Fame but no fortune!
Day 24. 15/July/2014 Fame but no fortune! Day score 10.
I got up at 7am to make sure no one would arrive to find me asleep on the sofa. It was raining and foggy and no one turned up till about 9.30. It was a pilot of the group who knew that the first job was to prepare and fill up the big coffee machine for all to enjoy later. There were many young commercial pilots flying with either Atlantic airways with their Boeing 757’s or with Air Iceland and their Focker 50’s. Apparently the school help about 30 young pilots a year with their commercial licence and the airlines take on a bout 30 a year, so everyone gets a job. I wish it were the same in the UK where its Dog eat Dog for a job with any airline.
A young guy called Thurther, not how it’s spelt but how I could say it asked if I minded if his friends came and interviewed me for their online news program. I said that if it helped him or anybody at Geirfugl I would gladly agree. A time was set for 2pm. Meantime Gummy had called his friend Thurket at the CAA. I could go and see him at middayand I was told where his office was over the other side of the airfield. I decided to get out of everyone’s hair and head over on foot to take in the old terminal and climb to the building on top of the opposing hill. From there you could climb to the top with great views apparently of the city.
The old terminal was a relatively new hotel with airline offices attached. You could view the old British built tower and hangars though.
The building on top of the hill was 4 gigantic hot water tanks, say 50 meters high 40 meters diameter together with a shiny roof on you could walk around. The space in-between them had been turned in to a visitors centre. It was the Icelandic government’s hot water supply for the whole city. Piped in from the geothermic regions about 40 miles east and stored here. All quite fascinating to learn about and the view outside the busy posh restaurant on the top floor was indeed worthy.
Thurket phoned me, said his meetings had finished early and I said I would be with him in 15 minutes.
I was made welcome in his office and we had an informal chat about his career and that he has some friends in the UK and our UK CAAAAIB (air accident investigation branch), where he knew some people and I knew them to. We also talked about another incident. I believe he was trying to lesson the emphasis on my incident by stating the fact that he was investigating more than just mine. He mentioned a recent incident involving a Super Cub and a very experienced captain who got caught out by the weather. I told Thurket that I had seen the actual aircraft in Akureyri.
Anyway I asked him to help me to help him with what he needed to know. But basically he just wanted me to go systematically through what happened on my flight to Egilsstadir from Vagar and see if anything could be learnt or improved from it. One thing is that he would certainly retrain the staff at Egilsstadir that said there would be no report to file or complete.
He listened and recorded the conversation. He seemed interested and content with my explanation. It seemed as if I had basically got caught out by the Austfjardarpoka, (East Fjord Fog) a locally know phenomena, but virtually impossible to forecast. Indeed the wind was from the North East. He explained that as the wind approached the north eastern mountains around Egilsstadir it sort of backs up as the flow of cold air off the glaciers begins to confront it and you get a convergence of two air masses. This creates unbelievably quick forming fog or low ceiling cloud. Oh I could believe it… I had been in it.
The discussion then moved on to how to stop the repeat of this incident and how to learn from it. One quite radical proposal from me was simply to stop international flights arriving to Egilsstadir. I would have not come that way, gone to Reykjavik instead and been saved from the Austfjardarpoka.
Thurket wanted to obviously see the rest of the aircraft documents. Stupidly since this morning was quite a rush, I had forgotten them. I also had the data logger file for the aircraft. Thurket was very interested in seeing that and I said I would bring it tomorrow also. It was agreed to meet back up tomorrow at 10am as I needed to get back now for this interview. The phone rang and indeed Gummy was on the phone explaining that the camera crew had arrived. He would drive over to pick me up as he hadn’t seen Thurket for a while. Ok.
As I travel the world, people get to meet up again who haven’t seen each other for some time through my exploits. It’s really great for me to see this happen, yet sometimes I just wish the circumstances were slightly different.
Trying not to pretend to be a media and fame seeker in front of the ultra cool Gummy I arrived back to carry out the interview. The two crew were previous pilots at Geirfugl anyway, so the whole thing was cool. They asked about my reasons for coming to Iceland, whether I liked it hear, about weather delays and had I had any emergencies on route and was it safe. It was all fine. I insisted a little that they mention the hospitality of Geirfugl. It was agreed and they departed, seemingly impressed.
Oh by the way, everyone speaks near perfect English to me.
I didn’t want to appear to be there all the time so after putting my bike back together and being given the security number for the gate, I went for a ride around the airfield. I came across a little sandy beach area, people were swimming, but it looked a bit cold and artificial to me. On my bike town was but a few minutes away. I explored a little more before returning.
Gummy seemed to be there almost permanently, but each evening people old and young would come and drink coffee or bear and talk about aircraft and flying. Across on the opposite hangar the sign above the door claimed that it was the hangar of the Icelandic Aviation Historical Society. Gummy had the key and invited me around for a look. Quite a few others joined us.
Inside a long but small workshop was a Waco, a huge American biplane filling the space by the door to the ceiling. To the left was the first and possibly only aircraft designed and built in Iceland. It was a biplane similar to a Tiger Moth but with its own uniqueness. Gummy had disappeared into a back room. This was like being India Jones entering a forbidden temple, full of precious ancient artefacts, all covered in cobwebs and dust. One entered into a closed off section of one of the larger hangars actually and hung from the roof was a Piper Tri-pacer. Apparently the first of Geirfugl’s aircraft. I wanted to know why it wasn’t being rebuilt, it was historical and there seemed talk of plenty of other aircraft being rebuilt. Underneath, just sitting there gathering dust stood a Chipmunk. Again apparently the owner had a Chipmunk before and for a long time, but he and his son flew it too slow and it spun in and hurt them both. He bought another, this one, but they had been too scared to fly it, so it just sits here… There were spare parts for all sorts of craft on racking and several German ‘k’ series glider wings and fuselages were stored behind the racks. There had been quite a lot of gliding activity here in the past. I had seen glider trailers at Akureyri and other fields from the air.
Everyone thanked Gummy the key master and we all exited the temple to allow the dust to settle for a few more months or years.
Thurther asked me if I wanted to see more historical aircraft, but of course being the answer we headed of to view more. There is a good thing to see a new aircraft that I’ve never seen before yet a sadness when you see the state of them and wonder if they will ever fly again or finally be crushed or broken up. I wish every plane was kept serviceable, but it’s just not possible. Thurther opened as many of the 30 hangars he had access to. His pride and joy was to show me a 1950’s Cessna 170, very
rare and called ‘Oh My God’? I wondered why until he showed me the registration. TF-OMG. Thurther was only young, but loved his aircraft, and enthusiasm shone out. One thing I was learning is that there were a lot of aircraft rebuild projects being completed in these hangars, which was great to see, but this also meant there had been a lot of crashes requiring rebuilds and indeed Thurther could real off many incidents including the Super Cub and airline captain. Everyone knew that one, even me…
About midnight, all wondered off back home allowing me some more sleep in the armchair.
Thought for the day: I don’t know, just interesting…