This doesn't make it any easier. Ask Gerry. He will definitely tell you that the term "white knuckle flyer" doesn't begin to describe me. I'm always amazed and relieved when we reach our crusing altitude, disturbed by any in-flight turbulance, and my "beads" get quite the work out during landing. And like a moth to the flame, my "crash-dar" is in full operation when scanning headlines, web updates or even movie descriptions for all things pertaining to air disasters.
So it was with more than a little reluctance (and a great deal of trepidation) that I agreed to make our return trip via float plane (a plane that actually, INTENTIONALLY?, lands on water? What are you, nuts?) I was determined to not let my very, VERY real (though others might describe it as somewhat irrational) fear detract from an otherwise amazing adventure.
We checked in with our pilot from Kenmore Air at the Coal Harbour Marina. It truly had turned out to be a gorgeous September day and Chuck (a pilot specifically requested by Carol) assured us that the flight would be calm and beautiful. Sounded good to me! After checking our passports and a few final (just in case) photos, we were ready to board the aircraft.
THAT LITTLE THING IS OUR PLANE? Okay, take a deep breath - you can do this. Our "luggage" was loaded and in my capacity as tour director you can be assured that I did everything possible (just short of actually weighing the pieces) to make sure that everyone strictly adhered to the 24 lb. luggage limit! Once on board, we were given the usual pre-takeoff instructions (fasten your seatbelt, if need be the floatation devices are clear in the back of the plane - obviously they don't get used a lot...good thing I can swim. What's the water temperature this time of year? Once we reach our cruising altitude...not very darn high...our flight attendant will be by to serve drinks...whiskey, vodka, brandy. I wonder where those came from???)
And then we were cleared for takeoff. Carol was flying co-pilot (though Marne had volunteered, the group thought it best if she stayed back in the cabin with the rest of us). Takeoff was amazingly smooth - if not for the noise of the plane (yeah, it's pretty loud) it would hardly have been noticeable. I wondered if we were going to fly over or under the Lionsgate Bridge?
And then we were up...above (but not so far above that we didn't have a magnificent view of) the coast, the water and the islands below us. Though we didn't see any whales, we did see a number of large ferries and even a couple of cruise ships.
The view was incredible as we flew over the San Juan islands and places I remember booking reservations for when I worked for Kenmore Air (Friday Harbor, Eastsound, Rosario's). Following the map we could see as we flew past Everett and Edmonds, the I-5 freeway and finally to Lake Washington.
Our pilot circled around and landed the plane in the lake, smooth as silk and headed for the Kenmore Harbor. Kudos to Chuck! It was perhaps the smoothest landing I've ever experienced - land or water. And though I just knew that this was an exceptional flight, that the stars would always align so that I could be guaranteed of this particular pilot and this amazing weather, by the time we reached the pier I was already thinking that this group should be planning our next adventure to Victoria via floatplane!