Forklifting this Beaver to its parking spot for the night
Kenmore Air is the world’s second largest seaplane operator, with their main base of operations located just northeast of Seattle (in Kenmore) and just a few miles away from where I live. I have had a few opportunities to fly their seaplanes, but I have always been wanting to take a closer look at their operations and learn a bit more about how they keep their 18 seaplanes going.
Multiple planes are being worked on inside Kenmore Air’s new hangar
When I heard that they just recently opened up a brand-new maintenance hangar, I figured that this would be a great excuse to get a behind-the-scenes tour. I went in, not fully knowing what to expect, but found out quite a bit about the planes, the facility, and the people that make it all happen.
The Wild Orca seaplane in all its glory. Fun fact: though the DHC-3 is nearly 2x as long as an adult male orca, a fully-grown orca will weigh nearly twice as much as this plane – Photo: Lee Zerrilla | AirlineReporter
At a sun-filled event, Kenmore Air unveiled the Wild Orca seaplane, a 1954 de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Turbo Otter that’s been dressed up in the familiar markings of Orcinus Orca.
Inside and out, this plane has been made over with all-things Orca, from the sleek, stunning paint job to the custom embroidery on the cabin bulkhead. The whale paint job isn’t just for fun, however, and as it traverses the skies of the Pacific Northwest, hundreds or thousands of feet above the water, its goal is to bring attention to our friends below the surface.
The tale of the tail begins with longtime Kenmore Air pilots Anna Gullickson and Michael Hays. In 2014, the pair founded Wild Orca, a Washington State-based non-profit aimed at raising public awareness and funds for these majestic mammals and the organizations that support them. Listening to either of them speak, it becomes apparent that their bird’s-eye perspective gives them a personal connection to the Northwest’s Orca population.
A Piaggio P 180 Avanti II at Boeing Field (BFI). Image by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.
It’s not every day that you hear about a new airline starting service. With the immensely strong barriers to entry including existing airlines, financing issues, and federal regulations, there are not many new airlines founded today. Anymore, it seems like the industry is consolidating via mergers, but Arrow is aiming to show that new niche airlines can succeed even in this economy. This new airline is banking on people valuing their time and wanting to avoid the hassle of traveling with traditional airlines and long security lines. I had the opportunity to meet with Arrow CEO Russell Belden this past Monday and take a flight from Seattle to Oakland (and back).
Arrow is unique in few ways. First of which is that it is a private club in which people can purchase memberships ($500 per month with a one year commitment) and then have access to purchase tickets on their aircraft. But unlike other private jet services which operate similarly, Arrow will have scheduled services.
They are planning to launch Seattle (out of Boeing Field – BFI) to Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC), which will cost members about $500 each way. The ticket costs are comparable to a first class ticket on other airlines serving similar routes.
Once Arrow receives 200 membership commitments they will purchase their initial aircraft and make plans to begin service within three months (delivery time-frame for a new plane).
The interior of the Piaggio. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.
Arrow has a target market of business professionals who have much better things to do than simply wait in line. Sure, a flight on Arrow might cost slightly more than a typical first or business class ticket, but isn’t a CEO’s time exceptionally valuable?
Arrow believes they will be able to shave off as much as two hours simply due to eliminating the added hassles of the typical airport experience. With on-board Wi-Fi to be installed on their new aircraft, it will also enable professionals to keep in constant contact and be productive at 30,000 feet. While our test flight did not have Wi-Fi on board, we actually had an intermittent signal on our mobile phones throughout the journey.