Friday Harbor Seaplanes is part of a larger family of locally owned brands. Whether you are looking to fly to San Juan Islands, a Seattle air tour, or any adventure in the northwest make sure to check out all of our offerings.
Clyde Carlson, owner and founder, started Northwest Seaplanes in 1988 providing exclusive service with two Dehavilland Beavers to Hakai Lodge which is located 70 miles north of Vancouver Island. But providing seaplane service to Hakai Lodge was not Clyde’s first adventure in aviation!
Clyde started his seaplane career thanks to the GI Bill in 1968. Soon after completing his commercial pilot training, Clyde began working for Lake Union Air Service flying Cessna 206′s to River Inlet Resort. As his passion for seaplanes grew, he started Western Air Charters in 1976 with a fleet of four Cessna 206′s providing seasonal tourism air service for the now bustling cruise ship industry in Juneau, Alaska.
Residing in Seattle, Clyde purchased Lake Union Air Service in 1980. Soon after Clyde became the pioneer of scheduled seaplane service from Lake Union to the San Juan Islands and then Victoria, BC. By 1986, Lake Union Air became the largest scheduled seaplane provider in the United States offering year-round scheduled and charter flights throughout the San Juan Islands and British Columbia with a fleet of 8 aircraft.
Not long after selling Lake Union Air in 1987, Northwest Seaplanes was conceived providing seasonal scheduled and charter service to boating and trophy salmon fishing destinations throughout British Columbia’s Inside Passage.
Clyde is not alone in his business ventures. His son, Shane Carlson, is following in his footsteps and carrying on the family business. Shane began his flying career working the docks of Lake Union Air and took his first flying lessons during his lunch break starting at age 15. Shane pursued his flight training at Big Bend Community College earning his associates degree in Commercial Aviation. Now Shane has been flying commercially for the family business for 22 years and manages all three of our seaplane operations: Friday Harbor Seaplanes, Northwest Seaplanes and Chelan Seaplanes.
Because of our well-trained, professional, and courteous pilots and our meticulously maintained fleet, we have logged over 24 years of accident and incident-free flying. From our pilots to our dedicated maintenance staff, you will feel comfortable knowing you are flying with experienced professionals. This tradition and safety culture has been continued through all of our companies. Safety and customer service is our utmost goal and has led the Carlsons to success for over 40 years in the business.
When you fly to San Juan Islands or take a Seattle air tour aboard one of our Friday Harbor Seaplanes Dehavilland Beavers, you are flying in the hands of the safest and most professional bush pilots in the industry!