Is there a landing gear set up that will allow a single engine plane (also, allowing for tundra tires than what is not available for current water skids) to land on rough grass and water?

The wheels in the picture folds back to not case drag in the water; maybe the water-skid for a plane could work in this way for tundra tires?

Like this pictures landing skid but with tundra tires instead of those little ones. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking about bigger tires, or a retractable pontoon for water landings? Because those are vastly different! Definite yes on big tires, just google “tundra tires”. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ Or are you asking about float planes with retractable wheels? (Per your kayak photo). We need more clarity... $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ Related: are tracked landing gear systems still in use and developmen $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ @justintimeforfun, no, your edit did not clear things up. Are you talking about landing on rough grass, or landing in water? Landing on rough grass you want large tundra tires. For landing on water, you need a pontoon float. Are you asking about an amphibious plane that can do both? Because these exist too. Do a search on amphibious planes. Otherwise you really need to clarify what you are asking. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 21:41
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, now we are actually getting somewhere! I have seen these take off from land quite a few times, but I have never seen one land. I think you’d have a tough time stuffing larger tires in there, but I will let someone more knowledgeable answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2020 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


The closest anyone has come to something that could be called a feasible all-terrain gear is the Air Cushion Landing System developed by Bell Aerospace and tested initially on a Lake Buccaneer, which lead to a test of a system Bell developed for the DeHavilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo under a joint program between DH, the Canadian Govt, and the USAF.

enter image description here

The cushion was inflated by a pair of P&W PT-6 turboshaft powered inflation sytems (a kind of ducted fan setup), which are in the sponsons on each side of the fuselage. The testing was completed in 1977. I dimly remember that the biggest problem with the system was wearing out of the bottom surface of the cushion (it wasn't open like a hovercraft skirt, but more like an air mattress with an array of holes in the bottom, and the bottom surface would brush the ground and wear out really fast). That and the obvious performance penalty issues (you're giving up a lot of payload to haul all that gear around) kind of killed it.

It could take off and land on any flat surface, and being a Buff, only needed a few hundred feet of space (the DHC-5 Buffalo could land and take off from a soccer field, and the normal version once did so in a civil defense demo in New York City, causing numerous calls by apartment dwellers to report the "crash" in a park).

I worked on this airplane as a mechanic when it returned from the test program to DH in 1979, removing the tip floats and the cushion system and patching the fuselage up before it was returned to its RCAF operating squadron.


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