It has taken a while for this post from the 75th anniversary celebrations at Kenmore Air. They operated one of the planes from the slough that runs alongside the base. They had back taxied one of the Otters to start its takeoff run from earlier to mean it was taking off close to the spectators. Then, when landing, they brought it down in the slough again. It made for a great view of the plane compared to the normal departures and arrivals way out in Lake Washington.
I may have complained a little about the weather being damp and windy during our trip to Victoria but there was one upside to this. Unfortunately, it took one missed opportunity before I realized. The wind was strong and from the west. The normal approach for Harbour Air is to come in through the opening to the harbor and then touch down in the outer area before taxiing into the Inner Harbour. With the wind coming from the opposite direction, they reversed the flow.
I had seen this once before on a previous visit to Victoria many years ago and had forgotten it could happen. Our hotel was located right on the corner of the shoreline around which the planes would approach and we had a view out of our (not huge) window as they came around to touch down. The first time I realized I could get the shot, I had to make so with shooting through the window. This does not do much for image quality but it was still okay and I got an Otter coming in.
The next time something was due, I planned ahead. The window of our room did open but it only opened a very small amount. Not enough to get a camera out of except when looking off to one side. However, the restriction on opening was the result of a small screw that was in the track for the window and it was not very securely fastened. With my fingertip, I was able to remove the screw and with that out of the way, the window could fully open. A Twin Otter was on the way so this time I was ready to get a clearer shot. There is plenty of warning of their arrival because the sound of the props reaches you long before the plane does. Besides, they are on final approach so hardly going too fast. The only downside to this shot is that the touchdown location is further around and out of sight of where we were. Bad weather can have its benefits.
I had a bit of time one morning during our Victoria stay to walk along the shoreline. The hotel that we were staying in was right on the shore so I only had to step outside and then I could walk around to the more open are of the harbor. This also meant I could get some shots of the Harbour Air operations. Their floatplane base is in the Inner Harbour area but the planes taxi out to the outer areas for departure.
I was able to get some shots of arrivals and departures as well as taxiing planes. Some of those I could shoot from our hotel window when I wanted to stay dry! I was happy to shoot the Otter movements but I was more interested in the Twin Otters. We have plenty of Otters around here with Kenmore but Twin Otters are not common down here so some variety was welcome. Besides, it is a bigger plane so a little easier to shoot at a distance!
While walking along the main runway at BFI, the shorter runway remained in use. Since I was at the north end, that meant walking parallel to some of the movements. A Turbo Beaver was one of the planes to use the runway while I walked alongside so it would have been rude not to grab a few shots as it went by. I was using the M6 which is not my usual camera for action work but you go with what you have!
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.
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?
While the Space Needle is a great place to view the city of Seattle, it is also good for seeing floatplanes. Lake Union is a base for many floatplane operations and the routes take the planes close to the Needle. On the day we were there, the wind was quite strong from the south so the planes were water taxiing to the other end of the lake before taking off. We had quite a procession with a stream takeoff from a couple of them.
Once airborne, the commenced a turn towards Elliott Bay which took them just north of us and pretty close. I wasn’t well set up to get shots but I managed to get a few. I tried my best to shoot through the gaps between the glass panels but sometimes I shot through the glass which was surprisingly good. You get the feeling of being air to air, even while standing on something solid.
The floatplane activity on Lake Union is fun to check out, not just for an aviation geek like me, but for plenty of visitors to the city too. I have previously gone down to the lakeshore to check them out but, one evening, while driving into the city to drop a friend off, I was coming down the road on the hill overlooking the lake when a plane took off giving an interesting alternative perspective on its departure. I figured this needed to be explored further.
The question was where to go. The road I had been on was not one on which stopping was practical. Parallel roads exist but there are buildings along most of them so the view is obscured. However, I did find a location that had a clear view of most of the lake (aside from one building that was right in the touchdown zone! I wasn’t around for much of the traffic but I did get to see a few arrivals and departures. Looking down on the flights and having some scenery behind them including the cityscape rather than the sky is a nice change. I may have to try this out again at a busier time.