Egilsstadir to Akureyri
Day 17. 08/July/2014 Moving on. Egilsstadir to Akureyri. 227 miles 1:59 hrs
Day score 10.
Got up and dried the tent well in the sun. Ate and walked out to the Icelandic Red Cross building to take a picture with one of my bears who is from the American Red Cross, before heading for the airport. In the control tower I said hello to the new controller. I might fly today but it was already very windy. He said it would calm down tonight so I could fly later. Akureyri was open till 11pm. “People fly that late? I asked, “Oh yeah, sometimes later!” he replied. Maybe I would fly tonight? The weather looked better tomorrow, but the amount of times I’ve thought, I’ll leave it for tomorrow only to find the weather goes wrong, I think I have to take any chance to progress. I’d leave it till quite late though still.
Similar day as yesterday with chatting and drying of clothes, which went well with the sun and breeze. Just as I concluded it was too late and too windy, it all started quieting down. I returned to the tower and he was positive and said there would be no problems on route, as long as I arrived sometime before 11pm.
I took off at 7.34pm and headed straight up the valley towards Snaefell, an extinct-ish volcano called Snowy Mountain as it always had snow on top all year round. It was some 50 miles away and 6,014ft. Completely the wrong way I needed to eventually go, but not to be missed. Behind it and extending out but covered in cloud wasVatnaJokull, Iceland’s largest and highest mountain range with ‘Jokull’ – glaciers descending off it in all directions. You could see the massive man made dam that diverted a whole outflow river into a lake. This water then got directed 70kms down a pipe to a hydro electric station, but this station was just to power an Aluminium smelting factory and this was all highly controversial.
I turned around Snaefell and headed between Askja, a huge water filled crater to the left and Herdubeid, ‘Queen of the mountains’ a 5,500ft flat table toped volcano with vertical sides to the right. Askja was covered white with fresh snow, unheard of this time of year, so the lake was still frozen and all covered over. Boo, as it’s supposed to be a beautiful blue surrounded by black rock. Herdubeid is a really funny shape, created when the magna lake inside cooled and solidified inside the cinder cone of larva pumas or rubble. This softer pumas and rubble had eroded away, leaving the solidified core just sitting there, looking very out of place, with cloud sitting just on top.
I then turned north again toward a jewel in Iceland, Myvatna. Here there are clear fresh water lakes with hot thermal spring and along way for tourists to ruin it. Little volcanic gas explosions had turned the landscape into what looked like a crater strewn battle field. There was an airfield there and I had been told I must go. But not tonight.
I flew out to sea with the wind behind me, around to the left and the headland filled with glacial valleys. I fancied this approach so I could head straight in to Akureyri instead of the more difficult approach through the valleys. The wind was quite strong and the turbulence would have been great in the valleys, as it was now bouncing Itzy around while coming off the headland and flowing out to sea. But the air calmed as I entered the Eyjafjorour fjord and I called Akureyri and he cleared me to land straight in to runway 19 while ten miles out. Simply beautiful and easy. Taxing in up to the flight school, I shut down and jumped out.
I was welcomed by Christion, who was the manager of Myflug Air. He advised me to tie down Itzy as the wind can roar at night. I used their tethers. He invited me into their new hangar, but I said I needed half an hour with the plane and would catch up with him later. I was also greeted by a gent and driver, I did not know who he was yet, but it would become very clear later, his name was Arngrimur Johannsson. He was very polite and asked if I needed anything, I shook my head and off he drove.
In the under floor heating hanger of Myflug, Christion gave me the tour of their facilities. The hangar had a huge door that lifted up instead of sliding on rails. Any rails would freeze in winter as they annoyingly do in the UK. But as Myflug flew medical evacuation flights, they could not afford the time to smash the ice and the under floor heating continued on outside, so they had an area free of ice all year round…? But this was not a problem as they had abundant and virtually free hot water from the thermal hot spots. They also owned and operated many various aircraft as part of a private collection, flying school and the also operated and maintained a couple of Beechcraft King Air’s for the medical evacuation flights. We chatted at length and he showed me some of the rebuild and build projects in the other hangars.
More of a recent major event than my arrival at Egilsstadir was the story of a crash landing that had happened only last week and to one of the most experienced Atlantic Airlines captains. He was flying one evening up near a glacier and entered cloud, or a white out. He had no artificial horizon so just held the stick back in a modified Piper Super Cub. It had vortex generators all over it to lesson the stall speed and massive tundra tyres to allow it to land on virtually any surface. Well he hit the glacier quite gently and came to a stop. It took him hours to climb down the mountain and raise the alarm. But the next day they flew up a load of spares and landed next to the aircraft in another Super Cub. They changed some undercarriage parts and a wing strut and flew the damaged aircraft back down off the mountain and here it stood. He was lucky… Anyway, then with time getting on, Christion offered me an extensive tour of the town and a lift to the camp site. Thanks Christion, it’s not spelt like that but I don’t believe I have the right keys on here and it’s not Christian.
I pitched my tent and went for a walk down the high street again. There was a noisy bar, one I would never frequent, with a nude female figure painted on the ceiling visible from the window. This seemed the centre and busy part of town. Other than that it was quiet and I was too late for the supermarkets. Back at the camp site I met back up with the German lads who had hitched here. They told me the food in the corner had been donated as the person who it belonged to was leaving tomorrow. Brill, I took some, but not too much to be greedy and retired for the night.
Thought for the day: The flight actually went well, couldn’t have been worse than the last, really. Lets move on…