OK, the clock is ticking down to our departure one week from today. Strange as it may seem, but for a flight of this magnitude and the amount of time we will be gone, I'm remarkably at peace with the whole deal. I guess that comes from months of planning and thinking but nevertheless, I'm calmer before this trip than before any other we've taken to foreign destinations. I don't think all this is becoming 'old hat' but I do think that experience pays off a bit as the unexpected is not so much a concern as it was before.
This will be my fourth trip 'across the pond' so flying the North Atlantic is not the great unknown it was before. Not to minimize the dangers or the seriousness of this crossing but the first time I did it was in piston engined Bonanza. A fine aircraft to say the least and I would take one across again, given the opportunity, however doing it from the comfort and safety of a turbine aircraft gives me a much warmer and fuzzier feeling!
Next Tuesday we depart Florida for Quebec, Canada where will will begin our preparation for the crossing to Europe (actually, we'll have a nice spa treatment, wonderful food and a glass of good wine!). Our hotel will be the venerable Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. The rest of our group will arrive on Tuesday or Wednesday and, although we've already met several times, we'll renew, bond and get ready to start this great adventure together. Our airplane has been serviced and inspected by Epps Aviation of Atlanta, GA and pronounced fit to do this journey (after appropriate amounts of money have exchanged hands for the maintenance work!).
Our first, tough, airport will be Narsarsuaq, Greenland which is an airport built by the Americans in 1941 and used to help ferry American fighter airplanes over to the European Theatre. It's code name, Bluie One West, is forever enshrined in the history books. At least 10,000 America fighters were ferried though here during the war. On previous trips I've gone through Sondrestrom Fjord (further north) so this will be a first for me. For your pilots out there, this is a NDB approach without the benefit of a GPS overlay. That means, if the weather is really down, I'll have to shoot this approach using just the ADF in the airplane to a one-way runway up a fjord (is that like being up a creek without a paddle?).
It's also possible that the winds will be favorable enough that we will skip Greenland altogether and fly directly to Iceland (my preference). The Pilatus PC-12 has the range to do this and arriving a day ahead of some of the rest of our adventurers, relaxing in the Blue Lagoon is pretty appealing so don't be surprised if we skip Greenland and zero right in on Reykjavik instead (weather permitting of course)!
I just hope the fuel prices in Greenland and Iceland are reasonable!
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