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Onto the Great White North

by Tracy on

On the Ramp at Goose Bay Goose Bay is about seven hundred miles south of the Arctic circle; located along Newfoundland's northern most edge along the rocky banks of the Labrador Sea. The airport was originally built during WWII as a point from which fighter planes and bombers could be ferried across the North Atlantic to the European theatre; many of those ferry pilots were women. Later it served SAC- Strategic Air Command, as a base for B-52's during the Cold War years. Today, Goose Bay is a popular stopover for general aviation and short range commercial aircraft enroute crossing the North Atlantic, it's a tiny, unfancy town with good hot food, hardy friendly residents, and a clean hotel. Having just checked out this morning from the famously luxurious Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, we're now kicking back and taking in all that Goose Bay's Hotel North has to offer. A building constructed of corrugated steel and adorned on the front with a cheerful plastic polar bear to greet it's often distinguished guests, Hotel North can boast its own list of celebrity visitors- you won't see Oprah perhaps, but we do currently have Tom Horn, editor of AOPA magazine. That counts right?

The mood at Goose is refreshingly more light hearted and casual than what you find in most airports these days. Upon our arrival, the ladies manning the fuel counter had just put out a complementary bowl of ice cream novelties- "grab them quick before they melt!" They shouted. Having just flown across thousands of square miles of cold and snowy Canadian wilderness, I wasn't sure why we needed to rush. Earlier, when we'd taxied in for parking, another Pilatus PC-12 was just starting up its engine and preparing to head out- a "white plane" on its maiden flight from the Pilatus factory in Stans, Switzerland, to the company's US completion facility in Broomfield, Colorado. Built just far enough along to be ferried to the States, the pilots who fly these planes probably come the closest to reliving the kind of flight those WWII ferry pilots experienced. We had originally planned only a fuel stop in Goose, followed by a five and a half hour flight to Reykjavik, Iceland, but if there is one thing this part of the world is famous for its unpredictable weather. We learned that Reykjavik, was unexpectedly fogged in- a no go.

Polar Bears The restaurant next door to Hotel North serves an excellent Caribou burger, I recommend ordering the platter which comes with french fries covered in gravy. The nautical decor includes a collection of large wooden ship models- from huge sailing schooners to tugboats to ocean liners, all meticulously constructed to perfect detail and scale no doubt to ward off the boredom of long Arctic winters. Contrary to what Al Gore would have you believe, they still have them up here. Tonight we'll dine here again as it's the only restaurant in town. Tomorrow's weather forecast for Reykjavik, is uncertain- I may take up ship model building.

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