Saturday, May 10, 2008
THE MUSTANG FERRY PART 1
(On the ramp in Wichita, ready to go, that's Jim in the above photo)
Those who have read my previous two posts on the Cessna Citation Mustang acquisition and ferry (at least small portions of the ferry), will find continuity here in this post. Jim Harrod and I left Wichita on the afternoon of the 1st of May. I have blogged about this till Goose Bay. I have posted some pictures of Goose Bay airport which, when we arrived, was a balmy 8 degrees celcius. That's a bit warm for this region. During the night, on the way through dark roads in Goose Bay, we arrived at Hotel North. Having wolfed down a pizza in Bangor earlier, we headed off straight to bed. I found Jim early in the coffee shop and I was a bit delayed because of having to check e-mails and working on clearances for the trip. My colleague and assistant in Singapore, Marisol, was working overtime to get all the permits along the route done. Co-ordinating with the Singapore office and balancing logistics on the ground right through made sure yours truly slept little during this trip across the World. Half way across and a bit more actually.
(On ground and over Goose Bay's frozen land, click on pix to enlarge-one can see Goose Bay runway below)
Anyway, starting off early in the morning, we planned to make sure that the North Atlantic crossing was going to be done in good visibility and weather (fingers crossed) and Woodward Aviation our handler, picked us up after breakfast. Heading over the airport, it dawned on us that the 8 degree celsius had been a misleading temperature because of all the ice still in heaps on the ground all around Goose Bay. Things still looked and felt icy although it did not feel as cold. We filed the flight plan and checked on the weather that suggested a rather good forecast in Narsarsuaq, Southern Greenlend, one of the two fueling stops across the Atlantic. Counting on our luck holding, we took off towards BGBW (Narsarsuaq).
(Our MFD shows us tracking Loach intersection on the way to Greenland and other info on the flight on MFD)
Approaching Greenland always feels alien. Like you are going to land in a place that's not on this planet. Unfamiliar rocks, scenery, misty mountains and so on, feels like one's flying on a barren moon orbiting Saturn or something like that. The sea looked frozen but not as much as I remember in the past. The sea looked calm. Narsarsuaq has one of the strangest approaches as an airport. There are no precision approaches and if the area is under fog, one can easily get lost flying the fjords, crashing into rocks if a single wrong turn is made. We took the non fjord flying approach and with little clearance between us and a big hill that blocks out the runway, we made over it and over the short stretch of water to land in perfectly good VFR conditions. Of course VFR looks a bit strange in Arctic conditions but it was good visibility nevertheless. A guy flying a Cirrus single engine made it safely after us, walked over to us later on and wanted to see if we would trade his plane for ours! A joke of course, good humor always makes up for hairy experiences in a single piston engine ferry across the Atlantic.
(Frozen sea around Greenland, loosening up in summer)
(approaching runway at Nars, over the mountains)
Narsarsuaq is a pretty place, mountains all around, a melting Glacier just behind the runway (what a comforting thought!) and a single terminal, lounge, flight planning, traffic advisory place all rolled into one. This was my first trip out to Nars, having been in Kulusuk and Nuuk in Greenland on previous ferries. The chaps at the airport were friendly, one of them a retired Airline captain who also owns a flight school in Copenhagen, made us feel quite welcome. I asked him why he was there and the answer was that for nordic pilots who had retired, a short summer stint in Greenland is like going to Valhalla! I presented him with a poster of the Mustang, being the first one to do so and the first Mustang to adorn the walls of the airport at Nars. He wanted to come and see the airplane and we happily obliged, having filed a flight plan out of Greenland easily. We wanted to make haste to keflavik (BIKF) in Iceland, notorious for heavy winds and poor visibility in the late afternoons.
(Nars runway, approaching over the mountains)
We took off downhill, the runway incline being so, with the glacier behind us. As we climbed out and turned heading over the icy inland on Greenland, we could not but admire the beautiful landscape below. Innumerable glaciers, interlinked, melting, hues of the color blue that only exists within glacier ice. If this was not Valhalla, where else could it be? It was a short flight across before exiting out over the North Atlantic again, on our second leg of the crossing to Keflavik. Iceland is pretty but Greenland is spectacular, everywhere I've been to in this vast Island.
(The baby jet and me in Nars)
In order to make this blog readable and to be able to post more pictures, I will have to break it up into parts. This is the first part and in a space of every two days I will post a new blog on the continuation of the ferry over to Iceland, the U.K., Europe and to Luxor in Egypt where we felt like Pharoahs and took a day off to visit King Tut. Lots more pictures and stories coming up in the next part. Meanwhile, a few more pictures below.
Nars runway with the melting glacier behind it)
(beautiful glaciers and their runoffs over Greenland)
More pictures of the ferry, especially Greenland, can be found here.
End of First Part.