I love planes. I love airports, I love take-offs and landings, I love flying.
It might have started with my aunt – she was a flight attendant for Air New Zealand and sent us postcards from all over the world. Or it might have been my Dad’s love of airshows (I was that kid who begged everyone in the line-up for helicopter rides if I could sit in their lap because kids could ride for free with an adult.) Or it might have been our family excursions to the airport to watch the trainee pilots doing touch and goes.
When we came to Canada, I had a picture in my mind of what it would be like – mounties (thanks to Due South) and floatplanes (thanks to the season of MacGyver when he lived in a floating home in Coal Harbour). In reality, the only time I see mounties is at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference (it’s a tradition, he dresses in uniform every year). Floatplanes, on the other hand, are a part of the landscape in Victoria. And yet I’ve only been on one once – now twice!
A few weeks ago I had to go to Vancouver for a work meeting. I was dreading the usual ferry trip. It’s a 30-minute drive, 90-minute sailing, and another 30-minute drive, plus traffic and ferry waits. I don’t mind it when we’re in Ginger (the van) and on holiday, but it’s not so fun going there and back in a day. Then a colleague mentioned the option of taking a floatplane, and suddenly the trip didn’t seem like such a chore.
On the day of my big adventure, I arrived at the floatplane terminal, checked in, and pretended to be cool and jaded like the other passengers who frequent the Harbour Air flights. But my inner 10-year-old was bursting with the joy of it.
When I climbed aboard, the pilot asked if anyone would like to sit up front. Expecting everyone to be clamoring for the chance, I politely waited a couple of seconds (it’s a Canadian thing).
“If no one else is keen, I will!” I said. Forget trying to be cool.
A woman across the aisle smiled at me. “Go for it.”
And that, my friends, is how I found myself up-front with the pilot, wearing headphones and a grin as wide as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on the trip of a lifetime.