Seaplane/Floatplane identification

I was driving by Boeing Field the other day as the sunlight was beginning to fade and there was a plane in the air. I can’t seem to find anything quite like it online- so I’m not quite convinced I saw what I think I saw.

It was flying almost directly overhead ~1000 feet up. It looked like a fat or stubby Cessna (so 2-10 passengers, I’d estimate) but the standard “rectangular” wings over the cockpit. It appeared to have a boat hull for the bottom of the fuselage but no other floats or wheels present. The incredible part was that it appeared to have the engine on the top of the fuselage and wings and it wasn’t a naked propeller as there was definitely a cylindrical appearance to it.

When I first saw it, I thought it was an AWACS or weather plane (before the size and then the boat-like hull). So any idea what it may have been?

Was it bright yellow? In fading light, the various features you saw might describe the CL-415, but most - if not all - of the ones operating in North America are a rather obviously painted bright yellow and red. It’s a waterbomber, though, not a passenger plane (though it can be configured with jump seats); top of fuse square boxy wings, wings just aft of the cockpit, somewhat rounded and top-mounted engines, float plane design (landing gear consist of a stowed nose gear and retracted though not stowed mains). It is a prop plane, though (turboprop, actually), though that might not be noticeable in flight. I believe Washington State operates a couple of them (I know for a fact that they lease some if needed during wildfire season).

Other random guessing that doesn’t look much like what you described but I want to link this funny picture: A Shorts 330? This is why you tie down small planes, people! :smack:

I assume the Martin Mars is too big?

A Beriev Be-200 Altaire? Only 9 have been built, but the USA does have some on order, so perhaps one was getting delivered? That would be cool to see.

Several aircraft fit the general look:

Lake Amphibian - these have a pusher prop on a pylon over the wing, IIRC.
republic Seabee - the wing is high enough the pusher prop clears the tail boom.

there are several homebuilts that mimic these configurations too.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ducted prop in real life…

It definitely looked like a single pod over the fuselage like this:

So I am thinking that the Lake Amphibian is the most likely candidate. The indentation on the leading edge of the pod could explain my cylinder impression. There are a couple of things against it yet:

  1. I am nearly positive that there weren’t any floats or things hanging down from the wings
  2. The Martin Mars is closer to the “chubbiness”, but as mnemosyne points out, it was smaller in total size than a Martin Mars.
  3. It was climbing so maybe the propellor was really turning but I didn’t think there was anything that prominent.

I’ve started looking at non-float planes because maybe that is the element that I am wrong about. It would also explain its proximity to an airfield (although it wasn’t on a take-off or landing approach angle.

Another. A third.

Deleted first one.

Are you fairly sure it had only one engine? The Be-103 sponsons are in the wing tips. The Catalina has retractable sponsons, but it is bigger.


Would you believe a Republic Seebee? :smiley:

Or maybe a Dornier Seastar? No floats, no wheels…

I’m positive on the single engine. My coworker who was with me initially thought it was a WW-II fighter due to the two concentric circles when it was head-on to us. He is a bit of an old fighter/bomber fan from France (but not widely knowledgable about other aircraft) and his being puzzled was the prompt for my asking the Dope.

I contacted both of the Seaplane operators in Seattle and neither had a clue although one suggested that this one was a possibility because of the lack of wing accoutrements and the pod-like engines as well as the chubbiness I’m looking for in my airplane. But once again, I’ve got too many engines.

I’ve still got a call out to the Museum of Flight in case they had anything to do with it, but I think I’m going to have to retire my flight of fancy and admit that my vision and/or memory are not as good as they once were.

I think the SeaBee (also mentioned by md2000) would have been more distinct with its taper. But I really want one now! $50,000 for two! (only partially assembled)

Some homebuilt / light sport options:


One fewer Seebee in the world as of Saturday morning.

This happened two counties south of here. The 78-year-old pilot (sole occupant) was taken to the hospital with possible head injuries.