With 10 years of float flying experience around the Georgia Strait and an interest in old airplanes, I eventually arrived in Port Hardy with Pacific Coastal Airlines. In addition to its large IFR Turboprop fleet, ’PasCo’ has 4 Grumman Gooses ca. 1941. When added to the 2 ‘Geese’ at PenAir Anchorage, the six amphibs make up the world's entire fleet of commercial G21's. When our float pilots want to fly something newer than this WWII technology, we have 3 newfangled DHC-2 Beaver Amphibs. A recent Goose addition of Moving Map GPS is an amusing juxtaposition by the 50 year-old all-black Artificial Horizons.
Our main service area is around the amazing Fjords between Port McNeil and Bella Coola. These back onto the Coastal Mountains rising to nearby Mt Waddington's 13,177 foot summit. Routes through the hills are usually at about 2000 feet but there is a 500 foot ASL option for each destination when the weather gets murky.
With the rain, fog & low cloud, there are surprisingly few days we cant fly;
with winds over 50 knots being our more likely restriction. The reward
comes on the clear days - flying over glassy water with 1000 dolphins
splashing below, seeing Orcas, Humpback or Grey whales jumping into the air
surrounded by snowcapped mountains, Cruise ships passing miles of empty
beaches. If you haven’t been to coastal BC in the summer, you must come and see it……..simply breathtaking. Blue sky, beautiful ocean water, sunshine, islands, beaches, and forest green as far as the eye can see.
The Scheduled flights leave at 11:00 am but might land at any of about 50
water destinations on the BC central coast, arriving back around 15:00.
Large floating logging camps are the steady customers all year round. The charter flights are usually booked months in advance by various fishing lodges during the franticly busy BC tourist summer.
We receive constant questioning about the Goose, from transient
corporate pilots to the American fishermen fighting for the copilot seat.
This is only problematic when late for departure; otherwise it's rather fun
making up stories about my airplane that has eight times my flying
experience. It is also nice that most of the people we see at our remote coastal destinations are genuinely glad to see us due to their relative isolation.
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