We talked to Andy Blacker, our Chief Pilot, about what drew him from a successful career in the military to flying floats at Fort Langley Air.
Where and when did you become a pilot?
I completed my Private Pilot Licence in the UK whilst in the British Military flying out of a WW2 grass airfield strip called White Waltham.
What were you doing before you decided to fly as a career?
Prior to becoming a commercial pilot, I was a Bomb Disposal Operator in the British Army completing 16 tours within 22 years service. Flying was a passion which took me to all corners of the UK and France. I found aviation to have the same risk analysis skills as the military to get where I wanted to be in the safest way possible.
What attracted you to float flying?
I have a long history of enjoying watersports (kayaking,diving, sailing etc) and float planes represent the best of two favourite worlds: aviation and water. Also, floatplane flying is fundamentally about deciding for yourself where and how to take off and land. It’s about taking the responsibility upon one’s self to safely get to where you want to get to with freedom of movement.
“ Every landing is soft field technique and every slide is a take off to adventure.”
What is your favourite float plane to fly and why?
DHC-2 Beaver because it represents the “Canadian Bush flying” dream. Also, the Wasp Jnr Radial Engine is sublime in its noise and operation and the aircraft is a no nonsense truck for the sky.
What advice do you have for pilots wanting to learn to fly float planes?
I recommend any pilot to try floatplane flying. You are able to get to places wheeled aircraft or even helicopters cannot get to, whether it be a remote island, beach or crystal clear lake can be an amazing adventure. Flying floats also has alternative challenges and responsibilities that can take you out of your comfort zone within a safe environment. Finally, flying float planes will also improve a pilot’s skill. Every landing is soft field technique and every slide is a take off to adventure.
What advice do you have for new pilots seeking a career in the bush?
Having an adventurous soul and wanting to be a bush pilot is the first hurdle. The hard part is finding that elusive first job. Gain skills and knowledge from any source you can, be prepared to work a dock and put in the long hours, and the reward will be a career in the left seat.
Andy trains pilots on floats all year ’round, so book your rating and explore BC on floats.