Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 20, 2012
Airplane tour allows different view of lighthouses and the land around them
Lighthouses were the reason for the Penobscot Island Air tours on September 15 and 16, but stunning views of Stonington, Deer Isle and more were just as breathtaking.
by Anne Berleant
Deer Isle Lighthouse Weekend, held September 14 through 16, gave lighthouse lovers and other visitors a chance to view eight area lighthouses by land, sea and air, but it was the aerial view that showcased the lighthouses surrounded by their local landscape—a dramatic contrast to the up-close-and-personal visit up the lighthouse steps.
With Penobscot Island Air flights leaving every half hour or so from Stonington Municipal Airport, the small plane held five or six people, “depending on their size,” said Sally Sinclair, dispatcher and flight follower for Penobscot Island Air.
This is the third or fourth year the local airline has offered lighthouse tours, said Sinclair. “There are some major lighthouse aficionados.”
The Deer Isle Lighthouse Weekend is an annual event sponsored by the Deer Isle-Stonington Chamber of Commerce, working in association with the U.S. Society of Lighthouses and Lighthouse Friends. Visitors can follow the Lighthouse Trail that visits mid-18th century Deer Isle lighthouses on Pumpkin Island, Eagle Island and Mark Island, and Isle au Haut (1907) and Saddleback Ledge (1839) lighthouses on Isle au Haut; the trail also includes Goose Rocks (1890) on North Haven and Brown’s Head (1857) and Heron Neck (1854) in Vinalhaven.
“I’ve been flying since 9 a.m.,” said pilot Steve Turner, on Saturday, September 15. “It’s just back to back flights.”
Penobscot Island Air is the only airline that serves the local islands, delivering medicine, mail and other supplies, especially in weather too rough for boat travel, and flying Medivac flights as a back up for LifeFlight.
“If the sea is rough, or there’s ice, we can [often] still fly,” said owner Kevin Waters.
Combined with transporting people from the Rockland airport to their island home, “on a busy day, we’ll do 50 flights,” said Waters.
But on this particular weekend, the Lighthouse Trail provided the flight plan.