp tires).
enter image description here Youtube clip of Bob Reeves landing on mud flats in 1938.

While most of use know the rating as a "Float Rating", the FAA officially designates the privilege as a "Seaplane Rating". Therefore the aircraft must be in a "seaplane" configuration in-order to require a special license.

Amazingly, the FAA does not require a sign-off or special training for skis - despite the fact there can be as much or more of a difference in technique compared to the mandatory tail wheel sign-off!

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