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103 Amphib on public water...what authorities require, pitfalls & warnings

Posted By:
Bob Moehlenkamp
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#1 Posted: 6/5/2011 07:13:54

What should a newbie know before the ticket?

Norman Langlois
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#2 Posted: 6/5/2011 07:51:31

Good Question

I have found no answers in my state.

Here in NH there are still no extra 's as far as I know . Since all water crafts need registrations even a canoe

I wounder if that is all I need is some kind of bow numbers.

There is an  air tax here $100 last I was told. All aircraft pay.

I am about to  hit the water with my build this month I hope.

Grant Smith
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#3 Posted: 6/7/2011 07:05:30


Most local authorities do not know the regulations so you will get a lot of conflicting information. An aircraft is not a boat so no boat license is required. Boat regulations regarding flotation devices also do not apply; common sense does. In effect that means use an acceptable flotation system, it does not need to be Coast Guard approved.

First requirement is to determine if you are on "navigational water", part of a water system such as the Inland Canal, Mississippi River, Great lakes or any of many smaller water areas that come under Federal control of the waterway. These areas are the easiest to determine the legal requirements. In these areas Federal jurisdiction generally begins 200 feet (if I remember right) from shore.

Inland lakes may have local requirements. Research State, County and community requirements and regulations. Do not expect a 100% straight answer if you contact the local sheriff. As indicated above they are not necessarily familiar with the regulations but it does not hurt to talk with them. Someone will surely report this strange craft and they will come to talk with you. If you will respond professionally and know your legal standing you will have won the battle.

The Seaplane Pilots Association is a good place to start. They have done much of the research and will add your input for other members. Some states have open waterways for aircraft unless a specific area is specified closed, others are closed unless specified open. However, keep in mind that an ultralight is not an aircraft with regard to some regulations. Good luck and happy flying.


Grant Smith CFI
Raymond Buhr
IAC MemberHomebuilder or Craftsman
#4 Posted: 6/20/2011 19:00:55

A part 103 Ultralight is not considered an airplane either by the FAA right

In what  state is the lake you want to fly from?


If the county owns the lake then they likely have their own rules/permits/fees etc.

In a Riverside County owned lake in CA they have rules to exclude aircraft, but again a part 103 is NOT one so...it will likely

be a fine and a court case to resolve the issue after the fact.





Jim Robichaud
Homebuilder or Craftsman
#5 Posted: 7/21/2011 08:10:19

I have been a licensed pilot for 38 years and flying ultralights for 30.  Part of my ultralight experience includes about 600 hrs on ultralight floats in a very heavily populated lake region in the Upper Midwest. 

If you could give a little bit more information about what kind of float flying you'll be doing, I can share what I've learned about getting and maintaining access.

1.  Are you going to be keeping this at your residence on water?

2.  Are you going to be doing most of your flying on one body of water or going to a lot of others?