Recently we were traveling in Italy and made our way up to Lake Como to visit Aero Club Como, a seaplane base that has been in existence since 1913. John Kelly spent time training pilots there for a Caravan customer about twelve years ago and has fond memories of “hanging out” at this historic seaplane operation.
The Club is located in the city of Como on Lake Como, a glacial lake surrounded by the foothills of the Alps. The climate is mild, making it easier to fly in all seasons. From their base on the lake’s edge, Aero Club Como provides sightseeing trips and pilot training using floatplanes, flying boats, and amphibious seaplanes in one of the most beautiful venues you could possibly imagine.
Seaplanes have that cachet or allure of adventure and nowhere is that more true than at Aero Club Como. We met and chatted with a couple of the flight instructors and some visiting Caravan pilots, who were there adding a seaplane rating to their professional credentials. John had a great conversation with the Chief Flight Instructor, Francesco Cereda about flying, training, and all things seaplane. Despite their very full schedule, we managed to fit in a one-hour flight in a Cessna 206 seaplane on straight floats. The plane was driven into the water on a cart and released with a splash. John was in the left seat, with one of their instructors, Paolo, in the right seat to help with the local flight regulations.
The lake has a designated seaplane runway marked by bright yellow buoys. We took off flying over towns and villages, some at the lakes edge and others tucked precariously into the mountainside. The scenery was spectacular, and I could see why John was so anxious to have me see it from the air. The bird’s eye view of the many mansions and villas scattered along the lake speaks to the popularity of Lake Como as a worthy destination for the rich and famous.
Aero Club Como aircraft have been featured in many TV shows and movies. In addition to the modern aircraft in daily use, Aero Club Como has an extensive fleet of vintage aircraft from the 30s, 40s and 50s. A few of them can be found in their hangar, a little dusty perhaps, but still capable of completing whatever mission might come up. The Club is in the process of buying a building behind their facility, which they plan to use as a seaplane museum. As the Italians were historically great innovators and developers of seaplanes, it should definitely be worth a visit. Guess we have another reason to go back.
Stepping back in time at Aero Club Como reminded us that seaplanes have been around for a long, long time and there’s something special about flying them. During our visit with the staff there, we met a rather debonair gentleman of 84 who was taking seaplane flight lessons, proving that you’re never too old to enjoy a grand new adventure.
Cape Air – Providing Seaplane Adventures since 1980