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Tailwind Air: Seaplane from Boston to New York

Tailwind Air: Seaplane from Boston to New York

Faster than train, faster than other airlines: Tailwind Air connects Boston and New York by seaplane. It is a scenic drive.

This check-in experience can't be beat. Anyone flying from Boston to New York on Tailwind Air should head to the Reel House Oyster Bar in the harbor in New England's largest city 20 minutes before departure. There he is greeted by an employee who briefly checks the documents. And it starts.

As a charter airline, Tailwind Air flew primarily wealthy New Yorkers home for weekend getaways in the Hamptons, the posh enclave at the end of Long Island. During the pandemic, the airline saw an opportunity to expand into scheduled flights and introduced regular flights on the Boston-New York route.

Tickets start at $395

Since the flight from downtown to downtown takes less than two hours, Tailwind Air promises a time saving of at least an hour and a half compared to major airlines and two and a half hours compared to the train. One-way tickets start at $395.

After checking in at the oyster bar, head to the pier where a small motorboat waits to transport travelers from the South Boston waterfront to the Boston Harbor Seaplane Base (Iata code BNH) on the other side of the harbor in about six minutes. Tailwind Air's Cessna Grand Caravan EX is already docked there. Pilots personally greet guests and load their luggage. Then passengers board the seaplane. Free choice of seats applies.

Coordination with air traffic control and port authorities

A few minutes later, co-pilot Jack sits at the back of the cabin and explains the safety rules to the passengers. Then he comes out and unties the lines. He stands on the buoys, stowing the ropes while Captain John guides the seaplane from the jetty into the harbor. Then Jack gets on the plane, closes the door, and sits in the right seat.

Tailwind Air's Cessna 208B floats next to the dock wall overlooking Runway 14/32 at Boston Logan International Airport. FedEx cargo ships roll on solid ground a few meters high. Below, the small plane rocks on the gentle waves. The two pilots had previously communicated with the control tower about their upcoming takeoff and had also been in contact with the Port Authority. They then turn the plane and give it propulsion.

From 3,500 to 2,000 feet

The water surface is fairly calm, so the plane barely shakes before turning northwest into the Boston sky. Guests enjoy great views of the city before the plane rises to an altitude of 3,500 feet or about 760 meters and heads south. There is room for up to eight passengers on board, seated on 36-inch leather seats in a 1-1 arrangement.

it's cold. Therefore, Tailwind Air pilots decided not to fly at higher altitudes, otherwise ice could form on the plane, which does not have a de-icing system. You're heading south by sight – over Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. As the flight progresses, temperatures drop and the crew descends to an altitude of 20,000 feet, then to 1,500 feet. This provides guests with a free view of autumnal New England.

Suddenly it snowed

But suddenly it started snowing. For Tailwind Air pilots, this means landing as quickly as possible. They landed the Cessna Grand Caravan EX on the runway at Bridgeport Airport, which is now located nearby. “We're not allowed to fly when it's snowing. We'll wait for better weather here,” they explain to the guests. When they come out, they first notice how strong the swimmers are, most of them underwater. A ladder is needed to get from the door to the apron via the buoy.

The seaplane then parked in Bridgeport for an hour before the message arrived from the operations center that it could continue. Then the Cessna Grand Caravan takes to the sky again. She is now in control Long Island Sound, and remains at an elevation of about 700 to 800 feet or 210 to 240 metres. Below, you can not only see fishing boats and container ships moving, but thanks to the low elevation, you can also see the shallow waters and small islands.

A scenic drive along Manhattan

Then suddenly the destination appears on the horizon – the silhouette of Manhattan with its countless skyscrapers. The plane, registration N819BB, flies over New York-LaGuardia Airport and then along the East River. It sinks slowly.

Travelers get a sightseeing ride along the legendary island: passing over the Queensboro Bridge, the Roosevelt Island Tramway, past the United Nations Building, and then after a slight right turn over Williamsburg, Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge along the southern tip of Manhattan. The city seems close enough to touch.

Private water airport

Then, shortly before the Statue of Liberty, pilots John and Jack turn around and fly steadily in the opposite direction. Your destination is New York Skyports Seaplane Base, which has the IATA code NYS. They gently placed the Cessna Caravan on the river and drove it to the dock.

From there, after a few minutes, travelers walk with their luggage to the corner of 23rd Street and FDR Drive, where they take a taxi and head to their office, hotel or home. One thing is clear: You can't get to Manhattan more impressively.

In the photo gallery above, you can see more photos of Tailwind Air's seaplane flight. Clicking on the image opens the gallery in large format.