I have recently added a really cool word to my vocabulary - Beaching. This means landing a seaplane on the transparent turqoise waters of the Indian Ocean and anchor it beside, for example, a sandbank to stop it from drifting away. Being a pilot is generally considered very glamorous, but being a seaplane pilot in the Maldives, constantly soaring above the most exquisite sights in the world is just über cool. And they do it barefoot, in shorts, sunglasses and very expensive watches, adding to the general glitz of your Maldives vacation. Surely, after beaches and lagoons, the legs and feet of seaplane pilots are the most photographed objects in the Maldives? Luke Howard has been kind enough to share his wonderful pictures and his experience of four years working as a seaplane pilot for Trans Maldivian Airways - TMA - in the Maldives.
Above the Private Reserve at Gili Lankanfushi, 1400 sqm of driftwood heaven
Coming from the Vancouver area, Luke is a mindboggling 12 time zones away from friends and family, the distance from loved ones is situation he shares with many expats in the Maldives. - The Maldives have been good to me both in work an romance, Luke tells me, and he is not the only pilot with the same experience. He and his wife live in Malé but did, understandably, spend their honeymoon outside the Maldives. :-)
In the foreground Hulhumale, then the lagoon in the middle that s actually the seaplane runway for Male, and behind that Hulhule, where the international and domestic flights land. In the far back the capital Malé.
Luke tells me that he was really very excited about flying in the Maldives. Many Canadian seaplane pilots have flown in the Maldives, in fact at his place of work before TMA he was one of the only Twin Otter captains that had not been to the Maldives to work! It left him out of many conversations in the crew room. Well now, having been in the Maldives 4 years running, I am sure Luke will be included.
- Also when going to flight school many of the computer screen saver photos where of the seaplanes in the Maldives. So as soon as I started flying I knew one day I wanted to fly in the Maldives. I saw the job ad on a Canadian pilots website, applied, and I was soon working on the paperwork to come to the Maldives, continues Luke. Working for TMA means five day work weeks and one month off every three. This gives him ample time to explore the Maldives, mostly below the surface.
Water spout close to Taj Exotica, South Male Atoll. Spectacular!
- On my days off I am in Male' city and I really enjoy diving or snorkeling says Luke. Some of the best things to see in the Maldives are below the waves. Sometimes I think you can see more while snorkeling than diving as most of the life is close to the surface, but I love the weightless flying you can do underwater as a diver. The sea life here is amazing, the water is so clear that we can see manta rays, dolphins and sometimes whales from the air. On a calm clear day when I taxi the plane on the water before take off I can see all the sea life below me. Even though I am in the cockpit of an airplane I get the same view as if I were snorkeling on the reef.
Well people, can we agree that this guy is the realLucky Luke? :-)
ALL pictures above by courtesy of Luke Howard - Thank you Luke!!