BC and Alaska 2007
I’m sure it will be no surprise to for you to hear
that our holiday to BC and
I took as many photos as I could together with a great deal of video. I hope to put a CD together in due course but include a selection from each location to whet the appetite. The photo selection can be found HERE and the video selection HERE. From a photographic point of view be gentle with me. I’m no expert and the video is all hand held, with a new toy purchased just before the holiday, so not broadcast quality. I also used the single shot DVD system on the camera, which was not as good as I’d hoped it would be but I will try and take some photos off the video coverage itself in due course.
We flew out to
After a quiet days flight-recovery around downtown we had
a hire car booked for a day trip to Whistler and saw our first black bear
whilst cruising up the Sea to
Whistler Air [ www.whistlerair.ca
] is home to a Turbine Otter (C-GEND 371) and two Beavers. We arrived late
afternoon and November Delta was
being refuelled ready for its scheduled service to
WA are having another busy season with ‘round the
patch’ tourist flights, their scheduled services and charter flights. The
new paint scheme is striking and very photogenic. With both aircraft settled
quietly at the dock on what was a very pleasant afternoon, surrounded by the
mountain scenery, I could have happily sat their all day. The
Vancouver-Whistler-Vancouver service would definitely be worth the effort as
the route along Howe Sound and into the Mountains would be spectacular even on
a bad weather day. The
We watched the Otter depart (see video clip) and having thanked Mike for his time made to go. No sooner had I turned away than the Tyax Air Beaver (C-GIYV) [ www.tyaxair.com ] landed and taxied in to drop a couple of guys who had spent a few days camping at the foot of a local glacier.
Two days later we boarded an Alaska Air 737 (AS105) for
the three hour flight to
As we drove out of the airport my attention was divided
between coping with a vehicle the size of an aircraft carrier, that I had
needed a ladder to climb into and the apparent wasps nest of aircraft buzzing
hither and thither in my field of view; most sporting floats. As many of you
will know, Anchorage International is directly adjoined by
Between the main airport and the lake there are a number
of parking areas for aircraft – literally hundreds of them – with
taxiways linking the dirt strip in one direction and the main airport in the
other. There is a pilot shop just off (and very visible from) the main airport
road at the junction with Spenard. Because
Two miles north out of
We joined our cruise at Seward, a great drive for about
100 miles south of
We also visited
We were collected from the
dockside in the Company van driven by an enthusiastic Martin Rush and delivered
the short distance to their dock. Very walkable from the cruise dock. We went
back in the afternoon for viewing and videoing. The Beaver was being fuelled as
we arrived and following introductions to our pilot for the day Keith Deschambeault we boarded the aircraft.
We were joined by a quiet, elderly American who requested the right-hand seat
and in deference to age I suggested he went first. There was method in my
madness though because I wanted the takeoff from wherever we landed away and
the landing back in
The Misty Fjords proved true to their title and as there had been a fatality the week before I expect Keith was naturally a little more cautious. We took off past the cruise ships keeping low to build speed and proceeded into the Fjordland over muskeg, lakes and waterfalls. After a while we took a look into the valley which would have taken us up to the glacier, but it was blocked with cloud and with three pilots on board all agreeing that it looked too dicey, Keith diverted to Walker Cove for a water landing in a side valley. We taxied up a stream for a while to where he knew a grizzly bear and cubs were regularly to be found. Dropping the hook (after consulting local tide tables) we climbed out on the floats for some bear watching.
It was remarkably peaceful and the bears duly appeared, albeit at some distance on this occasion. Mrs B was content though. We were also treated to a flyby from one of Keith’s mates who spotted us whilst passing and flew up our valley and barnstormed us before diving off en-route down the main valley. The camera wasn’t ready but I just watched contentedly as this flyby occurred and even my teenage son expressed a ‘cooool’ to recognise the event.
around on the floats was reasonably easy and I made every effort to absorb the
experience. All too soon it was time to go. Keith pulled up the anchor and we
drifted backward toward the main channel for a while into a wider area before
starting the engine and making our way back to
The weather was satisfactory, but improved in the afternoon and everyone was surprised by the sunshine. If we’d flown in the afternoon we would probably have made the full trip to the glacier, but would not perhaps have had the same experience so the consensus was the trip was excellent. My thanks to Keith and all at Alaska Seaplane Tours for a well organised, well operated and thoroughly enjoyable trip.
occurrence of another crash just a week later must have rocked
For those of you intending to visit, the Promech dock has a great viewing area overlooking their base with Turbo Otters, Beavers and other floatplanes coming and going all the time. When we arrived all was quiet but after 10 minutes the flock began to arrive and all was activity and noise for the next hour or so. Taquan Beavers [ www.taquanair.com ] are away to the right with a range of other Beaver operators in docks to the left.
One Promech Otter still sports a radial engine and sat quietly, close to the loading dock, evidently inactive. How wrong I was. During a last dash around the shops with Mrs B late on (and having run out of video battery) she departed in stately fashion climbing away to the south. A great sight. She evidently has a trick up her sleeve to attract attention, because as I followed her progress she backfired alarmingly loudly, the noise echoing off the hillside and turned many heads in the street. I had a momentary pang of concern but she seemed to continue untroubled and I imagine that at her age some digestive disturbance is only to be expected!
much of the flying is cruise visitor related, aircraft tend to fly by the ships
on departure so there is good viewing from the deck. However as ship departure
time approaches there is an evident winding down of activity and aircraft are
ramped for cleaning and preparation for the following day. If you haven’t
seen Don Peachey’s video do so; it really captures the essence of
session was a short visit to
A great trip all round, with plenty of aerial action and although Otters are relatively thin on the ground in comparison, they are well grouped for viewing and very active. There is plenty to see for any aviation enthusiast and we will be going back.
 Keep going on the main road past the Resort and then expect a right turn after about two miles into what appears to be a private residential golfing resort. Take a left at the mini-roundabout just before the Niclaus North clubhouse building. It is not an obvious turn. Needless to say I missed it first time. The Whistler Air dock is right in front of you.