Monday, September 05, 2011

Vancouver Airport Floatplane Facility

I regularly make the trip to and from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to travel to and from Powell River, or to pick up Wayne. The Canada/US border crossing time is hard to estimate, so I build in extra time just to be safe.

Last week I arrived 45 minutes early, so I walked across to the float plane portion of the South Terminal. Float planes (seaplanes) take off and land in the Fraser River. That can be a bit tricky with tides and currents working either together or in opposition. Mix in some wind, and you really have to give a hand to the professional pilots.

Several airlines serve passengers at the private and public portions of the YVR Floatplane Facility. They include:

If you like plane watching, there are lots of benches along the riverside path. Here are two of the planes I saw.

If you are at YVR and have some time to spare, head over to the South Terminal. Park in the free day use lot and walk across the street. If you get hungry while you're there, head into the Harbour Air terminal and you will find the Flying Beaver Bar & Grill. They have great food and drink, and a high flying view. -- Margy


  1. Wow, Margy, I've never been to the South Terminal. I had no idea there were observation benches or a restaurant or anything.
    My best friend has often flown over from Galiano Island when the ferry didn't offer the right timing, but I've always met her at the main terminal. Now she's moving to England this week, so I'll just have to come up with another reason for visiting the seaplane dock. The first plane I ever flew on was a floatplane from the Inner Harbor to Saltspring in 1963. What a thrill that was!
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Hi Kay - There is a free shuttle from the South Terminal (where the small commuter planes like Pacific Coastal are located) to the main terminal. They do not stop directly at the float plane area, but it is within fairly easy walking distance. - Margy

  3. I like the Beaver radial - my favourite plane. And my plane watching post comes up tomorrow, so we're almost in synch!

  4. I think you are so brave to even get on one of these planes. I am absolutely terrified of flying and those plances look incredibly small to me! I like airports though and would love to sit in the restaurant, eat and watch the planes land and take off x

  5. Paul, thanks for the help with the identification of the planes as Beavers. Great Canadian name for a plane!

    Fran, actually I was just over there watching the planes while I waited for Wayne. We fly on small commuters that land on wheels. Not quite as "scary."


  6. There is something about the watching the planes come and go...I wonder where are they going ..where are they coming from....

    I have been to the flying beaver many times...great food and nice atmosphere!

  7. How lovely to see such a good article on seaplanes, which are my big passion. I was an Aussie commercial pilot for 25 years in seaplanes and am envious at the huge number of seaplanes in the Vancouver area. Randy Hanna, Chief Pilot of Vancity Airways has been a friend for 30 years and now I've retired from flying, keeps me up to date with the Vancouver scene. Hoping to get there in 2013, but in the meantime I'm writing a blog called My Seaplane Passion [ Please drop by and have a look.
    Fair winds
    Harry [ webfoot985 ]


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy