A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing (alighting) on water.<ref name=g>Gunston, "The Cambridge Aerospace Dictionary", 2009.</ref> Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are in a subclass called amphibian aircraft. Seaplanes and amphibians are usually divided into two categories based on their technological characteristics: floatplanes and flying boats; the latter are generally far larger and can carry far more. These aircraft were sometimes called hydroplanes,<ref>de Saint-Exupery, A. (1940). "Wind, Sand and Stars" p33, Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.</ref> but currently, this term applies instead to motor-powered watercraft that use hydrofoils to levitate their main hull above the water when running at speed.<ref name=g/>
Their use gradually tailed off after World War II, partially because of the investments in airports during the war. In the 21st century, seaplanes maintain a few niche uses, such as for dropping water on forest fires, air transport around archipelagos, and access to undeveloped or roadless areas, some of which have numerous fresh-water lakes.
Intro Types History Uses and operation See also References
|PREVIOUS: Intro||NEXT: Types|