The Caravan’s of Seair seemed to delight in making their departures closer to Stanley Park than the Harbour Air flights. This meant the long lens was way too much at their closest point but it did provide some nice angles for the aircraft as they took off and climbed out. The Caravan looks rather uncomfortable when on floats on the water but, once it is airborne, it looks pretty good to me. I was quite pleased with these passes.
We flew across Lake Union on our way back to Kenmore so went over the top of Kenmore Air’s base there. It turned out to be a busy time for the base. There were a bunch of planes on the water heading in and out of the base with others tied up awaiting their next flight. Having watched ops at the base on a number of occasions, the view from above provided a very different perspective to what I have seen before. At some point I hope to fly in there to experience it for myself.
I had a work day up in Vancouver. I finished up in the office at the end of the day just when rush hour traffic would be at its worst. The sun was out and the temperature was still nice so I figured I might delay my drive home for an hour or so and head to Stanley Park. It is a nice place to hang out, there is always plenty going on in the harbor and the floatplane departures might have factored in to my decision making.
There is a bit of an evening rush of departures but, with the days getting shorter and floatplane operations being a very visual thing, I figured they wouldn’t be going out too late if they were to be back before dark. I was actually pretty lucky as there was a wave of departures shortly after I got there and then, when I thought it had all wrapped up, another burst of flights headed out. Meanwhile, there were arrivals coming overhead for landing. It killed a bit of time and made for an easier drive home when I headed back south again.
With a friend visiting from the UK who was keen to experience some float plane flying, we booked ourselves on some flights with Kenmore Air. Having spent a fair bit of time over the last couple of years photographing their planes in service, it was nice to be actually experiencing their flying for a change. It proved to be a fun time and I will cover more bits of it in coming posts. Today I am focusing on their base. They were happy for us to wander around while we waited for our flight which was a lot of fun. Plenty of aircraft up on the land awaiting their next flights so here are some shots.
A couple of Kenmore Air planes departed from Kenmore while I was at Log Boom Park. The conditions were pretty damp and humid (and were about to be joined by pretty heavy downpours of rain!). This meant the departing planes had a good chance of pulling some streamers from the prop tips. Sure enough, when the Otter took off (and it started the takeoff run a little early which helped the shooting angles) the prop was streaming some vapor. The shape of the cone of the tip vortices as they flow across the fuselage was quite interesting.
A little while later (and just before the downpour began), a turbo Beaver came out. It, too, pulled some nice vapor from the prop tips as it accelerated across the water. A bit of a cross wind was apparently coming in (no doubt related to the impending storm) and they got airborne one float at a time. At this point we retreated to the car – but not in time to avoid the rain entirely!
Getting an Otter at Kenmore is not a challenge. The Kenmore Air fleet returns to their home base each evening so a steady stream of them can be relied on. What I hadn’t seen before was two showing up almost simultaneously. I was watching the first on final approach when I saw a second appear in the background. It provided a slightly more dynamic view of a regular occurrence.
Renton may be home to the 737 and to plenty of other aircraft but it also has a floatplane dock at the north end. A Husky was dragged over to the ramp during my Sunday morning stroll and dropped into the water. The pilot powered up and proceeded to water taxi around for quite a while, presumably while the engine was coming up to temperature. Finally he was ready to go and given acknowledgement from the tower that he could go if he wanted. A surge of power, up on to the step and then airborne and climbing away. No two ways about it, flying floatplanes is definitely cool.
Often the floatplanes will come in to Victoria Harbour through the entrance to the harbor, touch down on the water and continue straight in to the base. However, if the wind is in the opposite direction, they sometimes make their approach across the city and the harbor itself. While we were there, I saw one Twin Otter coming in this direction. It made its final turn with the large hotel and apartment buildings behind it which made for a shot with more context than would otherwise be the case.
The top of the Space Needle is a good place to watch the floatplane traffic in to Lake Union. They tend to fly really close by. Shooting through the glass is not ideal but the passing Otters are too good to pass up. If you can, getting to the gaps between the glass is a good idea but it is hard to do this and get a good angle on the planes as they pass. Boeing also helped out with an Oman Air 737 Max taking off from Boeing Field and coming our way.
Parked up on the ramp at Renton was what appeared to me to be a de Havilland Canada Beaver on floats. However, it looked different to every other Beaver I have seen. This one seemed to have a fun that was cut right down. Initially I figured it needed a repair but then I realized that there was a large dorsal extension to the fin. This would compensate to some extent to the missing top but whether it is a good configuration, I can’t say. It didn’t look good to me but it looked airworthy so maybe it flies fine? Has anyone seen more about this and can share with me some of the history?