Realm of Flight

February 19, 2014

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In celebration of the second issue of our print publication, The Journal, each week throughout the Spring season Herschel Supply will feature a new story on the blog. Enjoy the first of many adventures below as we explore the Realm of Flight…

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One fine Spring weekend, our team packed their bags into the overhead cabin of a classic Cessna floatplane, with its nose pointed west to a faint dot on the horizon. Although the island destination was breathtaking, the journey too was well worth savoring. Inspired by the ride in the sky, this article delves into the dreamy realm of flight and the history behind this very unique aircraft.

Flight is a universally tantalizing concept to those born without a set of wings. Everyone from children to engineers has dreamt of gazing at the world from a divine perspective. Up above the horizon, time slows and space is reduced to a peaceful scale as you sweep across the earth’s curve.

After 14 centuries of trial and error, the first manned flight took place, starting a love affair with the sky that’s been impossible to extinguish. The next 150 years saw a variety of creative adaptations take off, from balloons to blimps to monoplanes – but perhaps the most interesting new bird on scene was the floatplane.

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Coasting comfortably between sea and sky and knowing no bounds, the floatplane soars high enough to provide vast views, yet close enough to observe fine details. Beyond it’s use in the military and luxury charters, the float plane has played a big role in exploration. In the same way the railway opened up the West, flights of the floatplane have exposed the North. As if sketching from above, early routes at the beginning of the 20th century literally put much of North America on the map – revealing a blank canvas to settlers and travelers. Gliding further west, floatplane pilots were the first to look down on the countless winding inlets and fjords of a Canadian archipelago. With no one around for miles, the pilot must literally take these landings into their own hands, controlled only by their instincts. Although a little on the perilous side, floating through the labyrinth of mountain walls to the glassy waters provides its just rewards. With each of these initial descents, another far-flung community was linked together, slowly revealing a network of beautiful islands and native peoples.

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Today hundreds of islands are known to speckle the coast of British Columbia, harboring many micro communities. Otherwise cut off from the outside world, the floatplane is still the only means of providing these inhabitants with essential supplies and services. Just one of many flying duties, an age-old mail delivery run still operates today, enabling the most remote individual to receive a weekly letter or package from the mainland. An entrusted local acts as a shepherd for each landing, guiding the floatplane with its precious cargo safely to the dock. Bundles of letters, cards and photos are then collected in washing baskets and wheelbarrows and carried to floating post offices by the shore. Since the beginning, the floatplane has split its amphibious life between work and play. It’s contribution to exploration and outlying communities impossible to ignore, it is also one of the most spellbinding ways to fly. Harking back to the golden age of aviation, an island flight via floatplane is enough to revive the romance of air travel ten fold. As a visitor to the remote islands of British Columbia, the complete freedom felt by those early pilots and passengers can still be enjoyed today. As you look out the window, take your pick from the endless bays and forests yet to explore. You can go anywhere and do anything – the floatplane is your ticket to freedom.

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Enjoyed ‘Realm of Flight’? Check back next Tuesday for the another instalment from The Journal – ‘Interview with Kevin Butler’.

To find your own complimentary copy of The Journal, visit Herschel Supply stockists around the world or contact customerservice@herschelsupply.com.