At the end of the day, whether Steve Bjorling has flown to the northern tip of Vancouver Island or the quaint dock at Roche Harbor, he’s put a smile on someone’s face. That’s what keeps this former police officer passionate about flying year-after-year.
“I love to fly, but after 19 years, putting a smile on someone’s face is what keeps this job enjoyable,” Steve told me as he flew de Havilland Beaver N72355 to Seattle’s Lake Union.
He flew a Seattle Scenic Flight Tour, treating passengers to a bird’s eye view of Seattle’s famous houseboat communities, Elliott Bay, and the Space Needle. Switching planes to a 10-passenger de Havilland Otter, the largest seaplane in Kenmore’s fleet, Steve finished his shift with a round-trip flight to Victoria. He (and his passengers) definitely smiled. It was a glorious, blue-sky day.
Pursuing a Life-Long Dream to Fly
“I used to work in law enforcement. But after 20 years, it was time for a change,” Steve said.
Having always dreamed of flying as a kid, Steve took a job fueling airplanes at a local flight school. During his free time, he took lessons and eventually earned both his private and commercial pilot’s license.
During training he became good friends with his flight instructor. The two men often flew together for fun, exploring different destinations throughout the Pacific Northwest. It was during one such flight that Steve saw his first seaplane.
“We were at Stehekin on Lake Chelan. An Otter landed. Ten people climbed out with a dog. And I knew I wanted to fly one of those.”
It didn’t take him long. Steve earned his seaplane rating in the fall of ’98 from Kenmore’s Flight Instruction program. He immediately submitted his resume and has been a member of the Kenmore Air family ever since.
Passing Wisdom Down
Kenmore Air pilots undergo a unique training experience. Before a pilot joins the crew, they more than double the training hours required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Training is handled in-house, featuring a series of knowledge and skills tests.
It’s conducted by members of the flight crew who are “All Checks Pilot” certified. This allows veteran pilots to share their wisdom and experience. Plus, as the young pilots are getting their floats wet, it offers mentorship. Steve explained:
I’m proud of my training role with Kenmore. It gives me an opportunity to pass on skills and knowledge. Plus, I get to know the new hires so they feel free to come to me with questions during their first season or two.
Training, also known as Initial Operating Experience (IOE), is required for each model aircraft a pilot flies. IOE is primarily conducted February through April, with the final tests being completed in June, before the busy season kicks into full gear. When a pilot can ‘fly the whole line,’ it means he or she has completed their IOE training for each aircraft on Kenmore’s fleet This includes the 10-passenger de Havilland Otter. Steve not only flies the whole line, he serves as an All Checks Pilot for the whole line.
The Pilot Photographer
Beyond his exceptional skill as a pilot, Steve has developed a keen eye for photography. The passion began with his first smartphone. As Steve explained, “Once I got a smartphone, I always had a camera in my pocket and I just started taking pictures of things I liked or thought were interesting.”
Over the past three years, he took his passion to the next level. Investing in a professional camera, Steve began capturing scenes around the Seattle area and on his travels with Kenmore. His stunning landscape and seaplane photography has earned him a following online.
Northwest Coast Vancouver Island by Steve Bjorling
Among his favorite places to take pictures is the west coast of Vancouver Island. “On a nice day, it’s got everything. You can fly out over the mountains and then come back along the coastline at 500 feet. It’s just beautiful country,” Steve said.
Photograph Worthy Destinations
On Tofino’s westernmost point, nestled among its trees and perched on its rocks, rests the Wickaninnish Inn. It appears to be more nature made than man-made
It doesn’t look like much from the air, just a collection of windows tucked between the trees, but that’s the beauty of the West Coast Wilderness Lodge.
Carved into the Sunshine Coast, at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet, Chatterbox Falls might steal your heart.