Posts Tagged ‘Erin Harvey’

A Bird ? A Plane ? Superman ? No, It’s A Flying Boat !!

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Not A Bird Or A Plane Or Superman. It’s An Incredible Flying Boat On The Beach In Cape Charles,VA!

Last Saturday I was cruising the beach for a  few pictures  to be used in  the new Blue Heron Realty Co.  catalogue of prime Eastern Shore Virginia waterfront properties when I saw what appeared to be a gargantuan yellow butterfly floating in the Chesapeake Bay out near the breakwater.   Definitely not a butterfly though,  it was a flying boat,  FIB for short,  a flying inflatable dingy to be exact,  bobbing in the shallow waters just off the Cape Charles, VA beach as its owners readied it for take-off.   Curious about the craft,  never having seen or even read about one before,  on the spur of the moment  I took off my shoes and waded out ,  fully dressed including  slacks,   to take a closer look,  introduce myself and ask a few questions.  Owners Erin and Sophie Harvey  were kind enough to tell me all about their astonishing  craft– in fact,  I learned that it was Sophie’s maiden voyage.   (Not sure–   in a FIB,  is it  a maiden voyage or a maiden flight ?  )  Anyway, it was her first time to travel aboard  their  FIB and she was busy screwing her courage to the sticking point because Sophie,  like me,  is not that crazy about heights.  But at least  she was game to try,  I fear you couldn’t get me into that little thing for love nor money.

Getting Ready For Lift-off On Sophie’s Maiden FIB Flight

One of the first things I wanted to know was how high Erin would be flying her.   ( Is a flying boat even properly referred to as a  “her” ?  )   Apparently its  wing span of 36 feet enables the pilot to achieve a maximum height of 10,000 feet and the 64 horsepower motor offers a maximum speed of 50 knots,  roughly 58 miles per hour.   Which to me  is a pretty scary thought- –  traveling 10,000 above ground,  at almost 60 mph,  in what more or less is a flying  11′ 6″  by 5′ 5″  bathtub with seats.  But for Sophie’s  maiden flight/voyage,  Erin was planning a staid 300-500  foot  max altitude which would have been a comfort to me,  I don’t even like to peek over 3rd story balconies.  Sophie’s take on the situation was that either everything would go pretty well and they’d follow a course south to land at the Sunset beachfront pub for dinner  or we’d all hear her let out a blood-curdling scream and see Erin make an immediate landing,  she wasn’t taking any bets either way.


Airbourne In A Flying Inflatable Boat-Scary, Thrilling, Astonishing !

By now a little crowd of curious people had gathered around to see what was happening.  Erin was ready to began his pre-flight checklist which was stored on his cellphone,  not the fat clipboard one sees in the cockpit of a  Boeing  747.   Donning her intercom radio- equiped helmet,  Sophie climbed aboard and got settled into her  seat, a seat  which resembles the booster seat of a two child stroller more than anything else.  Countdown to liftoff  began, checking battery connections,  checking propeller,  fuel lines, wing pulley lines, testing intercom connections, etc., etc.  Finally satisfied that everything was ready to go,  Erin grabbed the tow line to pull the craft out into the Bay beyond the area where beachgoers were enjoying the water, climbed aboard and  started the motor,  which sounds very much like a  lawnmower on steroids.  Apparently only about 200 feet is normally required for FIB  takeoff  but Erin had told me that he might have a little trouble with the liftoff because of  lack of wind and weight of a passenger aboard.  But the wind gods were with him because just as he started the motor,  a breeze came through and up  they went !   No bloodcurdling screams,  just 2 big, lazy circles around the beach and then a beeline south,  next planned stop  a landing in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay at Sunset Beach.  I watched until they were just a tiny speck in the sky,  Erin and Sophie flying into the wild blue yonder in their intrepid craft,  the  astonishing,  amazing,  postively incredible  flying boat.


P.S. I want to give a shout-out to the LL Bean Company.  After wading out further and further,  trying to get a better view of the take-off,  my slacks were soaked up to the fanny but I had 2 other stops to make and there was no possibility of going home to change first. To my surprise and delight, by the time I walked back to the car, got my camera stowed away and drove 10 minutes to the first errand,  my LL Bean crease-resistant slacks were basically dry.  But best of all, they looked fresh as a daisy, nobody could ever have guessed that 15 minutes before I had unexpectedly decided to wade  into  three feet of  Chesapeake Bay saltwater.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)



PPS.  If you want to learn more about FIB’s,  click on the following link to  a US FIB distributor.