Lake hopping, southern British Columbia

Seeing as lakes are such a major feature of British Columbia, Canada, I thought a somewhat extended lake-hopping flight could be interesting. Some thoughts I had before starting:

  • The obvious aircraft to use would be the Icon (duh!)
  • To reduce the gazillion possible lakes one could land on, I decided to limit it to southern BC: from Vancouver east to the Kootenays and no further north than around Kelowna.
  • I wanted to do a round trip, starting and ending in Vancouver
  • Seeing as the Icon is a Light Sport Aircraft meant for informal flights, I decided to go REALLY informal! No formal flight plan, a loosely defined route, no GPS: total follow-the-map-VFR. Land where I want when I want. Real bush pilot crudeness.
  • Low level VFR as some of the hops would be very short.

In the end I randomly picked 38 lakes to start. In keeping with my informal approach I just quickly plotted it out in Google Maps: about as crude as you can get! And I did not recreate a flight plan in MSFS: I used Google maps on my iPad as accompanying aid, like one would do with a old school paper map.

Once I plotted it out it seemed logical to split it over 3 days. I also decided to start and end on a “real” land-based airport as there are now recognised seaplane terminals as far as I am aware.

The overall plan to start was something like this:


YVR Land departure
Capilano Lake/ Cleveland dam
Seymore Lake
Buntzen Lake
Coquitlam Lake
Widgeon Lake
Pitt Lake
Alouette Lake
Stave Lake
Chehalis Lake
Harrison Lake
Wahleach Lake
Otter Lake
Nicola Lake
Stump Lake
Douglas Lake
Chapperon Lake
Pennask Lake
On Lake Okanagan @ Kelowna
Land at Kelowna on land to complete day

About 445km in total


From Kelowna Airport:
Wood Lake
Kalamalka Lake
Swan Lake
Mabel Lake
Sugar Lake
Upper Arrow Lake
Trout Lake
Duncan Lake
Windermere Lake
Columbia Lake
Lower Arrow Lake
Nelson Airport

About 455km


From Nelson airport:
Slocan Lake
Lower Arrow Lake @ Farquiar
Christina Lake

Osoyoos Lake
Vaseux Lake
Skaha Lake
Ross Lake (the bit in Canada!)
Chilliwack Lake
Cultus Lake
Back to YVR

About 555km

I did the first day’s flying today: turned out to be quite a bit of work! This is the route I followed:

Everything went perfectly until I landed on Okanagan Lake at Kelowna. Not sure what happened but on touchdown my landing turned into a crash. I did not THINK I did anything wrong: either I lost focus and did something silly or there is something strange with the level of the lake: will have to try it again.

I did a video of the first part up to Harrison Lake, after that I just did screenshots. I will have to edit the whole thing and will post video and stills. A couple of screenshots to give an indication of the “flavour” of the trip:

Early morning departure:

Vancouver in the morning

Some of the selected lakes were pretty small!

And sometimes the lakes were big… well, some were HUGE!.. but then I tried to make it more interesting by landing in interesting parts of the lake!

So far so good: more to follow


Oops, I must have turned the air conditioning up too high!

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OK, so on to day 2! On the agenda for the day:

Depart from Kelowna Airport:

Wood Lake
Kalamalka Lake
Swan Lake
Mabel Lake
Sugar Lake
Upper Arrow Lake
Trout Lake
Duncan Lake
Windermere Lake
Columbia Lake
Lower Arrow Lake

Land at Nelson Airport

This was the route, done in Skyvector:

As per my previous post: one thing that I did not think of ahead of time was the mountainous area and the altitudes to which that would force me. Yes, I have driven in that area a lot. But mostly through passes that go up to 6,000ft or so and that is it. In my planning I did not pay sufficient attention to just HOW high some of the mountains that I would have to cross were. At one stage I was over 11,500ft. And boy, did I ever beat up the poor little Icon! A lot of time was spent at full throttle climbing as hard as the littled plane could and the next moment back to idle to drop down the other side. If shock cooling was realistically considered I probably would have broken the Rotax motor!

And I will have to look up the actual Icon performance: I zeroed the weight of the copilot ahead of time and when I got to the higher bits I was down to about half fuel but still: the Icon could climb at like 1,000fpm at almost 10,000 feet: that sounds too optimistic to my mind. But I am not complaining for this trip: it certainly helped me a lot!!

Another thought: over the two days now I have spent over 6 hours flying without a single Flight Simulator hitch.

Some screenshots of the day:

Coming in to land on Swan Lake… and I did not see a single ballet dancer! :smirk:

On route:

Sure gets lonely up there…

This was one lake that was NOT on my plan to land on!

Nor were these little patches…

And then some serious mountains

And down the other side

In the mountains I frequently flew up rising valleys: generally not a good idea.

Some serious altitude. Picked up very little ice here: on the windshield and barely visible on the airframe. And I could not find an Outside Air Temperature gauge on the Icon!

And down again…

And UP again! This was the leg where I picked up serious icing.

The home stretch to Nelson

I must say I am REALLY enjoying this!


Awesome trip well done.

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Thanks kindly: really enjoyed it!

I posted some video of the first part of the first day (from Vancouver International up to the landing on Harrison Lake) on Youtube. Can be seen here:

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If anyone else bought the L-19 Bird Dog, that’s another aircraft you can use. I prefer that one to the Icon. It has its flaws, but the seaplane is fun.


I completed the third, final, and longest, day today. This was just under 320nm and with landing at all the lakes it took me just shy of 4 hours.

This was the route as per Skyvector:

These were the points of interest:

Started at Nelson airport. Lakes landed on were:

  • Slocan Lake
  • Lower Arrow Lake @ Farquiar
  • Christina Lake
  • Osoyoos Lake
  • Vaseux Lake
  • Skaha Lake
  • Ross Lake (the bit in Canada!)
  • Chilliwack Lake
  • Cultus Lake

Concluded the flight by landing back at CYVR Vancouver International.

Some more screenshots of today’s flight:

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Some more:

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Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

And the home stretch to Cultus Lake and then on to the Fraser Valley to Vancouver:

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Thanks kindly for the positive comments: appreciated! Phew, enough flying for one day! :grinning:

I enjoyed this, thank you for sharing!

Looks like you’re having a good time! Thanks for sharing the maps, too! :small_airplane: :smiley_cat:

Thanks kindly: this was really cool to do!

My pleasure: I absolutely had a total blast! I love this sim.

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As mentioned to BuffyFoster: I really enjoyed doing this. I spread the flying over three days. I was flying for around 10 hours and did not have a single issue in all that time, not with the aircraft and not with the programme. Landed on 39 different lakes in different locations at different altitudes and in different settings. The programme and the little Icon performed flawlessly, and I certainly did beat up the Icon with big full power climbs up to 11,500 feet at times and followed by idle power descents in the next valley. Got to know and like the Icon: VERY docile handling and a breeze to land perfectly smoothly… except when I did something stupid on Okanagan Lake apparently! :disappointed:

I also enjoyed seeing the very diverse nature on the route: from the coastal forest to the dry interior in the Okanagan and the massive mountains with interesting little lakes dotted everywhere: will have to try my hand at landing on some of those tricky little ones!

Enjoying this massively!

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