Tuesday, July 04, 2006

PART 5: TRIBUTE TO THE NORTH ATLANTIC PILOTS

Nuuk Runway, nuuk, Greenland

Nuuk at last

Three and half hours after flying over the ice cap without incident except for some freezing of our controls, the mountains started to look greenish, and we could see Nuuk, on the seaside. Diving into from our altitude to about 300 feet above sea level to the airport area, we landed smoothly on a regular runway that juts into the sea. Again, Nuuk has steep cliffs on one side and the ocean on the other. For those misinformed Mysoreans who think Chamundi Hill is an obstruction for airplanes landing at Mysore Mandakalli Airport, check out Nuuk with 10,000 feet mountains and the airport a sheer cliff down to near sea level and the runway being less than 3,500 feet long, lesser than Mandakalli.

As we taxied in, an Air Greenland De-Havilland Dash 7, a four engine turboprop fifty seat Aircraft, also known for it’s capability as a short take of and landing Aircraft (STOL), swung by on the taxiway on its way to the runway, heading for destinations further north. The pilots in the dash 7 waved to us and gave a smart salute, either for our bravery for crossing the ice cap or for our plain luck that we tried something stupid and lived to tell the tale!

Parking the Airplane, Fritz and I were in the mood to celebrate and wanted to go to town. We went to the Control Tower, where a pretty lady controller greeted us, allowed us to use the phone to call home to India and talk to my wife. She was indeed happy we had made it. The tower girl also called the taxi for us and we went hotel hunting, only to realize that there were few options and all were full. Some one suggested that we meet the Greenland Tourism Authority, yup, there’s one, and maybe they would be able to help out.


Nuuk harbor

We went looking for them, Copi sleeping in the back of the cab. I remember it was a Sunday and they were closed. A note stuck on their window gave a private number to call on holidays and we did. Sooner than we could say “polar bear”, a lady turned up, the tourism representative and told us that in Nuuk, due to the shortage of hotel rooms, one could stay at a private residence. It seems that a lot of people move to Denmark for long periods of time for educational and other purposes and leave their homes, fully furnished, in the hands of the tourism authorities to rent them out.

Cabby drove us to the house, with the tourism lady and Fritz and I shared the cost of the rent, no more than the hotel rooms were going to cost! We settled in nicely and a bit later went to town, ordered drinks and Pizza, everything else either too costly or too alien to eat. Nuuk is a small town and we could explore every place by foot. I don’t really know why anyone would want to come there for a holiday but I guess someone did and that’s why they had such an efficient Tourism Authority.


Canada finally

A good night sleep and we were off the next day for our take off on the last leg of our Polar Route, Nuuk to Iqualuit Nunavut (Frobisher Bay) in extreme northern Canada. For aviation buffs, this was the same place that they tested the Airbus A380 super Jumbo Aircraft for cold weather take off and landings and icing equipment checks. Now that should tell you something. If Iceland was cold, and Greenland was cold, we hadn’t seen anything yet. The flight to Iqualuit was equally daunting, flying over frozen seas; there were areas that we could see more ice than water. They call this the Greenland Ice shelf, copi called it scary, just plain scary.

Iqualuit (a Nunavut word pronounced as Ikaloueet) was colder than anything we had experienced. It was summer and the ground was frozen and there was ice all around. The wind was robust and cutting us to the bone, this in spite of the wet suit, the jacket underneath, the sweater underneath the jacket, the shirt underneath the sweater and the vest underneath the shirt! Copi refused to come out of the airplane to help me help Fritz pour engine oil into his two engines that needed to be topped off.

We made it to the Air Traffic Service of NavCanada where they helped us to fill out the forms for arrival and file another flight plan out of there. We did not want to spend any more time in this tundra. We wanted to go south as soon as we could, like birds migrating South-now we know why! We had to wait for the fuel to come, in drums, to be pumped by a portable electric pump into our tanks and we finally left the place, cold and miserable and copi asleep in the cockpit once again! I still had lots more miles across Canada to deliver the Airplane in Western Canada but that’s another story for another day.

One thing I could not figure out. Iceland is not named correctly, it is quite green, at least in summer. Greenland on the other hand also suffers from this misnomer. Very few places in Greenland are actually green. It is mostly ice and white throughout the year. Somebody having fun at the World’s expense.

This ferry flight was a fun experience, in making the stops that we normally don’t on long range Aircraft. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, I’d say yes, the practical side of me on the other hand says why re-do something that you’ve already done? Relive it through your blog; hope others enjoy the trip with you.

The next time one of my readers cross the North Atlantic in comfort, on an Airliner, pray for those adventurous ferry pilots flying several thousand feet below you, for their safe passage across the drink. Look below you and if you spot a small airplane, lights on, going real slow, ask for good champagne on board, raise your glass in a toast, for their success. The North Atlantic has claimed the lives of many such pilots. It goes with the territory of being a ferry pilot.

End of series.

17 comments:

Nataraj KR said...

A great piece of writing which is highly gripping through out. Am sure all readers from Mysore/Karnataka will be proud of a fellow Kannadiga's achievemnt which does motivate anybody.

A small tribute to you :

MYSOORINA NALMEYA MURTHY,
BELAGALI MUGILETTARAKE NIMMA KEERTI,

BANANGALADACHE HARALI NIMMA VIMANA,
AA DEVA KARUNISALI NIMAGE KEERTI SANMANA.

NEEVOBBA PARINITA VAIMANIKA,
NIMMA BARAHA, ODUGANA GNANAVRUDDIGE POORAKA.

BARALI NIMMA LEKANI INDA INNOO OLLEAYA BARAHA,
HINGISI NIVU ODUGANA ENE ILLADA DAHA........

L Venkata Ranga said...

Please do write your experiences. Its really an interesting information for us. We enjoy reading your blogs.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks you Mr.Nataraj, your words inspire me to write more and write better. Thank you for your kind tribute, i hope I am worthy of the same.

Mr. Venkata Ranga, I will humbly continue to write and I am indeed glad that you enjoy the same.

Vijendra Rao, the critical outsider said...

I want to fly next to you, shooting the thrilling moments from close range. A documentary of your drama in real life. So many of them.

Vijendra Rao, the critical outsider said...

Avaru Mysoorinavaraage irali poorti
Belagiyaayithaagale avaru thamma
honnina keerti
Mugila melondantastiddarashte
avarigeega spoorthy
Noduttiddare avarannu bekkasa
beragu eradoo kannu bharti


Nammella blogigala paiki avare
nijavada yogi
Sadyakkinnu Narada Mahamuniyagi
Mugila madhyadalliddaroo sakala
vicharagalige samabhagi
Saahasa-romanchanagala
nithyadouthana namagaagi

Ideegashte banthondu nanagi suddi
Karanji-kereya hakkigaligoo acidity-yanthe - hotteyalli uri
Nodi, nodi Atlantic sagaradalli rekkegalanaddi Vimana vodisuva
Anooparadde vaikhari

Nataraj KR said...

GVK/Anup/Vijendra.....just feeling thrilled to be associated with brainees like you people at this odd hour of 12 midnight....

my reply to all of you.....

ee websitondu nanna jeevanada dhantmaka akasmika,
nimmanthaha buddi jeevigala odanata bahu rochaka........

higeye munduvareyali namma bareyuva chata.....
oduganige muda needuva baravanigeya ota......

Nataraj KR said...

GVK/Anup/Vijendra.....just feeling thrilled to be associated with brainees like you people at this odd hour of 12 midnight....

my reply to all of you.....

ee websitondu nanna jeevanada dhantmaka akasmika,
nimmanthaha buddi jeevigala odanata bahu rochaka........

higeye munduvareyali namma bareyuva chata.....
oduganige muda needuva baravanigeya ota......

Athul said...

Hi sir

it was nice to read this part as well ,


by the way
i dint follow a single word what others have written ,

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks to all who read and enjoyed the blog. Vijendra and Nataraj, I am indeed flattered.

Athul, the others have written poems or perhaps odes to me in Kannada. I am not sure if I am praiseworthy and I hope and wish to continue getting support from my readers. Thank you as well.

Nikhil Joshi said...

I don't need to be sitting in an airliner to raise a toast to all you pilots. I have heard stories sad and happy about flying; here's a toast to you them brave pilots - from my computer seat!
*hic*
Someone has said -
To some people, sky is the limit,
for us in aviation, sky is home! We can only go higher from there!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Nikhil for your toast to us, I will raise one to match yours too, hic!

Quodlibet said...

I, too, have enjoyed your stories - just stumbled onto your blog today so look forward to reading some of your previous posts! I also understand the passion of flying. I hope you enjoy the rest of your journey through Canada!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thank you quodlibet, for your kind comments. We did have a great trans Canada trip in the fact that we made a lot of friends along the way. Some of the people we met included a spray company using agricultural spray planes and they are still in touch by e-mail. We stopped at places like Thuder Bay, Moose Jaw, Calgary, Medicine hat etc.

Quodlibet said...

The company I work for is based in Medicine Hat actually (a second base in Calgary where I work). I'm glad you enjoyed the trip!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Good to know, quodlibet. I have been to Canada many times because of various ferry flights. Your neck of the woods only once. My usual jump off point going towards Greenland/Iceland is Goose Bay (CYYR) and I've also used St. John Newfyland once.

Aditya Anand said...

Dear Capt, I am Aditya Anand, a journalist covering aviation for Sunday MiD DAY. Just wanted to interact with you to gain a better insight into the aviation world. Interestingly, I also hail from Karnataka. Regards.

Aditya Anand said...

My e-mail is adityaaa@gmail.com and contact numbers are 9869367764 (mobile)and 67017166 (direct)