Seaplanes, Skylines & Seattle Soul

5:45 am rarely feels great. Especially if work is involved. Or ever, really.

An exception to the rule was made this week as a month of planning and preparation culminated in a day of filming with Seattle’s Kenmore Air for a work project. As I caved to my alarm’s snooze and hopped in the car to head down to South Lake Union, KEXP’s morning show rotated in the perfect track from Explosions in the Sky to set the tone for the touch of crisp air and early soft glow of daybreak.

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Our DHC-3 “Otter” arrives on the minute, ready for a full day of production action as the team scopes the morning light.

For those who have been lucky enough to experience a Kenmore seaplane flight on a sunny summer day, the experience is beyond memorable. The overhauled Otters carry ten passengers and cruise at a speed of 134 mph but it’s the sensory experience that makes the trip remarkable.

The simple seating and interior, open cockpit access between pilot and passengers, the ability for a passenger to ride in the co-pilot seat, the seemingly simple control panel and knobs, the rumble of the engine and manual operations as the pilot unties, pushes the plane off the dock and hops in to take control. It’s all of the great elements of flying…x10.

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A frame-up down the center aisle as we get ready to fire up the engine.
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The morning sun glimmers and sparkles off Lake Union as we push away from the dock.

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For Seattleites, Kenmore’s iconic bumblebee seaplanes are a familiar summer scene as the fleet of planes buzz overhead at regular intervals transporting locals and tourists alike around the Pacific Northwest. With typical cruising altitudes of around 500 feet, the seaplanes provide a unique and utterly breathtaking perspective on our region.

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Flaps are checked and a quick traffic radio call sets the water runway for takeoff.
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Kenmore’s Chief Pilot, Chuck Perry, dials in a final adjustment before full hitting full throttle.
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It’s all focus and attention to detail as we begin the takeoff glide.
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A stunning birds eye view as we quickly elevate off the water and make a right bank back towards downtown. 
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Seattle showing off as prime September sun brings a morning glow over the city.
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Stunning perspective as we “buzz the tower” on our descent into a landing at Lake Union.
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Capture, capture, capture as we soak in the sights and sounds.

As we softly touched back down in Lake Union to end the day, I was reminded yet again of just how unique our region is to the rest of the country. The journey. The experience. The moment. Elements that are rarely able to be enjoyed in today’s world of flying and transportation. And yet we get it all, right in our very own backyard.

See you again on another flight soon Kenmore.

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The epic moment when a seaplane pontoon touches back down to the most unordinary runway.
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A subtle wake forms as the engine whirls and purrs on the taxi back to the dock.
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The pilot’s critical uniform accessory back in place after another successful flight.
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Memories are etched with recognition of how lucky we are to live in a place this magical.
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