I have a date with a Grumman Goose, in the morning I pack my camera, and a few essentials in my backpack and set out on the adventure.
The Grumman Goose flies out of Port Hardy BC on Vancouver Island and is part of Pacific Coastal Airlines. The Float Division is based at Port Hardy and has offices in Port McNeill, and Bella Bella. Their fleet consist of 3 Viking Beaver and 4 Grumman Goose.
The Grumman Goose got its start when in 1936, a group of wealthy residents of Long Island approached Grumman and commissioned an aircraft that they could use to fly to New York City. In response the Grumman Model G-21 was designed as an eight seat amphibian transport.
The rugged construction was matched to an all-metal, high-winged monoplane powered by two 450 horsepower (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Jr. nine-cylinder, air-cooled radial engines mounted on the leading edge of high-set wings. The deep fuselage served also as a hull and was equipped with hand-cranked retractable landing gear. First flight of the prototype took place on May 29, 1937.
Having an amphibious configuration also allowed the G-21 to go just about anywhere, and plans were made to market it as an amphibian airliner. A total of 345 were built, with about 60 still airworthy today, most being in private ownership, some of them operating in modified forms.
The Grumman Goose has been featured in films and television. A U.S. Navy JRF-1 Goose in early World War II paint scheme appears in full color closeup water-taxiing and climbing a ramp in the 1943 submarine film Crash Dive.
A Grumman Goose is piloted by Rae Dawn Chong's character, Cindy (an off-duty flight attendant), throughout the Commando (1985) motion picture starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. A Goose named Cutter's Goose is prominent on the 1980s TV series Tales of the Gold Monkey starring Stephen Collins, inspired by the movie Only Angels Have Wings.
For the Goose fans, there is a company developing a “G-21 Super Goose” manufactured from scratch and updated with the latest in avionics, precision engineering and modern production techniques. This version will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A turbine engines.
I showed up at Victoria Airport (YYJ) and was quickly checked in with a great early morning smile from the ticket agent. The first leg of my journey was on a PCA Beechcraft 1900C and the hop over the strait to Vancouver South Terminal @ YVR took 16 minutes.
The South Terminal @ YVR serves regional airlines which fly mostly within British Columbia. It has an excellent shuttle bus connection to both domestic and international departures/arrivals at the main terminal.
I had a 1 hour 15 minutes wait for my next leg of the journey. A one hour flight to Port Hardy (YZT), with a Saab 340A. Due to relaxed security regulations for departures to smaller airports, there is no security check before boarding.
Seated in 1A I had a good view of the coastline while making our way up the coast at 14000ft. We arrived on time and while taxiing to the terminal I see my Goose “date” running up engines in a corner of the airport.
Another short wait where I was introduced to Gord Jenkins, the PCA Port Hardy station manager and chief pilot. He informed me that the right hand seat would not be available as he was doing a check ride with captain Pat. The Goose is a one pilot aircraft and the r/h cockpit seat is a revenue generator as the Goose can take 8 passengers.
At long last I am walking towards my date, and she did not dissapont me. The run we were going on involved 3 water and one gravel strip landing. Strapping in the front seat and with one more passenger on board, we were quickly airborne and on our way to Good Hope.
Wearing ear protectors is a must and they are distributed to all passengers during the safety briefing.
Flying over beautiful British Columbia is always great and I savour the landscape below, island after island with inlets and snow capped mountains. I even spot a salmon farm in the middle of nowhere (at least that is how it looks from the air).
We descend towards Good Hope and the pontoons are lowered. They are there to balance the aircraft and prevent it from listing too much to either side. The landing is a rush of water under the hull and water splashing up on the windows and then we are taxiing towards the dock.
One passenger gets off and we are quickly airborne again. I notice that the gear is down and we line up for an approach to the 3000ft gravel strip at Rivers Inlet where we are to pick up two passengers. I get out to strech my legs and within minutes an old beaten up white van arrives and delivers two passengers.
Take off from the gravel strip is fast and this time we climb to 8000 ft and fly in between and over snow peaked moutains to our next destination, Dawsons Landing where we drop off the mail.
More beautiful scenery from the air as we head towards our next stop at Fishhook Bay. We do a water landing between two islands and taxi to the dock to pick up two more passengers. We are filling up slowly.
Off again to our last destination called Fishegg, or “Caviar” where we pick up one lonely guy going home for the weekend. Heading towards civilization we reach Port Hardy in 23 minutes and with a nice three point landing, the date with the Goose is over.
Captain Pat in the one pilot cockpit.
I returned to Vancouver in the Saab 340A and after an 1-1/2 hour stopover at the South Terminal flew back to Victoria on another Saab 340A.
Pacific Coastal Airlines is a well-established name on the Canadian West Coast employing over 275 people including pilots, flight attendants, engineers, dispatchers, freight, customer service/reservation agents and an administration team.
Pacific Coastal operates a total of 13 bases and has a fleet of 24 aircraft.
Seven of these aircraft are float planes, six that can accommodate up to 9 passengers. The DeHavilland Beaver (float) and the Grumman Goose (amphibious) are stationed at Port Hardy airport.
There are a variety of wheel aircraft based at Vancouver Airport South Terminal, predominantly the Saab 340A, the Shorts S360 & the Beechcraft 1900C, that can transport up to 33 passengers. For over forty years they have been serving the coastal & interior regions of British Columbia.
If you want more information about Pacific Coastal Airlines visit their website at: www.pacific-coastal.com
Thu, Oct 27 2011 9:18 PM
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