Mind-boggling as it is, the appeal of getting in a small plane is often lost on folks who aren’t pilots. Many a spouse and offspring spurns the idea of accompanying the family pilot on yet another excursion into the skies. Although hubby and I are lucky (we’re both pilots addicted to riding the air waves), getting the rest of the family to join us over the years has mirrored the challenge other pilots face with their spouses. Making the flight about the destination, and not about the journey and amazing scenery en-route, turns out to be key.
Here’s some of the ways we’ve lured the reluctant to join us for a splendid outing via an airplane ride around the West Coast of BC and the States… and it has helped keep flying new and adventurous for us, too. Paying $10 to $25 for a taxi-ride once at the arrival-airport opens up a whole world of possibilities beyond the airport restaurant….
Suntanning, swimming, playing Frisbee, fish n’chips and ice-cream, sand-castle building festivals and competitions…. A number of airports are within either a short walking distance of some amazing beaches (Nehalem Bay, Gold Beach) or are a short walk or hike away (Orcas Island, Courtenay, Texada) or a $10-$20 taxi ride (Qualicum Airport, Powell River).
Dog walks, seaside strolls, or hikes through sun-dappled forest trails—many start right at the airport (Pitt Meadows, Sechelt, Texada/Gillies Bay/Courtenay) or are only a short taxi-ride away.
Hit the greens. Rowena/Sandpiper airstrip near Chilliwack, Nanaimo, and Pemberton are just a few airports in BC that have beautiful golf courses located adjacent to the airport (you can taxi right up to them).
From the quaint and quirky boutiques in the picturesque harbour town of Sydney (a 15 minute walk from Victoria Airport) to the sprawling Bellis Fair right near Bellingham airport, those who so desire can shop ‘til they drop (while pilot spouse maybe visits the airport museum… or grits teeth and gamely pretends to enjoy the shopping experience, too.)
Nehalem Bay in the States, or the Flying U Ranch (Green Lake airfield) in Canada offer horseback riding right within walking distance of the airstrip.
How about spelunking in awesome caves of limestone stalactites or kayaking on a lake (Horne Lake caves near Qualicum airport)? Or is learning to drive an old Model T Ford more your thing (at the WAAAM museum in Hood River, Oregon). What about riding zip-lines high up in the trees (at Wild Play Park, 5 minutes from Nanaimo airport)? And our favourite: airport camping—pitching a tent under the wing and listening to the cicadas chirrup as you fry up a camp dinner on a portable stove. How about skydiving, anyone? (Qualicum airport, Pitt Meadows airport).
Hopping in a cab, or going for a hike from the airport, can lead you to some amazing fresh-water finds, great on a hot summer’s day. Penticton has a beach and lake right at the end of the airport!
Courtenay Airpark has a kayak rental right at the marina beside the airstrip, and the lakeside beach at Penticton airport has them, too….
If you have any other suggestions, we’d love to hear them!