Landing on one wheel

We had an early morning meeting in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island,

and chartered a small plane from Vancouver. It was Sverre M… who worked for me at the time, and myself, in Ladysmith we were to meet  two business men and fly to Port Alberni and Tofino with another chartered plane, a larger one. Around the BC coast it is as natural to take a floatplane or small wheel plane, as calling a taxi. It is the only way to get around.

The six months I worked at the World fair; Expo’86, I took a scheduled seaplane from Tyee Air from Sechelt to Vancouver Harbour every morning for 6 months, and back on the last flight in the evening. Up and down the inlets, we used seaplane all the time, and I love flying with them. I have crossed the Atlantic 67 times with planes, big ones; and coming out of a 747, a 9 hour flight from Europe; and into a Bever seaplane for the last leg home, that is real flying. The noice, smell, shaking, and the pilots really flying the planes, no computers here. The big ones are like ferries in the sky.

This morning it was a 4 seater, probably a Cessna, Sverre and me got on board, the pilot taxied from the old airport to the runway on the busy International, he had to wait for some large ones to land and take off, and then he got a spot in between. He was in a hurry, and I looked out the window, enjoying the early morning. Sverre and me sat in the two back seats, the front passenger seat was empty.

The Pilot cut the line too close and the right wheel got cut up on one of the blue marking light cones, just as we took off. The light was broken and the tire was in shreds. I nodded to Sverre, so he could see it, we had to tell the Pilot, but he was now busy getting out over the Georgia Straight water way and away from the airport traffic. When he started flying straight, I undid my seatbelt and lent forward and told him.

He did not like this, and called Ladysmith Airport, but I don’t think they had any emergency team. He told us that he would slow the plane down as much as he could, and tilt the plane, so he could land on just the left wheel, one the side of the runway, so that the right wheel would be over the grass and not make sparks as we landed, It could be a rough landing.

He did a fine job, tilted the plane, and we were at almost stand still when he had to let the right side down; the right caught in the grass and we spun around and stopped. It was a long walk up to the terminal building. The pilot thanked us for telling him about the tire blowing; I thanked the Man upstairs.

Over on of the gulf islands, the plane shook quite a bit, not unusual, but the back door with the steps opened up and fell down, shaking the plane even more. One of the pilots came back, and together we managed to pull the heavy doorsteps back up and close it, they did not want to land with it out open. The weather both in Vancouver and Victoria could be sometimes, and they had to decide which wave to land on and surf towards shore, and vice versa, which wave to use to take off from, that is fun flying, you feel every wave and wind cast.

 One time coming back from Victoria on the last evening flight, a Twin Otter on floats, I sat at the seat closet to the back door. Twin Otters have two pilots, they use the front door, the 18 passengers use a rear door, with built in steps, quite large and heavy. The day the plane was about full, many commuted daily.

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