Yes. Brown's Seaplane Base in Winter Haven, FL (about a 40 minute drive SW of Orlando). Flew the J3 (Cub).
To answer your last question simply: yes. To go into more detail: it was the most fun weekend I think I've had in my entire life! I was in MCO for a convention, and had a chance to stay at a timeshare through the weekend at no cost, so jumped on the opportunity to stay and do my SES.
At the time, the ink was barely dry on my PP-ASEL. I asked my CFI what he thought about me doing it with so few hours, and his only words were: "Go for it! Why wouldn't you?"
It took two days, the first we did about 1.5/2 hrs of ground school then flew, then lunch break, then flew again. I went home and studied (each flight was about 2hrs) then came back the next morning and flew, then went RIGHT into my checkride. In total I got right around 6-7hrs of SES time.
Flying the Cub was a blast - flying one on floats was even more so (picture buzzing along a shoreline looking for gators with the door down, or bobbing quietly in the middle of a lake with a warm breeze while your CFI goes over taxi procedures with you, and you've got your own little slice of heaven).
I can honestly say it helped my 'stick and rudder' skills immensely - so much of flying that plane and flying floats is simply feel.
What regulations are there as to what bodies of water can be used by seaplanes in the US? Can I land anywhere I want to unless it is specifically prohibited or does it have to be specifically allowed?
A friend of mine (another new pilot) wants to do his seaplane rating here in Germany. But I don't see the point in Germany because I think there is now officially exactly one legal place to land in the whole country (in Hamburg). And even there, there is a defined "runway" because the Germans have decided that it's not legal to just land willy-nilly any direction you want - who cares about the wind anyway?
So in my arrogance, I'm assuming that the regulations in the United States are far less limiting. Am I right?
some bodies of water are restricted. You can do two things to find out where it's kosher to land and where it is not - 1) the Seaplane Pilots Association (www.seaplanes.org) puts out an annual waterway directory. 2) is to contact the governing body over that particular waterway (whether it be local, state, federal - you have to research and find out) and ascertain whether it's legal to land there.
I've not seen it, but from what I understand the SPA's directory puts the regulations together from the state, federal, and local levels and lists it all out.
The area I flew in FL was just covered in lakes, some were barely larger than a big pond, some were much bigger. If we landed on one of them, we had to have landed on thirty. On the designated runway deal - you always land as much into the wind as you can. There are telltale signs (wind streaks, glassy water bands...) that tell you which way you'll need to be landing. The nice thing is, there's seldom a need for a crosswind landing unless the lake/landing area is situated in such a way that there is not room to make your landing straight into the wind.
That's too bad they didn't get back to you...that is weird. I emailed them when I was first considering doing my SES, about 4-5 weeks before I was headed to FL, and they emailed me back sometime the next day and gave me a specific person to talk to (can't remember the name). About a week later when I decided for sure to do it, I called the woman and gave them my deposit.
She wasn't there when I did my SES, it was Jon Brown's (the owner) wife and daughter working in the office.
If anyone has the chance and the extra $ - I highly recommend it - I can't stress enough how much of a blast it was!
It's always cool when you can find neat new things to do to add hours to your TT...
I don't get Private Pilot. I'll definitely have to go buy that issue!
I have just put a deposit down for a seaplane rating at www.alaskafloatratings.com. I haven't bought the airline tickets yet, but once I do that it will be a definite thing. Its for June. I'm from NYC, so this a bit of a stretch for me, but i want to see Alaska and improve my stick and rudder skills and this seems like an awesome way to do it. This post has helped. I hope all who have experiences continue to relate. Hey Buzo, if you know anything about this place please post. Everything I heard about it was good, I actually read about it in the AOPA magazine. Who knows, maybe this city boy will end up a bush pilot or in the Iditarod air force or something.