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!
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.
I walked along the harbour shoreline in Victoria to go and see some of the floatplanes in operation. The planes have to take off and “land” in the outer area of the harbour so they are a bit away from the easiest spots to watch things from when they are most active. I saw a couple of planes making their approach. They came in through the entrance to the harbour before making the turn to line up for landing. A nice arc to final approach and then touching down to be at water taxi speed by the time the entered the restricted area of the harbour itself. Fun to watch and I could have spent plenty of time there on a sunny afternoon!
Harbour Air is the big player in the Victoria floatplane business. Most of their airframes were in standard colors but one of them was painted up in a nice Canadian Flag color scheme. I first saw it moored up against the jetty but later, when walking down near the water, it taxied out for departure. The takeoff run is a bit far out but I got some shots of it as it went on its way.
A few years ago we spent some time in Victoria on Vancouver Island. Victoria has a lot of floatplane activity and, at the time, an airline called West Coast Air was operating with a large fleet of Twin Otters. Since that time, West Coast was taken over by Harbour Air. Harbour Air is the dominant operator at Vancouver. However, while we were there, we saw only one Twin Otter. A check online seems to suggest that they have focused more on the Otters and Beavers and reduced the Twin Otter fleet. I assume they are not so economical for the type of operations they undertake but, if anyone has any more information about what happened, pleas let me know.