Hello from a Barefoot Pilot

Editor’s note: After we at Maldives Promotion House met Rob McIntyre via our Facebook page, we requested him to share his experience of Maldives with us. The following article is his response to our request. It presents Maldives from the perspective of a barefoot pilot.

Rob McIntyre for Maldives Promotion House – I am honoured to have been asked to contribute to this amazing site! With this post I am going to write a little bit about myself and my impressions of this amazing country that straddles the equator.

I am a seaplane pilot here flying barefoot for Maldivian Air Taxi. An amazing job to be certain! I have been flying for 21 years now, having flown all over North America, Africa and the Maldives. I spent 5 years flying Northern Canada as well.

I was Captain at one of the Air Canada regional airlines for close to 9 years. I grew dissatisfied with the world of flying wheels and major airlines. With this in mind I made an abrupt turn and gave it all up to revisit seaplane flying.

Throughout the world of seaplane flying the Twin Otter is the king and flying barefoot in the Maldives is known to all who fly seaplane for a living! At Maldivian Air Taxi the minimum requirements for a Captain are 3,500 hours of flying experience which must include 1000 hours of seaplane, 250 hours of experience in the Twin Otter along with an Airline Transport Pilots Licence.

As for myself, I have over 14,000 hours of total flying experience which includes 3000 hours of seaplane, 2,000 hours of flying the Twin Otter and as a side note I am type rated on the Dash 8 along with the CL65 Regional Jet.

I am not just a pilot though! I have great many interests and over the last few years my wife, Sophie, and I have been working hard on our dream of having a professional photography studio. We are passionate photographers and we are realizing this dream! For my part I have been honing my skills as a photographer.

Combined with the tremendous opportunity that my flying career has presented I am putting together quite a portfolio of Maldives images. If I had to guess I would say that I have easily accumulated over 10,000 images in this past year alone! I never leave home without my camera in hand and as result I tend to see the world slow down around me. I savour moments that others may miss, and then record them so that they may see for themselves what I see!

The Maldives is a truly amazing place to be, especially as a photographer! The landscape is truly amazing and unique but this is not the only thing that is worth the attention. The people are really fascinating, friendly and so utterly photogenic! I have a blog that I feel reflects the variety of photographic inspiration that is to be found in the Maldives.

My job as a seaplane pilot here provides me with unique access to some of the most amazing resorts I have ever seen, along with views that are without a doubt nothing short of spectacular. As we normally work from dawn until dusk I have been able to witness sunrises and sunsets that once photographed and printed look to be more like paintings rather than simple photographs.

The geography of the Maldives, as I have mentioned in a few of my blog posts, is really something to beheld. On the days when the visibility is unlimited and the seas are calm I am mesmerized by the symmetrical layout of the lagoons that surround each Atoll. As I fly past the Northern edge of North Ari Atoll and look south, it is as if they go on forever, one by one as if they were placed there with purpose in mind.

I often think on those days that the people I have aboard feeling the same thing as I do, when they stare out the window gazing upon the majesty that is the Maldives. To be certain it is not only the North and South Ari Atoll that offer this sight. Every atoll group I witness has its own unique features that quite honestly can take even the most seasoned traveller’s breath away.

As we start to descend, in preparation for the approach, it is certainly not uncommon to see Manta Rays smoothly swimming through the clear blue water, Dolphins frolicking, Tuna chasing down their prey, the odd String Ray gliding along the sandy beaches and if you are really lucky maybe even a Whale Shark or two! What other place can offer such scenery, few if any!

Along with the views I also get to meet many local people and have at times been invited into homes to sit with some of the kindest and most gracious hosts I have ever met. I have thought to myself it would be a wonderful thing for the islands to somehow offer a bread and breakfast style accommodation for those travellers looking to get off the beaten path and discover another facet of the Maldives.

I think there is a natural disposition in many of the people here to offer a warm, friendly environment to the traveller that seeks to learn more about the rich heritage that the people of the Maldives have to offer.

If it is water sports you are after then you have to come for a visit! Some of the nicest surf breaks in the world are here and some of them as close as a 45 minute Dhoni ride from the Capital City Malé. If your game is Kite Surfing then you are also in the right spot as on most days there is a steady 10 to 15 knot breeze and if you are really skilled there are the days during Monsoon season it cranks up and “air time” is more than available!

Of course the diving is a big draw as well and with so many spots it is hard to go wrong. Every single resort I visit has a dive centre and easy access to outstanding reefs with abundant marine life!

The Maldives is nothing short of amazing in so many respects!

Signing off for now, Rob McIntyre, one of the barefoot pilots!

About the Author: Rob McIntyre is a barefoot pilot working in Maldives. He is also a keen photographer and runs a blog to share his experience of Maldives. To see the profound moments he has captured of his life in Maldives visit him at www.barefootpilot.blogspot.com. We at Maldives Promotion House appreciate and support his work. Moreover we hope that his dreams come true. Good luck Rob McIntyre.

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