A view from the top: Exploring B.C. by plane

by Fernanda Fatio de Andrade

For the past 25 years Pacific Coastal Airlines has been operating a fleet of 17 aircraft that fly to 15 locations in British Columbia, some as close as Victoria and some others in very remote locations.

Whether the trip takes 15 minutes or two and a half hours, it is guaranteed that your destination will be very different from Vancouver. For example, during the winter while it is raining in Vancouver, it may be snowing in other regions of British Columbia. In fact, the province has some of the best ski resorts in the world, and winter flights to ski destinations are very popular. If you are a skier, you may be interested in visiting Mount Washington on Vancouver Island. The mountain sees the largest cumulative snowfall in BC – between 500 and 700 cm per annum (per year). From Vancouver you can fly to Comox (also located on Vancouver Island) in 35 minutes and take a short shuttle bus drive to the ski slopes.

Other wonderful ski destinations accessible by plane include Cranbrook, a town located in the Kootenay Region of the BC interior. From Cranbrook, it is an hour and a half to Fernie Alpine Resort and equally close to Kimberley Alpine Resort.

The terrain (landscape, shape of the land) at Fernie takes full advantage of the abundant snow: Fernie has five alpine bowls and is spread over 2,500 acres with an amazing 857 m (2,816 ft) of vertical – that’s a lot of mountain.

The Kimberley Alpine Resort is known for its beautiful, light, dry powder and very nice slopes. The mountain has a vertical rise of 75m (2,465 ft) and an average snowfall of 181 inches (460 cm). With 70 ski runs, Kimberley Alpine Resort has something for every skier and snowboarder.

On the other hand, if you prefer to stay warm and travel in the summer, then consider a two and a half hour, 995-kilometre plane trip to the town of Bella Coola. Located in the Cariboo/Central Coast Region of BC, Bella Coola is a small town of 2,500 inhabitants and offers wonderful eco-tourism activities. Just east of the town is one of British Columbia’s largest parks, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park; the park is very large – 895,000 hectares – and has an astounding range of landscapes and conditions. If you like hiking, camping or fishing, a trip to Bella Coola would be perfect.

You may think that flying is more expensive than driving, but think again. In many cases flying is better. A trip to Comox or Bella Coola would take a full day by car, says Jim Anderson, Sale Manager of Pacific Coastal Airlines. If you consider the cost of renting a vehicle, gas, and the time it takes to drive, flying can save a lot of money. Jim indicated that many tourists fly one way to save time and then take a slower, more scenic form of transportation on their return trip. For example, you can fly to Victoria and return to Vancouver by a ferry.

Discover what lies beyond Vancouver. Seeing British Columbia by land is one way to travel, but taking to the air by plane opens many other opportunities.

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Jeremy Clark

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