Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Flight Log August 10 2009: Greenland to Iceland

Eli: Monday morning I double and triple checked the weather before our ssetting off first across the massive Greenland icecap, and later the Denmark Straight to Iceland.

We were originally cleared to 12,000 ft. but held soon after takeoff at 5,300 as we waited for an incoming Greenland Air flight to pass off our left. It was amazing that in an area of such open expanses, two planes could still pass so close.

At flight level 120 the winds were still light and variable and the temperature about -10C, just warm enough for a little frost to form on our wings as we passed through the top of some small clouds. A quick call to ATC, a climb to 13,000 and we had no further cloud encounters until we landed in Kulusuk.

Our transition altitude to Kulusuk was 8,000 ft. As you'll see later from the photos, Kulusuk is at the base of huge fjords with the accompanying high mountains. I decided to stay relatively high until I was over the Kulusuk non-directional beacon, at which point I performed the full procedure NDB teardrop approach http://www.slv.dk/Dokumenter/dsweb/Get/Document-814/BG_AD_2_BGKK-NDB-11_en.pdf It provided me with a great way lose altitutde and also an excuse for more fantastic scenery both outbound and inbound.

Unlike Stony Rapids, Kulusuk is a real gravel runway so my most gentle landing techinque possible was employed. As we back-tracked to the terminal, a large Fokker had already taken its position on the strip, it's pre-takeoff lights staring directly at us.

When it was time to leave, I was directed up to the Control Tower where to the controller had already prepared a draft flight plan for me, complete with enroute time estimates and updated weather. After getting my sign-off, he entered my plan with Reykjavik Oceanic Clearance. Of course all this service comes at a price.

First, on the subject of fuel, the good news is that I didn't have to buy it by the drum. A small trailer pulled up to the plane and a mechanical pump topped off the tanks in no time. The bad news is that it cost just about as much as if I had bought a drum or two. In addition to my mile high fuel bill was added a variety of handling and service charges. Still I was just glad to have the fuel and services available. Still, the peace of mind of taking off across a large stretch of open water knowing you've got full tanks is worth it. It wasn't that long ago that being able to find Avgas at any price was difficult.

Our sequence of hand off from Greenland to Iceland was: Kulusuk AFIS-Sondrestrom Information-Iceland Radio-Reykjavik Approach-Reykavik Tower. At the point of crossing from Greelandic into Icelandic airspace we had difficulty getting a message to Iceland ATC. An Air New Zeland flight along with a private ferry pilot graciously offered to relay our position and enroute waypoint estimates through the Oceanic air-to-air frequency of 123.45.

The weather held wonderfully for our descent into Reykjavik. Just a little bit of cloud at 4,000 ft. offshore with a couple of rainbows thrown in for good measure while skies were clear over the airport itself. When we pulled up to the general aircraft terminal, we were marshalled by an attractive redhead in a mini-skirt and high heeled boots. As Bren said "We're not in Kansas anymore - Welcome to Iceland".

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