Island Wings Air Service

Island Wings' Pilots & Planes

DeHavailland Beavers are the greatest bush planes ever built. They were named one of the ten outstanding Canadian engineering achievements in the past century!

Michelle named her DeHavilland Beaver the “Lady Esther” in honor of her grandmother Esther. She grew up with Esther who always encouraged Michelle to follow her dream and yet Esther was terrified to fly and never once boarded a plane!
Michelle named her plane the Lady Esther in honer of her grandmother.
Lady Esther's story dates back to the U.S. Army Air Corps where she had her first duty.  Now she flys to the Misty Fiords for sightseeing. The story of Lady Esther dates back to 1959 when she was delivered to her first owner the US Army Air Corps. There were a total of 1692 Beavers built by DeHavilland, the US Army purchased over half of them. The first prototype was flown in 1947 and construction continued through 1967. More than half of them are still in service today!
Like the Lady Esther, beavers are typically powered by an R-985 Pratt & Whitney radial engine. Others have been modified to accept turbo-prop engines, though these Beavers are relatively rare. The Pratt & Whitney radial is a very reliable engine and produces 450 hp in stock form on the Beaver. Lady Esther, and for that matter most DeHavilland Beavers are powered by a R-985 engine.
Kenmore Air, in the process of restoring Lady Esther at their facilities near Seattle, Washington. Kenmore Air, located in Kenmore, Washington specializes in refurbishing Beavers. Kenmore Beavers are often advertised in airplane sales publications. They hold numerous STC modifications for the Beaver. Michelle purchased the Lady Esther from Kenmore in January of 2002 and had them rebuild and paint it to her specifications. The original price tag in 1959 was around $17,000. Today the Lady Esther is worth about $500,000.
Seaplane maintenance is somewhat more involved than other kinds of general aviation. Airplanes on floats either dock in the water overnight or pull up onto a tip up ramp. Because they frequently land in saltwater, they must be washed down at the end of the day to prevent corrosion. In fact, maintaining a Beaver is pretty expensive - anywhere between $50,000 and $90,000 a year. Kenmore Air, in the process of restoring Lady Esther at their facilities near Seattle, Washington.
Attached to the Lady Esther's R-985 is a three blade variable pitch prop. Michelle,

These are still some of my favorite images that I shot while on assignment for NOAA in Alaska during 2007. You maintain what must be the most beautiful De Havilland Beaver floatplane in all of Alaska! I hope your Island Wings Air Service business is doing well.

Cheers! Bill
Aside from basic structural or avionics improvements, Beavers have changed little from their original design. To enhance navigation and communication Michelle has added the Capstone equipment to the Lady Esther. Additionally she has installed a marine radio, an IPod hookup, a satellite phone and cell phone blue tooth connectivity. The cockpit of the Lady Esther, Island Wings' DeHavailland  Beaver.
Michelle takes delivery of Lady Esther at Kenmore, WA in 2002Michelle takes delivery of her new airplane at Kenmore Air Harbor ready to take clients on flightseeing trips to the Mist Fiords. The DeHavialland Beaver remains the workhorse of Alaska and is the most commonly flown bush plane today. The Beaver is so outstanding that nobody has replaced it, not even with a better Beaver. By definition, a classic comes close to perfection!

“It is an honor and a privilege to own and fly one!” Come and see for yourself...
In 2014 Hobbico, Inc., a maker of radio controlled aircraft were so enamored with the Lady Esther that they asked Michelle if they could reproduce her aircraft in a scaled form. Of course she was flattered and now you can fly your very own Lady Esther. Get yours at Flyzone. The mechanics at Kenmore Air fly theirs during lunch in the parking lot. Get your very own Lady Esther at Flyzone.
For all the fans of the de Havilland DHC-2, the Fretless Bar Girls perform the “Beaver Song,” a folksy tribute to this wonderful workhorse of the north. The tune compliments many images of DHC-2s from Alaska, Washington, British Columbia and a few from New Hampshire, including the Island Wings beaver “Lady Esther.” Thanks to the Fretless Bar Girls and Kevin Thompson.

Island Wings Air Service belongs to these organizations

Capstone Alaska Air Carriers Association Ketchikan Visitors Bureau
Federal Aviation Administration Transport Canada
Photos on this site are courtesy of Jim Kelnhofer, Mike Beedell, Craig Flatten, Amy Gulik, Dave & Leah Alcyon, Chip Porter, Carla Tchalemian and Lisa Thompson.  Many thanks to our guests who've provided us with photos over the years.  Unauthorized use of any content from this site is prohibited.  Content on this website is subject to change without notice.  Island Wings Air Service is fully licensed.  Flightseeing and Air Tours conducted in the Tongass National Forest and Misty Fjords National Monument are operated under permits issued by USDA Forest Service and the State of Alaska.  In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, and reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.  Island Wings Air Service is an equal opportunity provider.

Island Wings Air Service | P.O. Box 7432 Ketchikan, AK 99901 | Toll Free (888) 854-2444 | Email:

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