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Flying the 1 hour South Okanagan & High Country tour

It was a cool spring day when I was invited along to experience the South Okanagan & High Country tour with Richard, owner of Air Hart. I had arrived early at the downtown docks because I was quite simply too excited to even think about or do anything else other than go for this flight.

We hopped into the plane, Richard untied us and started the engine which kicked into life immediately. My stomach lurched with excitement, for me just the very sound of an aircraft engine firing up signals the beginning of an adventure! We cruised away from the dock always on the lookout for sailboats and other watercraft. With no time wasted we were lined up nicely for a take-off and powering along at full throttle. With a few adjustments of the controls we became airborne and I let out a whoop of joy! I have yet to find a feeling that equals take-off in its thrill and promise of fun. 

As the Kelowna docks are the home base for the Air-Hart floatplanes there’s a good chance you’ll fly by or alongside another sightseeing flight or lesson taking place. And this is precisely what happened to us, as we cruised northwards towards Vernon. We heard a crackle on the radio, Air-Hart Chief Pilot Kyle radioing to say hello and to inform us of his location as he made his way southbound. It cannot be overstated how exciting it is to view another aircraft as you fly alongside them, especially if you know the people inside the other aircraft. Simply watching the plane ‘float’ as you glide alongside is really quite mesmerizing. And so as his plane approached we turned and headed back south with him, cruising along, enjoying one another’s company in the air and it also made a great opportunity for me to take some sweet shots. Eventually, with a quick waggle of our wings we did a 180° and continued flying north. 

If you have ever been in a landplane you’ll know that you want to stay well clear of land and water, as such you’re often at a considerable height above the ground. Whereas in a floatplane, you can safely fly much closer to the surface of the lake and as such, the surrounding land on each side. This provides an unparalleled view of the Okanagan region. 

 As we arrived towards Fintry we turned once more and headed south. The spring had finally arrived and with it lush green landscapes with a dusting of snow on the highest mountains framed our view of the prussian blue lake and its gently rippling surface below. Patches of emerald hues scattered across the shallower areas of water made me think just how much more you can see and appreciate from above. It really is like nothing else.

As we flew over the downtown bridge and continued south towards Peachland I was given the chance to have a go of the controls. Seeing as I have been training on landplanes it was interesting to feel the difference between a Cessna 172 landplane and a Cessna 180 floatplane. It felt heavier but had far more power behind it, and to be honest as of this flight, I am now more biased towards floatplanes. Flying a floatplane just has a totally different vibe than a landplane, and it’s fair to say I am now hooked! Even if you don’t have any flying experience, if you come on a sightseeing tour I would highly recommend asking your pilot if you can have a go of the controls. You never know, it could change your life!

We continued to cruise southwards passing the little towns of Peachland and Summerland before heading back towards Kelowna eye-level with the impressive snowy mountaintops. 

As we arrived over Kelowna we made our way inland to check out the rather spectacular Layer Cake mountain. Seeing the unique rock formations from above was utterly fascinating and I was dismayed when, all too soon, it was time to head back home. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re up in the air, experiencing your local area from a new perspective and having the time of your life! 

We cruised back down with a smooth landing on the lake and slowly chugged our way back to the docks. After we hopped out and secured the plane down I was curious to know how Richard found flying these tours and was surprised to learn that it actually varies each time. Rather than following a set route, the passengers are actually paying for the flight time (1 hour for the South Okanagan & High Country tour) and can request their route. If the weather conditions and timing allow, the pilots are more than happy to oblige. Often people like to fly over their homes or over a favourite local area. This flexibility keeps the pilots happy as well as the passengers, which makes for a rather jolly outcome and no wonder I see so many people walking off the floatplane dock with big smiles and giving high fives!

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Contact Us

Address: 1348 Water St Kelowna, BC V1Y 9P3

Tel: (250) 762-9830
Fax: (250) 762-9840
Toll-Free: 1-877-766-6699