Author photo

By Cathy Hansen
contributing writer 

Beaver on floats in Hawaii

Short Flights


April 13, 2024


Island Seaplane Service DeHavilland Beaver.

In June of 2003, my husband Al and I attended a National Navy League Convention in Hawaii and had a great time flying around the Island of Ohua in a DeHavilland Beaver (DHC-2) on floats. We received some funny looks from people when we asked where we could find the "Beaver on Floats," but decided to look for ourselves on Lagoon Drive next to Honolulu International Airport.

My first comment when we met the folks in the office next to the dock was, "This airplane looks like she belongs in Alaska!" The reply was, "That's where she came from."

The operators of Island Seaplane Service had a background of over 45 years of seaplane activity in northern Minnesota, Canada, Alaska, the Caribbean, Florida, Southeast Asia and Hawaii.

When we were in Alaska, Lake Hood was full of float-planes, my favorite was this Beaver of floats!

The founder of the company, Pat Magie, had logged over 36,000 hours, with about 29,000 hours in seaplanes. He was also named as the National Seaplane Pilot of the year in 2000. He flew as a bush pilot in Northern Minnesota, Canada and Alaska for many years flying fishermen, hunters, forest fire suppression and freight of all descriptions.

Their office floats on the waters of Keehi Lagoon, the same place where the China Clippers and Martin Mars Flying Boats moored many years ago.

Pat had also flown for many motion pictures and TV shows. He flew a Twin Beech on floats in the movie "The Phantom" filmed in Thailand. The movie actress Catherine Zeta Jones starred as the villainous seaplane pilot and Pat had to wear a long black wig for several scenes!

The DeHavilland "Beaver" aircraft shown in the photo was seen in "the New Fantasy Island" TV series filmed in 1998. This same "Beaver" was seen in the Disney World Production of "The Stevens Get Even" and a Bud Lite commercial for the original "Survivors" series.

It was windy and Pat was concerned that it might be bumpy in the air. After we told him we were from Mojave, he decided the wind wouldn't bother us. At one point during the flight, he asked the air traffic controller to read out his ground speed, "50-knots," came the reply. We were indicating 90-knots, so the wind on our nose was 40-knots! Just like home!

After a short take-off from the water, we climbed out alongside Honolulu Harbor, then passed offshore of Waikiki Beach and looked down into Diamond Head Crater. We flew over Koko Head Crater, Hanauma Bay, Sealife Park and Kaneohe Bay. We then returned through Pali Pass with low clouds and returned to Keehi Lagoon for a perfect water landing.

Before Sept. 11, Pat was able to fly over the USS Arizona Memorial, but like many freedoms, that too had gone by the wayside. I'm sure they can fly over the memorial now and I think they use different aircraft on floats. I think the Beaver is gone, unfortunately.

Pat grew up in an aviation family, his father flew during the 1920s and early 1930s, holding license #229 signed by Orville Wright! How fabulous is that?

The versatile all-metal single-engine high-wing Canadian Bush monoplane first flew in August 1947. Nearly 1,650 Beavers were constructed and 1,000 were sent to the United States for military use. The Beaver remained in production into the mid-1960s.

The high-lift wing, heavy cargo lift and STOL (short take-off and landing) capability make this aircraft the perfect bush plane.

The Beaver can carry a crew of two, plus six passengers or more than 1,500 pounds of cargo. Powered by a 450-horsepower, nine-cylinder air-cooled radial Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior 985 engine, the Beaver has a maximum speed of 180 miles per hour as a landplane and 155 miles per hour as a seaplane. The plane has a wingspan of 48 feet and measures just over 30 feet in length. Its maximum range is 800 miles.

Aviation experts consider the DHC-2 Beaver to be one of the most perfectly designed small utility aircraft ever built and they are a premium aircraft in Alaska and Canada. This aircraft is ground capable, but is far better known in its floatplane configuration. The Beaver opened Canada's northern wilderness for settlement and economic development.

They look good, and sound good, a Beaver on floats is my dream plane!

See you on our next flight!


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