On a small body of water near Sausalito, serving as a runway, the six-passenger airplane took off quickly and smoothly and began to climb. You are at the beginning of a flight on Seaplane Adventures, the best vantage point for viewing and for photographing all the major San Francisco area tourist highlights.
If you are wondering what a seaplane is, think of a standard small general aviation aircraft. Then, attach floats to it so that it can land and takeoff on the water – and you have a seaplane. The Dehavilland Beaver airplane is tough; it was built for use in places like Alaska’s rugged back country, so California water flying is no problem.
There are a variety of trips offered by San Francisco’s Seaplane Adventures including a 30 minute Golden Gate Bridge tour, a 40 minute sunset champagne tour and a one hour coastal tour to name a few.
The one-hour tour, known as the Norcal Coastal Tour, climbs quickly after taking off and heads out over Belvedere Island – home of one of San Francisco priciest enclaves. The city San Quentin, and is famous prison, is then visible. Passengers are free to “open the windows” or more accurately partially lower the windows to let fresh air in or to get a better photograph.
As the plane plods on, not reaching speeds of over 150 miles per hour, it heads over sparsely populated areas that hold lakes and San Francisco’s drinking water supply. All the while the pilot provides a running commentary over the radio headsets – which are provided to all on board – of what can be seen out the plane’s windows. Then, just as quickly, the plane reaches the stunning Pacific Coast and the pilot heads to Point Reyes, where he turns and dives providing for a great vantage point of the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
On the way back toward San Francisco, the pilot slows down and dips to below 100 feet above the Pacific as he look for whales and other sea life. Then its time to gain altitude again and fly directly over the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, giving passengers plenty of time to photograph all of the sights. Flying along the water, the pilots skirts the new San Francisco Giants stadium before cutting across San Francisco proper and heading back for the anxiously awaited water landing, which goes off without a hitch – or even bump for that matter. The plane then “taxis” on the water from its landing point to a short dock where it is tied up similar to a boat and another group of thrilled passengers disembark.
For customers staying in San Francisco, a complimentary pickup service from Pier 39 is available, or you can drive and park at the company’s headquarters – there is ample parking.
For more information visit www.seaplane.com or call 888.SEA.PLANE.
Note: The author flew on the Seaplane as a guest of the owner.