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Switching from Landplanes to Flying Floats

I remember my first ever flight in a floatplane back in 2010 in the Maldives. We were heading from Sri Lanka to the Northern Male Atoll for 10 days of sea, sunshine and white sand. It was fascinating to watch the archipelago appear out of the small airplane window far below, like white footprints surrounded by turquoise water making their way south further out into the Indian ocean. As we came in to land on the rather choppy sea and cruised in towards the jetty one of our pilots hopped out and tied us up to the dock. Suddenly seeing the pilot in full, having only seen them from the back with their professional white short sleeved shirts and epaulettes, made it even more surprising to see that they were barefoot! With black shorts on and sand in their toes they smiled at us to disembark and wished us a pleasant stay. I was enraptured by this and would never forget my first encounter with a barefoot floatplane pilot!

The years passed by as I focused my intent on landplanes, taking lessons here and there over the years before I decided to get serious about it and moved to Kelowna in British Columbia to get my PPL once and for all with Air Hart Aviation. And so my flight lessons restarted in earnest. I would meet my instructor out at the local airport, about a 25 minute drive from town. It wasn’t until after a month or two of this that I started to meet the floatplane pilots who were based right on the lake in downtown Kelowna. Again that memory came flooding back of the barefoot floatplane pilots of the Maldives, these guys just seemed to have heaps of fun! They were always heading off to practice their landings on some remote lake up in the mountains and perhaps having a swim or a fireside picnic while they were at it while I was stuck doing circuits on the same old runway. The more I heard of their stories the more I felt my heart start to fall in love with the idea of flying floats.

I tentatively requested a floatplane lesson one day and the Chief Pilot took me up, showing me the ropes of float flying. Whether it was the fact that this flight was a brief escape from my focused learning of the landplane allowing me to loosen up for some fun or that flying floatplanes is ridiculously fun. I don’t know, perhaps a combination of the two. But I was hooked! I immediately knew that this is what I wanted to do. As I love freediving so much and would always want to be located close to water, in the end, floatplanes made more sense than landplanes for me.

As I knew I had a freedive adventure in Bali coming up for a few months I felt that upon my return to flying and Kelowna it might be the perfect time to make the switch completely. So as I return to British Columbia I will no longer be making the long commute to the airport but instead riding my bike downtown to the lake and exploring the Okanagan flying low over the water. After all, what better way to see British Columbia and all its lakes than with a floatplane?

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