Kenmore Air Harbor is one of those unique companies that has found the keys to success in a tough business through hard work, integrity and doing the right thing for the customer. For over 72 years Kenmore Air has been primarily owned and managed by the same family. Today multiple family members work in the business. Other employees have worked Kenmore Air for years. For some, they have worked for Kenmore Air Harbor for over 25 years or more whether it be in the maintenance area or as one of the many pilots.
Kenmore Air Harbor: Floatplane Expertise for Over 72 Years
We had a chance to interview Todd Banks, the president of Kenmore Air Harbor. He told us how the company was founded by his grandfather, Bob Munro, in what was then a swampy area on the North end of Lake Washington, on the Kenmore waterfront. They started with just a couple of airplanes flying fisherman, boaters, unique researchers and workers on flights all over the Inside Passage. They were also known for taking on the difficult charter jobs like a contract to land people and supplies on the edge of a snow-covered glacier with floats to support a scientific research project. Along the way, Kenmore Air Harbor developed their own maintenance facility with top mechanics who could not only maintain the aircraft but they also developed many certified modifications now in use on floatplanes around the world. They are known to take run-out deHavilland Beavers and Otters and make them like new. Many would say that a floatplane rebuilt by Kenmore Air, and containing a selection of the Kenmore improvements, is better than the plane left the factory.
Kenmore Air also provides flight instructionand “moorage” for customer aircraft in the Kenmore Air Harbor yard. It is fascinating to to spend an hour at the base and see the combination of privately owned and Kenmore Air airline aircraft being moved, prepared for flight and launched. It is a ballet of highly qualified staff where one slip could damage an expensive floatplane.
The People of Kenmore Air
According to Todd “Kenmore Air Harbor has always been about the people and creating a pleasant and challenging work environment. The people are what make for a safe operation. I had the opportunity to learn the business from my grandfather, Bob Munro, who unfortunately passed away in 2000 at the age of 83. He was a legend in the floatplane business both as a pilot, a mechanic, and a careful business man. Often we would walk the docks together and talk about the different aircraft and about the business. He instilled in me the principles and values that make this business successful today.”
Flying With Kenmore Air
Kenmore Air flights are not inexpensive, but they can be indispensable. We often leave our boats along the Inside Passage to attend to business at home. Total the cost and time required to get from say, the dock at Port McNeill to Seattle. The total airfare for a flight may actually be cheaper than the multi-modes of transportation needed to make this trip. The floatplane trip can also save time. From Port McNeill, almost the top of Vancouver Island, to Seattle is less than 4 hours by floatplane. From Seattle, you can be off to anywhere in the world within a day. The floatplane trip is beautiful over the islands and fjords of the Inside Passage. Even on a rainy day, the flights can fly down low below the clouds, along with the same passages we take by boat. Not only do you see boats and tugboats mixed with the beautiful scenery along the way, but you may even see a pod of whales. The sightseeing alone is worth the price of the airfare.
The story of Kenmore Air Harbor has been captured in a book Success on the Step – Flying with Kenmore Airwith a forward by Harrison Ford, the actor of Star Wars and Indiana Jones fame, and an accomplished pilot. The book chronicles the history of the company and its many challenges along the way. It is an interesting story worth reading.