Centuries before Columbus set sail from Spain, the Viking explorer Leif Ericson discovered two large islands during his voyages across a great northern sea, on his way to what would later be known as Canada. He decided to name them according to a marketing strategy. The larger island was rocky and inhospitable for the most part with a center consisting of a vast frozen wasteland- Ericson decided to name this island "Greenland". The second island was much smaller but had good grazing for livestock, natural hot springs, abundant fishing grounds, and a more pleasant climate than its larger neighbor- this he named "Iceland" because, of the two, this was the one he wanted for himself.
It's day two of our North Atlantic crossing- that vast frozen wasteland, Greenland's icecap center, is just outside the window. We're a little over an hour away from Leif Ericson's favorite island- Iceland. It's a rare day here as the sky is crystal clear and the visibility very good- CAVOK in pilot lingo. During Art's first NA crossing in 1997, flying in a piston engine Bonanza, he experienced similar conditions. He warned me not to expect to see much on this trip over as the weather would likely be grey, overcast, and gloomy, but we've lucked out again as it's really super. We're having a much better day than we did yesterday as far as being able to communicate with Icelandic Control and being able to hear our fellow pilot travelers on the radio. Our current altitude is 29000 feet- FL290, Bill and Dorothy, flying in a Cessna Conquest twin turbo-prop, recently passed by at 2000 feet above us. I was able to get a few photos of them as they smoked by- a distinct contrail off their tail. I wonder if we have one also?
At the moment we've left the coast of Greenland, and we're heading out to sea. No water down there though- only ice. As far as the eye can see in all directions; only solid ice. There are also vast areas of low lying ice fog, making this an extremely unfriendly place to try to make an emergency landing- glad we're flying the PC-12! Greenland is not so bad really, the mountains and glaciers are quite spectacular, the Greenland folks like to drink heavily and begin smoking at a frighteningly young age, but they do eat well. We're just below the Arctic circle- it never really got dark last night; there was sort of a sunset at around 11 pm. It was the last day of school and all of the kids were out celebrating in the streets until the wee hours of the morning. The capital city; Nuuk, or "Godthab", as it was previously known, looks as if every building was brought in piece by piece from an IKEA store in Europe. There are no trees and no vegetation to speak of. The island is a Danish possession, but the largest segment of the population is native Inuit. We did have a great lunch and a super local beer at a place just up the street from our hotel- Brasserie Takanna serves very good US favorites but I was particularly intrigued by the local specialties like the Carpaccio of Muskox or filet of Reindeer the Reindeer was excellent. The cheeses, as well as the smoked salmon and Halibut were also very tasty.
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