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.
2021 is the 75th anniversary of Kenmore Air. Since we moved to the Pacific Northwest, I have been grateful to Kenmore for providing plenty of floatplanes for me to see and some convenient locations to photograph them. I have also had a fun flight with them. When they announced that they were holding a public celebration I was in for that. It was a free event at their Kenmore Harbor headquarters and it was a lot of fun.
I put together an article for Global Aviation Resource that describes the event in more detail so, rather than repeat all of that here, the link to the article is https://www.globalaviationresource.com/v2/2021/09/07/aviation-event-kenmore-airs-75th-anniversary/. I will pop a few of the images of the event here as well and will cover some details of the proceedings in future blog posts.
Kenmore Air is well known for operating a fleet of deHavilland Canada floatplanes in the Pacific Northwest. They do also have a sizeable fleet of land planes too which, up until know has been Cessna based with Caravans being their staple. However, they have added something new to the fleet in the shape of a Pilatus PC-12. Not sure what the purpose of this is and whether it is the first of many but I was pleased to catch it on approach not long after they took delivery (or at least announced delivery).
Kenmore’s floatplane operations are the best known part of their business but they have a lot of flights using the Cessna Caravan from land bases. One of them returned to their Boeing Field base while I was there. The Caravan is perfectly capable of using the short runway at the airport and, with plenty of traffic using the main runway, this one came in on the short side. That brought it closer to me so I was pretty happy about it.
When my buddy, Mark, was visiting, he wanted to get a little floatplane flying in and took me along for the ride. Kenmore Air have a ticket you can get for a ride along with the scheduled service. You don’t know exactly where you will be going but you will head out to the Gulf Islands and will be out for about three hours. Originally, they said we would stop off at Lake Union to pick up and drop off but that ultimately wasn’t needed although we do do a flyby as I covered in this post about the Space Needle.
The weather wasn’t too sunny which actually made for some smooth flying conditions. We were in a piston Beaver and probably never got above 1,000’ when transiting. Some of the sections were a bit below that which meant a great view of the scenery. We also saw some boats and they got a post here as well. We skirted passed some islands and over others as we made our way. Our first stop was Friday Harbor and the second was Deer Harbor.
There was a small airfield on one of the islands that we passed close by. A brief look down the runway as we crossed the center line but then it got harder to see. It was surrounded by trees so was hard to make out. These shots are a selection of those that I got as we made our way around the islands and across the bays and inlets. With spring coming, I think I might need to book another one of these trips.
Our aerial adventure with Kenmore Air included a lot of time over the waters of Puget Sound. Very little time was spent over land. The waters were not very busy but there was enough boat traffic to see as we soared overhead. We weren’t always close, though, so sometimes things were watched from a distance. We did have a pretty close pass on a freighter though. It was making good speed heading into the sound.
Ferry traffic is a regular thing to see with the Washington State Ferries heading to and fro across the waters. As we were closing in on Friday Harbor, we saw one ferry. It was a smaller one that was running between the islands and it was a bit hard to get a good view of. The ferries between Edmonds and Kingston are a lot more heavily used and so are a lot bigger. They were passing each other mid crossing as we ran south so I managed to get a few shots of them from above as we headed overhead.
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.
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.