The Liberty Gazette
December 5, 2017Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: As Robert Burns wrote in his poem, To a Mouse, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Ours did just that as we hoped for cooperative weather in the Pacific Northwest in November. It’s been years since I first flew a seaplane. With the annual flying stipend my employer provides, I planned to complete the commercial seaplane rating. But gale force winds dominated the game and scrapped my playbook.
I remember fondly our honeymoon in Maine, the first time I did a “splash-and-go.” We had been driving and saw a float plane flying low, appearing to be landing nearby. We drove in the direction we saw it go and happened upon a wonderful seaplane base. It was a lake ringed by houses with docks. Cessnas, Pipers, and other small aircraft on floats were tied securely, bobbing on gentle currents looking like they were gathered at a lake party, laughing and in a happy mood. Happy seaplanes.
It was an impromptu flight. A seaplane instructor who lived on the lake had time to take me up. I learned about the huge differences between taxiing, taking off, and landing on the ground versus in water and logged four splash-downs.
So two weeks ago, with that grand memory, I was excited to schedule a week of flying off the coast between Seattle and the San Juan Islands with one of the premiere float plane operators in the world—Kenmore Air Service.
Kenmore doesn’t just offer training. They take people on sight-seeing flights and partner with many of the bed and breakfasts in the Seattle area for romantic and fun flights to the islands.
I met my instructor, Bill, who had just retired from United Airlines. I knew we couldn’t fly the first day because the wind was howling so fiercely the waves would topple an aircraft with no warning. We hoped the weather would improve. But when we came upon continued harsh winds and high waves on the third day, Mike and I decided we’d reschedule for next summer and go on to visit family.
All was not lost, however. We had time with one of my sisters way up north in Bellingham, Washington, not far from the Canadian border, and then with several members of Mike’s family in Oregon.
Mike: My kinfolks are more the laid-back type, while Linda’s are usually on the go. This explains our different perspective on roses. I say we should stop and smell them. Linda says take a good whiff and enjoy as you breeze by.
We spent a few days at full throttle with Linda’s family and then relaxed beyond her comfort zone with my family, partly at a farm and partly high on a hilltop overlooking miles of Oregon land with views of snow-white mountains.
Linda: With all that “relaxing,” I’ve earned what I’ll do next—spend that flying stipend on more aerobatic training; full throttle, right here in the Great State of Texas. See you on the flip side!