The Big Read
Photo: Harbour Air Seaplanes

Up in the air: Aboard the seaplane that’s helping the Vancouver-Seattle tech connection take off

When Greg McDougall and Windoak Air Services’ other pilot began flying their de Havilland Beaver seaplanes from Prince Rupert, B.C. in 1982, the clients who chartered their planes were forestry buyers in search of wood. “You’d look at a bunch of logs floating,” says Randy Wright, president of what’s now called Harbour Air Seaplanes.

McDougall still owns the company, and still flies, but today’s passengers are more likely to be venture capitalists in search of promising startups, or tech executives headed for a meeting.

Harbour Air runs half of a regular flight between Vancouver and Seattle. The service—launched in April 2018 with Kenmore, Wash.-headquartered Kenmore Air—gets passengers from downtown to downtown in about an hour. The route connects the two cities’ tech ecosystems at a time when U.S. tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon are adding thousands of jobs in Canada’s western tech hub.

And it comes as elected officials and executives in British Columbia and Washington are trying to establish the Cascadia Innovation Corridor, an umbrella brand for partnerships between governments, companies and universities on either side of the border.

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