Pitt Meadows seaplane school sells skills abroad

Island Coastal Aviation, based in Pitt Meadows, teaches pilots from to land on lakes and rivers

Tom Drybrough

Tom Drybrough

They don’t use seaplanes in Denmark.

They make great beer, and good furniture.

And they export the odd professional hockey player.

But using seaplanes to connect the Danish archipelago for decades has eluded the country sandwiched between Germany and Sweden.

Rune Balle, of Samsoe Seaplanes, wants to change all that.

And Tom Drybrough of Island Coastal Aviation in Pitt Meadows is helping him by earning his seaplane wings and flying around the waters of south coastal B.C., then starting up a seaplane business in his home country.

“They haven’t been flying any seaplanes in Denmark since before the Second World War,” explains Klaus Olsen, who, along with Balle, spent a few weeks at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport and in Vancouver watching how companies such as Harbour Air and Seair Seaplanes take off and land on busy water ways.

Olsen says Danish authorities have been reluctant to allow seaplanes into their harbours.

“They are so careful. They didn’t want to do these things without everything being in perfect order with the politicians. All kinds of excuses,” explains Olsen.

That’s changing now, however, and Balle and his investors hope to start a seaplane business ferrying passengers from busy Copenhagen, just across from Sweden, to Aarhus, an historic city,  Denmark’s second largest, on the main Jutland peninsula. By car, it’s about a three-hour trip. “We can do the flight in about 45 minutes,” says Olsen.

Learning how to land on water requires a bit of a mind shift, however. Most have been trained to avoid the wet stuff so it takes an adjustment to deliberately land on water, he adds.

“Now we’re going for it.”

Drybrough, with Island Coastal Aviation, has been at the airport for two years, focusing on bush pilot training and mountain flying, giving real-life scenarios, in fog and wind, rain and snow, to pilots from around the world.

Landing on the Fraser River, Island Coastal’s back door runway, is an experience itself. It’s busy with cargo ships and tugs and recreational boats and debris.

“This is why it’s such a great place to train,” he says.

After training company founder Balle how to fly on floats, Drybrough expects more Samsoe pilots to come for the water training.

“They’re going to be a company that grows very rapidly.”

Island Coastal also is expanding its services to that of a full flight-training school so that it can train people with no flight experience up to the commercial pilot level.

Drybrough says they’re still providing seaplane instruction, but is also looking forward to the expansion and expects revenues to increase.

Drybrough also has been asked to go to Denmark next spring for Samsoe’s start-up phase, when approval is expected from a myriad of agencies.

Classic Aviation, Pacific Rim Aviation Academy, Cobalt Aviation and Montair Aviation are also located at the Pitt Meadows.

Olsen predicts the regional airport only will get busier.

“I bet you in the next 10 years, this airport grows exponentially.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rune Bolle, with Samsoe Seaplanes, completes his first solo landing in a Cessna 172 at the north end of the Pitt River.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An early morning fire forced the evacuation of a Maple Ridge apartment building on Saturday, April 3 (Deborah Hampton/Special to The News)
City of Maple Ridge thanks volunteers for response to Easter weekend blaze

Emergency Support Services volunteers stepped up to help displaced residents

A partial image from the painting Kanaka Creek by Eric Hotz, which in the exhibit at the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery.
A Study of Nature exhibition opens at Pitt Meadows Art Gallery

Eric Hotz paintings feature familiar scenes from across the Lower Mainland

Shannon Belsito took this photo on Thursday morning, indicating the true arrival of spring. “Feeling the inspiring beauty and freshness of spring with these gorgeous magnolia blossoms near Kanaka Creek that just popped after the rain.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Spring has arrived in all its splendor

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

A small memorial to Rich Goulet was started at Pitt Meadows Secondary after his recent death. (Neil Corbett/The News)
LETTER: Rename Pitt Meadows school gym in coach’s honour

Rich Goulet was considered one of the provinces best basketball coaches and died recently

Doug Nolin, a Maple Ridge senior, snapped this picture of his pet pigeons taking flight down by the old Albion ferry dock. “What a beautiful land we live in,” he said. (Special to The News)
SHARE: Chirp, chirp: Ridge senior captures pigeons taking flight

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynaecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Most Read