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Road Trip: If this is heavenRoad Trip: If this is heaven

It must be Friday Harbor

Somewhere, way out there is a beautiful island paradise that is not marked by Caribbean-blue waters and sandy beaches for sunbathers.
Road Trip
Photography by Mike Fizer

No, this paradise is on the opposite side of the country and way north of the beach towns of California. The San Juan Islands in Washington are surrounded by deep blue waters, towering green pine trees, and rocky coastlines. And a more beautiful place to fly general aviation is hard to find.

Flying is truly the best way to get to the islands—whether on your own or by air carrier. Kenmore Air is the oldest continuously operating carrier, but other options include San Juan Airlines, Westwind Aviation, Island Air, and Northwest Seaplanes. The largest public airport is at Friday Harbor and it is a gracious, welcoming port of call for pilots. You can easily walk to town from the airport.

Friday Harbor Airport (FHR) has a rich and interesting history, established in 1982 when the Port of Friday Harbor bought the airfield from local aviator Roy Franklin. The World War II fighter pilot began flying passengers to San Juan Island in 1948, landing on an unlit cow pasture. He purchased a 66-acre lot on the west side of the island and cleared it to create a 2,300-foot runway. He was famous for flying his Stinson 108, and the airport terminal bears his name. Runway 16/32 at FHR is now 3,400 feet long and 75 feet wide.

Friday Harbor is a quaint seaside town with a port for the massive Washington State Ferries system, which brings tourists here through much of the year. Great seafood, charming stores, and stunning water views are highlights of this small town.

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Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.

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