An Iconic Airline Started By A Bella Coola Truck Logger Is Celebrating 35 Years

From its modest start, Pacific Coastal has grown into a network covering most of B.C.

Daryl Smith standing in front of an airplane when. Credit: Pacific Coast Airlines

Pacific Coastal Airlines is the little airline that could, with the track record to prove it. 

PASCO, as it’s known in B.C., celebrates 35 years this month of flying people–from tourists to business travelers, and the occasional injured eagle or stray dog–to wherever they need to go.

The airline was founded in 1987 by Daryl Smith, a truck logger in Bella Coola, who decided to get a pilot’s license and buy a seaplane to access remote camps. “Some friends chipped in for fuel to tag along and thus began the adventure that led to Pacific Coastal Airlines,” PASCO noted in a blog post about its 35th anniversary.

Daryl Smith, founder of Pacific Coastal Airlines. Credit: Pacific Coastal Airlines

From that modest start, Pacific Coastal has grown into a Western Canadian network of 19 aircraft and more than 400 employees.

Travelers might recognize PASCO as one handy way to hop between 17 airports and seaplane bases at 50 coastal communities throughout the province.  

Six years ago the airline began a community sharing program funded by its staff. Each December, it gives gift certificates to families in need to cover utilities, food, warm clothes, household items, and gifts from Santa.

Gyorgi the Corgi admiring a Pacific Coastal Airlines Aircraft. Credit: Pacific Coastal Airlines

Animals in need are also regulars on PASCO, which provides complimentary passage for pet and wildlife rescue organizations. It recently ferried one injured eagle between Powell River’s Orphaned Wildlife Society and rehabilitation specialists with the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, and back again.

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