Nightly News   |  February 27, 2010

Seaplanes keep Vancouver harbor hopping

The Canadian city boasts a bustling airport that’s become a ubiquitous part of the Winter Games’ backdrop. NBC’s Lester Holt reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> killer whales .

>>> here in vancouver , as our regular viewers know, it's been a challenge bringing you nightly news from our harborside location, it's all about those planes taking off behind us. they're a bit noisy, but they do serve a greater purpose here. they have been hard to miss, the float planes that have become a familiar backdrop to many of our vancouver broadcasts.

>> that's a sea plane taking off behind us.

>> reporter: vancouver is a city with a bustling airport like none other, right at its doorstep, the harbor. two airlines transport to many seaside towns.

>> they've been flying on this coast since the 1960s . it's very unique.

>> reporter: the vancouver control tower sits atop a sky skyscrap skyscraper. paul zucker makes the short hop from victoria to vancouver three times a month.

>> for time sake, this is the best way to go.

>> reporter: these planes are operated the old fashioned way, pilots fly visually, always below the clouds, even if it requires flying as low as 200 feet off the deck. during the summer months, harbor air flies 1,000 passengers a day in and out of vancouver hasher.

>> our biggest portion of our business is corporate. a lot of people will live in victoria or on vancouver island .

>> reporter: both airlines fly rugged and canadian made otter, short on creature comforts, but with a view that can't be beat, including the ones up front. in the summer months, it's not uncommon to spot pods of killer whales .

>> it's a pretty nice office most of the time.

>> reporter: the sensation of descending toward a patch of water surrounded by boats rather than a concrete runway is strange at first. but those that travel this way say the convenience cannot be beat.

>> i can walk 10 minutes from my office and i'm on the plane and across in no time.

>> reporter: and besides, get stuck on the taxi way on this airplane, you're headed for a scenic cruise.

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