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On February 29 I happened to be on a ship which had a scheduled call in Key West, one of those ports where I don’t mind abstaining from work  for a while so that I can venture out.  The island is dominated by hippies and free spirits and there’s always something interesting to see.  I’ve explored Key West on foot a few times already, also by car and by bike.  And since the time we have in port isn’t enough for a trip out to the Vandenberg, I thought:  Let me go up into the air… 

Prior to that day I had done some research on the internet and “Key West Seaplanes” sounded great for what I had in mind due to their experience in aerial photography  which was the main reason for the adventure.  Between the two airplane types which the charter business operates I was recommended the Cessna 182 as it allows for the windows to fully open.  Not so with the other airplane type, a sea plane, which is why I waived the opportunity for a water landing in favour of better-quality photos.

To reach the airport didn’t take long and I announced my presence at the office of Key West Seaplanes.  Shortly after Julie walked in, the owner and my pilot.  She’s just a bit older than me and quite the hippie Lady who would later on remove her flip flops and fly barefoot.  Very likeable…

We walked over to the parked airplane and I was given an overview of the plane which included how to open the door in case of an unplanned landing.  Then I climbed inside, secured my photo bag on the back seat and wedged the tele-lens between my knees, you never know…

The motor was started up and made any normal communication impossible under the noise, but I was given a BOSE headset through which I was able to chat with Julie.  She taxied to the runway and didn’t idle around – we accelerated and were magically airborne just a few seconds later.  We flew over the Southernmost Point of the USA to Mallory Square where two Carnival ships were docked today.  She circled the ships to offer me special photo opportunities and then flew a few miles out west to the Sand Key Light, a lighthouse.   We crossed various reefs, and Julie was great at approaching the interesting motives from the best angle and with sun behind us.

Where to go next?  Up the Keys or to the islands of the Marquesas?  There’s a wreck which photographers usually take interest in, she said.  Yes, to the Marquesas, please!  She turned to north-east and we circled partially populated (summer houses) and uninhabited islands and I admired the colours that emerged with the sun, the water depth and the direction of the waves.  Simply fascinating!

See for yourself whether the one-hour trip was worth it…