On a cool, spring day, my four legged companion, Lola and I walked along the north shore of the Fraser River together, not too far from where it empties into the sound. I had been here a dozen times before but this is the first time I brought her along. As soon as we got out of the car she was anxious to see what there was to see, and so was I. Each time I had been here in the past I always vowed to return, I could never get enough of the sights and sounds of the wildlife that were indigenous to this area. There were many birds like seagulls, herons, ducks and geese, but my favorite “birds” were the Beavers and Otters. They always stir my imagination and bring a smile to my face when I watch them “play”.
My companion didn’t pay much attention to the Beavers or Otters, but she was definitely interested in the ducks and geese. Had I unclipped her leash she’d have been chasing them until she either caught them or lost sight of them. That is just her way.
A few minutes into our walk, I turned to look over my shoulder at the mooring dock where all the seaplanes tie up just in time to see one of the old, round engines firing up. After a few puffs of smoke, the throaty voice of the radial engine reached my ears. I couldn’t have looked away if I had wanted to. There is something about the sights and sounds of 1930s technology that just can’t be replicated, and whenever I hear it in person, I am always compelled to look and see the source of the magnificent rumble.
I sat down on a nearby bench that provided a beautiful view of the river and the Beaver slowly drifting downstream at an idle. As anxious as Lola was to keep walking, she seemed to know that what I was watching was important to me. She patiently sat at my feet and didn’t make a sound. She’s a good dog.
After floating downstream for a minute or so the Beaver made a slow, 180° turn, was now facing upstream and stationary on the river. A few seconds later, the pilot coaxed the old engine to a roar and the wake behind the floats began to grow.
Soon the vintage aircraft was “on the step” and picking up speed. The floats gracefully separated from the river’s surface and I could see the mooring line dragging in the water for just a second longer. The engine’s beautiful sound still echoed off the riverbank as the airplane disappeared from view over the ridge. Soon it was quiet again and Lola looked up at me as if to say, “Okay, you saw it takeoff, can we go now?” I gave her a quick scratch on her ear and said, “Now that’s the kind of flying I should be doing”.
We walked for another hour or so witnessing many similar scenes. Once our little journey was over we got back in the car and headed home. As we drove away, I saw yet another vintage seaplane departing the river and that is when I made another vow to return and watch the wildlife play again someday.
About the author
Scott’s father taught him to fly ultralight aircraft at age 13, but due to the lack of access to a two-seat trainer at the time, Scott’s first solo flight was also his first flight… ever.
Despite starting at such an early age, Scott didn’t actually get his first pilot certificate until he was 22. Since that time he has obtained an ATP with 6 type ratings and flown over 10,000 hours in many different aircraft, ranging from a Quicksilver ultralight to a Boeing 747-400, (his favorite being a 1941 D17s). He has worn 6 different airline uniforms over his 21 year aviation career and is currently flying for an international freight carrier based in the United States.
He recently acquired a 1957 Champ, in need of restoration. When he isn’t flying Scott enjoys working on and driving his classic 1969 Mustang and riding motorcycles. He lives in Gig Harbor, WA with his wife, Kim, (who is also a pilot), his dog and 2 cats.