Honouring the legacy, flying into the future.
floats on the fraser
– Brad Nelson, Pilot
fort langley air revived
– John Ferguson
In the 1990’s Ferguson and his friend and fellow pilot John Lovelace (of Wings Over Canada fame) were sharing ownership of a Cessna 185 (CFUIE) at Fort Langley Airport. They were flying off the Fraser River and renting space from Walter Davison, who still owned Fort Langley Airport. Pilot Dave Hamel (who had been a mechanic with Conair and a pilot with Skyway since the 1950’s,) was working with Davison doing the float training.
Says Ferguson, “I always wanted to be a pilot. As a kid I built model airplanes and hand controlled airplanes for flying. I was in air cadets, and then [eventually] I got my private license.” Ferguson’s love of flying led to obtaining his commercial license and working for a series of local float operations starting in the 1960’s: Island Air, McCullys Aviation out of Tofino and Airspan. When asked about the attraction of flying floats, Ferguson is quick to respond: “It’s the freedom of being in a floatplane: as soon as you leave the dock you are your own, [making] your own decisions.”
After logging over 2000 hours on floats, John joined Air Canada in 1973. His career with Canada’s largest airline led to a captain’s seat, but John was not done with float planes. He was spending downtime with his C185 at Fort Langley Airport where Davison’s training business was starting to wind down. Ferguson decided it might make for an interesting side hustle. And in 1999, while he was still working as a captain for Air Canada, he took the plunge and bought Fort Langley Air. Says Ferguson, “My son was coming along as a pilot, the training centre was going to shut down, so, I resurrected it and brought on Dave Hamel as my Chief Pilot. I wanted to see it continue.” His son, also named John Ferguson, stuck with flying and currently works for local BC carrier, Harbour Air.
Ferguson believes their biggest accomplishment was continuing to provide a launching pad for career floatplane pilots. “We were capable of giving new folks a start; we have helped a lot of younger folks start careers and start as instructors and they have gone on to work as pilots and training pilots in companies all over Canada and the world. We’ve been training an average of 40 pilots per year since we took over in 1999.” Ferguson retired from Air Canada in 2008 and continued to focus on Fort Langley Air until he sold it to overseas investors in 2015. Current Chief Pilot, John Crawford took over as Operations Manager and ran the seaplane training and tours business for the overseas owners until 2017.
Pilot John Ferguson has consulted on the refit of Fort Langley Air’s Beavers, 2018.
DHC-2 CF-FHC when she was just a baby.
Our Cessna 180 CF-YQQ came to us from Yellowknife, NWT in September, 2018.
the future of fort langley air
In 2017 the business went up for sale again and caught the eye of local entrepreneur Scott McIntosh, a thirty-year veteran of the transportation industry. As the son and grandson of career bushpilots, McIntosh first got familiar with aviation literally at the ground level, pushing barrels of av fuel down to the dock. “As a kid I watched my grandfather load and fly water bombers from the Forestry Division dock on the Winnipeg River. I flew with my Dad on his Arctic expeditions in my teens. I’ve hand loaded a lot of freight on a lot of different bush planes! I’ve always been attracted to the freedom that only a float plane offers you to explore remote places in Canada.”
McIntosh purchased Fort Langley Air in May, 2018. The leadership team is made up of McIntosh, Operations Manager John Ferguson, and Chief Pilot John Crawford. “We’re fortunate to retain John Crawford. His depth and experience with seaplane training, industry knowledge and pilot relationships will help us sustain success. Ferguson brings institutional and historical knowledge, plus his irreplaceable experience flying floats on the BC Coast.”
The team immediately began expanding with the acquisition of two, DHC-2 Beavers and a Cessna 180. McIntosh says, “We want to continue to be the pilot’s choice for float training and float flying. I want to sustain what has historically made Fort Langley Air successful, to honour that legacy, and expand Fort Langley Air’s contribution to aviation.” McIntosh feels lucky to have retained former owner John Ferguson as a consultant during the transition to new ownership. In fact, Ferguson recently took on the role of Operations Manager. When asked why he stayed, Ferguson responded, “I believe in what we do. I invested 18 years in the business, and I am happy to see it locally owned, and expanding under Scott’s leadership. To this day, Fort Langley Air is the premier floatplane training centre on the coast and throughout Canada. Pilots can fly year-round on a variety of airplanes.”
Fort Langley Air’s Admin Team. From left, Scott McIntosh, Owner; John Ferguson, Operations Manager and Training Pilot; John Crawford, Chief Pilot and Lead Instructor; and Spencer Neufeld, PIlot.