Friday, March 16, 2012
^ "Seaplane" played at the Key West Songwriter's Festival^
I recall visiting Key West and when the American Eagle turbo props flew over, I would joke to my friends “Oh! That’s the plane from Lisbon”, a joking reference to the movie “Casablanca” where it was the quest of all in Casablanca to be on that plane. Of course, in Casablanca everyone wanted to be on the plane leaving, where in Key West, everyone wants to be on the plane arriving! That joke hasn’t worn out and I use it to this day, since I moved here. Oh sure, we can all arrive on a jet, but coming into a tropical island with the historic significance of Key West, it’s just so much more romantic to fly in on a prop plane! From Miami International Airport, the flight is just under an hour and the flight over the Keys is astronomically beautiful. I dare anyone to try counting the islands!
Regretfully however, American Eagle will no longer be flying their ATR 72 prop jets into Key West as of April 5th 2012 and have terminated their leases on them. This is a sad day both in aviation, as well as Key West. From now on, the basic connecting shuttle flights from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale will be conventional, commercial small jets.
The Chalk’s Airlines used to fly their seaplanes in from Miami’s Watson Island, on Biscayne Bay as well as also to the Bahamas, however that stopped when the company ceased operations a few years ago. It was a regretful point in history when the Gruman Mallard and Albatrosses of Chalk’s ceased their seaplane activity. Seaplanes would be a fantastic endeavor for a Key West shuttle airline, especially now with the economy on the upswing. Key West is having it’s strongest showing of visitors in years, btw!
Key West currently has a tour seaplane which goes to Ft. Jefferson, in the Dry Tortugas. I have yet to go on this tour, however it certainly looks like a lot of fun!
For information on the flights check out:
There is an adequate market for air service throughout the Caribbean for a seaplane airline. Obviously we’re not talking about an economy flight, however the market is certainly there. This year Key West is having it's strongest year of tourists and visitors in years. In addition, Antilles Seaplanes, based in North Carolina, are now building brand new, completely updated versions of the Gruman G-21 Goose in turbo prop form, which they call The Antilles G-21 Super Goose. The basic overall design is identical to the original Gruman aircraft, albeit with modifications made over the years and state of the art aeronautics, and also the aforementioned turbo props which replace the radial piston engines. It covers all the bases as well. This is not a restored, or refurbished aircraft. What we're looking at is a classic design, yet at the same time a brand new aircraft which seats ten. This is clearly the ideal aircraft for the endeavor!
Of course Key West would also be the perfect place to base such an air service out of. With the rich history of the G-21 itself, basing it in a historic city only makes sense, especially with perfect access to the Caribbean. Again, speaking of history, let’s not forget that Pan Am started off in Key West with seaplane service to Havana. Their original building is on the corner of Whitehead and Caroline St. and today is Kelly’s Caribbean Restaurant and Brewery. And who knows? Maybe in the not too distant future air service for all can be resumed to Cuba?
For information on the Antilles G21 Super Goose, stop by their website:
All Photos of the Antilles G21 Super Goose curtisy of Antilles Seaplanes
Beautiful Artwork of the seaplane landing in Key West by David Harrison Wright
Be sure to check out his sight! http://davidharrisonwright.com/
Key West Chris' music is available for download at iTunes,CD Baby,CD Universe, Rhapsody, Beachfront Radio, and for physical copy at Green World Gallery, The Cork and Stogie, and Key West Bait and Tackle