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If a floatplane, seaplane, or flying boat has ice on the wings, how is the ice removed before takeoff? Can it be done while keeping the plane in the water?

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  • $\begingroup$ Poring hot water on the wings was a very common de-ice practice in the bush. It’s probably still used. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 18:41

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When I was a bush pilot, this would be a problem late in the season, and I'd come to the dock and find the plane covered in heavy frost. The temperatures were just below freezing and starting to rise above freezing, so post-freezing wasn't a problem, and I'd just climb on top with a bucket on a rope, and haul up lake water (which is still fairly warm in late October) and throw it across the wings.

If you had ice on the plane from freezing rain overnight, you'd need to use a lot more water, but if it was still freezing rain, or if freezing rain was in the forecast, you weren't going anywhere in any case.

Sometimes late in the year, the freezing level might be at 1000 ft, and you could go flying in rain, but you had to stay low, below the freezing level, even if the cloud base was well above. You could cruise at say, 500 ft (a typical altitude in bad weather all year), see the OAT showing just above 0 degrees, climb a few hundred feet, and as soon as the OAT crept below 0 ice would start to accumulate on the windshield and back down you'd go.

With trips in the morning, you can count on the freezing level moving up so it's safe to go in marginal conditions, but in the afternoon, if the conditions were borderline, you knew it could only get worse and at some point you have to cancel your trips.

Bush flying is truly the most live-by-your-wits-in-a-world-of-shades-of-grey type of flying.

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