COLUMN: Fly this one by the seat of your pants

The propeller on their Beaver floatplane had just fallen off, high above the Sunshine Coast last week...

I can just imagine the shocked look on the pilot’s face when he glanced at the passenger next to him, both pair of eyes as big as saucers … nay, as big as dinner plates.

The propeller on their Beaver floatplane had just fallen off, high above the Sunshine Coast last week, obviously not something that happens every day, or for that matter ever, in any pilot’s career!

This was last Monday, and I don’t know who was smiling down on them, but you have to give the pilot incredible marks for a successful ‘deadstick’ landing.

I’m sure there were long and tense moments on the way down to Halfmoon Bay; questions like “who forgot to install the lock washer?” being the last thing on the minds of the four people in the Beaver.

Talk about an adventure, however! It will certainly will dominate conversations over the summer barbecue season for those aboard.

The Beaver is an old and venerable stalwart of the bush and floatplane industry, that last one coming off de Havilland Canada’s assembly line in 1967. Its big radial engine provides the power to haul great quantities of product in and out of small and remote lakes and, with wheels, gravel strips.

The last trip I took in a Beaver, its cabin creaking and clanking in the mildly bumpy air, was over Nootka Sound four Julys ago. And many years before when I spent a considerable part of most summers at Pender Harbour, the telltale roar of the Beaver’s engine was unmistakable and often as people flew in and out of the vacation spot on an almost hourly basis.

So despite the prop spinning off last week, likely on a flight from Pender to Vancouver, and while the vintage of most Beavers is lengthy, they are and will remain a trusted vehicle to get you to and from magnificent places that only such an aircraft, with a highly skilled pilot, can accomplish.

However, for those on the queasy side, at least about taking a ride in a single-engine bush plane, there is still a way to experience those magnificent vistas that make British Columbia and Canada the envy of the world.

Beginning this past weekend there is an opportunity to take a virtual aerial ride, complete with seats that move as if flying, all across Canada in the old Imax Theatre in Vancouver’s Canada Place.

This film – it is brief by the way – is apparently exceptional and provides a full 360-degree view of vistas that few will ever experience in real time. I remember how captivated I was with the Telus pavilion at Expo 86 with its ‘surround’ film.

FlyOver Canada, I am given to believe, presents a similar perspective but adds to the realism by actually having your seats move with the camera lens.

I’m certain this will be extremely popular, so if you are intrigued by it and intend like I do to take it in, reservations might be good idea since the theatre only has 60 seats.

You can check it all out at

It may not be an experience like surviving a flight after the propeller flies off, but it should provide a non-perilous look at the wonders of Canada’s scenery that few will ever see.


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