Seaplane Flying In Wisconsin

by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2017

Fly over Wisconsin and you will quickly realize, we have a lot of lakes. Upwards of 15,000. With all these lakes and several large river ways, just about anywhere you go, you’ll find water nearby. If you’re a seaplane pilot, that means nearly endless opportunities for floatplane flying fun!

With spring finally here and summer around the corner, hopefully seaplane pilots have started planning their next Wisconsin adventure. For some terrific trip ideas, check out

For those who prefer to fly to a seaplane base, Wisconsin has six (6) seaplane bases, which are open to the public, and another nine (9), which are available with prior permission from the owner.

Others may be looking to find a lake they can claim for themselves, if only for the day. The good news is the vast majority of our lakes and rivers are open to seaplane use. However, there are a few exceptions. The map below depicts the bodies of water with known seaplane restrictions, as well as the locations of the seaplane bases around the state. Of course, it’s always good practice to contact the local lake or river authority before attempting to use any body of water for seaplane operations.

Bodies of water with known seaplane restrictions are identified above. Still, we recommend contacting the local lake or river authority before using any body of water for seaplane operations just to be safe.

If you’re interested in establishing your very own seaplane base, just give us a call at the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics. We will gladly help you complete the free application. For more information about the process, site selection and seaplane base facilities, I recommend you take a look at Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 150/5395-1A, which can be found at

Wishing you sunny skies and calm waters!      608-266-3351

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