Cape Air’s Cold Weather Seaplane Operations

Icy morning on the Hudson

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Not all of Cape Air’s seaplanes go south for the winter. Believe it or not, there are still some people who want to fly even in cold weather. Although we keep at least one airplane operational in the New York area all winter, it doesn’t mean we can always fly.

Some years an early hard freeze or severe winter storm can cause the Hudson and East Rivers to ice up. Any floating ice, or debris fields with ice or other obstacles, and the rivers are shut down for our seaplanes until warmer weather arrives.

Mild winters mean our seaplanes can operate in and out of local waterways year-round. Even when temperatures dip below freezing we may still be able to fly. Salt water freezes at about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The water in the rivers, and in Long Island Sound, stays warmer than that pretty much all winter. Even so, when we have to jump in the water in January at Sunset Beach, it feels really COLD! Most of our pilots (those who haven’t escaped to the Caribbean anyway) are equipped with warm, heavy pants and fleece-lined waders.

Aside from the temperatures, there are some other considerations that affect our ability to fly during the winter months. After daylight savings time ends in November, sunset in New York City occurs well before 5 pm and that limits the hours we can operate at 23rd Street. We also don’t do much instrument flying in the winter, as those clouds frequently contain conditions for icing and, with those big pontoons hanging down, seaplanes don’t like ice.

Just because it’s February, don’t assume your only way to the Hamptons involves the LIE. Give us a call. We’ll be happy to fly you over!

Happy Travels,

Cape Air – providing seaplane services since 1980

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