TRẢI NGHIỆM HÀNH TRÌNH THỦY PHI CƠ ĐỘC NHẤT TẠI VIỆT NAM VỚI HÀNG KHÔNG HẢI ÂU
Hãy tận hưởng những cảnh quan tuyệt đẹp của Vịnh Hạ Long, Ninh Bình với dịch vụ thủy phi cơ của Hàng không Hải Âu và phi hành đoàn dày dặn kinh nghiệm!
There are plenty of exciting places to go this year, but there also will be new ways to get there. Here are a few of our favorites.
On the 50th anniversary of heli-skiing’s birth, head to British Columbia, home to CMH Heli-Skiing, the sport’s gorilla, with 11 lodges sprinkled across unreal mountain ranges, and CMH Bugaboo Lodge, whose bar and living area have been renovated for the winter. Can’t spare a week? CMH and others now offer shorter options to attract a younger, busy clientele.
Australia’s national rail is debuting an extended four-day transcontinental journey beginning in Darwin and ending in Adelaide. The 76-hour trip through the Australian Outback includes stops at Katherine and Alice Springs and a new excursion to Coober Pedy’s remote and cavernous opal mine, which will celebrate its centennial this year.
Fifty years after the introduction of the world’s first bullet train, Japan’s Shinkansen, new high-speed rail lines are opening all over the world. In 2015, high-speed train services are scheduled to connect Rome and Milan; Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey; Beijing and Hong Kong; Seoul and Busan, South Korea; and Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia.
Scotland completes an almost 300-million-pound project to restore an old train line linking Edinburgh to the Scottish Borders this summer, making it easier than ever to get there. This is the first time in more than half a century that there will be trains running on this track, which was once one of the few ways of connecting the Scottish Borders area with the rest of the country.
As interest in Myanmar has grown, so have cruise routes on its central Irrawaddy River, linking the country’s largest city, Yangon, to its biggest tourist draws, including historic Bagan. Sanctuary Retreats just launched the new 20-suite Sanctuary Ananda in November. This October, Avalon Waterways will introduce the Avalon Myanmar, with 36 window-walled suites.
Stunning Halong Bay features almost 2,000 limestone islands jutting out of the sea off the coast of Vietnam. Expansive aerial views of this emerald-green seascape are now possible on scenic seaplane flights, leaving from the capital, Hanoi. After landing on the water, visitors can board a luxury wooden boat for an overnight cruise.
(By Katie Parla, Christopher Solomon, Dave Seminara, Elaine Glusac, David W. Lloyd And Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan – The New York Times)
The aviation market is thriving with names such as Vietnam Airline, Vietjet Air and Jetstar. As a result, Hai Au Aviation, with its unique seaplane ride, is lesser known in the general airline sector. Here are 10 exceptional aspects of Hai Au Aviation that you might not know:
BOTH BY LAND AND BY SEA
Seaplanes are multi-purpose aircraft with both wheels and floats fitted under the fuselage. This allows the seaplane to land on airport runways as well as sea, rivers, and lakes. Visitors landing in Halong will land directly in the water. The plane will glide like yachts cruising through Halong Bay and slowly climb ashore at the seaplane landing area in Tuan Chau Marina
SKIM THE HORIZON AT 2000M
Seaplanes are small aircrafts that usually operate at altitudes below 2000m and above 150m. Usually, experienced pilots will bring the seaplane down to the lowest altitude, allowing passengers to see the beauty of famous attractions from above. The seaplane can swerve through the rocks or fly over the water to create the most unexpected experiences.
SAY HELLO TO THE PILOT
Each seaplane has 14 seats, including 12 seats for passengers and 2 seats for pilots (Captain and first officer). With two consecutive compartments, passengers will be able to watch the pilot launch the seaplane, take off, and land as well as surf on the water.
PILOT/ TOUR GUIDE COMBO
Due to its unique design, the aircraft allows pilots to communicate directly with passengers. Throughout the flight, passengers will be told about the places that the seaplane is flying over, such as Hạ Long City, Tí Tửng Island, Vung Viêng Fish Village, Pearl Farm, Soi Sim Island, Yên Ngựa Island, Dragon’s Eye, Hòn Gai Commune, Bài Thơ Mountain, Hòn Lư Hương, Cock fighting, and Tuần Châu Harbor.
RECORD THE SCENERY
Not only does the company not prohibit the use of digital devices, it encourages passengers to capture unique moments throughout your trip. Don’t forget to bring your camera along, as the seaplane will help you witness the natural wonders of Vietnam firsthand. Passengers can use mechanical cameras, video cameras, or even mobile phone cameras to document extremely vivid views offered by the high-end aircraft.
STAY CONNECTED FROM ABOVE
With conventional airlines, you will be asked not to use, or even to turn off cell phones to ensure flight safety. With Hai Au Seaplanes, you can comfortably use your 4G phone to get in touch with friends and partners. You can access the internet and post your experiences directly to social networks or livestream. Seaplanes operate signaling waves that are different from commercial aircrafts. Flying at low altitudes allows you to use cell phones as you like.
FLY IN SAFETY AND COMFORT
Equipped with modern positioning radar, seaplanes prioritise navigation skills and operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft (VFR – Visual Flight Rules). The aircraft will be more flexible and will be able to fly lower or surf the water, avoiding other objects around. An experienced team of pilots will assure a safe and unique experience for travelers.
12 IS NEVER A CROWD
With a small and flexible structure, each seaplane allows up to 12 passengers per flight. Hai Au Airlines always operates with specific regulations and guidelines to ensure absolute safety for each flight.
LONG RUNWAY LIKE GENERAL AVIATION IS NOT NECESSARY
With seaplane, the runway does not need to be too long. Seaplanes are able to take off under 1000m. Therefore, at Tuan Chau Marina, the aircraft can easily take off from the surface of the water. You can experience the seaplane speeds up and takes off water in just 60 seconds.
SOAR LIKE THE STARS
With unique and high-quality services, it is easy to see why many tourists choose seaplanes for their Vietnam travel. Over the past two years, a large number of high-end tourists have experienced seaplane service from Hai Au Aviation.
Many famous people in Vietnam and all over the world, such as Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, entrepreneurs, CEOs of famous fashion houses in the country and internationally, the royal family of Lebanon, Morocco, French Director Guillaume Gallienne, MC Phan Anh, Vietnamese actor Minh Tiep, have chosen seaplane flights.
On October 11th, our pilots and ground services staffs have had a successful day of annual emergency procedures training.
To make sure the safety procedures to be followed, Hai Au Aviation team is trained to strictly follow to flight disciplines. Communication between ground and air is always established at all times during the operation of the seaplanes. The aircrafts and pilots are certified and licensed to operate under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) meaning flights can operate safely in adverse weather conditions and conduct instrument approaches at airports.
All flights are conducted with two pilots, the Captain who is a very experienced international seaplane pilot and the first officer who is a trained and qualified Vietnamese seaplane pilot (trained and certified in Sydney, Australia).
All aircrafts are equipped with the most modern ‘glass cockpit’ avionics, weather radar, storm tracker system and Garmin GPS. All routes and water operating areas are surveyed and approved for use by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam.
As the Hai Au Seaplane service attests, travel is not just about the destination, but the experience of getting there.Emily Petskoand Julie Volafly by seaplane to Halong Bay.
Ducking their heads at the entrance, the first eight passengers of the morning file into a cramped Cessna Caravan plane at Noi Bai International Airport.
In the event of an emergency, life jackets should not be inflated inside the aircraft, the pilot calls back from the cockpit. After all, you wouldn’t want to get stuck in the doorway.
A middle-aged couple shoots each other nervous glances as the plane accelerates down the runway. Taking off is the easy part, though. It’s the landing — smack dab in the heart of Halong Bay — that’s a bit trickier.
Tourists traveling to the UNESCO World Heritage site typically go by car or bus, but now another option exists. Hai Au Aviation, which took off towards the end of 2014, established the first and so far the only commercial seaplane service in Vietnam.
After completing its first full year of operations in 2015 and attracting mostly retired and honeymooning couples from Europe and North America, the airline is now hoping to target a new market — expats and local Vietnamese.
On the one-hour flight from Hanoi to Halong Bay, passengers won’t get coffee, a plastic-wrapped lunch or their choice of cheesy action flick on the small screen. But they will get excitement and unparalleled views.
“I want to set the expectation that this is more of an experiential adventure product rather than something that is too expensive and only for the rich,” says Hai Au managing director Dinh Thi Thu Trang.
The brainchild of Tran Trong Kien, the founder and current CEO of Thien Minh Group, Hai Au’s mother company, Kien was inspired by the Australian seaplane service at Rose Bay in Sydney. Through his travel agency, Buffalo Tours, he played a significant role in bringing kayaking to Halong Bay 20 years ago. Now he wants to instill in Vietnamese tourism the concept of transportation as an integral part of the sightseeing experience.
The result is a flight from Hanoi to Halong Bay that includes a 15-minute scenic flyover (starting from US$275 or VND6.1 million one way), but customers can also opt for a separate, 25-minute scenic tour of the bay (US$99 / VND2.2 million).
Good weather permitting, the water landing off the coast of Tuan Chau Island is remarkably smooth. The aircraft glides across the water to a ramp leading ashore, where passengers can board a golf cart to their hotels or cruise ships.
But the impression that landing on water is easy is an artful deception.
“It’s like night and day,” chief pilot David Radford says of the difference between landing on land and water.
Radford explains that it takes a long time to feel comfortable with water landings because the approach is largely dependent on wind direction, and water isn’t able to absorb the impact.
“Water doesn’t have much give. When you land on asphalt, you bounce,” he says, adding that the adventure factor adds to the appeal. “It’s very thrilling.”
The two captains both hail from Canada, world-renowned for its seaplane services. Four Vietnamese co-pilots are in the process of being trained to someday go it alone. One co-pilot has a background as a historian and diplomat, and another was among the first Vietnamese to climb Mt. Everest.
“I think our pilots have a lot to offer in terms of their stories,” says Trang.
Bird’s Eye View
A typical Hai Au flight from Hanoi to Halong Bay reaches an altitude of about 900 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level. During the scenic leg of the flight, the aircraft drops down to 100 to 150 meters. Compare that to the average commercial airliner’s altitude of between 9,000 and 12,000 meters, and it’s evident why the seaplane is such a coveted mode of transportation.
On a clear day, the details of the landscape come into sharp focus. Motorbikes chug along narrow paths, farmers toil in the fields and, upon arriving in Halong Bay, massive ships leave trails in their wake like slugs on a pavement.
From above, the Red River Delta weaves a breathtaking tapestry of lines, shapes, and angles in varying shades of green. Its fields and ponds, cordoned off in neat sections, seem to stretch in patchwork perpetuity.
But the symmetry is eventually interrupted, quite abruptly, by a wilder backdrop of turquoise waters and jagged peaks. If the area surrounding Hanoi can be compared to a cubist Picasso painting, then Halong Bay is surely a Dali with its surreal, dreamlike landscape.
Halong Bay, which literally means “descending dragon”, somehow appears even more immense from above.
“There’s a huge ‘wow’ factor when you come over that coastline,” says Radford of the quick change in scenery. “The spine of the dragon just comes up.”
Radford, who has been with Hai Au since its inception, has made the journey countless times. Yet the thrill of seeing those peaks has not fizzled out yet.
“I see something new every day,” he says, whether it be a fishing village, uninhabited island or karst peak.
“You can almost reach out and grab those islands at Halong Bay, we’re so close to them. This is one (place) that needs to be seen from a bird’s eye view. You just don’t get the same benefit from the water looking up.”
Long History of Flying
While Hai Au is the first commercial seaplane service in Vietnam, it builds upon a long national aviation history that can be attributed in no small part to French colonialism. In December 1920, a French pilot flew one of the first seaplanes in Vietnam from Hai Phong to Hanoi and landed just off West Lake.
Three years later, a French sub-lieutenant and two Vietnamese engineers made the first non-stop flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, which took a whopping eight hours and 30 minutes compared to the two-hour flight passengers enjoy nowadays. By 1923, Indochina had 60 landing strips.
The French built and operated two seaplane bases between 1946 and 1954, which served as a recreational outlet for the military. One was on Hanoi’s West Lake, and the other was situated at Bai Chay in Halong Bay.
Perhaps the most iconic photo from this chapter of aviation history is an image from March 1946 of President Ho Chi Minh and French Commissioner Jean Sainteny aboard a Catalina seaplane en route to Halong Bay to meet with French military officials. The Vietnamese leader seems to look on sternly, almost disapprovingly, as Sainteny takes a large puff on a pipe.
Jump forward to the early 1960s and war had descended upon the nation. The area now known as Noi Bai Airport served as the main base for the North Vietnamese air force. Vietnamese aircraft took off from the base to intercept US fighter-bombers that had been launching an aerial attack on Hanoi and surrounding areas.
“The airspace over Noi Bai Airport has witnessed some of the most violent air wars of the 20th century,” according to an Hai Au informational recording that has not yet been used during flights.
“To this day, in the rice paddies surrounding the airport, one can still find the legacy of their unhappy history with numerous bomb craters dotting the landscape, many of which have been turned into water reservoirs for farmers’ crops.”
For Hai Au Aviation, the low-flying trip over Hanoi and Halong Bay is not just a scenic pursuit — it’s also a history lesson.
The seaplane service marks a larger trend in the continued development of Halong Bay. Yet going forward, Hai Au wants to expand its services and offer flights to other destinations. The airline will begin offering trips to Ninh Binh this summer.
Last year, Hai Au served more than 5,000 passengers, and it hopes to double that number in 2016.
“This is not necessarily a high-end product,” says Trang. “This is more of a ‘you gotta try it’, once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
On our trip to Halong Bay and back, that was certainly how we felt. It was spectacular.
“My background is flying sea planes in Canada but this one has so many bells and toys I couldn’t turn it down,” says pilot Mike at the wheel of Hai Au Aviation’s impressive Cessna Grand Caravan Amphibian, as we make our way from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay by seaplane in north east Vietnam.
This is, I have to say, the perfect alternative to the only other option to get to Ha Long Bay, a three and a half hour drive across country. Vietnam’s UNESCO protected jewel in the crown, is a stunning archipelago of 1,969 limestone pillars and islets rising up from an opal sea covering almost 2,000 square kilometers and there is no doubt, the best way to see its primitive beauty for the first time is from the air. Even better is to see it all close up as you land on water for an overnight boat stay, and that is exactly what I’m doing.
My small group of fellow passengers is already on the coach as it picks me up at my Hanoi hotel the newly opened Silk Path Boutique. John and Sally from the UK and Eric and his wife Britte from Germany who is, as it turns out, a private pilot and flight attendant. Excellent, I think to myself, if things get out of hand on board I can call on them for help.
I remind myself to get a seat next to them.
Hanoi airport is as busy as usual, but our private check in pleasantly crowds free and we’re greeted almost like family as we receive our boarding passes and drop off our bags. Just a few minutes later the bus drops us off at the gleaming white Cessna and Mike is there to welcome us on board. “Morning all, just flew in from Ha Long Bay and it’s looking pretty good weather wise” I stick close to Eric and Britte as we climb in.
The ten-seater is a cozy fit as Mike and his co pilot squeeze by us after watching our bags get stowed. Eric is glued to the controls and getting very excited at all the digital effects on offer.
I ask Mike “is landing on the water a lot different from a runway then?”
“OK, how different?”
“Well, you have to allow for the wind and the waves for a start, then make sure there are no boats encroaching our approach.”
I move closer to Eric
In no time we’re airborne, and Hanoi slips away below, replaced by endless fields of green. John and Sally are playing with their tablets and Eric’s fallen asleep
Just 45 minutes later, the coast of Quang Ninh Province appears and just beyond, suddenly as if by magic, we’re greeted by a cluster of rocks jutting out of the sea. “Ok folks, welcome to Ha Long Bay, let’s take a closer look” announces Mike as the plane swoops around and down offering us a stunning bird’s eye view of an extraordinary natural landscape. A Mother Nature tapestry of limestone rock, a cast of thousands, all shapes and sizes spreading out below us.
John and Sally’s tablets are discarded and Eric is wide awake now as the tableaux unfold. Boats and junks hug tiny bays and inlets as we pass one last time before taking a sharp curve and start our final approach.
It is exhilarating stuff as the water rushes towards us, a sea of green. A digital voice wails “water landing approaching” as we gently caress a wave, then another and then as the plane settles, a spray on both sides signals we’ve landed safe and sound.
Remarkably, the seaplane taxis for a short while on water before the wheels engage and it rolls up a ramp to park into the waiting arms of Hai Au Aviation’s Ha Long Bay ground team.
Eric wants to do it all over again. And of course we will, in reverse, when we return to Hanoi after a night aboard a private junk exploring Ha Long Bay’s cast of thousands up close. After bidding my fellow passengers farewell, in minutes I’m greeting a by some new friends, my crew, as I board my L’Azalee junk for a private overnight cruise, but this is, as they say, another story.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT HA LONG BAY BY SEAPLANE
Hai Au Aviation runs daily flights to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi from $275 each way. The airline also operates regular flights to Ninh Binh from Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.
GETTING TO VIETNAM
The bespoke travel experts Experience Travel Group (+44 203468 6268) offer a 10-day tour of Vietnam from £2,567 per person, including flights, transport, accommodation and selected excursions.
Vietnam Airlines offers the UK’s only nonstop flights to Vietnam, with six flights per week from Heathrow to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City on new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners – and excellent onward connections via its comprehensive network of over 40 destinations in Asia, including 23 within Vietnam and Indochina. Return fares to Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi currently start from £391 or £425 per person respectively, inclusive of taxes.
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Around 13h40’ 21/12/2014, at Tan Son Nhat airport, Hai Au Aviation’s third Cessna Grand Caravan landed-off successfully. Like its other two sisters, in order to be in Vietnam, this aircraft had to finish its 15.000 km journey ferry flight from Wichita (Kansas, USA), through San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean.
At the moment, the aircraft has been removed its petrol tank, installed seats and applied for Vietnam register number. On the 29/12/2014, expert from Cessna America will come to arrange the flight frequency according to Vietnam’s criterion. After that, Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam will check and approve for this third seaplane.
(P/S: Photo of Yoshito Okabe/Vietnam Air Spotters)
On the 25th of September 2014, at aircraft delivery center of Cessna Aircraft Company (Textron Group, USA) in Wichita, Kansas, the Cessna Grand Caravan EX was handed over to Hai Au Aviation by Cessna manufacturer. It is the third Cessna seaplane that Hai Au Aviation has received this year. After being delivered, the seaplane will take its flight to Wipaire Company in Saint Paul, Minnesota for its seaplane floats to be installed.
According to the plan, at the end of November 2014, Hai Au Aviation’s third seaplane will land at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City. At the beginning of December, Hai Au Aviation will launch seaplane service for tourism in the South of Vietnam, including Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa), Mui Ne (Binh Thuan), Can Tho, Chau Doc (An Giang), Con Dao (Ba Ria- Vung Tau) and Phu Quoc (Kien Giang).
From the 9th of September 2014, Hai Au Aviation has launched officially the seaplane service for tourism in Tuan Chau, Halong. On the occasion of its grand opening, Hai Au Aviation now offers its great promotion: 50% discount for Halong scenic flight ticket. The promotion ends on the 31st of November 2014.
Hanoi, August the 21th 2014 – Hai Au Aviation, Vietnam’s sixth private aviation company, will host a welcome event for the first seaplanes of the model Cessna Grand Caravan EX at Hanoi’s airport Noi Bai.
Ha Long, 09 September 2014 – Hai Au Aviation officially launches the seaplane service for tourism in Tuan Chau, Ha Long, offering tourists in Vietnam the opportunity to experience sight-seeing flights between Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, as well as scenic flights in Ha Long Bay for the first time.
11 June 2014, Hai Au Aviation has published a Press release with the main purpose to inform further details of 02 Cessna Grand Caravan 208B EX aircraft, manufactured in 2014 and its plan in the near future.
The 02 aircrafts will arrive Noi Bai International Airport, Vietnam in August 2014, and start official operations with its first commercial flights from Hanoi to Halong (and vice versa) in September 2014.