When you’re an aviation enthusiast, there are certain locations high on the bucket list, Canada certainly being one of them. Especially the Northwest Territory is interesting due to the large amount of vintage aircraft, still used in these arctic areas. The Vancouver area sees lots of float planes, combined with the beautiful scenery and wildlife this is a great combination for a road trip.
When planning this trip, we had a view goals: Visit Yellowknife, for the vintage aircraft, See some bears and go watch killer whales in the wild. This led to a 22 day trip starting in Seattle and checking all our boxes with a flight to Yellowknife and a 2 days stay at a remote island lodge in the Knight Inlet, flying a Beech 18 on floats!
Because of the great connection we decided to start this trip in Seattle and drive eastward before entering Canada. Upon arriving at Seattle Tacoma International (SeaTac) we headed straight for a spot next to runway 34L, which was in use. It’s no problem to spot on South 188th Street. In the morning the Tyee golf course offers a great view when this runway is in use. Fortunately the weather was great today, rather special in these area’s.
We headed east. First we visited Mt. Rainier and hiked up the mountain, beyond the snow level. The weather was again beautiful. In our T-shirt standing in the snow, great. Exhausted we continued to Moses Lake and drove to Grant County airport. A huge former B-52 base, now used for commercial operations.
The next morning we headed for the airfield again and were allowed access to the platform to view three stored F-28s. These former Horizon Fokkers are waiting for new owners, probably in Africa. As a bonus there was also a BPY-6 Catalina being restored on the platform. Restoration was already taking some years and the current state of this aircraft is unknown.
Ephrata & Coeur d’Arlene
We continued to Ephrata municipal. An open field where two DC-3s were present. Next we headed for Spokane, passing Fairchild AFB, but didn’t stop. At Spokane international we noted some aircraft, but couldn’t photograph anything. Next stop Hayden, Idaho. The airport is also called Coeur d’Arlene air terminal, a single Gulfstream was seen.
Coeur d’Arlene is situated on the shores of lake Coeur d’Arlene, with a small floatplane base in the city center, next to City park & beach.
N9752Z, Cessna 206
The day wasn’t over yet, so we continued east. After stopping at Bison Range National Park we headed for Missoula international airport. The smokejumpers of the US Forest Service have a base here and a beautiful Turbo Dakota was on the tarmac. A Carson S-61 was also present.
At the far end of the field, at the end of the Aviation Way, there is a fenced of field with four Neptunes and a FH-227. Our luck, somebody with the key drove up, when we were standing next to the fence. We were invited to visit the field and even were able to enter the Fairchild.
The next day we headed for Kalispell, nothing to see, so straight on to Glacier National Park. We drove the beautiful pass through the park, and again the weather was stunning. Via highway 89 we crossed the border with Canada and headed for Lethbridge county airport. An Airspray Electra was on the grounds, but couldn’t be photographed. We continued to Calgary to stay for the night.
A day later we drove to Springbank, the main general aviation airport west of Calgary. The DHC-6s of the British Antartic Survey are maintained here, and two were present. We were allowed to walk the platform. Also two Bell 205s were seen.
C-FTGK, Bell 205
C-FFJY, Bell 205
North of Calgary there is a small airport called Airdrie. Next to the Yenkee Valley Boulevard Southwest there are three small hangars where a few DHC-6s were restored. Around the site there are some parts and fuselages. One DHC-6 was near completion inside the hanger, we were allowed to visit. The new West Coast Air colour scheme was already applied. Don’t forget to visit Rangeland Truck & Crane at the opposite site of the road. On the terrain there are some fuselages including two EMB-110 Bandeirante’s.
C-GSYN, Beech A100
Calgary International Airport
Next we discovered the grounds of Calgary International Airport. A busy hub, but also interesting because there are a lot of maintenance company’s and aircraft stored around the field. Kenn Borek Air maintains the DHC-6s of Maladivian Air Taxi for instance. Nice catch was a BAC-111 bizjet!
N564HK, Jetstream 41
We stayed at the official viewing point, at McKnight boulevard northeast, which provides a great view of runway 34, which was used for takeoff and landing at the time. This place is called the Edward H. LaBorde viewing area. At the west side of the field, the cargo terminal of Fedex and Pulorator is situated. Both with 727s present.
In the afternoon the runways were changed and we found a new spot, on the Aero drive northeast, next to the airport trail / 96 avenue. Although this isn’t an official viewing area, it was no problem standing here.
N114VW, Citation X
C-GSWZ, Beech 1900
C-GCUL, Citation X
C-FPCP, Raytheon B300
C-FNRM, Commander 840
In next parts, we discover Red Deer, Yellowknife, Vancouver and head back to Seattle.