Goose Bay (Canada) to Narsarsuaq (Greenland)


01/08/2008


Today’s flight would be the best part of 700 miles and would take over 5 hours, as the wind was against me.

I paid the bill for fuel and handling and checked the details for Narsarsuaq in Greenland. The flight was almost all over water and I had decided to wear my survival suit (usually called an “immersion suit”) because of the cold water in the Atlantic. I had not worn this over any of the Pacific crossings as the water there was much warmer and, had the worst happened there, hopefully I would have been able to last long enough to get into my liferaft. The Atlantic waters are very cold, however, and survival time is probably measured in minutes without any kind of survival equipment. The suit I have is made of nylon and is totally waterproof, but this brings its own disadvantages – it doesn’t allow the moisture from perspiration to escape from the suit, and this can become uncomfortable after many hours flying. I had tried it out last year on a return flight in Romeo Tango from my home base of Fowlmere (in Cambridge shire) to Reykjavik. This was 7 hours each way and gave me a feel for what to expect on long sea crossings.

There is another aspect to this suit. Mine is a ”one-size-fits-all” and is meant to accommodate people from height 59 inches to 75 inches, and from weight 110 lb to 330 lb. At 69 inches and 155 lb or thereabouts I am in the lower region of the scale. As a result I tend to look like a deflated “Michelin Man” who has lost his air pressure. I won’t be posting any photographs.

There were a couple of RAF Nimrods in Goose Bay and I spoke to one of the crewmen, saying I had also spotted a Nimrod in Hawaii. He said they had in fact been there on an exercise and were now making their way home. They would be in Scotland before me, but I’m sure I would enjoy my flights just as much.

Took off from Goose Bay and went into cloud at 700 feet but out on top initially at 4,000 feet. Cruised at 9,000 feet between layers of cloud for some long stretches but clouds opened out nearing Greenland to provide me with my first glimpse of the country from well over 50 miles out. I could see some small brilliant white specks in the distance and guessed that these might be icebergs. As I drew close I could see more and more of these – they were not large bergs, but lots of small ones and, in the distance, I could see some of the glaciers which had spawned them.

The approach to Narsarsuaq is via a fjord, with glaciers and small icebergs in the bays. As I flew down the fjord I wished I had had a passenger to take photographs, because the scenery was truly spectacular, with the blue water and white bergs, all surrounded by mountains, some of which were snow-capped. The controller at Sondrestrom (much further north) said goodbye and asked me to call Narsarsuaq when I was 15 miles out and still at 9,000 feet so I had to lose height fairly quickly. Landed on runway 07 at 1848 Zulu, and was soon greeted by the refueller who said he could refuel me now or tomorrow morning – he said it would cost 120 US dollars more to do it now, so I decided to have it done in the morning. I then went into the control tower and was informed there that I had landed 3 minutes after the official closing time for the airport, and there would be an automatic “after-hours" charge of 1,000 US dollars. This spoilt my arrival, particularly as I believed that I had arrived about an hour before the published official closing time for the airport. I will dispute this tomorrow.

Flight Data: 703 miles in 5 hours 20 minutes.