The slipper fits.
Day 35. 26/July/2014 The slipper fits. Reykjavik to Haukadalsmel 0:44hrs
Day score 10.
I borrowed Gummy’s son’s pushbike to head for BIRK flight services where I’m going to file my flight plan. The weather is good here, but foggy in Kulusuk, but it should lift. Johann, a member of Geirfugl is working behind the desk, he phones his boss and makes sure that my fees are waved. Wow. Thanks… A French guy with his wife in a Piper Arrow is also going to Kulusuk, leaving in about an hour as well. There is a customs officer trying to deal with executive families with their kids flying in Gulfstream 5 and 6’s to New-York and totally unorganised, because they have too much cash on them to be transferred, so they are having to leave some behind? It’s all a bit busy but my flight plan is filed for midday. It’s as late as I dare. I want to see if the fog lifts before setting off. The French guy is IFR equipped to fly in poor weather but not even he can land in fog and get it wrong at Kulusuk and its game over as the terrain is formidable. I ask him about survival gear. He has flown from France, just to go to Kulusuk for the day and then fly back and he and his wife have no survival gear. So if their engine stops, they are dead and never to be heard of again as the plane will sink. I hope Kulusuk is worth it? Johann roles his eyes…
I ride back to Geirfugl to wait. I meet Gummy and his wife and kids, they are packing to drive their trailer tent and stage equipment to Hurka-dalsh-meler to set up the stage for tonight’s party. We shake hands and I thank him wholeheartedly in-case I leave today, but I tell him I’ll see him later.
I run over the pushbike, with my tools, fixing the gears and brakes while waiting for the latest weather. Bjarki has given me his Air Iceland company frequency so I can call them up on the radio in the air and talk to him directly or whoever is flying that route, as they approach Kulusuk to get the exact weather from an approach point of view. It’s now midday. I phone up Johann and ask him to push back my flight plan another hour. I walk up to the Air Iceland terminal at the airport and ask if they can call the aircraft radio and ask for the weather at Kulusuk. I’m told that they have only just left. But they should have left 2 hours ago. I’m told, yes but they were delayed because the weather was too poor even for them this morning. Wow…
I ride back over to BIRK, working up a sweat in the heat of the day, to confirm my worst fears and cancel my flight plan. As I arrive, there is a guy on the phone for me? His name is Jacob and he is the controller at Kulusuk. He has seen my VFR flight plan and is telling me not to come. The fog has cleared a little, but in his experience it doesn’t feel good and is very likely to return. It’s not a good day…
I start to cry. I couldn’t stop myself, I mean it’s only a little tear, but that news means I can kiss goodbye to Oshkosh. The weather here is rubbish next week…
Without barking on about things for a long long time, I could not express in words what this journey and Oshkosh is doing to me. And now after all I’ve gone through, it’s gone. My hopes and dreams have gone… So unfair… Its not supposed to be this way… Jacob continues on the phone that, “The weather is better tomorrow, best you come then!” “Sorry? Can you say that again?” “Come tomorrow, we are open 12.00 till 17.00 local”. “Jacob, I thought all airfields are closed on Sunday in Greenland?” Johann looks at me bemused when I said that, he nods that too. Jacob says, “No, there is a special NOTAM out that Kulusuk is open for four Sundays this season starting last week. The rest are still closed. Look at the NOTAMS.” I’m in shock… The weather is better tomorrow and once in Greenland it looks quite good even though it goes wrong here. If I get to Kulusuk tomorrow, stay overnight, the next day is Monday and the rest of the airfields are open again and I could still get to Oshkosh. And if I get my skates on, I can get Itzy all stripped out to go to the party tonight. I thank Jacob and put down the phone. Johann has already printed off the NOTAM and it is there in black and white. He didn’t even know and said he has been telling people like the French guy that they are closed on Sunday. I dry my tears and excuse myself and cycle back to Geirfugl.
Ok, other pilots are setting off at 6pm. Dam Gummy is still here. I was going to surprise him tonight, but I tell him the news and he sets about sorting out empty drums for fuel. The problem I have now is that Hurka-Dalsh-Meler is very short. 600 meters of grass. Unlike most of the other aircraft here, Itzy needs all those 600 meters with nothing on board. But at the moment it is full of all my gear and has 6:30 hours of fuel on board. I need to strip it all out completely again and take 4:30hours of fuel off.
Even if I go or not tomorrow, I’m going to this party and I set about stripping Itzy out with renewed vigour. There is a work team led by Joel working on Benni’s engine having a rest in the club house, so I know at least that is in good hands. I know Benni built the plane, but at his age he looked like he needed a hand to refit the engine. I said I would help if I was not busy, but I sort of am. Joel will have it covered anyway.
Ok, plane done, now I need to go into town and get some more food, money for the food tonight and something to drink. Oh, and a 66North woolly hat. I had my eye on one in the clubhouse. It seems to have been left there, I was going to take it as a souvenir, but I can’t take anything from this club, they have been so kind, I’ll go and bye my own and I’ll buy one of Geirfugl’s DVD’s of some of their members flying, its got Benni’s Model 12 on the front cover amongst others.
I set off into town. It’s a beautiful day, the best so far, with sun and blue skies. There is a wedding and people sitting around in the many parks of the town. The city is packed actually. I get money, have one of the famed hot dogs from the world renowned harbour hot dog stand. I have it full Icelandic style, crispy onions ketchup and mustard. There are photo’s of all the famous people who have had a hot dog from here. Look, there is Bill Clinton. I go and buy my 66North woolly hat. The locals won’t buy from there anymore. They said its was good gear but now they have gone too trendy… I go to the Bonus store for food and cider. Food is ok, but no beer? I try a few different stores. Its 6pm, people will be leaving. I grab some stuff, not sure but it will be better than walking around empty handed.
Back at the airfield there are only two planes left, they have been waiting for me. A few photos with Darty, Artle and his dad and a few other friends and we taxi out. The only bad feeling is that Thurther is left behind as there is no room. I wish I could have taken him with me, but we would have been too heavy for Itzy’s little wings. He understood and was not that fussed, but still. He had done so much for me, it was a shame I could not do something in return.
There was discussion of a formation flypast at Hurka-Dalsh-Meler. The Cessna 170 with Darty in front, Kristion’s and his Dad’s RV4 to the left with me on the right. Then it all goes quiet and they set off across active runways. I follow. Then they line up on runway 25 and I follow them out and then they take off and I chaise after them! “Ergh, guys, were we not supposed to have asked permission to do that or do these guys just do what they like? Hang on now they are descending and this is not the right way. Hang on? I’m still on the ground frequency, I change to tower to hear Darty explaining to change to 123.45 to chat. I go there. “OK Colin, we are going to practice the formation flypast by beating up this airfield at
the end of the fjord. We are still overflying houses in Reykjavik, but ok. I close in,its looking good. The runway starts on the beach and is at sea level, the other two guys are a few feet off the water but I have seagulls flapping for their life under me… “Looks good!” was the review. I don’t think we got more than 50ft above the fields for the next 20 minutes until Darty radioed, “Colin, watch out for the power lines!” A really black looking Volcano approached and a cliff face. The RV4 shot off left, I went left to keep the Cessna ahead of me as it slowed as it climbed to clear the ridge. We all cleared it by feet. WOW!!!! That’s it, that’s the place I wanted to get closer to in the POS, but the road ended. That’s the newest cinder cone, there, just there… Amazing, and look there, just there, the fuel cap of the POS on top of the pumps at the garage where I watched the world cup final. Pingvellir and the fault line of the tectonic plates. Low across the lake, they other fault line, Eyjafjalla-Jokul ahead, resplendent. I’d not seen it before as it had always been covered in cloud.
“OK, Colin, close in the field is 5 miles just to the left of the little ridge. We will stay in formation loop around to the left, beat up again and then split at the end.” “OK with me.” We closed in, over the flat flood plain aiming at the gathering of planes and the hangar, 130knots, low down the runway. Hang on, it was Ok for them, but I was lined up with the windsock, so I had to stay slightly higher but as we came around for the other runway, it was all clear, I was slightly behind but we broke nicely on the pull up. I stayed to watch them land fist and I copied there approach. I used 550 meters of the available 600 before turning and taxing back in.
Everyone came around and asked how I enjoyed the flight. I had to explain that I wasn’t being nice because they are my friends and have been so kind to me, but truly, that was one of the my best flight ever in an aircraft… The freedom to do whatever you want, over that scenery. In the UK, I would have lost my pilots licence for that flight.
There was some humour about ‘so would they’, but we all headed for the barn. I bought my food ticket for the lamb roast buffet and open one of my drinks, It was a famous kids beer, non alcoholic and was the cause of much humour through out the night. You can only by alcoholic from the government stores. I didn’t know… I was introduced to the sheriff for the night or the Chairmen of the club and in a little speech he introduced his foreign guests. There were about 200 in all. More during the day. The area was beautiful with a stream running by a little ridge. All the retired airline captain had summer houses here sprinkled around and the massive wooden hangar was thermally heated and for their recreational planes. I sat with Gummy’s wife at the Geirfugl tables for the food, which was delicious. After more speeches the band fired up. I don’t know all the songs except for hearing them in rehearsal but they almost all meant a lot to the Icelandic folk as everyone joined singing along. What an atmosphere. It was great for Darty Artle and Kristion to impress in front of the other heads of Atlantic Airlines and Air Iceland and at the end of the music, the chairmen was moved to tears of joy and thanks for the music. He was quite drunk though. The chat continued on, always in English if I was in earshot. They are all so polite. At about 2am people drifted off. Darty and Artle had there own summer cottage at another airstrip near by so I said goodbye to them and they took of into the morning light. I said goodnight and good bye again to Gummy, he said I would see him tomorrow. Maybe this is what was needed to break Ground Hog day.
I didn’t want to put the tent up and then have to pack it away wet again with morning due, so I bedded down in the kiddies play marquee.
Thought for the day: Tears of sadness to tears of joy. This is all a little too much actually in my fragile state. My poor brain is fried.