Monday, 22 September 2014

I've not written a diary about crossing America. It was not without difficulty, but not too adventurous. The pictures can be found here though.

I'm on my way home soon for a few months, the aircraft will be stored in San Diego until I can continue next spring.

I'll try and form a web site and better blog while I'm home.


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The diary complete and whole and free!!!

For all you who struggle to sleep at night, here is the complete diary from the day I left to the day I got tired of writing it.

I have given each day a day score, best if you are short of time to just read the flying days as they were the most fun. It's too long and woolly, but its what I will use for a base for reports or maybe even a book.

Enjoy. Just read the first day and arrival in Oshkosh first, they are worth reading. If you want to fill in the gaps then feel free to read more.



Day   1.   22nd June 2014    Shenington to Coventry                        22 miles 0:28 hrs
                                             Coventry to Wick                                292 miles 3:27 hrs                                                   
                                                                                                                    Day score 10.

How to start? Well I know from experience that I have to catch your attention in the first sentence or you will put this down and walk away. Well I can for once not lie or exaggerate, but I can definitely say that the journey was almost over before it started at the end of the first day after a catastrophic failure of important engine parts!!! But you will have to read on to find out how. (Oh by now I’m writing about the third week and it’s definitely worth reading…)

Also, did I make it to Oshkosh…? Well from the title and if you skip to the back page, this could be answered very quickly. But this script for want of a better word explains the sometimes unbelievable situations that arose from such a venture, and it is these situations which have people gasping in disbelief that warrants me to write them down for your amusement or bemusement, what ever your outlook on life…

So we begin…

I’m no good at good byes. I didn’t say goodbye to my dearest friends around the country, nor my parents. I sort of tricked them the last time I saw them all, saying I would call in again. They know me well though. My parents are quite worried. It’s not really without danger what I’m trying to do, so…

Neither did I want to get involved in saying goodbye to the hundreds of members and competitors at the Shenington Gliding Club Regional competition which is on at my airfield this week. So I simply said goodbye to my teddy bears in my caravan, locked the door and turned off the power and while everyone was in the 10 o’clock morning briefing, where they carry out prize giving and briefing for today, I jumped into Itzy and taxied away. I had told everyone I was waiting for paperwork, so no one was expecting me to just disappear, but shaking 200 pairs of hands and all the wishes of good luck would be nice but could take hours…

At the far end of the runway I turned on all the cameras, because this was not going to be any normal take off. Itzy, my plane, named after the first aircraft I built, called Bizty, well Itzy was heavy, heavier than I’d flown him before and there was no wind to help take off into. But his tail rose at 30 knots and I dragged him off the ground half way down the runway. I slowly climbed up to about 2,000ft and had a fond farewell look around, hoping to fly back into here in a few years time. Joe, the landlord said to say goodbye, so after a plane landed and the circuit was clear I lowered the nose and beat his farm house up a bit, some 140kts and 20ft before turning over the airfield and lining up with the Shenington Gliding Club’s club house and hangar where all the members and competitors where still in the briefing room. I cleared it by 20 odd feet as well, to express the fact that after some 12 years of returning from the first journey to Australia, after so many disappointments and none achievements, finally this year I was setting off and I waved goodbye. The low flying would have got me in to a lot of trouble, but by the time I get back, if I get back, they will all have long forgotten.

I landed at Coventry where my friends Ben and Anne Marie were waiting to help me refuel to the top. I couldn’t take off from Shenington full of fuel to get me to Wick in Scotland. The runways are too short.

I didn’t really say goodbye to them either. I really am bad at that sort of thing. They are coming out to America this year, so hopefully we may meet up again in the USA.

I then had a bit of a problem going to my destination of wick. It isn’t open on Sunday? Well I didn’t know, so my friends John and Pete sorted things it out so I could go to Inverness instead. It was almost as far.

Climbing out of Coventry I followed a route east of the Birmingham airport control zone and I beat up my parents and my childhood home in Stonnall, before heading on the way up to the east of the Manchester zone. My parents were in the Lake District, where my Dad was flying model float planes off Ullswater lake. I flew over the mountains then down to just above the water, sort of like the Dambusters. I pulled up over their camp site and saw them waving. It was the best equivalent good bye I could give them as I climbed away waggling my wings.

Nothing much to add after that, but low cloud over the Cairngorms to fly around. The radio was working well and so was the plane. As the fuel burnt off the centre of gravity shifts further back. This makes the plane more twitchy and you have to move forward the control column. Thing was, without my parachute, which I normally wear, but there is not much point over water, and there will be no one or nothing to hit where I am going, I lay slightly further back. I was now holding the control column almost with just my fingertips.

Inverness was welcoming. Pretty quiet, but it was a Sunday night. By the time I had parked the plane up outside my friend Pete’s old company, Direct Flight, and dragged everything I needed from the plane, the last bus to town had left and it was only expensive taxis that would pick me up. Town was only 6 miles away and I felt like a walk. An hour later and walking up the main A92 road with traffic belting past, I thought better of it. I did find a reindeer horn though in the wilderness on the way to the road, which cheered me up. My journey was coming alive, putting a smile on my face that I have not had for years. A certain sparkle was happening, something almost spiritual with me. Anyway, on the main road I eventually got the last main road bus to town. I found a B+B, put my bags in my room and went out to have a look round Inverness and its River Ness and castle. I phoned a close friend back at Shenington and we chatted about the fact that indeed I can’t believe I‘ve finally got away. A month or two late from endless sleepless nights trying to get the plane ready. But at the end of a fantastically happy and sad first day, quite overwhelmed and emotional, I went back for a shower, which I have not even had time for a few days. And clean and fresh and feeling exhilarated from my jail break, I hit the sack and was out in seconds.

Thought for the day: I can’t believe I’ve broke away from Shenington. Like a prisoner being set free from jail, yet I had committed no crime. If I wasn’t so exhausted, I may feel better about this, but the feeling most felt is just one of relief.

Day   2. 23/June/2014        Oh Bugger!                                                   Day score 10.

Gosh I needed that sleep. They day seemed bright and I went to catch the number 11A to the airport this time. I have far too much gear to carry, but this should get better as the days go by and my mass of paperwork clears. Arriving at the airport I cleared security and got back to the plane. There was a lot to sort out. I definitely needed to move the stick position further back for comfort, having flown most of yesterday with my fingertips. And I needed to sort out cables and power leads for all the cameras more. In Direct Flight there was an uproar as there was no internet. Also John, the operations boss didn’t know who I was. My friend Pete, who had organised my arrival here yesterday, had made everyone aware of my arrival, except the operations boss, the one person who really needed to know. But he was cool about it. I met another couple of pilots from the coast guard, about to fly out over the North Sea in a Cessna 406 twin, gas turbo prop aircraft. They were going out, checking on the fishing ships and boats off shore. I studied their dry immersion suits. They were identical to mine. But then my friend had borrowed on a long term basis the one he had given me from them a month or two before he left their Scottish operation.

Back with the plane, David Barclay of Highland Aviation came over to greet me. He explained the fuel would be cheaper if I bought it through his Highland Aviation, instead of direct from BP. But as I only needed 20 litres to get to Wick, he went and got a jerry can and we poured it in. He showed me around the hangar he shared with Direct Flight’s fishing vessel inspection aircraft and the Coast Guard. We then walked to his offices outside the airport complex, were I paid for the fuel. I went to pay landing fees at Signature Aviation Handling services and nicked their pen. Don’t worry, with the extortionate landing fee price, they can afford another one. I shook hands with John at Direct Flight again, apologised for my friend not telling him about my arrival and went to jump in the plane. I fired Itzy up, spent hours with the camera set up again and taxied out to hold of Echo just short of the runway to do run up checks. I turned off the left mag to test the right magneto and the engine stopped? Dam… It really shouldn’t have done that! A dead mag? I called up the tower to return to the apron but as a plane had followed me out and was blocking my path back, I had to go up the runway, off at the end and all the way around.

This could be a serious problem. One I didn’t need for inconvenience, time and confidence. I took the cowls off and got access to the magneto and coils. All looked alright. Bugger I didn’t have the right allen key to get into the distributor cap. Just inside the open doors of the hangar was a massive tool trolley. Who ever it belonged to I didn’t know, but it was bound to contain the size I needed. Hhhmm. If anyone touches my tool box I’m normally incensed, so I would prefer to find out who it belonged to. As if by magic, the owner walked through the door and caught me acting suspiciously around his pride and joy. Alan his name, top bloke and soon I had put his mind at rest that I wasn’t a thieving bastard and he handed over the right key.

I took the distributor cap off the right magneto to find the brand new rotor arm I had fitted last month had disassembled itself and destroyed the internals of the cap on its way. I took the left cap off to find that the left arm was about to do the same thing!!! Hang on, I had flown over the Cairngorms and other inhospitable lands and was about to venture off over the foreboding north Atlantic and the engine had almost quit. I had been lucky. If the other arm had fallen off the engine would have stopped immediately, meaning a forced landing. One which I would have most likely written the aircraft off and possibly done a lot of damage to it and me… Shock set in I suppose. A realism that I had just used up all my good luck that I’m going to need to get around the world, during the first flight.

What’s worse is that these are approved parts that have broke... If I can’t get to the bottom of the problem and convince myself of the integrity of their new bits, then I can’t even fly home and definitely I can’t go on my journey. The journey and dreams of safe adventure have stopped, even before it’s started… XXXX!

There had been talk of defective parts in the latest light aircraft safety bulletin. People had been using parts not supplied by the agent or manufacture… Heck even I had investigated using cheaper suppliers than the main Jabiru engine dealer. But in the end, these parts I had got were from the approved supplier… I needed to get a look at the article again. I phoned my Dad, explained all, but he hadn’t got the magazine at hand. Then I phone the head engineer of the Light Aircraft Association, who govern my aircraft, to get him to send out another bulletin, to try and eradicate the bogus parts. Ben, from Highland Aviation, who had been the pilot behind me with a student in a Piper Tomahawk when I told the tower of my problem, guided me to their briefing room. The flight safety article for the Jabiru distributor arms was online. A quick look confirmed that indeed, for what ever reason, I had been supplied and had been using the bogus parts. Apparently others who had highlighted the problem said these bogus arms only last about 5 hours. Mine had done 4:40 hours… I phoned up the agent, discussed it with them and ordered two more caps and arms. The agent guaranteed this problem had been resolved and the new parts that would arrive would be ok… Free of charge as well… Considering I could have just made an aircraft shaped hole in the ground, so they should be…

Ben invited me to place Itzy in their hangar, since I wasn’t going anywhere soon and showed me the code to the door. That was it for the day. I might as well return to town. Back in Inverness, I phoned my Dad to put his mind at rest. He was all for me coming home again till this bogus part issue was all resolved. I didn’t want him or my Mum to worry. But lets be honest here, they should be as I am…

The hotels were mostly full and the cheapest I could find was £85. I’d begrudgedly paid £40 the night before.  I might be away for 100 days. At an average of £60 a night, that is £6,000.00 just on accommodation. I can’t afford that. So after a Mc.Donalds burger I got back on the bus to the airport to go and fetch the tent. Getting through security at that time of night was a bit of a git, but never mind. Digging out the tent from the aircraft, it started to rain heavily. The driest place was in the hangar so I blew up my airbed and kipped there.

Thought for the day: What a difference a day makes. Last night I walked around Inverness with my head held high, full of excitement and a fury and thirst for adventure. Tonight I was dragging my new expensive walking boots around, despondent and withdrawn.

Day   3. 24/June/2014     Riding out!                                                       Day score 10.

I was introduced to the maintenance staff of Highland Aviation, Paul Stanton and Barry Whatshisname, who I used to work with 10 years ago at Coventry (small world). I helped them change two cylinders on a Piper Warrior, well helped enough to not feel guilty about Itzy being in their hangar and then proceeded to put my mountain bike together. Not easy the first time and I had several problems with it, including a twisted chain? I needed to cycle into town and acquire epoxy resin to bond on the new rotor arms when they arrive. This could be bought from Caley Marina at the end of the Caledonian Canal. I cycled there, bought the resin and some other stuff from town and cycled back. It almost killed me. I haven’t ridden for months due to the extensive preparation being done on my plane.

Back at the airfield, I had a look around in the Highland Aviation Museum. It was closed but I still had a good look at what they had got. I went to do some more internet work in the terminal and to sort out photos I’ve took of loads of people but never sent them. But than as it got late I put the tent back up and got some sleep.

Thought for the day: So unfit. So overweight. Finishing the plane in a rush of extreme hours has done my body some damage which I hope to repair on the journey. 

Day   4, 25th June 2014. Inverness a ride too far!                                       Day score 6.

I’d spotted a decent bike shop by the canal, so went back there to buy some new brakes for my bike. They old ones had seized up from lack of use and I’m not going to ride off road as I would like to without decent brakes. The shop didn’t open till 10am, so I thought it would be nice to ride along the canal to Lock Ness. A beautiful ride out, but way too far. I fell off as well, so back in town, with new brakes but a bloodied knee, I got on the 11A bus with my bike. Back at the airfield the parts had arrived and I bonded the arms in place and fitted the caps. The resin or glue needed 18 hours to set, so the earliest I could leave would be tomorrow noon. I also bought a big map of the world and some permanent marker pens to mark on the route I intend to take around the world. Many people had already asked what I was trying to do and I need a map to try and help explain it. After I’d completed the route, I even wondered myself if I had taken on too much?

Thought for the day: I loved riding the bike again. It’s apart already and back in the plane.

Day    5, 26th June 2014. Inverness to Wick.                                     81 miles   0:49 hrs
                                                                                                                        Day score 8.

The engine seemed fine. I waved goodbye to everyone who had been so kind and flew up to Wick. When I landed I was met by Drew, a pleasant funny young chap who brought over the refuel wagon and got Itzy refuelled up to the brim. I followed him over to the old control tower where Andrew Bruce of Farnorth Aviation has his offices. Andrew is famous or synonymous with Atlantic crossings and ferry flights of light aircraft. He showed me his stock pile of emergency gear he hires out to pilots who fly the Atlantic. They then leave it with a college of Andrews some where normally Goose Bay in Canada on the other side, and if anyone wants to hire equipment over there coming this way, then it gets brought back. He spared no end of time answering my questions. He laughed at all my poor quality safety gear and said I might as well not bother taking it. I saw all his points but knew in my mind a way around all the issues he raised. Truth be told though, I asked him if he thought I was being an idiot. If he had said “You’re being a fool!” I honestly would turn around and go back home, such is his experience and knowledge. I knew and had wanted to have this conversation with Andrew, whatever the outcome. Even after all the years of planning. I knew there were risks, but I don’t consider myself being a fool. He smiled and just added, “Don’t ever be in a rush. Its pushing on into bad weather that kills people, so never be in a rush!”

Well today was too windy, so I went down town to get a new remote hard drive to store my video footage on, which looks brill already by the way. Especially beating up the club house and my parents in the Lake District. I have a camera pointing out the bottom of the fuselage. It’s brill. The special durable hard drive I had specifically bought to download all these camera video files to was buggered already. So Argos came up trumps. I posted a load of stuff home as well, which I already knew I didn’t need. Back at the airfield I spent hours on the computer in the airport terminal again before leaving when it closed. With the tent out of the plane I went to kip in the camp site down town. Walking past the harbour there was a sea lion playing around the yachts which I filmed, beautiful sleek animal. I also wanted to go to a decent chip shop on the harbour front, but it was closed, closed at 9pm. Everything was closed actually, the only options were a curry or Chinese. Rather than a curry it was a Chinese Chicken Chow mein, eaten while walking along the river away from town. I remembered walking this route with Nadine some 10 years ago when we researched this Atlantic flight. Gosh how life changes… I quite like Wick. Blimey… The camp site has gone… Things do change. So I walked back up to the airport and put the tent up in a field behind the car park and then finally bed…

Thought of the day: I’m glad I had this chat with Andrew and I’m glad he didn’t say I was being a fool. That would have put an end to the journey and a dampener on the day.

Day   6. 27th June 2014. Wick.                                                                      Day score 4.

Too much of a head wind today and I had lots of equipment failures to sort out already. The rest of the day was spent talking to Andrew again and doing some last minute flight planning that I had yet still to do. Andrew had better maps pinned on his walls than I had printed out on my computer, so I copied details down off them both, before leaving for the terminal so not to outstay my welcome. When the terminal closed I walked out to the Big Tesco’s for dinner, chicken Tika pies and strawberries and cream. Lovely! That’s treating myself. Tent back up in the field and sleep, which I am always short of.

Thought for the day: Lots more today, rich American’s with supposed Scottish heritance filling the terminal, who all knew everyone, talking stock levels in the departure terminal, being one more thought. But I’m trying to keep this short.

Day   7.  28th June 2014. Wick to Vagar.                                           373 miles  3:18hrs
                                                                                                               Day score 10.

Ok, paid fees and filed flight plans with Andy. I pushed the plane around the corner of the hangar out the wind to prepare. It was still quite a head wind up to the Shetlands but then as I turned out to the Faroes it might even become a tail wind. On with insulation layers under my apparently useless dry immersion suit, call it what you will. Caking my pants now actually. Supposed to be fun but this certainly isn’t. A bit of a squeeze in the immersion suit as well.

I taxied out after a Cessna Citation jet, also heading for America. Once the runway was cleared I entered it and took off. There was John O’Groats and Duncansby Lighthouse as I left the mainland. I wanted to go out via the Shetland to get a feel for the flying over water bit and in case of more engine troubles,  At the Shetland Isles, that was it. I had to turn out for Vagar, the island in the group of Faroe Isles with the airport on it. My 5,000ft cruise height was a pain as that was where all the cloud was. But a helicopter was above the thin layer of cloud and coming the other way. After the Shetland controller, who had us both on his radar, told the helicopter he had passed behind me now, he descended and I climbed. When I poked out the top of the cotton wool cloud, shriek, my wings were covered in ice. I learnt all about ice formation in my commercial pilot training and it can be bad news, but I’ve never seen any before and never wanted or expected to see it on Itzy. The kit plane didn’t seem to mind a bit though and it soon melted.

I was handed over to Reykjavik control some 100 miles from the Shetlands. The radio was still fine and clear and the transponder was still working in range to. This was good as they had only been installed last week and I had hardly tested them. Brill. I didn’t feel alone. The Shetland radio guy had been calling me every 15 mins for a progress report. Above the cloud was peaceful and tranquil, only occasionally did I look down through it and see the white horses of the cold foreboding North Atlantic. Amazingly soon it was time to drop down below the thin layers of cloud into an amazing scene of black rock of the Faroe Isles jumping thousands of feet out of the sea. I had to watch it as these Faroe Isle Mountains went back up into the wispy broken cloud I’d just come down through… There’s the runway, right where I had expected and the GPS had told me. I was cleared to land, flew up the fjord and dropped it on the tarmac. I taxied in and jumped out, finding it difficult to believe, as everyone else did who came to se me arrive that, I’m on Vagar…

Customs and immigration was a breeze.  The airport has a new terminal next to the old, only been open one week and everyone will still getting used to it. The hotel was full, high season, but one of the young security guards called Rooney, said I could stay in a flat his Gran owned and rented out, much cheaper than the hotel as well. Everyone speaks good English and Rooney drove me to his Gran’s flat, over looking the sea and fjord in the town of Sorvagur underneath the end of the extended runway. Left to explore this 150 year old wooden and tin shack of a house it was an extreme mix of old and new. Gosh the electrics were old. This was probably a fisherman’s house. It was lovely though. A took a well deserved shower and more computing. The TV internet I couldn’t get to work. There were some very interesting DVD’s in the draw, mostly Danish but just for some back ground noise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, saved the day, before sleep…

Thought for the day: I’m on Vagar. I’ve certainly left and that flight went well over the water. Wow… I’m excited I’m now properly underway.

Day 8, 29th June 2014. Vagar.                                                                       Day score 4

It’s blowing a howling gale and there is a lot of rain between here and Iceland. No worries, I walked back up to the airport. I met Malik, a cool guy in the control tower, to discuss plans. He had two friends visiting from Denmark yet he was from Greenland… I could and did learn a lot… I asked and did get Itzy refuelled with reasonably priced fuel and left Itzy to go sit it out in the new departure terminal. I sat on the computer all day trying to catch up with photo’s to send to people still and sort out my full of junk and slow laptop,

I stayed there till it about 4pm, watching a lot of blonde haired people arrive, check in and depart on their flights or arrive and depart on the coach to Torshaun the capital town. At 5 o’clock I thought, I better get on this bus too, like all the other passengers, and head for the capital, because if I left tomorrow I would see nothing of the Faroe Isles. It depended how the time table worked, but yes, I would have two hours in town before the last coach came back to the airport for the night. This might be my only chance of different scenery also, and I needed some. The new terminal is nice but nothing to compare with what is outside.

The coach took an hour, through beautiful hanging ‘glacier carved’ valleys and deep long tunnels dug under the seas between the islands. Two hours was enough to run round to see the old wooden built town houses with turf roofs and check out the harbour and a Greek run pizza shop. The Greek owner said his shop was a success but he might have to close because there were drunken fights every night from the locals??? And the people were driving him mad having to listen to all their stress and issues? Too proud to talk to fellow Faroese, but they would spill the beans to a foreign shop owner… Back on the coach back through more amazing scenery and deep long tunnels the mainland and Vagar with the airport on it. I watched more passengers check in and disappear on the fleet of Airbus 319s. Blimey it was 10 o’clock. I walked back down to Sorvagur, takes about 5 mins. I dropped off my bag in my wood and metal tin shack of a flat and perused the local port and harbour. Some guy was mowing his grass? It was 11.30??? Back at the flat there was a DVD of Asterix the Gaul, one of my schoolboy comic book heroes. It was in Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Finish or Icelandic only though. So after 10 mins it was Indian Jones again.

Thought for the day: Everything is quite tidy and pure hear, even the people, but they cant finish anything. Every building, hut lawn, drive or road, isn’t quite finished

Day 9. 30th July 2014. Vagar.                                                                       Day score 5.

It’s foggy and just awful. You can’t see far out to sea up the fjord. The check in lounge is calling though and also the control tower for a break or change of scenery. I met Fleming also in the control tower. Malik explained that he was on a one year contract from Denmark. I learnt a lot about their procedures and about the culture from these guys also today.

Not wanting to outstay my time there I went back to the check in terminal and my chair, the only one near to a power point to plug in this laptop and the envoy of all other mobile or tablet users running around wondering where they could plug in.  I eventually broke the ice to another backpacker who sat down next to me. I never asked her name yet we spoke for hours about lots of things. She had just come off the ship the Sea Shepherd or something like that. It was similar to Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warier, yet far more extreme in its confrontations. It patrolled the Island scaring off the pods of Long Find Pilot Whales that the locals would surround in a number of small boats and then drive up a fjord until the whales ran themselves aground right at the end. Then the locals would wade in and slaughter them by cutting their throats, turning the sea blood red. This hunt called the Grindadrap was a tradition that had been going on for hundreds of years and was vital to the survival of locals of old and also useful for the local economy. I’d heard the locals mention this ship and their crew were not made welcome anywhere. She was an Aussie girl and we talked about global ecological issues and the meaning of life. She told me that she thought what I was doing was dangerous, but she was the one hiding all her Sea Shepherd clothing in fear of being beaten up by the locals. Anyway her plane back to Denmark, where she was living with friends, was eventually called for loading. Talking to her was the highlight of the day really, only just beating Indian Jones.

Thought of the day: However hard I try and however long I sleep, I can’t finish all the emails and sorting out things I didn’t do before I left home and I am fatigued beyond belief.

Day10. 1st July 2014. Vagar again.                                                          Day score 3.                 

Fog, rain wind… In any order. Back at the airport Rooney was on duty. He got me through security and drove me over to the control tower. I gave him another Kr500 or £50 for staying in the flat. It all works quite easily, you just divide everything by 10 or knock a digit off to turn things into pounds. We joked about when I would leave. The weather is due to improve but not enough today.

Checking in lounge, shop, flat, laptop, Indian Jones, you know the score, so do all the security staff and check in girls. I’m part of the scenery at the new airport now. Why not, I’ve been here longer than some of the new employees…

Thought of the day: There is a need to move on!!!

Day  11. 2nd July 2014. Vagar Again Again.                                            Day score 7.

Woke at 6am. The fjord was full of cloud. Went back to sleep. At least it was dry and brighter so I headed back to the airport. There were five airliners parked up. Apparently they had all just arrived as the wind was too strong earlier on. They recorded a 65 knot gust of wind first thing this morning. That’s enough to blow most light aircraft away if not tied down, including mine and it wasn’t! Yet Itzy had sat there through it all ok. Small wings and full of fuel saved the day. I decided to move him though as the blast from the nearest Regional 146 Airliner, as it taxied back out, could blow him away, tied down or not!

Back in the control tower Malik was on Duty dealing with the four departing jets. Because of the delays earlier they were now all rescheduled and all now going to Copenhagen and they left, about five minutes apart. They could have all gone together and had a race…

So then more diary, more photos, more emails… No food… I stayed in the tower with Fleming, who had took over from Malik, watching Belgium eventually put out the USA in the football world cup, till about 9pm. Just still sorting flight plans, looking at weather, writing emails, trying to get this blog or diary up to date. I learnt a lot more from Fleming. He pointed out the old control tower up on the hill that the Brits made. They made the original runway here actually as well and based 5,000 troops on the island to protect the Faroe’s against German invasion during the 2nd world war.

Rooney gave me a lift back down to the flat, I sort of promised him I would leave tomorrow. While writing this though, and watching Indian Jones, the wind in the fjord has changed and grew. So much so, it’s started roaring outside. Itzy is still exposed where I left him out on the field. I’ve decided I have to go back to the airport now at midnight, to pull him into the shade of a mound of grass just by the old terminal, where he survived last night. I’m going now.

It was still light enough to see and the last delayed plane arrived as I did. It was an easy climb back up the hill to the airfield, well I got blown up the hill really. Anyway, the airport was still buzzing. I got in past security and walked with Itzy through the control tower and operations office car park as it was more sheltered that way, back to where I parked him last night. It was blowing a steady 30kts and gusting much more I would say, but back in by the shelter of the buildings, Itzy would be fine.

I had to wait an hour for it to stop sheeting it down before coming back. I’m now back in the flat again, feeling blown away. As I watch the end of Indian Jones the wind is continually roaring at what must be some 40knots, Its getter lighter again at 3am and I can see down along the fjord the driving rain coming in. I doubt I’m going anywhere again tomorrow, I mean today…

Thought for the day:  It was definitely the right decision to go back up there. I can try to sleep a little easier.

Day 12, 3rd July 2014. Vagar. Again again again again!                          Day score 3.

I moved out the flat, shame really, went to the shop, walked the hill and sat in my seat in the check in lounge next to the power point. I was studying the weather closely using every means possible. Satellite, pressure charts, rainfall count, predictive forecasts. I might be able to go in a small window around 4 o’clock today. Flemming came through with tickets, he was flying in the cockpit to Stockholm and back, to see their approach procedures from the pilots point of view to help them when he was controlling them in the control tower.  Everyone is flying except me. Two nice people sat down next to me and we chatted for a few hours. Martin and Norma from North Wales. I had a great time chatting to them, swapping exploits and thoughts of the Faroe Isles and the lovely weather they had had??? Apparently on the north isles some 40 miles away, they had been baking in it? They said they had parked a hire car in the carpark, the company said to just leave the keys in it. They joked if I would want to borrow it or sleep in it tonight.

When they went to catch their plane I went over to the control tower to file a flight plan and pay the landing and parking fees. Filling the flight plan was like a kiss of doom as even though the route to Iceland looked clear and there were blue skies above the airport, low cloud appeared and laid in the fjord, which I could not fly through. This continued till it was too late in the day so I cancelled the flight plan, at which point the cloud cleared, as if on command. I took chance to look round the old control tower and then headed back to the check in desk. The airport would stay open very late, which was handy, as the Linfield football team from Ireland were flying out in their charter plane at Midnight. They came they were loud and typically footballish and left.

The airport terminal was closing so I headed back down to my village of Sorvagur and sat under the porch of the town barn hall, looking over the football field to keep out of the rain. It’s now one o’clock and the kids are still all out playing. It is still light though, so why not. Town is pretty dead with only the occasional car roaring through, it’s been like that all week really. Chucking it down again now. This is simply not funny anymore… I’m almost up to date with the diary, except the batteries about to quit on my laptop.

I walked back up to the airfield, kipped on a table outside the porch of the old terminal building.

Thought for the day: wishing I was warm and dry in a hire car…

Day  13, 4th July 2014. Vagar to Egilsstadir Iceland.                       312 miles  3:32hrs
                                                                                                               Day score 10.

I ran back down to Sorvagur to the local shop, got some biscuits and drink for the day and ran back up to get warm. The airport opened at 8am and I walked over to Itzy to start preparing. I put my immersion suit on but as the cloud was still poor, I had a kip for an hour. Malik was in the control tower and with the weather clearing in an hour or so the satellite images said, we filed the flight plan again. He said he would put the information on the departure boards as he did for every other flight. I shook hands with Malik and went over to take a selfy of me and my plane at the top of the departures board.

Jumping in Itzy, the weather did clear and I taxied out. Take off was on 30 and I headed out over Sorvagur. Stunning stunning scenery. I took video and photos and flew as close as I dare due to multitudes of bird life on all the jolting cliffs I climbed past. Ok time to set out over the Atlantic.

Only 2:20 hours of water and it all went quite easy for once. I said goodbye to Malik in Vagar 60 miles out and on to Reykjavik control. They could not hear me but I relayed some position reports twice, via airliners way above when ever I could hear them clearly. I spoke to Delta 219, who ever they were and later Speedbird 287, which is a British Airways jet. I climbed above some thin cloud a couple of times and sat there just watching the cold engine temps and watching the ‘distance to go’ winding down on the GPS screen... At one point there was nothing on the GPS moving map except the words North Atlantic. About 100 miles out, Reykjavik control relayed a message to me via Airline 456 to change frequency and be handed over to Keflavic control on 119.7, but what was the point. All the airliners above were on Reykjavik, next to no one was on 119.7 and I couldn’t relay any messages anymore. 60 miles out I called Egilsstadir directly, they could not hear me as there was a mountain range between us and the radio is best when in line of site. The signal can’t travel through rock. Also I had to descend now as there was cloud ahead. Egilsstadir did call me through relaying to yet another aircraft and I replied with my position report and they gave me their weather. Few at 800, scattered at 1,500 broken at 2,400. Not good but ok.

Bugger, really quite a lot of cloud ahead, I went into it. Only thin I hoped but down at 800ft above see level I was not happy… I decided to climb again and turned around to go back out to sea where there was no cloud. Back in sight of the sea again I descended down until I could see under the cloud and turned back in towards land, but now cloud base was under 500ft. Being this low I had lost all radio contact with Egilsstadir and the relaying aircraft, again possibly because of the mountain ranges in-between us. Down at 300ft I entered a fjord leading to Egilsstadir airport but the hills were 3,000ft plus all around and the cloud was solid at 300ft. I remembered to fly up one side of the fjord not straight up the middle as most people do. If you are in the middle if you want to turn around suddenly, say at the end, you have only either half the valley left or right to turn in. If you are to one side you have only one way to turn but you have twice the width to turn around in than if you were in the middle. People have crashed flying in the middle with no enough room to turn around if they have to.

Back out to sea there was only one option available, that was to go 40 miles north, around the mountains and follow the river up a wide valley floor to the airport. Sea fog now rolled in and I was down to 100ft. This weather was not forecast and not fun or fair… It took what seemed an eternity to keep flying around fjord after fjord, followed by vertical rock faces into the sea before I found the correct valley. As soon as I entered it I could hear Egilsstadir calling immediately. I replied that “I’m still here and ok! I’m heading up the river towards you about 40 miles north.” You could here the relief in his voice and also the relaying Air Iceland plane which had manoeuvred to my location to try and remake contact. The captain of that plane congratulated me and I thanked him for his assistance. I’m not sure what I had done well, but he said “You have done well!” The controller asked me what was the colour of the river I was following? What a strange question I thought but then maybe he had good reason to ask… “Brown” I replied. “Good!” the reply… Apparently there are two rivers in the valley, one being glacial blue and it leads into the glacier! The brown one below me was correct and the runway was clear and only 24 miles away.  The controller asked if I had seen a hydro electric plant on the river yet? It was just coming out of the gloom and it whizzed past under my left wing. I called to say yes.

I ran 12 minutes at 200ft above the beautiful river before the runway lights came out the gloom. I did two left turns and landed on their 04 runway in 4000 meter visibility and driving rain.

As I taxied in, the emergency services were all driving away? Apparently, since I was some 30 minutes overdue on my flight plan time, since my diversion, they had all been scrambled… So embarrassing.

The rain abated as I climbed out. I pulled Itzy to a safe corner of the pad, nearer the protection from the wind of the hangars. First a medical examiner called Thora I think, came to check on me and took me inside and sat me down to catch my breath. I was ok…

Thora handed me over to two police officers and I spent some time with them filing a report with police captain Davith and his deputy officer. English was good here. We went to have a discussion in the control tower so they could explain their side of events and clear a few technical terms up in Icelandic. Annoyingly, by this time the weather had cleared through and was quite decent again now… The controller said that since there was no one hurt or no damage to the plane, no report need be filed with him to their CAA authority. I was sure he was not right, but I was not going to argue and with all that completed, the police said they would drive me now to the medical centre. It was procedure? I jumped in the back of their police car and off we went.

In the medical centre I met up again with Thora and she joked about cutting off my immersion suit, which was normal for these events. Admittedly I had to worn her of the fact that I had been in this air tight suit for about 6 hours now, before unzipping the shoulder seal and extracting myself from it. She took my blood pressure and heart rate and eye tests and my vital signs were all normal. With this I was free to go. I have to pay for this and they are not open again till Monday, so here I stay till Monday… Dam.

Davith then drove me to a good reasonable guest house as all the hotels were full. They asked me if I had food, no being the answer, they stopped off at the supermarket. In the supermarket I met a camera man again who had been hanging around the airport. I apologised to him for being a bit rude earlier. He said he wanted to discuss with me the plane, I told him I could do it tomorrow, but he said it was too late really and that his report had already gone to the news station. Get out of here!!!

I came out with bread and ham for me and a couple of bottles of coke for the police. They then drove me about 2kms over the river to the guest house as they said they were not busy... With the proprietor, he mentioned that he knew who I was as he had just seen me on the news… No way!!! I thanked the police, they were cool. I felt like giving them a hug for being so kind, but I didn’t and I settled in my room. A shower and more diary and Brazil verses Colombia.

Thought for the day: I’m not really telling the full truth of quiet what happened today. I’m probably going to remove it from my mind and delete it over the next few hours. All my tedds go in my backpack so I can insist I take it with me if I get dragged out of the sea so I don’t loose them. I had it with me in the room and as I took each one out the bag and laid them on the spare bed, they were all looking at me and pretty pissed off! They are the only other things except the plane and the data logger that know quite how stupid things got today. What did Andrew of Farnorth Aviation say… Something about the weather….?

Day 14, 5th July 2014. Egilsstadir.                                                         Day Score 6.

Left my room and went to find out how much it cost. The proprietor was a pilot also and had worked in the Egilsstadir control tower for some 20 years. I explained all about yesterday. When he heard that I had built the plane he mentioned wanting to build a Zenair aircraft. I know them well and we talked for what must have been an hour. The room was 100 Euros equivalent, He said no one could work out the Icelandic Krona rate. I couldn’t. I explained the 100 night rule about staying in hotels and said I would camp tonight. He knocked 35% of the bill and drove me down to the airport as it was throwing it down again.

I made friends with everyone there and one of the girls had a birthday and I was offered cake. I explained what happened yesterday and they let me back out to see Itzy. I gave him a big hug and then set about drying everything out as the sun was starting to shine. I checked over the plane. Itzy seemed alright, so I set back off into town to set up the tent in the camp site. Walking back to town I came across two German lads hitch hiking around Iceland as they said it was easy. They sort of insisted I told them how I was touring the Island since I held back on the information and they didn’t believe me until I showed them some pictures on my phone. I wished them good luck and I moved on to get some cash from the bank. I had no idea how much I was getting so just went for the middle figure as that’s what I used to get back home. With money I paid for the camp site and set up camp. I haven’t backpacked or hung out with travellers for years, I remembered how much fun it can be. I took a lovely walk to the top of the foothills behind the camp site which reconnected me to or with the enjoyment and the journey. Gosh Iceland is beautiful and this apparently is the boring bit, such a shame the flights are so difficult. Anyway, I needed much more rest. So returned to sit in the sun with the other campers reading my lonely planet Iceland guide at 11pm. As I left  to go to bed, the two German kids walked back in with their heads down, so hitch hiking is not that easy then here after all! But really what were they expecting, trying at this time of night.

Thought of the day: Its midnight and someone’s birthday party, in the nearby town, has just kicked off with ‘Happy Birthday’, being sung over a loud speaker system. I didn’t understand the words but I understood the tune. Seems like since its still light, the locals never sleep. I suppose it makes a change from all the long winter dark nights. Oh gosh no… it’s a karaoke party…

Day 15, 6th July 2014   Eating snow…                                                         Day score 8.

Packed up the tent and walked back via the Information shop to the airport as I needed to buy any sort of decent map.

I’ve now converted Krona to pounds easily, you just divide by 200. Anyway I worked out I have just bought a £12 map!!! They said things were expensive here, but really!

Sitting in the arrivals lounge at the airport where there is power and web, a couple of guys are waiting for a plane. The one is a local tour guide the other a rich American going on about how expensive his fishing trip for him and his mates will cost and about percentage profit of their fishing trip and Icelandic business profiles. Why can these people never switch off and stop banging on about business business business… The plane arrived carrying the American’s friends they were waiting for and he told the guide that the plane was a Ferrari. I thought he meant it looked like a Ferrari, but no, he told the tour guide “Yeah, it is a Ferrari, one of the most efficient aircraft ever made, costs a fortune!” I had to put him right and called out “It’s not a Ferrari, it’s a Piaggio P180 Avanti! It is Italian, expensive, stylish but unreliable and over rated, so like a Ferrari, but nothing to do with Ferrari.” He replied that “Yeah ok then, well the engines are built by Ferrari.” I told him “I can’t see how as the Piaggio is powered by two Canadian Pratt and Witney PT6’s?” It shut him up… I can’t stand people who bluff out duff info trying to impress…

I spent all afternoon either sitting here looking at weather or sorting out emails, while watching Foker 50 planes of Air Iceland arrive with their even blonder passengers and depart back to Reykjavik with new. I also spent some time out with the plane trying to dry my clothes that got wet. I left the front luggage bay open the day I arrived when leaving in a hurry with the police.

I went to pay for camping again only to find no bank card? Dam… Oh heck, I left it in the machine at the information desk when I bought the map… I ran back and peered through the window. There it was, behind the paying desk. I’d get it tomorrow.

There is a big waterfall in view high up in the hills and I asked the camp lady if I could get up there, she said there was a path off the road. So at 10pm at night, I put on my running shoes and set off to run up or climb a mountain?
Instead of following the road I thought I would just follow the river up to the waterfall. Gosh Iceland is beautiful. I played with birds and the wildlife, who all seemed inquisitive and annoyed by my presence in their environment. I climbed to the stunning waterfall and then higher to the snow line where the snow melt was feeding the flooding river. It was a shame for the little bits of cloud or I could have seen my midnight sun, as it was still above the horizon after midnight, but I couldn’t see it, just pink cloud... I’m not going to say I ran all the way to the snow line, but I did run all the way back to town. Very satisfied with the day I slept well with my tired legs.

Thought for the day: It is a beautiful country…

Day 16. 07/July/2014  Stupid Bankers!                                                       Day score 6.

First thing today was to get my bank card back. The cashier handed it over with no worries, but said they had called the bank to ask them to call me, so I would come back and pick it up. Oh no! This would mean that the bank would have cancelled the card. I went to the supermarket to try it and get some food. Indeed it did not work anymore, but my credit cards still did. I phoned the bank and had a futile discussion with the guy there to politely un-cancel the card but he said it could not be done and another had been sent out to my home address. What flippin use was it there…

I went to the medical centre to pay for my examination. All a bit excessive I thought, considering there was nothing ever wrong with me and it cost 10,000KR £50. What ever.

I walked back to the airport for more looking at weather and more drying of clothes. I went up to the control tower to pay landing fees and parking and discuss how not to embarrass myself on the next flight to Akureyri. I got to know the ground crew well and they were as kind and generous as all people have been to me so far. I dried more clothes and checked the engine over again and sorted out the oil.

The weather is too windy here and not so good at Akureyri, but it looks ok for tomorrow.

So back to the camp site for more rest.

Thought for the day: That’s how I feel at the moment. I’m so fatigued from the lack of sleep for the last few months…

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 was VatnaJokull, 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…

Day  18. 09/July/2014                                                                                    Day score 7.

I left the tent and walked back to the airfield. I walked through the worlds most northern Botanical Gardens and down through the old town and streets. The high way to the airport and airport were on reclaimed ground out in the fjord.

Itzy seemed fine, sitting their grabbing the attention of any passer by. The reason for coming to Akureyri is the famous Flugsafn Islands Aviation Museum. It wasn’t open till 11, so I sat with a couple from the midlands, where I’m from, and chatted away about Iceland until it opened. They were quite independent travellers
‘per-se’, my favourite, and they had been here in the winter and knew they wanted to return to Iceland in the summer. The museum opened and we entered in.

Relatively petite, about the size of a sports hall, but very interesting and well laid out. Soon though I realised that this fantastic collection of Icelandic aircraft of note and the displays of the early history of aviation in Iceland all lead to one airline and one person. Atlantic Airways could be from anywhere, but indeed it was Icelandic and belonged to Arngrimur Johannsson, the gent who had driven to say hello to me last night.

Now there were of course the pioneers of Icelandic aviation, all displayed very well in a time board walk. One amazing story was, an American DC4 crashed on top of a glacier. No one was killed but the plane was written off. The Americans landed a new DC3 next to it on skies to remove any salvage. But they forgot to keep the DC3 moving occasionally and the skies froze to the ice. A storm blew up and the DC3 was buried. They tried but failed to dig it out next summer and in the end sold it cheap to the foundling Icelandic Airways. Two heroic Icelandic pilots went up and dug it out and dragged it off the glacier, got it going, flew it for a couple of years and when they sold it, the vast profit was used to start off and bolster their airline.

But Arngrimur had founded Icelandic’s Air Atlanta, and Atlantic Airways and it grew into a major global aviation player. When he stepped down he was rather rich and now does his utmost to support the museum and aviation in Iceland. And apparently he is a very nice bloke too. He borrowed one of his Boeing 747 and filled it full of around 400 of his friends and aviation fans from Iceland and flew them all to Oshkosh, where I’m heading. He goes every year some how and said he hoped to see me there last night… Basically half of the planes in the museum belonged to him.

I met the museum manager Gestur Jonasson and chatted about my Classic flight Museum connections at Coventry and how and what we operated. I had my laptop with me so fired up the photo albums.

A great time, brill people and I got a sticker too.

Back at Myflug, I went up the spiral stairs and met the pilots of the air ambulance’s in their briefing rooms and offices of the flying school. There was Christion Junior and Haukur, the pilots on duty. They had, well everyone had heard of my arrival issues at Egilsstadir. Haukur spoke very good English… He explained this was because he started his flying career training in Phoenix Arizona America for 4 or 5 years if I remember well, which of course I don’t. He invited me to stay in his and his college’s pilot’s home from home flat down town. I’m one for not putting anyone out, but this was never going to be a problem. They had to fly a patient to Reykjavik but I would do more planning and we would meet up later.

I didn’t get much done, talking to all the pilots and soon the hours past, the King Air returned and everyone agreed to meet later in town. Haukur drove me to pick up my tent in his POS (Pile of Shoot) car that he bombed round in while in Akureyri, his home and fiancé and 3 year old daughter living in Reykjavik. We arrived at the pilot’s flat, I put on my best clothes and we headed for town. We wound up in the noisy bar I walked past last night. They had cider, the first drink since I left home and good to. The others didn’t materialise, so after one drink we returned to the flat after a long day.

Thought for the Day: Museum was fun… Good people here as expected of Iceland.

Day  19. 10/July/2014   All aboard the POS to Godafoss.                        Day score 8.

Haukur or Hawk as he preferred, only because I couldn’t pronounce Haukur or any name or place yet in Iceland. I’ve only just mastered Thank you, Takk Fyri. Hawk had to be at work at 9am. We both drove in to the airport. He was going to be away for about 6 hours, so he invited me to take the POS to Godafoss waterfall, or I was never going to get to see any local sites from the ground. I gladly excepted and promised to fill it with fuel in return.

So an hour or so later I was driving in a Daewoo Lanox with furry dice over the mountain passes and through the fjords to Gods waterfall. Indeed a beautiful drive and the POS went well.

Godafoss could be seen (as most waterfalls) a long way away from the rising spray and the vast numbers of tourist coaches. I parked up and joined the crowds to crawl all over this water fall. The roaring river was created from a collection of snow melt and rain and still running strong in mid July. There were two falls really, the top a horse shoe shape and the lower just a big 10 meter drop. Brill to be a tourist I thought. Soon it was time to drive back, better not be late back with the car.

I wasn’t and with all the pilots back, it was agreed that we would go out and eat. Hawk took me to an old barn that they remembered being a pub or bar, it was now a posh’ish restaurant. Spare ribs seemed the order of the day. A super night sitting amongst pilots. I sat next to (xxxxxxx) who flew Twin Otters to a tourist Island 40 miles north and also he had taken it on survey flights to Greenland, where I’m hopefully going next. So it was helpful and fascinating to sit next to him and learn about all that can be expected.

With food eaten, it was off to another favourite past time in Iceland I have noticed. They love their ice-cream and massive parlours seem packed all the time… Strange but true and delicious…

A selfie was taken with all at the end of the night and I thanked them a lot. They could see I was going through a ruff patch and this really helped.

Thought for the day: Top day. Nothing need more be said.

Day  20. 11/July/2014    Braking the POS.                                                Day score 10.

The weather was naff and for days. I told Hawk that I was going to take a coach to Reykjavik and try and get some sight seeing in while the weather was not flyable and come back and hopefully then fly to Reykjavik. He offered me the chance to borrow the POS because he had gone and got his decent car because his fiancé and daughter were turning up and he was going on holiday for a few days and didn’t need it. The problem was that the back brakes were in a state and needed fixing. He had all the parts in the back of the Daewoo, just hadn’t got them fitted by a garage yet. I offered to fit them in exchange for borrowing the car. The deal was done. He would go to work, set up tools and a space in the hangar, I would go and get the car from a parking lot where it was kept when not needed and bring it to the Myflug hangar. I thought it would only take an hour or so.

The king Air was on a medical evacuation with Hawk and another pilot when I turned up. I got to work straight away. Man I struggled, the drums were in hell of a state and didn’t want to come off. Then I couldn’t get the new parts on or together. Something was wrong. I thought it was just pads, Hawk had bought new slave cylinders just in case, but they were not leaking so I wasn’t going to fit new ones. No but they were both seized. The back brakes didn’t look warn, but this was because they were not working. Hawk came and went again. Five hours to fix the brakes, bleed them and fix a water leak and oil check.

Ok, now I was on the one and only highway to Reykjavik. Single track road high way. I hate travelling through beautiful country side in the dark, but it didn’t matter that it was 10pm now as it never gets dark. I stopped and gazed at awesome fjords and rolling plains and volcano crater and cinder cones and lava fields a plenty. Even went to check out a seal colony, no seals…

I arrived in Reykjavik at 1.15. The night life was in full swing and I perused town and the sights. Icelandic guys and girls are quite healthy and well dressed. But a personal thought was that this lot of city dwelling pissed up, fat, poshly dressed party goers could have been from my home city of Birmingham, and that is nothing to be proud of. Not everyone was like that of course, but it slightly tainted an almost perfect impression of Icelandic people so far.

I drove out to the airport, it was closed but the free web site still worked through the window to check progress and weather. The weather did not look good still for days. Oh well, glad I’m seeing something in the car and I went to put my head down after a long day in the car.

Thought for the day: Top drive, fun fun fun. Thanks Hawk…

Day  21. 12/July/2014  The Blue Lagoon soaking.                                   Day score 10.

I drove out past Keflavik international airport, Reykjavik airport had seemed small and quaint, built by the Brits about the same time as they built Vagar. I recognised the construction style of the hangars, being the same as most war time hangars in the UK. The Brits had a presence here to protect the islands against the Germans and allow the ships supplying our war effort from America an easier passage across the Atlantic.

Now Keflavik was a cold war American Airbase and it was flippin huge… I drove to a famous old light house on the western tip of the peninsula (nice) and then along the coast which had been deposited there by a huge lava field and we are talking huge!!! Took half an hour to drive through with steam rising here and there. Arctic Turns nested along the road in the tuft grass in their thousands. Very very impressed with this rarely experienced site. I was enjoying this.

Next was the famous Blue Lagoon thermal spars. An expensive tourist trap, but I did not care and had been told to go all the same, everyone has to go there. I got my swimming trunks and towel sorted and went in up the path. You could walk a periphery track if you so desired and I did and the Blue Lagoon lived up to its name!!! Big time. It was seriously blue…

I met an American lady called Urana, who was looking for someone to take her photo as she had a T’shirt with a message on it she wanted to show the back of to friends back home. I obliged. She had just packed everything up and sold a lot in America and said she needed to get out of the American society and go and live with decent humans for a while. Understandable. After seeing all outside we paid the £40 to get in and I said I would see her later. All high tech lockers with coded wrist fobs. Very clean and organised. Except absolute chaos with all the different ethnicities and behaviours. Japanese people can be quite weird some times. There was only one way in and out, the way everyone came in and one way in and out to the lagoon, where all the steam was, but still they seemed lost?

I came here especially and specifically for another reason. I suffer from Psoriasis and the special minerals within the water were or are supposed to cure or aid it… I can’t see how since no doctor or medication in twenty years has yet cured mine, but I’m for ever optimistic that the latest treatment might work. I walked down the steps and in, it was hot and salty and about 1 meter deep, so the kids didn’t drown. There was an expensive bar if you so desired and private massage parlours and all you needed to do was wave your wrist fob at the machine. The facial mud was free though and people covered themselves in white drying mud before washing it off. The first time I have treated myself for ages. The American business men and women were here in force as ever, they get everywhere and can not turn off, discussing stocks and shares of blue water. Put a sock in it for once!!! There were annoying British school Kids acting like spoilt brats a plenty. Did I enjoy it? Well I stayed in for four hours if that helps. My skin did feel soothed. We will see if helped later. Masses of my skin was falling off though, the hard skin on my feet eventually capitulated. May be there was something in the water dissolving things. The hot water waterfall was awesome. As I stood underneath it, the hot water pounding like a heavy hacking massage on my shoulders. I thought of all the hours of pain felt in my shoulders from endless hours of leaning over while working on the plane. I deserve this in my mind. Very therapeutic. I can’t get that flight out my head yet though and to think I almost missed all this…

It was time to have some fun and I went to get my video camera and Fredy Pig my travel companion of old. People were walking around with cameras everywhere, so why not??? How many phones, Ipads and cameras get dropped in the water I don’t know, but as long as I was extra careful with mine… Fredy loved the spa and floating in the water and I made loads of videos and selfies. Ok really time to get showered and go. Lots more to see today.

Outside, by the Icelandic’s British Olympic flame petal that they all were given to bring and take away to the London 2012 Olympics, I met Urana again. Yesterday she had been too tired and not well and misted her only opportunity to see Geyser, Gullfoss waterfall (the biggest) and Thingvellir or Pingvellir because we don’t have the correct key on this keyboard. Anyway Pingvellir was where a lot of the ancient gatherings were made within the gap which is the separation of the American and European tectonic plates. These tourist sites formed the ‘so called’ Golden Triangle of sites to see. That’s what I was going to do so I invited her along. Rude not to I thought and she could help me stay awake because it meant driving all through the night to get this all seen and done. First she needed to go and eat though, I’ve no interest in food really, but what took longer was my mistake on the map reading. We eventually turned up at Geyser, a geyser site, at about midnight. We got talking to an Australian guy and his Danish partner. They visited Iceland all the time and said that this time of night now, when there was virtually no one here, was the best time to see Geyser, as during the day the place was full of idiots. Whoosh! 80ft geyser firing off about 30 metes away. Made me jump, they were used to it. Every 6 minutes or so apparently. The biggest steaming water filled whole, called Geyser, the Geyser that all other geysers were named after, didn’t go off anymore, not since the last local eruptions some 40 years ago, but a little sized geyser called Strokkur, fired off regularly. There was a lot of hot bubbling mud and water around too. All Geysers are named after this Geyser, an Icelandic name apparently, I didn’t know that. You could hear the water boiling and rumbling underneath the ground. It shook the ground and the water rose and fell in the 8 meter wide pool with what looked like a 1 meter whole in the centre. Then you would see the water lift in the centre and whoosh!!! Anyway, about an hour here before moving on. You can only wait and watch it go whoosh, so many times before thinking “Ok, seen that!” I’d go back though given more time.

On to Gullfoss waterfall, quite a trek but quite impressive. Big whooshy waterfall. The biggest in Iceland and very impressive actually, but by now it was and I was quite blarzay about a big waterfall, ten minutes of watching water falling was enough.  

The tectonic plate place was deemed too far so I headed the POS back towards Reykjavik. Back by 4am, I dropped off Urana who had been pleasant company on this little adventure. She was residing at her home stay place, seemingly you can offer your home for people to stay and go and stay at people’s homes, and I returned to the airport to check emails, the weather and then onto the carpark for sleep.

Thought for the day: Got a lot in today. That’s living. But this isn’t helping with my long term fatigue issues. 

Day 22. 13/July/2014   The Long and winding road.                                 Day score 8.

This morning I needed to reply to a few emails and sort stuff out, travelling and site seeing was great, but not really helping progress. I needed to get the car back today as well. I sat in the arrivals lounge at the airport unfortunately next to the kiddies play area as that was where the only power point seemed to be. I stayed there too long really before hitting the road and heading north.

The problem is quite a major one. I want to go to Cape Dyer in Canada. I can’t go straight to the normal place of entry in to Canada for my type of aircraft at Iqaluit or Frobisher Bay depending on which language you speak because its just too far and I don’t have the range, but going to Cape Dyer causes all sorts of problems as well with the lack of fuel, or customs and the runway apparently is unserviceable, except I know the Bush Pilots of Canada are using it.

The only way around this is to get my long range tank I made for a competition in 2009 that sits in the co-pilots seat sent out to give me the extra range needed. But then I have my mountain bike sitting in the passenger seat right now. I have friends who have packaged the tank ready to send out. I just need an address to send it out here to. I also need my new bank card that has arrived at my parents sent out here as well.

Anyway, just leaving the city I saw a road sign to Pingvellir. This is where the old government buildings are and is where the split in the Tectonic plates is most visible. It was what I wanted to see last night and would have except I needed to take Urana to her home in Reykjavik. It wasn’t that far. I’ll go…

On top of the mountain range over looking pingvalla Vatn or lake, I came across a viewing area where all the visitors had made piles of balanced stones. Insanely high and intricate considering. There were no more stones though and obviously some pilfering had occurred, but I drove a mile or so down road to another lay-by, got my own stones to return to build my little pile of balanced stones. This effigy complete I headed down towards the lake. There are two fault lines actually, one both sides of the valley. As the plates move apart, further north the magna rose to the surface creating many vent hole volcanoes many thousands of feet high which are then toped with snow and ice to form glaciers or Jokull’s, but here the land subsided and a lake was formed. The tourist site was not overwhelmed, I mean you hardly see another car on the roads. Spectacular. There was a place where you could stand with one foot on each plate, truth be told, there were many fractures, so who knew which plate you were standing on. A river cascaded over the 30 meter 50 meter crack in the ground creating a lovely waterfall. This insulated spot was perfect for gathering and indeed over centuries of history, once a year a gathering of the tribes took place here. So even though parliament is in Reykjavik, a lot of early history took place here and the local hall and church of the early government period still existed.

I wanted to go back via an off the highway road, but I had no idea how long it would take and not enough fuel as it was a gravel track over the mountains. If I couldn’t make it and had to come back I certainly would not have enough fuel. So I drove off the other way closer to Geyser again to a petrol station. I fuelled up twice as I got confused how much I had placed on the automated credit system in Krona, only putting £5 in first. The garage acted as a local store as well and I bought more food. There was a roar from some people gathered in the restaurant corner watching a big screen, it was the World Football Cup final and the German’s had just scored their extra time winning goal. I stayed to eat and watch their celebrations. There was a German couple sitting next to me, everyone was congratulating them and I did also with a ‘thumbs up’ as I left.

Back at the junction with the gravel mountain road number:52 I set off, but by the snow gates, closing the road if impassable, there was a sign. It warned of bad conditions, that the insurance was invalid on hire cars on this road and of trolls that would crush your car and eat you up. I’m sure I could make it, but it wasn’t my car. I f anything were to happen, I would be a fool. Hawk had been very kind lending me his car and I couldn’t be disrespectful of the offer. So I went back to the high way.

Across the lava gravel planes I came across five cars all together, some in, some by the side of the road. This was strange. One of the cars had hit a sheep, there were no fences and I had had to dodge a few wondering sheep earlier. People had stopped to help. I stopped. The sheep had dismantled the front of this car and the car had dismantled the sheep as well, come to think of it. There was plenty of assistance and nothing I could do, so I headed on.

I came across a volcanic region and sinder cone. I love them, it’s fascinating. There was a road leading closer, it soon turned to gravel and then to black pumas, as everything was around here. The volcano, still five miles off, had probably lay dormant for centuries, but it looked all so new as if it was formed yesterday. But back to the road.

On the way to Reykjavik I had took the Highway number 1 ‘tunnel’. It cut out a fjord, but not wanting to take it again I turned down the old highway 1 road around the fjord. It was 60 kilometers further, but I thought it worth while. The road having been the main highway was good and deserted. I wish I was in a racing car. Close to the end of the fjord you could take blind corners because you could see the road on the other side of the sea and nothing had come down it for a long time. At the end of the fjord I stopped. I’ll get a little soft here, but I was caught by the beauty of the light, the calmness of the sea. You could see the road for miles each side of the fjord and there was not traffic. So remote, just a sheep or two and Arctic Turns bussing me, upset at my presence…

Back on the main occupied highway I travelled back through Grabrocks. I had seen it on the way to Reykjavik, it was another much smaller cinder cone, but the lava field that it had admitted had diverted the road, so this one could not have been too old. And you could climb it… 1am, and I’m looking down on the town from a recently active sinder cone. For me, it doesn’t get much better than that. Inside the crater you could see the last area of activity. Just amazing.

Too soon time to head on, but I suffered extensive thick fog for the next few hours, but luckily I had seen this beautiful part of Iceland when going the other way a few days ago. I arrived back in Akureyri about 4am. Refuelled, only to find I had left the fuel cap at the last station and I wasn’t going back for it. I bought an emergency cap and cleaned the car inside and a little out.

Hawk had left the door unlocked so I went inside and hit the sack.

Thought for the day: I love sinder cones. Going to have to go and see an active one someday.

Day 23. 14/July/2014    Akureyri to Reykjavik                                162 miles  1:46hrs                                                                                                                                     Day score 9.

I awoke and went to sit in the kitchen area. Another pilot awoke and wasn’t unpleasant but said a few words and disappeared out.

Hawk entered the kitchen, I told him what a great time I had had. He said that the guy earlier was another pilot and he was upset as he had a share in the POS and wanted to use it yesterday, but I had borrowed it. Hawk was saying he was unreasonably annoyed. So was the owner of the house that I had stayed there. This annoyed Hawk as he saw it only reasonable to offer a guest hospitality and the others were out of order. Saying that, had I know there was another person sharing the car, I thought it was just Hawk’s then I would probably not have wanted to borrow it… Anyway, what is done is done and time would move on.

There was a loud explosion from the freezer compartment above the fridge. A coke can had frozen, the coke then expands and explodes the can. They do that. Anyway while clearing that all up, Hawk explained that he was flying back to Reykjavik later today to his home there for a few days and we could meet up there later. I asked if I could have my credit card forwarded out to his house and did he have an address at the airport where I could send the tank to. He insisted on having it sent to his house as well and he gave me the address. Brill. Sorted. I would get on to my friends and parents and get the items under way.

So should I get underway! Hawk still had his fiancé here, so I said I would walk back to the airport and see about flying on as the weather finally looked ok.

I lovely walk back out and when at Myflug I talked to a load more pilots in their briefing room. They said there would not be but I still went to see if there was a fee to pay in the control tower. There was not. The other pilots also showed me a favourable route to Reykjavik and explained I didn’t need to file a flight plan and just tell the tower what I was doing and go. Ok. I could do that… The phone rang and one of the guys said it was for me? It couldn’t be, no one knew where I was. The guy on the phone was called Thurket, he was from the Icelandic Civil Aviation Authority’s Air Accident Investigation Branch AAIB. He told me that he kept being asked about my arrival into Iceland when I had the trouble at Egilsstadir and he couldn’t explain as he knew nothing about it. In fact he knew the least and should know the most. It was agreed I would go and see him when I arrived in Reykjavik where his office was. I was glad of this actually as I wanted some closure on the event and talking to the head man, as you would certainly do in the UK, would act as closure.

Time to move on, but at this point now, to complicate things even more, I would like to mention a competition I won actually in 2009 called Dawn 2 Dusk. This is where you take an aircraft, be it a helicopter, hot air balloon, glider, and try and do what you can with it during the hours between Dawn and Dusk. Well here at the moment, that’s about 23 hours in the day. In 2009 I tried to fly around the coast of Great Britain in a day with my long range tank I was having shipped out. Here, while in Iceland, I would like to fly around their coast. Much easier than in Britain because it’s not nearly as far around. I wanted to start and finish from here in Akureyri. I thought it would be nice for the museum. But I have to move on! I still need to get to Oshkosh which is my priority, which means I must fly on to Reykjavik. May be I can try flying around the coast from there.

I at least bought an aviation map of Iceland, only to find out that the pilots curse it, saying there was nothing on it and the road map of the island is much better.

Oh well. I said my goodbyes. Hawk had gone with his daughter and Fiancé already so no worries. The people had all been so good to me here. I untied Itzy, turned him around and jumped in.

After starting the engine and turning the radio on the control tower wanted to know my flight plan. I said I was going to Reykjavik VFR and there was no route. He sort of insisted on which way I was going so I told him I’d be turning around, heading up the valley direct for Reykjavik. He asked for my flight time and persons on board. I told him and said I had 4 hours of fuel. He thanked me and cleared me to back track runway 01 and take off at my discretion. This I duly did and turned out to the right and headed north.

There is so much I’m not finding the time to write that is of interest. There has been a ship in the harbour, some major cruise liners, but also a ship with its own helicopter on it. Everyone is wondering who it belongs to? I got speaking to the Australian pilot of the helicopter. He wouldn’t say who was onboard but said that they had flown on to Norway already and the ship was sailing after them for the ship to act as a base. He was just doing some site seeing tours for the crew now before they set off. They were hoping to sail the Northern Arctic Passing if the sea ice breaks enough to let them. It did for the first time last year, first time in modern history, due to global warming. Anyway I buzzed the ship a little on take off. Up the fjord and away from Akureyri. It had been nice.

The route took me high on to the middle plateau. Nothing much lives there as its just ice and lakes and rock. Heading south towards Vatna-Jokull the biggest glacier the weather on route took me further east, closer than I intended but what views. In fact cloud took me even closer to Vatna and I had to squeeze between the volcano of Baroarbunga and Tungnafells-Jokull. But then there was no way further south so I had to head west and run to the coast where I could see the sun shining from this height about 50 miles away. By this time I had torn and shredded my new map. Gosh, they were right, it was all but useless and I reverted to the road map.

Looking back I must have flown over Gulfoss and Geyser, but never saw them. I hit the coast after darting under low cloud again and rounded the head at Akranes. Now the radio was in line of sight and they could hear me when I called. Reykjavik approach wanted to know if I wanted to extend my flight plan as it was about to expire. I told them I had weather diverted so I was delayed but told them that I didn’t file a flight plan. He told me that I did and he had it here from Akureyri, but not to worry, he would extend it and he handed me over to the tower. I didn’t file one, but now was not the time to argue. There are 6 VFR routes into Reykjavik. I was to take number 1 following the coast for a left hand to runway 13. This I duly also did. Honestly, the airport is about a mile from town and you get a good luck on a left base for 13. The pilots at Akureyri had told me to ask to taxi via Echo and Golf down to the Geirfugl flugskoll (Gummy’s flying school of flight). This was agreed and I had the map ready and found my way when on the ground with no worries.

I stopped the engine and jumped out. Plenty of pilots and planes milling around. There must be 30 separate private hangars, three rows of ten.

Gudmundur introduced himself as manager of the flying school but to just call him Gummy as there was little chance of me pronouncing his name correctly. I told him that I was told to head here by Hurkur and Christion, he new them and agreed that it would be silly for me to stay over the international side as the parking costs a fortune. I could leave my plane where it was and if I needed a hand with anything I just needed to ask. First thing to do was clear up this flight plan fiasco. It was explained that everyone files flight plans, but they are not flight plans like I know of, say on a formal sheet of paper, they are more like safety flight plans. You just briefly explain what and where and when you are going to fly and a few more details and then close it when you land and its all done over the radio before you take off with the control tower. Oh, that made sense now.

Anyway, if I’m going to send on my mountain bike to make room for the extra tank, there are a lot of things I could also send on to America as the plane is totally over loaded with things I just don’t need. So I started to empty the whole plane out. People couldn’t understand where it was all coming from…

Gummy asked me where I was staying, I asked if I could pitch the tent explaining the 100 night rule, he said it looked like rain and to just kip on the sofa in the club house. There was warmth power internet and tv. I didn’t need to be asked twice.

That’s the thing about Itzy, so small that everyone is so helpful and it just makes travelling with my tiny plane so easy. I hoped Hawk would not be upset, he didn’t clearly offer that I could stay at his home, I’m sure he would have but I didn’t want to place too much upon him.

I talked to so many young pilots at the school, the atmosphere was buzzing, but eventually they all left and I could get my head down, but not after watching some BBC news. Nothing had seemingly changed since I left. Same old parliamentary scandal stuff.

Thought for the day: I’ve yet to meet an unfriendly person on this tour. The Icelandic people are how I wish all people were on the planet. Gummy was a founder member of the school, I don’t think he owns it, it’s like a club, you pay to join then can fly any of their ten or so planes. He seems the most laid back person on the planet, nothing is too much trouble. He’s just like me…

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 midday and 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 CAA AAIB (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…

Day 25. 16/July/2014 That’s weird and not a fair fine for a mega star!  Day score 9.

Today I had to cycle back to see Thurket again at the Icelandic Air Accident Investigation Branch, drop of the aircraft docs I had forgot and get my coat back which I had also forgot. I’m doing a lot of forgetting things recently? It must be due to my exhaustion. When I arrived there he wasn’t in and one of his colleagues said he was away on leave due to an illness. I told this colleague that I had seen him yesterday and agreed to meet at 10 this morning. This was seemingly news to him. Thurket duly arrived just after 10. I had a report to write and sign that Thurket brought from home being a special English version. I showed him the documents and also the data logger file. He loaded it up on his computer and I showed him how you could view it live on Google Earth, I couldn’t on my slow old laptop but he had a super duper machine with two huge screens.

As I started the simulation I could show, that this is where I descended, this is where I entered cloud, this is when I climbed back out and so on. I had put this flight out of my mind and the computer screen depiction was real enough to bring it all flooding back. Heck, I had been lucky, I didn’t know quite how close I was to the cliffs when I finally turned away because I couldn’t see them in cloud. He was fascinated by my tiny little logger and said everyone should have one... Everything was ok, but now he mentioned that there was a thought from a friend of his down town at the actual CAA offices that my plane needed a special permission to fly in Iceland, because it only has a permit to fly not a full Certificate of Airworthiness issued by our Civil Aviation Authority. He asked since I was on my bike if I would ride down into town where the Icelandic CAA were, to sort this out.

When leaving I discussed his colleagues view that he was ill and would not be here today. He had damaged his arm while skiing I believe and he was off to see the German Grand prix now. We talked about the F1 cars and the drivers and had similar views.

I cycled down to the CAA offices. Indeed they showed me their web site which confirmed I needed their special permit permission doc. They were concerned that I hadn’t got one as they issue quite a few and wondered why I had not applied? I could get it there and it wouldn’t cost much. The thing was, I had never read this in their AIP. All countries issue their Air Information Publication, which includes all information and requirements about flying around in their countries airspace. I asked them for a copy and to find where it mentions this permit. It wasn’t in there. Arha! There was no request or direction to their CAA web site from the Icelandic AIP. I stood with a smug smile on my face until after 15 minutes, one of the three people looking through their AIP eventually found a little paragraph in a sub section explaining about the special permit. What happened seemingly was that most people get an expensive ‘Airspace Clearing Agency’ to sort out all the required permissions and clearance and they know about this permit. I had done it myself, found the words in their AIP where it said “There are no special permissions required” and stopped reading and went on to the next country. Had I continued reading through their AIP, I might have found the little paragraph about the necessity for the permit, but I doubt it… This highlighted a problem to them and had everyone confused. Yet again there was a problem for me and they agreed that it didn’t make sense the way it was explained in their AIP and they would have it changed. Possibly I had highlighted a loop hole in their system that they needed to change. This took hours by the way, before I had paid and left. It cost 19,960 Krona. Hang on, that’s £100. What for? The aircraft was no different to any other, they had not come and inspected Itzy? It was just like fine for the hell of it… Argh!!! It wasn’t really fair!

I cycled back through the old town which was nice. Back at the field I was welcomed as some type of mega star??? The interview had been out on the internet news last night and someone found it on the web and displayed it on the large weather screen for all to watch. Apparently it was well received. I had my Charlatans hoody on and they played Charlatans as back ground music. It mentioned Geirfugl and everyone was smiling as it was translated for me. So…

Hurkur phoned me to say he had my tank and new bank car and would drive them over. I needed to pay him for the extra tax on the freight of the reserve fuel tank and for the new fuel cap for his POS car, so he offered me a drive to the bank to get some money and to show me more of the city. The bank card worked and I also used it to buy ice-cream for him and his 3 year old daughter, who accompanied us. The ice cream came from a popular ice cream parlour down by the dock side. 

I waved a very fond goodbye back at the field and went back to the flying club to take my mountain bike apart and box it and plan the around Iceland trip. This took till 4am though. I’m shattered and tired and torn. Having a great time but also really saddened by the weather… It’s raining again now…

Thought for the day: Another problem for the journey. It wasn’t really my fault about this permit, but again it doesn’t look good on my behalf. Oh well!

Day 26. 17/July/2014   Bye bye bike…                                                        Day score 6.

Woke at 6am to the sound of rain hitting the window. Went back to sleep, I’d only had two hours sleep anyway and when everyone else arrived at the club I had a pounding head ache. I had looked at the weather, it was possible to attempt to fly around the coast, but it would have been a pretty horrible flight anyway with a pounding headache and trying not to fall asleep in the air. I would have gone, knowing the views and the adrenalin would have got me round in one piece. To come to Iceland with the intent on this flight and not to be able to even attempt the flight due to the weather would be so sad. It’s the 50th anniversary of the competition and if I could get around Iceland it would be difficult to beat.

I desperately needed more sleep, but where? The only place I could think of was back in the plane, so I jumped back, pulled the white cover over everything and got a few more hours.

A couple of days ago I wrote an email to all the people of the KR2 club in America. I wanted to see if one of them would be prepared to look after my bike. I would post on to them and pick up and swap it with the extra tank on the way past. About 10 people offered to do this and more. Some offered to fly the bike to Oshkosh in their bigger planes and I could pick it up there. Stupidly though I realised that, I could just post the bike to myself. There was a major USPS post office just outside the airport. I phoned them up, they said just to put “General Delivery” in the address and it would be held there at the Oshkosh post office for me. With this done, I finished taping up the parcel, addressed it to myself and Gummy drove me to the post office.

22 kilos of bike, tools and paperwork. £110 to ship by sea, which could take two to six weeks, or £150 to airfreight it, which would take four to six days. Knowing my luck, if I posted it by sea it would take the six weeks. But at this rate of my progress, it might still beat me to Oshkosh

On a sad note, world war 3 started today when the Malaysian 777 got shot down over the Ukraine.

But on a good note, entertainment was laid on as Gummy and four of the other pilots had formed a band and practised to be the entertainment at a fly-in at the end of the month. I finished the day sorting out photos and publishing them on flickr and trying to get this diary up to date.

Day 27. 18/July/2014   Weather or not!                                                      Day score 5.

Woke at 6am to the sound of rain hitting the window. Went back to sleep, A quick look at the satellite shows that cloud has now filed virtually all the north Atlantic route. There is a low pressure system about 500 miles south of Iceland which is just throwing weather front after weather front towards us. Every time the depression weakens and starts to fade, another comes to join it from either America or Greenland and they combine and strengthen and off we go again… More rain. It has been the worst summer since last year apparently. Yet last year was the worst ever summer on record. Brill!

I headed out to walk to town in-between the showers. I climbed the Cathedral tower for the view. There are a few Japanese tourists as ever everywhere, but some of them are still insisting on wearing their face masks. If I was Icelandic I would see this as almost insulting. These Japanese people clearly couldn’t distinguish between the clearest Icelandic fresh air, yet a little misty and smog. Good views from the tower… Inside the cathedral was a huge pneumatic pipe organ, reaching to the high ceiling and it was being tuned and tested, and the tuner could certainly play it, with a blur of hands pulling knobs, running the keys and his feet were a blur on the pedals too.

I had another look around the docks. As with all of Iceland, there were no fences and you could walk right up to huge fishing boats being repaired or huge naval frigates. I grabbed myself another Strawberry Ice-cream from the harbour parlour Hawk had taken me to, as busy as ever. On the way back I stopped to watch a documentary film in an exhibition on Volcanoes in Iceland, fascinating. I did some shopping and came back via the less touristy part of town to see how the locals live. You could walk through the back passages. I keep coming across Banksi copies painted on walls. I believe they must be copies, very nice though. On the inner ring road I came across and auditorium with five huge posters of Icelandic celebrities promoting “Iceland’s Got Talent!” on them. That would be worth seeing, but… Its not me.

Back to the field to continue this diary. I never get much done though because of talking to many people here.

Back in Geirfugl, I heard that one of the pilots flew the rescue helicopters that fly out to Greenland. His name was Siggi and he had a lot of useful information about Greenland that will probably change my route once more. He said not to fly out to sea as I intended in case the engine stops and I need to ditch, but to fly just on top of the Greenland Ice shelf. It was only 5,000ft where I would be. He said it was smooth and there were better chances of survival landing on it with an engine failure than ditching in the sea. There were no polar bears on top and you couldn’t land in the water safely anyway because of all the shattered ice blocks. Ok… He gave me some helpful fuel supplier telephone numbers and pointed out some other emergency airfields. He had good maps of Greenland which I have not and said he would bring some spare ones in tomorrow.

One of the problems I have in my head with this flight is that not only am I putting myself at risk, but I’m also putting at risk the safety of the people who would come out to hopefully rescue me if the engine stops. I think its quiet selfish what I am trying to do. So here was a good opportunity to ask one of the rescue helicopter guys what he thought. He replied that “No no, don’t worry! It would be a good laugh, we’d probably race the Greenland boys to see who could pick you up first. It would be a good sortie for us. Something interesting to do!” That reply has cleared my head problems… Siggi had no worries about flying his helicopter any time, anywhere and in any conditions… Ok…

With that he and everyone left and I was alone again to tidy up and get some rest once more on the sofa. But only after checking if WW3 hadn’t started from the downing of this Malaysian 777.

Thought for the day: I’m impressed with how much enthusiasm there is for aviation in Iceland and the members, all 180 at this club. They are flying most aircraft everyday in average weather. You wouldn’t find or see this in the UK.

Day 28. 19/July/2014   Always surprised by people you meet…              Day score 9.

There is an old guy called Benni for my benefit. He must have retired, smokes a pipe almost continually and is here virtually everyday. His hearing is not so good anymore or his English, but Gummy had shown me on his phone a video of a flight where they flew to England to pick up an old Russian war bird to return to Iceland. Benni had been given the job of ferrying the plane as he had flown everything and anything everywhere. He had flown DC3’s in the early days right up to the Boeing 757’s when he retired and was a mainstay and promoter of the youth within the club. Benni invited me to see his Pitts Model 12 unlimited aerobatic aircraft that he had built and redesigned himself to be a better plane than the Americans make. I didn’t think you could make Model 12’s I thought they were all factory built, but he had built this one apparently. It would be worth seeing. It was the other side of the airfield and Thurther joined us. Thurther is a photo journalist, if he has nothing to report he hangs out at the Geirfugl club as well, so he is here a lot too.

At the back of a huge insulated hangar was Benni’s huge white Model 12 Pitts. How could he have made this, it was an awesome plane. Less its engine, which had been removed and sent to Lithuania for repair. Stunning and his respect levels went through the roof for his efforts. Especially as he must be 75ish by now.

On the way back Thurther showed me more iconic aircraft designed by Icelandic aviators, some pretty impressive, some not so, but any aircraft designed and built and flying, after building my own, I know is a major achievement in itself.

The weather looked like it might brake nicely for me to try and fly the coast tomorrow. And Thurther and I took time to study a route. With the long range tank now installed in my plane, it would give 7 hours range if necessary and I would only need to stop twice for fuel around Iceland. But 7 hours at a time in my plane was a lot to ask so I still broke it up into 4 hour flights. It would be good to test the long range tank though.

There was almost a party atmosphere in the club tonight with food and beer brought by a group of ten young pilots of all levels. I met Bjarki who flew with Air Iceland. He flew to Kulusuk as well of all places and he showed me some even better weather sites that they used. This opened up a whole new field of weather studying. It was still bad by the way, with a lot of cloud on route to Greenland, but a possible attempt around the coast was possible tomorrow, not easy but I was running out of time and opportunities and Oshkosh was looming being only 9 days away…

One of the guys who turned up tonight who’s name was Joel, seemed like he had an enthusiasm beyond the norm. I mean some people like flying, but for some people it’s in their blood. He explained that he got on well and helped often over the international side with the BIRK aircraft handling company. In return the guys at BIRK would call him if anything interested flew through. There is a surprising amount of cross Atlantic travel and most of it goes through BIRK at Reykjavik. Joel had been to the Reno Air races where I hope to head if I get to Oshkosh. He explained how he got there though.

A ferry pilot flying some war bird arrived, can’t remember what it was and the pilot asked Joel to show him around town and to take him to the best bars and best restaurants. The ferry pilot blew hundreds of dollars and paid for or Joel’s food as well. There was bad weather and Joel looked after the guy all the time he was there. Reno was mentioned and the pilot was competing and invited Joel to come over and work as part of the pit crew. They stayed in touch and indeed the following year Joel went over there. They won their category and since Joel had worked so hard for them they gave him the trophy and he has it at home.

This was committed dude. He went on to explain that he if set his mind at something he would do it and to the best standard, a standard that most normal people can not believe, a bit like me. We were very similar in manner and life style and thoughts and perspectives. His passion though was hunting and rifles. But rifles shooting to an accuracy of 10 shots within 1 meter over 1 kilometer. He told me how it was possible and it’s complicated, and perfection of tuning of barrel of gun in weight and length and powder and weight of bullet are critical. Fascinating. 

He gave me the name of the guy he crewed for. Said he was a multi millionaire in Canada with his own private fleet of war bird aircraft and that if I wanted to go and see him, he could organise it. Brilliant conversation of two equal minds. We are both quite individualistic. People would not believe when he would go hunting and live off the land for two weeks on his own… I’m not quite that detached, I like my own company but I get quite lonely at times…

Jees, it was… He bid goodnight and after some more internet TV news and watching some motor racing on Wheels internet TV I got to bed.

Thought for the day: I want to go home and build a Pitts Model 12…

Day 29. 20/July/2014   Ground hog day!                                                    Day score 1.

One of my favourite films is Ground Hog Day, where the main protagonist, what ever he does during the day, be it good or bad, whenever he falls asleep, when he wakes up, it’s the same day time and time again! For the film. it just happens to coincide with a special Ground Hog Day in the town, where the dignitaries use the  Ground Hog’s behaviour to predict the weather fortunes of the town for the year. Well I have my very own Weather Hog Day. Whatever the weather, may it be forecast sunny or rainy, whether it brakes into a sunny gorgeous evening where everyone goes flying except me, or it being foggy, whatever… When I wake up on that sofa, about 7am so that no one arrives early and sees me sleeping on the sofa, even though Gummy is still cool with it, whenever I wake and open my eyes, it is chucking it down…

Today was no different. I was optimistic about flying the coast today, but the weather has all turned into a bag of worms over night.

I fuelled up the plane with Thurther’s help though when it finally stopped raining.
The rest of the day was trying to plan more and to catch up with the diary. Except whenever I look at the keyboard, because I have to go to bed late when everyone leaves but get up early and on top of my long term fatigue. I’m feeling no better.

The weather site that Bjarki showed me has some other interesting pages. It is an Icelandic weather Bureau site but it also includes seismology for earthquake activity. There are amazingly about 10 a day, only 2 to 3 in magnitude, but still. It also includes volcanic activity and every conceivable map of forecasts and predictions of sea temp, air pressure, cloud cover… Too much information really.

Thought for the day: I keep meeting some great people though. Artle, Darti Kristion, all pilots in training or airline pilots. None of those names are correct. Again I don’t have the correct keys on the keyboard to write them down, that’s if I could spell them, I can’t pronounce them so what hope. So my poor little brain is torn. I’m having a great time, but in the back of my mind is this ticking clock. Tomorrow it is one week to Oshkosh and I’m not half way there. I’m going to miss the start for sure, if not all of it. And Oshkosh is the reason I am putting my plane at risk as well as me. I’ll hopefully be rescued. The plane never will be.

Day 30. 21/July/2014  Around Iceland, almost…                        1,067 miles  9:20 hrs
                          Day score 10.

I’d given up looking at the forecast. But when I awoke at 6, it was clear skies, no rain, low cloud but no fog…

Looking at the weather, it looked possible to fly around the whole coast today. There were still lots of issues with the weather with weather fronts, warm and cold, lying close off shore to the south and to the north, but still. This looked like my one and only chance. I would have to give up the idea of attempting this and head for Greenland next weather slot or I would miss Oshkosh completely for sure. The weather on route to Greenland was very poor, so I had nothing to loose today, and everything to gain. If I didn’t get around, at least I could say to myself that I had a go. No attempt then no entry into the 50th Dawn to Dusk Competition.

The plan was to take off with 90 litres of fuel in the main tank and 40 litres in the extra tank sitting in the passenger’s seat. This gave 6:30 hours of flight. I planned a 5 hour flight running around the south of the island along to my first stop in Egilsstadir, where I had entered Iceland on the 4th of July. That flight was 461 statute miles. I would refuel only the main tank as the next stop was going to be to Akureyri which was only 283 miles along the coast and I could do that in 3 hours and there were 4 hours in the main tank. At Akureyri I again would fill only the main tank as the next flight to Isafjordur and its famous bent approach to their runway along the side of the Fjord was 281 miles. Back to Reykjavik was then just 306 miles and easily reachable with just a full main tank. Total distance for the day of some 1,330 miles, 1,109 nautical miles or 2,200 kilometers and a flight time of some 14 hours or so.

I had my fine pitch prop fitted for the trip around the world. It gave me better take off performance and climb rate, needed for such a journey in some circumstances, but it was no good for a high cruise speed. A comfortable 110knots was all that was possible and I didn’t want to thrash the engine at max continuous rpm as it was hopefully going to take me all the way around the world and the next flight would be across 4 hours of 2 degree Celsius Atlantic Ocean. So pushing the engine was not on the cards…

Ok so their was a little seismology over night but no new volcanic activity with zero ash in the air, not that it would affect my piston engine like it does the jet engines anyway.

I would go anti-clockwise around as I did when encircling Great Britain, this was
so I could see the coast line clearer from my left side of the cockpit. There was a small low pressure centred over the north of the island with air circulating anticlockwise around it, so I could expect light tail winds. The rest of the Atlantic surface pressure chart analysis was full of every type of front imaginable. But the way that they would progress through the day and I would hopefully progress, meant that there could be a window of opportunity of no fronts to be flown through all the way around. We would see.

The next item to check was the road condition Web Cams. They are situated all over Iceland and they are primarily to check on road conditions. Normally three web cams, one looking left, one looking directly down onto the road next to a snow depth gauge and one looking to the right. The clever thing about these web cams is that they can show the proceeding few hours in 15 minute intervals. Looking at these images you can clearly see the cloud base, but more importantly if it is rising or falling. My area of concern was around the Gardur peninsular and the nearby Keflavik International Airport, which always seemed to be fogged in during the morning. It was clear also and the Metar and TAF for Keflavik were not good, but not bad, with some cloud at 800ft. There was some sun shining on some of the Web cams which considering the recent weather, was a bonus…

I put on my immersion suit and life jacket as during the day, some of the flight would require a sea ditching if the engine stopped. The water on the east of the island was a barmy 8 degrees Celsius and 3 degrees on the west coast. That gives you about 15 minutes to climb into your life raft before loosing use of your hands. Without an immersion suit, you are incapable of climbing into your life raft after about 4 minutes and then you would be dead within the hour.

Even though it had been daylight since 2am, the airport did not open till 7am local. By the time I had satisfied myself that the morning fog around Keflavik would not develop, climb on board, taxi out, call my flight plan over the radio, complete run up checks and taxi to hold short of their runway 13, it was just before 8am.

Airborne on the hour Reykjavik cleared me low level via the coast and he said he would get on to Keflavik to let me do the same. Keflavik were not busy so that was no problem for them and they told me to report Gardskagi Light house. I’d been there in the car and recognised it easily. The steam from the famous hot spa pools of the Blue Lagoon just disappeared into low cloud inland and there was a fog bank way below a few miles off shore.

Hum, 20 minutes later and I was already forced down below 500ft near Porlakshoen. There was skud cloud hanging everywhere, occasionally the fog sea fog would role onto the shore or the ground fog would drift out to sea. There was lenticular cloud up high over the volcanoes inland, layered stratus at several layers, too many to count or see.

The newly formed islands of Vestmannaeyjar peered out the murk and fog 5 miles off shore while the black beaches from the ash from the latest eruptions of Eyjafjalla-Jokul whizzed by just below my Kr2’s left wingtip. The unpronounceable Eyjafjalla-Jokul was the volcano responsible for closing down most of Europe’s airports and airspace as it jettisoned clouds of ash tens of thousands of feet into the air and it is a relatively small volcano. If it’s neighbour Myrdals-Jokull or the vast Vatna-Jokull erupt, it will be a sight to see… But not this close… Myrdals is looking like awakening. There is constant seismic activity there now and a mass outflow of glacial melt water flooded the highway just last week causing evacuations, but it seems to have calmed down a little.

If a small volcano further north erupts it’s not really a big deal, but if the volcano is high enough to be capped in snow and ice, then when the magna rises closer to the surface, this glacier melt sending millions of gallons of water down to meet the molten lava coming up. These two don’t really mix too well and the water boils, building steam pressure like a steam train except there is no ‘blow of safety valve’. So when the top cap finally comes off the volcanoes crater, it goes with a bit of a bang.

At Dyrholaey there is a famous outcrop of lava that stands firm and leads out into the sea.  It has collapsed with sea weathering and at the moment has created an arch that the pilots are having fun flying through. Its about 60 feet across and 30 feet high. So so tempting. The only cause for concern is sea birds and as I fly over the arch, not under it, I made a wise choice… There were seagulls everywhere.

On shore the land is covered in cloud and 2 miles off shore there is an endless bank of fog. But the coast is clear and I’m blasting down it now with quite a tail wind.
I’ve been transferring fuel in little stages any time I can get more into the main tank. As this moves the CofG further forward the aircraft slows down, but it is nicer to fly and not so twitchy. That’s about all in the front tank now. I’ve pumped through the 40 litres.

At Jokulsarlon a lake has formed as the coast line is backed up by the sea. The lake is fed from Breioamerkur-Jokull and as the glacier breaks into the lake icebergs float off. They then follow the flow of the lake to the outlet but get blocked by its size and back up into the lake also. They main ring road ‘Highway 1’ passes over the river right next to where the icebergs float. It’s a great tourist spot and I can’t count the tourist coaches parked up there.

But now I’m not feeling so great, almost nauseas and disorientated. I’m not sure if its just tiredness, the lack of horizon, the continual requirements for pitch, role and yaw adjustments, but I’ve never suffered from this before. Maybe it is the smell of the venting avgas from the tank sitting next to me, but I have the fresh air vent blasting fresh air in my face? I don’t know but it’s not pleasant. I tried drinking a lot of water in case I was dehydrated. I think it helped.

As the sun rises cumulus cloud is now forming on land with some cumulorockus too embedded in there.

As I turn up the east coast fjords the see fog clears. The sun is out and altocumulus and upper cirrus is now the order of the day. But the altocumulus is only at the end of each fjord, so I can safely climb and fly over it as it is only in 5 mile wide bands.

The cloud clears completely further north and I get a clearer look at the mountains I nearly collided with when arriving in Iceland a few weeks ago and the fjord I couldn’t pass through. Strange, I could fly straight there today on my way to Egilsstadir but now I have to follow the coast again. I remember the path I took, but last time I was down at 300ft this time, at 3,000ft I feel a lot more comfortable.

I fly inland for the first time to head for my first refuelling stop. The wind is from the south so I can fly straight in for their runway 22 and I land 4:12 after taking off, some 45 minutes below my ETA, excellent.

As I pulled up to the taps I’m confronted by another ‘G’ registered aircraft, a CT microlight. The pilot is Ed McCallum. He has flown to Oshkosh, I had read about him and now he is on his way back… Well well well. He is in a rush. He asked me if I had any narrow escapes so far? “Yes.” I said. He replies that he had been down to 300ft crossing to Kulusuk twice due to weather fronts and is he mad? I would have to say “yes!” personally, I won’t fly through warm or cold fronts, especially on such a dangerous flight anyway. He jumps in and taxi’s off on his way to Wick Scotland. Wow! What a coincidence… I refuel and jump back in

I only need 32 litres to refill the main tank. I pay for the fuel with Jhoan. I know him well since chatting the last time I was here. No one can forget that quite yet…

Airborne again at 13:06, that was almost an hour on the ground. But chatting had been nice and I can easily get around today weather permitting and even though I’m trying to set a record, it does not warrant being hasty with people.

The north east of Iceland is quite flat really and the flight goes well before reaching the mountains around Akureyri. There is a strong southerly airflow now and I know its going to be rough flying downwind of the mountains before entering the Eyjafjord. Wow, as I round the final teeth jerking mountainside I’m confronted with a five mile long role cloud. It has no flat base, it’s just a cone of cloud spinning around and I’m not going to get anywhere near that severe turbulence. As the cloud narrows to a point I can see the end spinning. 

I approach Akureyri and I’m told to report ‘Down wind right hand for runway 01.’ That’s north, but I’ve just been flying into a strong southerly headwind. This will be landing down wind. But nope. I’ve heard of this before. You can have the wind blowing different ways on each end of the runways as the air masses converge over the airfield. I’m number three to land. You can’t miss The Foker 50 as it touches down but where is the new number one that I am to follow. I extend down wind. Oh it’s a tiny micro-light, no wonder I couldn’t see him down there. I landed at 3:34pm after 2:28 of flight, ahead of schedule again. Great.

I refuelled with 52 litres of fuel and made a sandwich, as I’ve not really eaten yet.

Ok, back in the air by 4.25pm with only another 2:30 hour flight. This is on. I can get round… Hum… My artificial horizon hasn’t erected. It sometimes does this if you run it back up before it stops completely, then it takes some time to re-gather its thoughts, but I was on the ground for about 40 minutes. It should have stopped completely. I can’t feel any rotation from the tired bearings on the glass front and it shows no life at all as I swing the aircraft around. Oh well…

Ok, around the Trollaskagi mountain range, across the Skaga-fjord. Layers of cloud again but no real worries. The Skagaheidi peninsula as flat, hardly above sea level about 30 miles long, 10 miles wide and there is cloud on the horizon. I can see across the peninsular at this height and the sun is shining on Hunafloi,a massive 40 mile wide expanse of sea that separates Iceland from the North West Fjords, the most spectacular apparently. They must be pretty impressive as what I have seen so far is pretty good.

I’m diving down now as an unbelievably straight line of cloud is rolling in as far as I can see. Down at 500ft, dam this isn’t cloud, it’s a fog bank the likes I have never seen. It has a wall which is as straight as a die each way out of site and it is heading inland. I’ve got to get around the peninsular before it engulfs it. No worries, I am but 3 miles from the top, then I can turn west for some 8 miles and can head south again away from the fog bank. I fly into the fog at Skgata point. The sun is still shining on the sea inland on the other side of the flat peninsular. I just need to get around the headland at Selvikurtangi and I’ll be ok. I’m doing 130knots, pushing the engine like I said I wouldn’t, but it won’t be for long. I’ll soon be back out of the mist. Hang on, the visibility is getting worse. I turn Selvikurtangi, wave at the people outside the hotel at Hafoif, the only building on the peninsular, but now I can see down better than I can see ahead and I’m only at about 50ft. What is going on? This fog bank isn’t travelling at 120knots or I would be doing 250knots across the ground, but yet I’m loosing sight of the ground now. How can this be? Then it dawned… This fog isn’t travelling faster than I can fly, it’s being created, it is forming faster than I can fly… That’s bad news. I have no option an no artificial horizon either, but to pull up and aim for the sun and keep it in the dame place in the canopy. At a vertical speed of 120knots I pope dot of the fog in about 30 seconds of climbing. My god, it was miles ahead of me now!!! I headed south as quick as I could, sorry engine…

The fog bank slowed as it came up against the outflow off the highland area south of the Huna-fjord and I got ahead of it. I looked back at the North Eastern Fjord land, the mountains sticking out the cloud and fog. Dam dam dam dam dam!!!!

Scuppered again. Am I not allowed to achieve anything in life… I was getting close but no, it was taken away from me again. I circled around a few times…

Options, fly around the Fjordland using GPS to continue my around the coast attempt, hoping the fog may abate and not be covering my final fuel stop of Isafjordur or go home… Argh!

Home didn’t look too clever either, there was no way to fly direct on route, it was really black in land and high! Hum, I’ve got 2 hours of fuel left to do something.
I headed south anyway and up the Hruta-fjord. As I looked west it looked brighter out to sea... I’d rather fly over the sea than get caught out over land. The Fjordland aught to be causing a barrier to the poor weather coming down from the north. I’d go for it and I followed the road over the highlands to Budardalur, there was an airfield there I could put down on as well. It got a bit narrow and low but I was soon through to the ocean and the Breioa-fjord. Now to head south…The Snaefellsnes peninsular was in rain as far as I could see so there was no point in going around it. To the north the sun shone on a thousand islands and it looked beautiful but lets just go home and call it a day. Again through a valley toped by cloud, it looked brighter, so again I followed the road over the hills over the Heydalur pass and out over a lava flow to the sea. It was brighter and now I could hear and call Reykjavik as they were now in line of site. I called up the approach frequency and got my safety flight plan that was opened when leaving Akureyri to Isafjordur modified for a divert back to Reykjavik. It was quite clear now and I climbed back up to 2,000ft, which seemed quite high for the day. I was asked to call passing Akranes and to Squark 2127. My approach to Reykjavik would be via the VFR route 1 then following the coast for a left base for runway 13, the one I had took off from. I was back by 7.05pm… very very disappointed. That was possible if I only had the weather.

Ok so now it was time to check over the plane and load it up ready for the flight to Greenland. I’d flown 9:20 hours today. That would almost have seen me in Canada. Thurther turned up. I shook my head… He knew. I spent a few hours chatting to all the other pilots. Not that I needed to gain their respect, but hearing what I had tried to do certainly did. I was now seen as an equal fellow Icelandic pilot. The weather looked good tomorrow, but I had no working artificial horizon. It’s simply not safe to do what I’m doing without one. So I’m going no where till I can fix it.

Thought for the day: I’m deemed to not be allowed to complete anything. I had done some of my best flying, made the best decisions and done the hard bits, but the weather gods still took it all away.

Day 31. 22/July/2014   Horizontal attitude required.                              Day score 10.

I’m shattered. That took a lot out of me yesterday and I didn’t have a lot onboard. I took the A/H artificial horizon out of the plane and connected it to Gummy’s vacuum cleaner. Nothing worked, it was seized solid. Gummy set off to look at the back of his stores room. Low and behold, he only came out with another artificial, just like mine. He said I could have it. It had been taken out of a plane because it was unreliable. We ran it up on the vacuum. We both laughed as it sounded worse than mine a shook and vibrated like mad. But maybe some of the bits could be used to help fix mine. I took it apart, seriously apart. The rotating gyro centre drum was seized. I got into it through a little window and moved it with a screw driver. This sort of operation is done in a clean room with surgeon’s equipment and precession. Gummy and I were shoving it around with a screwdriver and spinning it by blasting it with an airline. It did free up though and I washed out the bearings and re-lubricated them. It seemed fine again? Success and I rebuilt it all and refitted it to the plane. I re-did the engine tappets and it all looked good again. I added 94 litres of fuel to what was onboard. The plane was ready for Greenland, but I wasn’t and neither was the weather. I remember going somewhere for a kip. Just too tired right now…

In the evening I started laying out individual sheets for the next 5 flight that would take me to Canada. There was not much point in going on from there as I was still uncertain of my route through Canada. I would ask some local pilots what was best if I got there. I knew I was going next to Kulusuk, east coast of Greenland about half way up, then a long flight to Narsarsaraq on the southern tip of Greenland and then up to the capital at Nuuk half way up the west coast. I then would cross to Iqaluit or Frobisher Bay, same place, different name. It was the local Inuit way of saying it or the English way.

From there I would probably go south west heading straight for Oshkosh and a place on Hudsen Bay called Puvirnituq, then due south to La Grande Riviere, part of a Hydro Electric dam supply airport and then a massive flight to Saunt Se Marie just over the border in America to clear customs and then another 3 hours to Oshkosh. Right… Tonight the only place I was going was to sleep. Via Wheel TV, if only to hear some English language.

Thought for the day: BBC entertainment digital channel are pumping out continual repeats of the Graham Norton show. They were fun to watch, just to remind me of how to laugh and joke. I can’t join in with the humour here as most of the jokes are said in Icelandic and don’t really translate very well. Except today they told me that the call Gummy, Grumpy, as he is always moaning and not smiling. I find him very humorous and indeed he is great for keeping all these egotistical pilots in their rightful place. There is a flight simulator set up in one of the briefing rooms and they all take it in turns to fly the biggest aircraft into the shortest, most difficult approach in Iceland, which is Isafajordur, the airfield I never got to. Gummy can do it every time…

Day 32. 23/July/2014   Lets go for a swim.                                             Day score 10.

Ground Hog day, its foggy and pissing down. It was bright and sunny yesterday evening… Everyone greets me with “Still here?” as a joke, but it’s not that funny. Lots of bad weather on route to Kulusuk today… More reports, planning and diary, if I can stay awake…

I toured more hangars today and saw some other great projects and workmanship from pilots who’s names I just wish I could remember. Anyway an elder, than the youth group of pilots, guy asked me if I had been swimming yet at one of the many famous outdoor swimming baths around Reykjavik. It’s another Icelandic custom which I have to admit to has missed and I could do with a swim. The gent, who often turned up in cycling gear and loved his riding, printed out a map of one of the local pools that was highly rated anyway. Tonight I would go, it was open till 10.30pm.

At 8pm I walked off with swimming gear in bag. It was but a twenty minute walk to the Vesturbaejarlaug pool. The air was cool, but brave it out and the pool was warm. I loved it. To stretch out and remove all aches and pains. I swam some 40 lengths before joining the local community in the hot thermal pools. Hot pools outside in the blustery evening sky. The steam being blown everywhere. I sat for about an hour amongst 100 locals all chatting about work, Tv, News. Since there were so many foreigners working in Reykjavik, half the conversations were in English. The pools were marked in different temperature, the steam room was unbearable after 3 minutes and I swam and bathed until everyone got up to leave just before 10.30pm. Still light of course. They had a little spin drying machine for your swimwear, that was cool. Completely refreshed, I walked back to the airfield. On the way back I grabbed food from the 10-11 store and some washing powder. I had spotted a washing machine in the hangar, it was time to see if it worked. I went back to an empty Geirfugl. Loaded up the washing machine and turned the water brown with some of my clothes… Good, and I could get a good night rest and sleep well.

Thought for the day: A relaxing day that I needed so much. The Geirfugl radiators are covered in my socks. It looks like a laundrette in here.

Day 33. 24/July/2014    Ground Hog day again…                                     Day score 1.

The weather looks good tomorrow, that’s all I have to say about today. Oh and my clothes now smell nice and fresh.

Thought for the day: This is beyond a joke. Oshkosh start in 4 days from now…

Day 34. 25/July/2014    Ground hog day day…                                         Day score 6.

Last night I took some pictures of Itzy in the midnight bright sky and drew a picture of my Kr2 with me in it saying thank you to Geirfugl on the white board in preparation for me to depart today. It looked ok and I have printed off all the necessary information of flight plans and plogs and airfield data sheets and maps. Come to this morning though and no. Fogged out…

Benni’s engine for his Pitts Model 12 has turned up. He wanted a hand lifting it in so Thurther and I went to have a look at the job. They had returned the engine, which looked resplendent in its new paint at 400 horse power. It was originally 360HP. That might not sound much more, but it’s 10% and is going to make the aircraft even more ballistic. Benni said three people was all it took to drop the engine out, yeah may be 3 people did drop it out onto the floor from a great distance, but us 3 couldn’t move it less lift it in. It wasn’t ready anyway. The magneto’s needed to come off and the fuel pump. We looked at what was needed and what tools would be needed as Benni had none and returned.

Gummy was away. He was always there. He was practising again to be the entertainment at a big important fly-in hosted by the Captains old and present of Atlantic Airways 757 fleet at their private holiday retreat airfield near Eyjafjalla-Jokul. There is a bass guitar hanging up on the wall and a guitar either side of the sofa and people come in plug them in and strum for pleasure. But now Gummy was playing bass, Darty - a young Cessna 170 pilot was lead vocals and guitar and Artley a young Focker 50 pilot on keyboards and Kristion a good friend and instructor at the club, who had helped me a lot, bashing the drums. The party, not to be missed, is at Hurka-dalsh-melar how I pronounced it but spelt Haukadelsmel. But I am going to miss it. The weather looks good tomorrow and I have to go. I can’t fly to Greenland on Sunday as all airfields in Greenland are closed on Sunday and Monday looks like Iceland will be blown further north in the Atlantic. The next chance would be Tuesday and that’s too late, I’ll never get to Oshkosh before it’s over. It starts Monday anyway. I’ve watched these guys practising for weeks now, everyone here is flying to the party and I will miss it. If I don’t, if I go, I’ll miss Oshkosh.

Thought for the day: Life is so bloody unfair… Oh well.

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 4:30 hours 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 decending 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.

Day 36. 27/July/2014    No title is fitting.          Haukadalsmel to Reykjavik  0:51hrs
                                                                         Reykjavik to Kulusuk 457 miles 3:28hrs
                                                                                                                      Day score 10.

Oh, I’ve a lot to do today, like get to Greenland. I was just thinking that not long ago I was whinging on about how unfair life was. Now I’d been to the party, do I get to eat my cake and keep it by getting to Kulusuk today?

Earlier morning, you could see for miles. A few photos then jump in. There was another runway that was slightly longer than the one I landed on. It didn’t have an volcanic ash bank at the end of it either. I took off easily within half the runway but with only an hour of fuel on board, I looped back around and flew low over the tent park. Bye Gummy and family and friends.

I had been told to fly towards Eyjafjalla-Jokul, the cinder cones and colours were supposed to be fantastic, and they were right. But with limited fuel I head back. At Pingvellir I took example of last nights flight and turned to fly low down the fault line, such fun but not really the fuel left to do that and headed back for Reykjavik.
The approach was ‘VFR route 2’ via the Fertilizer Factory and for runway 19. I’ve not done this route before and it takes you over the port and town before landing, I mean really low and I took photos up at the cathedral spire on top of the hill above the town on the approach, before concentrating on touch down.

Back at Geirfugl I couldn’t get in. It was all locked up. Not desperate yet but I lost an hour before one of the pilots turned up with a key. I used the hour to walk around to BIRK handling where Johann welcomed me and I filed my flight plan again for about the fifth time. Johann gave me a lift back over across the runways to Geirfugl and wanted to know how successful Gummy’s band was last night. He stayed for a while as I loaded up the plane once more and siphoned the fuel back into the tanks from the barrels I had used last night. With the plane all ready, I topped up with another 38 litres of fuel in the main tank. I had 140 litres on board or enough fuel for 7 hours of flight.

With everything ready, I said a fond farewell to Geirfugl, is this me breaking Ground Hog day? The weather tomorrow looked awful.

I taxied over to BIRK with the plane. Johann had printed out the latest weather. The French couple did land there yesterday, stayed an hour and then came back? I was running out of reasons not to go. Johann came out and we took each others photos by the plane. I put on all my survival gear, shook his hand and thanked him again as once more, there was nothing to pay and I think it is quite a lot.

I climbed in started up the engine and was told by the ground frequency to taxi out and hold short of runway 31. My heading to Kulusuk was about 31 and after correctly changing to the tower frequency I was cleared to line up and take off.

Wow, Itzy was heavy. Climb rate of only 600ft per minute and then less as I turned the climb into a cruise climb to keep the engine cool. The GPS said 452 miles to go. I normally put on two GoPro Cameras and film a lot, but not today. I just wanted to concentrate on ‘am I making the right decisions?’

I was handed over to Keflavik control as I pasted by their airfield. They were busy but let me fly through their departure route. Somebody was getting a roasting as they requested a decent below cloud. Apparently they had planned a VFR flight plan and shouldn’t have been above cloud. But we have all been there, so I can’t say too much. I couldn’t climb more than 4,000 ft due to cloud. Strangely for the first 40 minutes the North West Fjordland was quite close of the starboard wing until it passed behind and out of sight. At FIR boundary I was wished ‘Good Luck’ by Keflavik and handed over to Iceland Radio on 127.85. This frequency was where all the cross Atlantic travelling commercial traffic communicated their wished to change flight levels for clear air turbulence avoidance some 30,000 feet above. When out of radio range I relayed position reports every 30 minutes with KLM 47, N65LJ and Speedbird 47Alpha. As soon as I can I transfer all the fuel from the ferry tank to the main tank. Failure of the pump or any reason why I couldn’t transfer the fuel, I need to know about as soon as possible to make a decision. Two hours into the flight and I still have a full main tank. It’s a good feeling.

Basically I just sit there, using the fuel dipping stick for the reserve tank to push on the right pedal once in a while to give my aching foot a rest. The plane needs more right thrust on the engine, I didn’t have time to sort it out before I left, so I need to push quite hard on the right ruder pedal all the time to keep the aircraft flying straight. Or fit a rudder trim tab, which I haven’t done yet either.

That’s an iceberg… My first. Just sitting there as a white dot amongst a view of blue. There isn’t much horizon. It’s just all blue. Oh talking of horizons. I seemed to have fixed it, it seems to be working perfectly again now. The engine is running too cool though. Oil temperature of 70 when it should be 85 and cylinder head temperatures of 85 when they should be 125. On a hot day I can take the cylinders to 225, so they are really cold. Still hot enough to burn you though. But its all relative.

What could I say? I could bore you with how boring flying over the sea is. A ship, I can sea a ship and another iceberg. Then another hour of nothing. Still cloud above and still at 4,000ft. I would like to go higher but I can’t. Relaying your position report is not easy. The airline pilots don’t obviously do it that often and struggle to understand or hear what you are telling them, but its good to talk to someone to know there is still life out there.

Oh heck. Fog banks. My worst fear. They don’t look too big though and I think I can see over them. Now low cloud and I’ll have to go over it. There is 80 miles to run, I’ve had a good 15knot tail wind and I’m almost an hour now ahead of schedule. The fog clears, now why? Is that a different air mass influenced by near by coast? Yes that’s land, that’s snow and black rock on the horizon. I turn to Kulusuk radio and they can hear me just about. The east coast of Greenland is pretty straight, with one kink in it half way down. The island of Kulusuk lies at that kink. So I can see the east coast when still 40 miles out. I head for it and then fly down the coast, thinking if the engine cuts at least I won’t drown now.

An Air Iceland Focker 50 calls engine start up. Soon after he asks for taxi clearance as I’m now 10 miles north east. I state that I will fly around to the south and 5 miles off shore so the Focker can take off without me getting in the way. The mountain next to the runway is 2,500 straight up, it’s an old volcano so as yet I still haven’t seen the runway. What can I say? White ice, blue-grey glaciers, blue-white water, black rock, little red, yellow, green and blue painted huts and a rocky approach to a gravel strip. I see the runway as I round the headland as the Focker is climbing away and I’m told the runway is clear. This is Kulusuk radio, the controller does not have authority to issue clearances, its all at the pilot’s discretion and I touch down onto the loose gravel and bring Itzy to a slow halt. I turn around and taxi back in and pull up into a strong wind in front of the airport.

Relieved, I’m in Greenland. I’d like to say that was fun, but it was not. None of this over-water flying has been.

I shake hands with the guys who walk out and see about refuelling the plane straight away. I only needed 50 litres of fuel to refill the main tank and put 40 in the reserve tank. The next flight is shorter so I estimate for 6 hours endurance for a 4 hour flight. The flight time today was only 3:28 hours. It’s gone so well. I wasn’t looking forward to this flight but it’s gone so well.

Something dripped of the bottom of the cowls. It was oil! I can see it soaking into the gravel. I took a look under the cowls. Lots of oil, all the way down to the back of the aircraft. What the xxxx! I took the cowls off to find the oil cooler covered in oil. The oil cooler had cracked at one of the two fittings. It could have only just happened, loosing that much oil, there isn’t that much in the engine. At that rate of loss, it would have emptied the sump in about 10 minutes. The engine would then run out of oil and seize solid and that would have been the end of the plane and probably me…

Shock hit again. For once I thought I’d had an extremely good flight when really I’m lucky to be standing here wiping oil off everything. I mean it’s unlucky that the cooler decided to crack after 780 hours of use, but lucky that it only just happened.

I’m really quite fed up with these types of things happening to me.

There is nothing for it, I’ll have to run the engine without the oil cooler. Its not needed now anyway as the air temperature is too cold. It took about half an hour to remove the cooler, very easy to remove the oil filter, remove the take off pipe fitting and refit the oil filter and unbolt the cooler and drain the oil and put it into a bag. The airfield and surrounding country rock is littered with rubbish and bags and I grab a few to clear the place up, put the oily rags in and generally tidy up. With Itzy ready to go again, I walk into the terminal building and climb the stairs to the control tower and meet Jacob, the guy I had spoken to on the phone yesterday. I can pay for all the fuel and fees tomorrow. He asks if I want the van to pick me up to take me to the hotel. I already know the hotel costs $350 a night for a naff room, so I say no and that I’ll pitch my tent. This seems to piss him off a bit and he gives me the number of the hotel in case I should change my mind.

So I grab Fredypig, my long term travel companion and mascot and set off to walk to the town as such which is a 2 mile walk.

Wow, the bleakness and abruptness of the scenery and ice and rock and water and rubbish are outstanding…

I hold Fredy close. My poor brain is even more fried.

I walked along a dusty track, the only way to town and follow pipes and rusty cables and junk and litter. Past the scruffy hotel and two cemeteries, a small glacier, and a pack of dogs before arriving in town.

Town is dominated by the big oil tank that’s keeping everyone from freezing. Small boats are running in-between the floating icebergs in the bay between this Island and the mainland. My goodness, this place is falling apart. One out of three building is derelict. True Inuit looking people arrive in the boat. A 25 foot speed boat with a hood and an outboard motor that could be parked up in a Miami marina. They refuel it by dragging a 100 litre container of pink stuff, so heavy with two people lifting it that the boat almost capsizes, till they can poor or spill most of it into some tank, before putting back on the quayside. They then fit a family or two onboard, gran, mother and children, pull back, turn around and speed off.

They seem to burry people in what might have been their back garden as there are white crosses everywhere. Another pack of, argh they are huskies. And there is the sleigh. So it’s true, they still do use sleigh dogs and skidoo’s and quadbikes!

If you looked at this place from afar, you would think its idyllic, picture postcard sort of stuff. Look closely and it’s buggered. People paid good money to come here for day trips from Iceland. I bet they all go back very disappointed. Not that they would admit it after paying so much money for a few hours day trip. And they mostly take rides on the speedboats through the icebergs to the glacier head to watch it collapse in as you can hear it periodically doing. It is a site to see, but the locals who waved merrily as if I was another tourist paying for their existence paying $350 at the hotel, as if I was their best friend. Truth be told, I wasn’t. You could easily clean the place up a bit as it wasn’t that big a town. But talk about pollution and degradation. Also the RSPCA would have a thing or two to say about the condition the dogs were not kept in, chained up everywhere and half starving. I just kept walking around thinking “What a shame”. I climbed to the highest point, past the only home with real money, well he had the biggest satellite dish.

I could hear a helicopter approaching. It was the bright red Icelandic search and rescue helicopter that Siggi flew. He did say they were flying over here yesterday. They were helping an American team of service men as they repatriated apparently the last of the military pilots who crashed into the glacier during the war. The Americans have this saying of “Never leave any behind!” So ever since the war ended they have been trying to find all the crash sights and bring back the bodies. These were the last of many apparently.

I’d read stories about aircraft just flying into the ice on many occasions. It’s high and flat up there, but so dazzling that you can’t make out any features, so you can’t tell how high you are from it. There is just no depth perception. People think it is cloud and just fly into it. I heard and saw pictures of a Piper Senica, a light twin. He had been flying along on a ferry flight, heard a terrific noise and commotion from underneath his aircraft and pulled up and it went quiet again. When he landed, he found all his propeller blades were bent. He had unknowingly flown so low to the ice that, without his undercarriage being down, the propeller tips were the lowest thing sticking out the bottom of the plane and they had been hitting the 10,500 foot icecap.

I waved but they didn’t see me. You couldn’t walk where ever you wanted to in case you disturbed a pack of Huskies, as people were and they all started barking all over town until their owners ventured out of their wooden shacks and shouted at them to shut up I suppose in Inuit.

So not really fitting in here, I despondently walked back to the plane, got back in and went to sleep. It was quite late and I was bushed and couldn’t be bothered to put the tent up. My KR2 is surprisingly comfortable if you lift the rudder pedals up out the way you can stretch out and you can rest your head on the fuel tank. But sleep wasn’t that easy as you kept hearing the booms of falling ice as some more fell off the near by glacier and fell into the sea.

Thought for the day: I waited to get here for so long and was disappointed that I’m now in a rush and need to go through Greenland quite quickly and didn’t have the time I wanted to spend here. I envisaged spending a week here and getting to know the locals as no one gets here easily and I’ll doubt if I’ll come back this way again any time soon. Now I’m here, I can’t wait to leave.

Day 37. 28/July/2014  What best flight? Kulusuk to Narsarsuaq  431 miles 3:40 hrs                                                                              
                                                                                                               Day score 10.

Oshkosh starts today and I’m 3,075 miles away still. What hope? If you were a betting person, you wouldn’t back me to make it…

I can’t deny, long summer sun or not, with all the ice around, it wasn’t warm. As soon as the airport was open I went in to warm up. In the control tower Jacob welcomed me and had prepared the weather report. I only needed one piece of paper but got about 20 and then he insisted I phoned the weather guy, who was the other side of the country to tell me what I already knew. Poor Iceland, that was a lucky escape, but the deep weather depression over Iceland created a southerly wind here, which might help me quite a bit today. There was a little occluded front 50 miles to the south of Narsarsuaq, but it was allegedly not to get closer. I filed the flight plan, thanked Jacob and set off to pay for the fuel and fees downstairs with Mittarfeqarfiit, the company that runs Greenland’s airports.

“That’s $459.50 sir.” “How much?” “$459.50” I was sure he had made a mistake. I asked this little Inuit guy, “Erm can I have a break down of the costs please?” He said “No you can not and pay now quickly. I have other aircraft to see.” That’s the first time I think anyone has been rude to me since I left England 37 days ago. “Well do I get a receipt?” The guy stormed off to his back office and produced a piece of paper.

I paid on my credit card and walked back to the plane. There were two “N” or American registered, gas turbine powered Piper Malibu’s just arriving. They had six French guys on board of each. They were heading for Oshkosh. I spoke to them in French until they soon realised that there English was a lot better than my French. There next stop was Iqaluit in Canada and then Sault Se Marie in America to clear customs as there was no customs clearance at Oshkosh. The place is just too busy with people and planes for customs to want to traipse round. I wished them “Bon Voyage!” still.

I had a little money left over from Vagar, it was Danish and would work here, so even though my flight plan take off time was imminent, I rushed back to the arrivals lounge to buy some postcards and I bought a little husky dog and polar bear key rings. A Focker 50 arrived with two female pilots on board. It was a shame Bjarki was not flying this route today… The passengers were being escorted to the Hotel bus but since it only held about 10, the other 20 passengers set off by foot like I did down the dusty track and over the hills to the town. I hoped they would not be as disappointed as I was. I wanted to have a quick look in the departure lounge and the shop keeper let me through his shop instead of going through the security gates. The reason for this is that a polar bear had ventured on to the runway last year and they had shot it and the skin was hanging up on the departure lounge wall. So it was. Why they had to kill it I don’t know but still. There was a little bit about the history of Kulusuk airport and pictures of operating in winter where they had piled the snow up 30 ft or 10 meters to jeep the runway clear. There were pictures of aircraft taxing and taking off from the runway with only the top of the fin visible. There was also a “Thank you!” plaque and poster from the crew of ‘Glacier Girl’ a ‘38 Lightning’ twin engined fighter from WW2. Six of them and a liberator were on transit to the UK during the war, but they got blown off course with bad weather and ran out of fuel, so they all decided to land on the ice cap one after the other. The pilots all survived and were rescued, but the planes got covered in Ice and snow. They are worth a bit by now! So a few years ago, they were all found 365 feet below the surface with radar. A crew melted there way down to them but I believe only one aircraft was worthy of rescue and they took it apart 360 feet below the surface and pulled it out. It got rebuilt and is flying today and they called it “Glacier Girl”. Most American aircraft crew during the war called their aircraft something and painted or decorated the nose of the aircraft accordingly. Interesting, but it was time to go.

I jumped in Itzy and taxied down to the far end of runway 29. This was up hill and into wind. Hum a slight headwind on track was not good, but we would see. As I turned round, trying to get the base camera to record through my phone’s wifi system, on the loose gravel I got close to the runway end lights and clonk, I knocked one of them over a bit. Dam. The plane felt ok. I wasn’t going to stop anyway. They could use the $500 I paid them to put it back up if needed.

I took off easily with the cold air helping power from the engine and creating lift, and climbed out over the town. Undeniably beautiful! That combination of colours and extreme rock formations. But I had something else to look at. The rapidly rising oil temperature. I didn’t think the oil cooler made much of a difference. I was wrong. I had to throttle back and cruise climb. The cylinder heads were at 105 degrees Celsius, but so was the oil.

A direct route took me out to sea, but I was still high enough to glide back to shore. The best option would be to ditch in a lake on top of some of the surrounding, not so vertical hills. I’d be soon on dry land.

The ski was clear and the sun burning. I covered my nose with a bit of white bodge tape, having no sun screen and my white hat I use to keep my head cool under the canopy didn’t reach to prevent the sun on my nose.

Again I say once more. This is and was going to be the most beautiful flight I’d make. Watching the glaciers swirl down, like melting soft whip ice-cream off a cone, following the curves they cut into the mountainsides before breaking off into the sea. There was indeed no way of ditching close to the shore due to the car sized icebergs covering the shore line area. The bigger ones seemed to float away. You could see the flow of water as it swirled around these gentle giants. They can weigh millions of tonnes, so the flow of North Atlantic drift swirled fast around them and downstream as the icebergs slowly accelerated up to speed and floated out to sea.

I wanted to turn and look all the time. This flight was going too fast, yet I wanted it to be over because it’s just so dangerous. The oil temp came down a little but I was now at 7,000ft and the outside air temperature was minus 12. I also had the nausea feeling again. Keeping flying Itzy straight and level when your head is spinning was not easy. I’m not sure if it is the sensation of flying, the fumes from the fuel, being dehydrated, being just ill, tiredness or the smell from the bodge tape glue that’s stuck to my nose. Its not the lack of horizon as there is a clear one today. Ice is white sky is blue. I forced myself to drink almost frozen water. It must be cold in here, I have no heating, but I’m in my thermal layers inside my immersion suit, so I’m relatively warm. The water helps a little.

My direct route took me on land now and over the ice cap. Siggi had told me to do this. Apparently, at the southern tip of Greenland there are two mountainous rocky areas that protrude through the ice cap and can be seen many many miles away. If you fly between them, that is the start of a major glacier that flows for about 40 miles but leads directly to Narsarsuaq airfield. If you follow the coast around the bottom of the ice cap, you then have to fly inland through the fjords to find the airfield and many people had taken the wrong turning in the maze of valleys and disappeared. I would do as Siggi suggested, but that required climbing to 8,000 ft. I’d transferred all the fuel by now and still had 3 hours left, with only 180 miles to go.

Picking out how high you were is not easy. Trying to look at the most crazed part of the ice for some type of visual reference, its whizzing past the wing quite quickly. But how high is that. It could be 5,000ft it could be 500ft. No wonder people crash. I thought it best to climb to 9,000ft. Better safe than sorry. But that’s not ice down there anymore. That looks like mist, then fog and then cloud with little cumulous tops. Well I’m several thousand feet above the cloud, so lets continue on and hope the cloud brakes before Narsarsuaq.

There are more than just two sets of rocky outcrops. The GPS is telling me the way. The compass is all but useless being this close to the North Pole without me realigning it. It still thinks it’s in Britain.

Only 50 miles away now. Nothing has been heard or said on the radio for a while since I relayed my last estimate for Narsarsuaq at 16.45 zulu or GMT via N3RD.

The cloud ends, the cloud definitely ends. Even if I have to go out to sea, descend and come back in under it, the cloud definitely ends.

I call up Narsarsuaq radio and he responds loud and clear. I fly between the two outcrops of rock and I can see the airport, through gaps in the cloud I can see the airport and the glacier running down to it. Now only 20 miles away and I’m still at 9,000ft with a cold engine, if I power back and descend to quickly I’m going to super chill the engine and it won’t like that. Narsarsuaq radio call, “Golf Bravo Yankee Lima Pappa, the runway is clear, you are free to land at your discretion.” But it’s going to take me 15 minutes to come down slowly from this height. I tell them that I’m going to stay 10 minutes to the north, just to recalibrate an engine control. This confuses them and they don’t object.

I drop down below the clouds with the glacier valley below. I then descend in the valley itself, it is so wide, looking up at vertical black rock with the glacier still thousands of feet below. At 2,000 feet I start my approach, the engine is no cooler but no warmer either. I have to side slip and drop still further to get on the correct glide slope but call 2 miles finals and get the runway clear message again back.

I flare to touch down, but there is quite a slope down towards the sea on their 25 runway and it takes me half the massive 1.2 mile 1,800 meter runway to bring Itzy to a halt. A short back taxi and I exit at Bravo to pull up next to a Cessna Citation or Mustang, the only other aircraft being an amphibian little flying boat.

I shutdown the engine as the refuelling guys turn up. Its only a 3 hour flight back up to the capital of Nuuk where I would like to stay tonight, so I only top up the main tank with 42 litres of fuel. I have a look at around the aircraft to see if I damaged it when running over the light at Kulusuk. Oh yeah, it hit the wheel spat and marked the aileron, but nothing much.

Helicopters arrive, Bell 242’s I think of Air Greenland, with the two blades whopping and chopping at the air loudly. They are American and date back to the Korean war. I’m sure these don’t but as they land and their blades come to a halt, all sorts of people jump out from the sliding doors. Business men, back packers, Inuit family. Its how they get to the near by villages that don’t have runways, and they are busy, as new passengers climb on board and they wind back up and depart pronto.

An Air Greenland Dash 8 turns up in the same red and white livery as the helicopters. Loads of people jump off that and again, every type of person.

I head in to the control tower. On the second set of doors is a famous sight. The doors are plastered, without room for any more stickers of all the aircraft that have been through Narsarsuaq. It is the main stop off for Trans Atlantic Flight of virtually all small aircraft and quite a few large ones too.  If I had a sticker saying KR2 Worldtour, I’d have found some space. Coventry Atlantic Group sticker is there, next to the Ratheon sticker and some Air Squadron from where I have no idea.

The stickers and business cards continue up the stairs to above the office desks. I ask if I can pay for the fuel now and it is agreed. Fuel with landing costs, $420.38. Wow… I ask again if this is correct and the lady produces very politely the data sheet of charges and indeed it is all correct.

I rise to the tower and meet Hens, Kesper, Alex and a well spoken Semion.

I group of joggers goes by the one and only road in town past the airport. Apparently the king and queen arrive here tomorrow. Their royal yacht and accompanying naval frigate are in the harbour and that is the ships crew trying to keep fit. Some of them had failed seemingly.

Because the airfields close so early in Greenland, then there was no chance of arriving in time in Nuuk, so here I would stay. Ok, not so good, but it could not be helped.

I walk back down to the plane and start checking things over. It is quite warm and pleasant and I strip to a smelly T’shirt for the first time in months. Taking the cowls off, wow… The engine has breathed a lot of oil into the collector bottle. What is in there is indicative of normally 20 hours of flight. That was only 3. I put it back in the engine, its good oil, it’s just been breathed out. Then I wish I hadn’t as a lot of water has collected in the bottom and pours in to the engine filler as well...

An old long grey haired guy walks out towards me. I wave and say high. He explains that he has to move his amphibian aircraft as apparently it’s in the way. I tell him it’s not in my way and he barks on about how ridiculous things are getting here. This seems interesting and I ask some more. The guy is from South Africa, lived in England, came up here, loved the freedom and stayed. Yet his says the freedom is no longer here and that the bureaucrats are invading with their stupid rules. I try to appease him by explaining that it’s the same everywhere. He agrees, but it still miff’s him. I ask if he need a hand, but he says he’s ok. Not long after the Amphibian fires up and taxies around to the back of the Air Greenland hangar. He walked back and we continued the banter of two clever chaps who have seen a bit of the world. His phone rings and he answers it. He tells me that there is a phone call for me upstairs. I tell him it can’t be important. It can only be for something I have done wrong, so it can wait. We chat for another 10 mins having a laugh until his phone rings again and he tells me, you better go and ring this number. We walk inside, shake hands and he disappears.

Back in the offices I am led to a phone. Maybe I climbed into controlled airspace as I did climb to 9,500ft, but it is explained that controlled airspace doesn’t start till 19,500 feet, 10,000ft higher in Greenland. Ok, it wasn’t that then. I dial the number and it is Jacob on the phone. He explains that they notice that one of the runway end lights has been knocked down, but his voice seems even weirder, as if that’s not the issue. I thought I’d say I didn’t notice anything. He then said “Look Colin, you were rude to the gentleman who you needed to pay. We don’t like your attitude!” I interrupted him and told Jacob that he had been very short with me when I enquired about the price. Jacob replied that this was not his version of events. I replied “Well it wouldn’t be would it!” Jacob then said “Colin, we are telling you that we don’t like you and you are not welcome here again!” Wow! I thought I would apologise for my behaviour, not that I thought I needed to and just for the sake of it and with little else coming back, I said “Goodbye.” and put the phone down. How weird?

I walked out through the arrivals lounge about 4pm local and grabbed a map of the town. I walk along to the Narsarsuaq Museum. I look at the daunting closed state of the wooden huts, but people pass by and go in, so I join them. They walk down a wooden hallway, but past the museum entrance. It was so many Kronna, $5 USD or €4 to enter. I have $5 and place it in a box and rip off a ticket.

Is this going to be worth it I wonder and yes it is! The displays show ancient history of who was here first but then soon enters into the airports history. It was set up by us Brits again for the war effort but soon the American’s turned up and turned it into a huge air force base. At one point, waiting for weather they had over 120 aircraft parked up outside waiting to go and help with the repatriation of Europe. There are countless photos of the war effort. The first year what they had built got blown away in a storm, so when they returned they returned with vigour and built up some impressive facilities. The director came to close up but said I could stay a little longer, I asked if that would be ok, because it was my only chance to take it all in.

Ok, next down the road to the harbour. I had put my running shoes on, just to get out of my boots for a change and jogged down to the generating station. How ever well silenced it was, it just stood there in a converted military workshop, thumping away. The icebergs in the bay were impressive, there was one which had almost split in two and as the sun reflected between the two halves on the water, it was very photogenic.

The naval frigate was manoeuvring out in the bay and its Lynx helicopter kept buzzing around it. Some of the guys of the royal yacht were enjoying some fishing and you could get close to the yacht in the tiny quayside or harbour. It impressed me that the whole airport and facilities had been brought in once upon a time through this one and only war time quay.

That was one end of town now back to the other. Past massive tanks with Jet A1, Avgas and Heavy Oil written on them. Top end of town sort of fizzles out so I decided to climb the adjoining hillside. It’s about 800ft high and the buzzards had been soaring it earlier in the day. The path around the back fizzled out to, but I made it to the old radio station on top then eventually worked to get close at the top to the near vertical face and I can look down on Itzy. To the left is the naval ship still going around and around the icebergs, the runway and old dispersal areas, now much more understood from the museum photos ahead and to the right the valley with the glacier winding or sliding, more correctly, down it.

I run back down and come out near the airport. I go back to Itzy to prepare him for tomorrow. Locals keep turning up to take pictures through the fence and tourist walk aimlessly up and down the road as there is nothing else to do or see.

I was actually quite comfortable last night and just decide to sleep in the plane once more. It just saves a lot of hassle.

Thought for the day: That’s really annoyed me that call from Jacob. Obviously they are so desperate to exist there and need the money. I come through not, wanting to pay extortionate rates for a hotel or for none existent handling. The fuel price was much higher than normal. That was the first time anyone has been short with me and I get told off for it… Ok, I’ve done some maths. The fuel was £3.25 a litre instead of £2.00 at home. Handling was £94.60, parking overnight £16.40 and a departure fee of £32.30… So I suppose the prices are not that extortionate and it’s consistent at all the airfields in Greenland. So maybe I was rude to ask for this break down of the costs, but still. What a lame threat! “Colin you are not welcome here again!” Why the hell would anyone want to return???

Day 38. 29/July/2014   More hot water?      Narsaruaq to Nuuk   319 miles  3:09 hrs
                  All I want is one good flight!       Nuuk to Iqaluit         477 miles  4:30 hrs
A flight too far!     Iqaluit to Iqaluit            0 miles  0:44 hrs
                                                                             Day score 10.

The sun woke me. A long way to go today. I walked into the terminal building but only the cleaners were here. The airport was supposed to open at 7am  local, but people don’t turn up till about 8am. This has given me good time to study maps and charts that countless ferry pilots and global travellers have looked over. This is like history. Not many people have been here and done this. I’ve not had any aviation maps of Greenland, just printed a few things off while at Geirfugl, but maps are quite useless here really, there are no roads or towns and the depiction of the glaciers on their actual maps is poor.

Semion turns up and he has a go at filing my flight plan and getting the weather. Its not his job but he says the office staff were pretty bad at time keeping and might not turn up for another hour. He advises to route via Paamuit, a town with an airfield about 80 miles up the coast and Frederikshaab 130 miles up the coast. I agree and it’s placed on the flight plan that he files. With this I thank him and walk out to the plane.

I fire up Itzy but close down again when two helicopters approach and I know where they will land is close to where I’m going to taxi. With the helicopter both winding down, I fire up Itzy and back track a clear 25 runway. Take off is swift down hill and I climb out straight ahead, over the ridge on the far side of the bay and down a 50 mile fjord towards the open sea. This wasn’t really on route but not wanting to overheat the oil I had to climb slowly and eventually climb above the fjord walls and then turn north sort of on track.

I was supposed to change to Sonderstrom control but no one could raise it and there were a lot of pilots thinking their radios were unserviceable and calling Narsarsuaq to check. Narsarsuaq confirmed that there had been a major systems failure further north and there were a lot of communications down. Brill! The GPS was saying 5:30 hours still and I only put 4 hours of fuel on board. I kept climbing and turning around the main glacier and fjords and as I turned to actually head straight for Nuuk, the GPS came down to 3:10 hours. Ok. I was still climbing so when I went into cruise mode I would gain another 10 knots and shave another half an hour of that time. Hum a lot of low cloud and fog out there as the cool air came off the glacier and interacted with the cool but I suppose relatively warm air around the coast.

I kept calling back to Narsarsuaq every 15 minutes until I was closer to Paamiut than Narsarsuaq and said goodbye to Semion and called Paamuit. They knew of the communications fault and I stayed with them till about 80 miles north of their airfield.

Hum, the glacier no spills down to what looked like a sandy beach. I could land on the beach I suppose now. I’m not going to keep repeating how stunning the view was out the window as I flew through mountain passes as high as Itzy before the ground lowered and levelled off approaching Nuuk. 

Only 40 miles out I could hear Nuuk but they couldn’t hear me. The airfield was on the other side of a mountain range again though, and I wasn’t too worried. In clear contact 25 miles out and having learnt my lesson of not descending early enough, this time I was down at approach height early and applying power which kept the engine warm. Nuuk airfield is built on the side of a hill with each end of the runway extended by building it on a man made headland that rises straight out the sea. You wouldn’t want to be too low on approach or too high as I was because it’s quite short.

I was cleared to land and dropped in. What an approach though. I back tracked the runway and taxied in as two Dash 8’s were running up and wanting to come out. I went and hid Itzy by the corner nearest the terminal so they could taxi past.

There is a maintenance base at Nuuk for Air Greenland and you could see workers downing tools and heading out to take a look at the plane. Nothing like Itzy had ever been to Nuuk before. The mosquitoes were bad.

Spitting them and whipping them from eye, ear and mouth I got Itzy refuelled. I put 100 litres on board enough for 7 hours of flight with what was left.

To escape the mosquitoes everyone departed after photos were taken and I headed up to the control tower. Inside the terminal there was a little kiosk, just closing up. I bought two bottles of coke and one of each type of chocolate bar she had. Not able to carry everything I hid the drinks behind a sign.

Up in the control tower I filed the flight plan and paid the fees. $679.40 or £454.00. Ouch… I can’t keep affording that. I hope its cheaper in Canada if or when I get there. The weather was fine on route, really fine as in nothing. Not a cloud between here and Iqaluit. Wow…

There was a problem filing the flight plan. They had to phone it through as the computer system communications was down still. Ok, well there was nothing for it but to pick up my bottles of coke, get in and go. I’m not advertising or doing product placement there, it was just the best thing they had for staying awake. I’m shattered and I might need the caffeine to keep me going later. I did check the oil level and put in another half litres or so.

I lined up on their 05 runway and took off. This was good news as that meant a tail wind, but there was hardly and wind at all.

This is the flight I admit to dreading the most. 477 miles of the coldest water, not much with respect to search helicopters and the coldest water, it was about 2 degrees Celsius.

If the engine quit on this flight in the middle of the water, I was in trouble. How did I prepare for it? Head in the sand, because I think if you really stopped and thought about it, you wouldn’t go.

The GPS said 510 miles by the time I turned around and headed out to sea. What was the technique here, to push the engine hard while the oil was cold, to try and climb to a cooler air mass and then throttle back or just steadily climb and watch the temps rise. I had got fed up of watching the warning light come on so I raised the alert figure higher. I could see it was hot, I didn’t need a flashing red light telling me…

Before the radio went out of range I asked Nuuk, “You have started my flight plan haven’t you and you have informed Iqaluit that I’m coming?” They said “Yes!”, even though they had to phone Sonderstrom and sonderstrom had phoned Iqaluit. I wanted to make sure the Canadians knew I was coming and by when. This was in case I didn’t turn up on time, then they may come and look for me? Or at least the Canadians would. Its strange how the radio just drops out quite suddenly. One minute they can hear you, five minutes later and gone…

At 105 miles out I could change to Gandar Oceanic CTA  Control Area or FIR Flight Information Region. It didn’t matter where I was, I couldn’t get anyone on the radio…

I would be very bored if I wasn’t so terrified, listening to every different harmonic or note in the engine. Moving from one bum cheek to the next to make sure I didn’t get a blood clot. Also using the extra tank dipstick as a pushrod to allow my right foot a rest once in a while. I plugged in my phone to the audio input jack of the intercom. I could now play music in my headphones. It was very helpful to listen to music instead of the engine all the time. If the engine was going to stop, it was going to stop. There was nothing I could do about it but monitor temperatures and pressures anyway. So the music really helped.

All the fuel was in the main tank by half way. It gave me something to do. At half way 255 miles to go, the GPS moving map didn’t have any land. It just said Baffin Bay. I drank the coke every time I yawned. There was nothing out there, just sea. I never saw a ship, I couldn’t raise anyone on any frequency that I had for Gander or Montreal FIR or Canadian Northern Control. I just sat there bricking myself. Imagining and running through emergency procedures. I had my life insurance around my neck in the form of a personal locator beacon. I had another and a spare radio in water tight bags in the bag where all my teddy bears had been since leaving Iceland. There they had to stay, if I was fished out the water I would bring the bag with me. I would refuse to eave without it or them. I had stored all the photos and diary and logger files on the stand alone remote dick which now sat in my hoody pocket inside my immersion suit. The laptop was not in a water tight bag and would be ruined by sea water loosing everything I had. Your life is on a disk now… Mine was on two.

100 miles out and the radio springs into life. It’s a Canadian voice… They can’t hear me but it’s good to hear a voice. Hum. I might not drown now. They have helicopters that can get out here… 80 miles. Iqaluit is 50 miles in land, so the coast may come out the gloom soon. I’m 8,000 feet up. I could almost glide to the coast. The cylinder heads are being warmed by the oil and the oil cooled by the cylinder heads. Not the way around it should be, but all is stable at 95 degrees Celsius.

There is the coast, there it is, there out the gloom and quite close. Oh I could definitely glide there. The radio is clear now and I call Iqaluit. “Iqaluit G-BYLP 50 miles east flight level 80 inbound estimating 20.45 zulu!” “Aircraft calling say you registration again?” I always get that… “Golf Bravo Yankee Lima Papa.” No one can ever work out it’s a British plane. “OK, Golf Papa Lima, what is your aircraft type?” They should know that, it’s on the flight plan. My heart sank… What I thought was going to be my best flight. The one I feared that had gone so well, I’d made it I was on decent with 40 miles to go and they haven’t got my flight plan. “OK Bravo Papa, we’re just looking for your flight plan.” No need guys, they never sent it… “You might like checking under VFR flights. Sometimes they get missed?” I replied in hope, but I know what has happened. I’ve paid several hundred dollars for someone in Greenland not to do his job. Even though I asked them and they said they had… Well I’m not going back but, they whole idea of the flight plan is safety. I’ve just done one of the most dangerous sea crossings because of the temperature and exposure, and they never knew I was coming. I can’t express how sad I felt, tearful again actually. Why does nothing ever go well? Why?

There was Iqaluit, a big airbase looming into view. I was lining up for a left base for runway 16. An American Airforce Hercules C140 lined up on runway 34 to take off. I pre-empted the call I know they were going to make and said I would extend my down wind leg. The Herky Bird was cleared take off. Mean time a Dash 8 was on a 10 mile instrument approach. Gees guys!!! Iqaluit Tower asked how long before I could be on the ground? “1 minute” I called. “Ok expedite that then please Lima Papa,” and I shot towards the end of the runway. “Lima Papa cleared to land runway 16, just be aware of turbulence from the departing aircraft!” “Roooooger that!” as I flew through it and touched down landing long so as not to be taxing too long with the commercial traffic rapidly approaching. I came off at Charlie and they said to pull up by the pumps to my right and wait for customs. “Tower did you find my flight plan?” “No sir we did not!” “Thanks.”

Well I’m in Canada but without customs clearance or prior notification, for how long? The Customs car pulled up. A guy and a lady. It was the lady who was not impressed. What can I say, I waffled on explaining what had happened and how much I had just paid the guys in Nuuk not to do there job when they said they had. The fact that I was more annoyed that I had just come across 4 hours of treacherous water and no one knew I was coming I tried to overwhelm the importance of customs and immigration. I was supposed to give two hours notice of arrival. She threatened that this was a serious matter and they could impound the plane… No don’t do that, I thought, or I’ll never make Oshkosh. I showed them the receipt for the $679.40 from Nuuk. They took my passport and went to sit in their car.

Ten minutes later they returned. She stated that even though this was a serious matter, there were mitigating circumstance and they had decided to be lenient this time. She gave me a pamphlet on how to correctly enter Canada in case I returned. She handed back my passport with a customs stamp in it and whished me good day. The guy had not said a word.

I turned the radio back on and asked the tower about the fuel. They had ascertained that there was none, but the FBO (Flight Base Operator) had some and I could taxi straight ahead, back past the tower and it was down there on the right, I couldn’t miss it as it had FBO in big red writing and so it had. I pulled in and walked into their plush operation. First thoughts were, “This is going to cost”

I was met by a lady called Inder and I believe it was Garth but his name I can not for the life of me remember, I wrote their names down and then forgot where I wrote them. Anyway very nice they were, but strangely neither were pilots. I got out my immersion suit and chatted for a while. They had Avgas but it would cost $1,100.00 Canadian dollars per barrel. Ouch! I could run on motor gasoline. Simple and Garth called one of the summer helping pilots who worked there as part of a college course, to take me with some containers, to get some fuel. I think his name was Mitch. Like I said, his flight training was through a college and to qualify for the grant he had to do a summer job working on an airfield and Iqaluit turned up for him, The fuel, 80 litres cost $100 Canadian dollars, cheap and the FBO charged $100 dollars a day for 1 minutes help to 24 hours. 24 hours and 1 minute would cost $200. With the fuel saving, this was Ok…

Back with Itzy they said they could not be seen to help as it was not really legal but I could do what I wanted with my own plane. Ok, that’s fuel. Now where next?
Mitch helped me sort out a flight plan to go to Kuujjuaq about 341 nautical miles due south, some 380 miles or 4 hours. I could just do it with the day light. They offered me water for the flight, I got back in my suit as Mitch phone through the flight plan and I was set. Back in the plane I taxied and entered via Charlie again as I couldn’t see the other entrance to the runway, there must have been one but there was a lot of new development work, temporary taxi ways and lighting. I took photos of the famous yellow terminal building and entered the runway. The tower controller was cool and cleared me to take off and activated my flight plan. Itzy took to the evening skies but wasn’t happy. Was it the fuel? It couldn’t be because it wouldn’t have been pure car fuel yet, there was still half a tank of Avgas I’d mixed it with. Oh well I went into cruise mode at 90 knots and set off. We only just cleared the hills south of the bay. At this rate it would be really late when I got to where ever I was going. I had to find it? There was another time shift, I wasn’t actually sure what time it was here in Canada. I opened up the engine to climb, it wasn’t happy. Colin Colin Colin… That’s 8 hours it’s done already today. You have done well. Listen to your plane trying, trying to look after you. Yu don’t know where you are going, how long it will take to get there, what is there when you get there and you could kill the engine running it like this and that is the end of Oshkosh… I had a massive headache, but I’m sure this was just because of wearing the headsets for 8 hours already today. I keep having to take them off to wiggle and stretch my ear lobes.

So I did something I don’t often do in my life… I did the right thing and I turned the plane around… Poor brain is fried, but deep down I knew this might be one too far. I called up Iqaluit again and told them not to worry, but I had an imbalance in my engine and I was coming back. They cleared me to land when the field was in sight and taxing back in I asked where I could park this over night. “Up by the Dac would be good!” “No worries.” I could see a DC3 Dacota, turbine converted, and I taxied up to it past the FBO, who were having a party outside and were no doubt wondering why I had come back.

I shut down Itzy and walked over to the FBO to explain. They asked if I needed anything, but I didn’t really, I needed to find out what was wrong with the engine and I headed off back to investigate.

I took the cowls off, expecting to have to reset the tappets. That’s what it normally is when there is a funny vibration. The bad thing was I had only just redone them in Iceland, they shouldn’t change that quickly. But no, oil was dripping out of the cowls again. The collection bottle was full to overflowing. The vent pipe was submerged in the oil which wouldn’t let the engine crankcase vent properly, causing the rough running. I cleared the bottle and checked the tappets anyway. A young bloke headed out. I’m really embarrassed because he saved the day and I think his name was Matt. Look, my brain is completely fried. And I know it…

His father owned Air Nunavut, they ran a couple, may be 3 King Airs and a few other planes, but by now it was dark and I couldn’t see them properly. We chatted for half an hour until the mosquitoes got the best of us and he invited me back to their hangar. I told him all and he listened to my predicament. Upstairs with a computer for the weather and their flight planning software, we started looking at a route. Maps, Matt had lots of old ones and an invaluable Canadian Flight Supplement with every airport in Canada in brief in it. It was exactly what I needed. It was only valid for three months. A big book I thought for just a few months, but anyway it was what was needed. Matt admitted that the best thing to do though was wait until West, an old timer pilot, turned up as he had so much knowledge he would advise on the best route.

We chatted out the back porch overlooking the town and I asked lots of questions as I knew I left tomorrow and wouldn’t get chance. He was an early time commercial pilot as well. His Dad’s company serviced the airports in the northern territories. They went place no one else went, but only because of their pilot’s knowledge and experience of weather and runway conditions. I asked him where he thought he would be in 5 years time like I had asked Mitch, Interesting answers too. The airfield was expanding rapidly as was the town. The town was only here because of the airport, so there were never any complaints about it. The prospectors for the mineral wealth of Northern Canada had moved in and now the town was booming.

A king Air taxied in. The people onboard had been stuck up north for 15 days and West and co-pilot Calvin had gone up and rescued them but the weather had been close to limits. Sliding in under very low cloud. Hum, done that before…

I tried to help, I knew West and Calvin had been out on a long one, but when he had dealt with work issues West came and sat with me to work a best route. Unparallel assistance considering I bet all he wanted to do was go home for a good rest, but he wouldn’t until we had worked a route all the way to the American border. It was late though and I could catch them in the morning if I needed to ask more questions. West was just more embarrassed as the printer had run out of toner and would print the flight plans he had created. It didn’t matter and I would see them tomorrow morning. There were a load of new Air Nunavut baseball caps on a table, I’d ask to buy one tomorrow, I don’t have a cap yet and I cant go to Canada and America and not carry a hat.

With great thanks everyone departed and I returned to Itzy to complete the tappets, clearing an oiling up ready for tomorrow. My new 66 North hat from Iceland was awesome at keeping the mosies off and gloves worked ok a bit but I still got bitten a lot before tidying up and jumping in the plane. The temporary flashing lights for the new wider pan were mesmerising, but soon I was asleep.

Thought for the day: Itzy is in Canada. Yeah.

Day 39. 30/July/2014   Oh bum…              Iqaluit to Puvirnituq    392 miles 2:59 hrs
                                                        Day score 10.
Some possible 1,625 miles to Oshkosh.

I was woken by some the guys working on the new pan about It was ok, but I had a dead leg and fell embarrassingly out the plane whacking into Itzy’s tailplane. Yeas, I almost snapped it off! That would have been good. I entertained about 5 workers with stories and photos until they moved on. Good timing as West and Calvin arrived and I went over to greet them. My only request of their time today was to check the weather on their computer, but nope, they invited me in and we had a great chat. Truly I had seemingly come across the most experienced pilot in Northern Canada. He had lived in England a while, so… They had a flight to go way way up north and West and Calvin explained about the weather. It seemed as unpredictable as Iceland. So many variables. There was some mutual respect that I found very heartening. The people who were flying were invited up, because they were getting eaten by the cars. West explained to a group of scientists that it didn’t look good where they were going, it really didn’t. There are no guarantees with flying but West said that he doubted that he could land where they wanted to go today and they agreed to come back and try again tomorrow. So it’s not only me after all. This day off helped Calvin and West as they were bushed. But for me the route was set and the weather was good for the leg. Calvin took half an hour with me to describe the procedures for setting flight plans and cancelling them over the radio or by free phone number anywhere. It was what I needed to know. As I collected my stuff together Matt brought a Air Nunavut hat through. It brought tears again because these people had been so good to me and I’d almost forgot to ask, but yet I didn’t need to. Matt seemed to instinctively know what I needed. I said I would ware it walking around Oshkosh, if I ever got there. Photos were taken downstairs and off I set to Itzy.

I jumped in and taxied away. The controller was quite used to my call sign now and the runway was clear for take off. Itzy sounded a lot happier climbing away this time and we headed south west and climbed well.

For once a flight went relatively well. There was nothing down there, no where to land but lakes and rock. What has happened to the land is continual ice ages have warn the land flat. It is flat, absolutely, all that is left is some diverts caused by the ice which have filled with water, creating millions of little lakes. There was 3 hours of this. Music again helped and the stick to rest my aching right foot. I push down on the pedal with my right hand on top of the cut off broom pole with notches in indicating every 5 litres of fuel in the reserve tank that fits on the seat. I transferred the fuel as normal, as soon as there was room for it up front. 7,000ft and scorching along with what must have been 20 knots on the tail. Nearly 400 miles in 3 hours. The thing was that the wind was gusting at 90 degrees across the runway at Puvirnituq. This would be not fun. I couldn’t hear them on the radio and there was a Boeing 737 parked up. On a gravel runway, this would be interesting to see. I landed on their 19 runway, a textbook cross wind landing and approach, but Itzy is good and handled the quite severe conditions with ease. I taxied up behind a shed for the sliding control gate as it acted as a wind break. The wind was howling. I walked into the terminal and found a phone to call the free call number to close my flight plan. A guy answered, I said I was “The pilot of G-BYLP” and he asked “Are you safely on the ground at Puvirnituq?” I said I was and he said “Great!” and asked if there was anything else he could help me with today. “Nope.” and he pleasantly said “Goodbye.” That was easy.

So why is today entitled “Oh Bum?” Well I can land in these conditions, but there is no way I can take off in them. That’s a whole new board game. When you land you are like a glider and just land. When you are taking off and applying power and lifting the tail with Gyroscopic effect of the propeller having effects, and side thrust due to slip stream, it just all a bit much especially on a loose gravel surface. I went up to the control tower. The controller was a local Inuit guy wit a very responsible job, He joked with me about the weather and apologised for not talking to me but every hour he has to go and record the temperature a due point and he wasn’t on the radio when I arrived. I said not to worry and truthfully I believe I was on the wrong frequency anyway. But never mind.

A young engineer made his acquaintance back down in the terminal building. His name was Richmond and he was ground crew on the 737, dash 8 and Twin Otters of Air Inuit. He was almost at the end of his 3 on 3 off weeks. It breaks the ice when you say you are an engineer to. We have to unite against pilots and managers who just don’t understand what we do. We just cost money and keep taking the aircraft apart, that’s all we do to them. He asked if he could help. Well ideally I needed to look at the weather and to refuel. There was no avgas here either, there was and then apparently there wasn’t, then there definitely wasn’t. Richmond walked me through to the Air Inuit offices and I looked at the weather on the pilots briefing computer. The weather had turned quite bad with very low cloud and rain due to a front some 100 miles south. There would be no more flying today. But Richmond said to meet him outside in ten minutes and we would go and get fuel. As we drove down town, just like so many places, the town could only survive now from the airport and supplies from a ship which happened to be in the harbour, which only arrived three times a year. It arrived as soon as the sea ice had melted, mid summer and just before the sea froze again. There were large wooden crates all over the place, stacked up. I asked what was in them and Richmond said it could be anything from basic blocks of wood for a new house or a quad bike or Skidoo. It could be anything.

40 litres of fuel was bought and we returned to poor it into Itzy. 20 for the main tank and 20 for reserve. Richmond had to return to work and I thanked him sincerely as whatever happened I was now ready to continue when I could.

There was wifi in the airport lounge, so I dug the laptop out and went to research some more weather. This system was quite local, if I had gone to Kuujjuaq, due south of Iqaluit I could have skirted around it, but we were not to know. The 737 fired up and taxied out and took off. Wow, how did it not dig holes in the ground and suck up the gravel with its engines. The jet engines would not like eating gravel. In fact it doesn’t take much ingestion of foreign matter to really effect engine performance. The 737 was adapted to have a ski on the nose leg and deflect stones from the engine air intakes. But perhaps the 737 did dig wholes as out went a leveller truck followed by a truck spraying oil from the back. The oil was apparently vegetable oil. to hold the runway gravel together. Figures…

The wind was ripping at the three flag atop the flag poles. But Itzy just sat there
In the shelter of the gate shed. The ladies at the Inuit came over to ask if I was ok. It was very nice of them. There seemed a strange mix of Inuit, English speaking Canadian and French speaking Canadian, all trying to live in harmony.

Later I walked back out to the plane, not sure what for. An Air Inuit van drove up, out of it came a nice chap called Dan. He brought fruit and some cartons of juice. He told me they had been watching me walking about while working all day and was there any way they could help. Stop it blowing and make the sun come out was not on his approval list. Dan was a carpenter by trade and just made sure everything ticked along and that anything that got broke got fixed. He asked once more was there anything he could do. I thanked him but said no. I was fine. I went back in to the terminal, the last plane was about to take off. They told me I could stay in the building as there was a night controller on throughout the night. I wanted to stay another hour, but then I really needed to sleep. So as darkness didn’t fall, as it still didn’t much up here, I climbed back in Itzy and tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. Either this tank was leaking or the car fuel was venting off something that the avgas didn’t. If I left a gap around the canopy for some air, the wind, rain and mosquitoes came in. If I closed the canopy I got dizzy on fuel fumes. It was a torrid night.

Thought of the day: Dam, almost made good progress today. Blasted weather.

Day 40. 31/July/2014    Why? Another day lost…                                   Day score 10.

Still a top scoring day, but why? Well read on… I got out the cockpit with a splitting headache and walked around for a bit. I thought the airfield opened at 7am, but the little Inuit guy didn’t roar up to the gate on his quad bike till 8am. This meant an hour of moving from place to place trying to stay dry and avoid the mosquitoes until I could escape them inside the terminal. Where had this come from. Heavy heavy rain. The worst thing was that it was clear 50 miles south. It was so tempting to just head off, knowing I would fly through about an hour of bad weather and then it would clear up and I’d be on my way to Oshkosh. But Itzy doesn’t like flying in the rain, it is really abrasive to the prop and its just dam right unpleasant. Also there was an indication of low cloud or fog on route. Its not for me…

I spoke to the controller again, he confirmed the bad weather. There was a clearance heading this way on the satellite imagery, so I might escape south. But
Not today. But let’s not loose a day. Let’s sit on the laptop and load photo and video from cameras, and catch up with the diary. I did this till about midday when the clearance arrived, the sun even came out and I returned to Itzy. I spokr to a few passing pilots confirming that it was clear 40 miles south and at low level you could see for miles.

Now sooner had a decided to get ready then heavy rain came back from the north and back to the terminal I went. This is another day lost in Oshkosh, if I ever get there.

The 737 arrived again. The levelling truck went out and more vegitable oil was sprayed around. Maybe the 737 puts grooves in the runway and after every landing the leveller goes out and removes the grooves?

There were a few things to clear up. In the middle of the terminal building was a sledge and on the back a rock carved angry looking polar bear and on the front, an old Inuit lady with a glove in her hand, also carved of stone. Now the story goes that one winter a family had got caught out in a bad storm. They were starving and a long way from home. Their gran was holding them up and being a pain, so they left her behind. Nice! She was stalked by a polar bear and when the polar bear attacked, she killed the polar bear by stuffing her glove down its throat. She then caught the family up with the polar bear and they all had food to eat and made it home safely. Now as stories go, there are a few things there that I wouldn’t really want to tell children. 1: Today it’s not really ok to leave your gran behind to die. 2: Your gran or no one should go around killing polar bears. Then after she killed the polar bear, how if she couldn’t keep up, did she then catch up with her family? And why if she had been left behind would she catch up with her family and finally, how bad was the frost bite on her hand without the glove, or did she pull it back from the bears throat?

Dan came to find me and we had another little chat. I thought everyone would speak French here, and he said he was a native French speaker, well he hid it well from me. He then spoke about the turmoil in the area. Ok, the French and English did invade the Inuit land. Up north was purely Inuit and English, but here the French speakers had been fighting feverishly and to a point of annoyance to all to try and retain their roots and status, or they would have disappeared and so would their language. But basically the Brits and French had taken the Inuit land for their own. Now as Canadians, they realised what they had done to the Inuit, but it was too late. In the last 60 years the Inuit way of life, of fishing and hunting had gone, as in gone gone. They did not need to hunt or fish, they could go to the Canadian store. The government was paying the Inuit for there land and all the Inuit did not have to work anymore. They just drank and ate. But the alcohol was causing obvious problems and the amount of sugar in all the modern food and drink the Inuit’s could not control. Their children after a bottle of coke was a sight to see apparently. So most if not all Inuit person had a home, money, food, quad bike, skidoo, paid for by the Canadian Government. So most days, not all but some of the Inuit would get drunk and go and crash their quad bike and then need to be air medic evacuated to Montreal. Indeed there was a Challenger jet here last night for a Medivac flight and actually it was outside again today for another. All this was costing the Canadian Government a fortune and everything was a big mess, but what else could they do? The Canadians were not going to back out of Northern Canada and give back the Inuit there way of life that they had for thousands of years, because of all the mineral wealth in the area. It sort of reminded me of the situation with the Aborigine’s in Australia. All the Canadians could do is try and secure the Inuit history, language and culture, before it disappeared, respect the French speaking society and keep digging for gold.

But no ethnic society or culture can change in a generation. It must be impossible for the Inuit. But Dan said, they have two choices, they realise it is going to happen, it has happened. Once choice is not good, the other is much worse. Wow. Oh and he reminded me, you can’t call the Inuit ‘Indian’s’, like in Cowboys and Indians. It was seen as highly disrespectful. They were either, First Generation Canadian’s or Inuit, but definitely not Indian’s. This brought up confusion as I had heard someone complaining that all the good companies up here were Indian. I wasn’t sure if he meant Indian as in Asia, with Delhi and a capital of Calcutta, or Indian being Northern Native Inuit? Air Inuit was run and managed by Inuit people and government sponsored and employed a lot of French and English speaking Canadians… Wow, that’s as clear as the water swirling around the floor.

There were floods outside now. I spoke to a few other visitors and locals. Some blokes who had come up here for the day to go fishing? And they had big smiles saying they had caught lots of Arctic Shark in the rivers. I asked how they did that and they said they wade in thigh deep and fly fish for them. Wow! That sort of sounded more dangerous than what I had been doing. They could not believe I had arrived from the UK in such a small plane. I couldn’t believe they had gone wading into rivers to catch shark. But it hasn’t sunk in yet myself. As far as I’m concerned, that was another day lost and I haven’t arrived yet. Tomorrow looks better though…

Ok, 7pm. The airfield was closing down as the last planes left. Dan arrived in his big works truck and invited me to dinner. He almost was insisting and said, bring your shower gear as well. I bet you could do with one. He told me one of the pilots had also being fishing and dinner tonight for all the Inuit staff was Arctic shark. I’m not a shark eater really, but I couldn’t refuse such a generous offer.

We arrived at what was originally the first wooden building in Puvirnituq. It had been converted from the town hall to offices and now served as the pilot, engineers and office staff’s home from home when they are on their two on three off or three on and two off, or what ever schedule they worked away from their home bases much further south. Dan, a colleague and I arrived and I was made very welcome, just as people were sitting down to eat. I was quickly shown around. Just outside the back door was the one and only pipe supplying JetA1 And heating oil to the town. All through the same pipe. They just cleaned it a bit before changing tanks. At the bottom of the patio was a guy in a tent watching to make sure it was coming on shore ok, as the supply ship was out there pumping it in now. So a Barbeque was out of the question. Out there in the middle of the river was ‘Dog Island’ an island where the Inuit put all their Husky dogs on during the summer so that they were not wandering around town, and some one went out their each day to through them some fish. Poor dogs. A summer on an Island

Another place was laid for me at the table. It was explained that each night the ten or so people staying here took turns in cooking dinner. Tonight’s meal was a speciality, ‘Artic Char’, it’s a fish resembling a salmon and it’s apparently delicious. I explained that I had heard wrongly and thought that people were brave trying to wade into rivers to catch ‘Arctic shark’. That basically set off the evening. We have with us a Dumb English guy!!!

I can’t as ever remember everyone’s names, but to my left sat a well educated and interesting French speaking pilot who I believe was called Felix, next to him a very enthusiastic Inuit lad called Nathanial, who was learning to be an engineer, the next young lad never spoke really, then Dan, then a young English speaking Canadian lady who worked behind the check in desk, then seemingly the most senior pilot not in age, but any question asked by me seemed to be answered by him who I think was Greg. Next I believe I wrote John, he had flown to America and promised to sit with me and go online tonight to get all the permits that I knew I didn’t have yet to fly into America. Then a young pilot who had caught the fish and cooked it and who’s birthday it was tomorrow and finally an elder Inuit guy sitting to my right, names name names. This guy was really interesting though. He was an Inuit who had taken one of the Canadian Government initiatives and learnt to fly and obtain his commercial licence and all paid for. Where some of his boyhood friends had gone the other way, he indeed had realised that what was happening to his family and way of life was happening and there would be no stopping it. Better to embrace the changes than fight a loosing battle. Now all they had to do was protect what was left of their language and culture for further generations to remember and respect. I questioned that it was not possible to change a whole way of life in one generation. His reply was “Look around?” Wow…

The shark as it was now called was delicious. They questioned how I liked it. I said it was saltier than I thought and quite fatty, but juicy and delicious. I was congratulated, nods all round because indeed, the Shark had been out to sea and took on the salty taste and was well fatted before swimming up river because it would have eaten well before starting the journey. Top marks, maybe I wasn’t so dumb after all and the whisky and Rum were brought out.

Later after many more jokes, Dan had to go to his home. The pilots insisted I stayed, got a shower and tidied up here and had a comfortable bed, as soon as Dan let out I was sleeping in the plane. I did explain the 100 day rule. Dan smiled at me and whispered, “I knew they would offer.” I thanked him sincerely as he left…

Now it was time to sit down with John and work out the final route to Oshkosh. He suggested indeed Le Grande Riviere, or just La Grand to all pilots. He said, “Be careful! They will speak only French down there!” Then he suggested Kapuskasing. There I could file a ‘Trans Borders Flight Plan’ and fly to ‘Chippewa County International’ an easy airport to land at and clear American Customs there, before flying on then to Oshkosh.

Ok, for America, first thing I would need to do on the day was to file an ‘EAPIS’ (Electronic Advanced Passenger Information Service). This I could do on line at Kapuskasing in the morning with two hours notice of arrival. But first I would have to register for the service, which John did for me on his laptop there and then. He then added that when you file the flight plan and tell the Americans when you are going to be there, make SURE to be on time when you arrive and “DO NOT GET OUT OF YOUR PLANE” until you are told it is ok to do so by the Customs and Border agents. OK.

Next Itzy needed a Decal (Sticker) or Decal Number, I’d never get it sent to me on time, but all I needed was the reference number. We registered Itzy at ‘DTOPS’ (Decal Transponder Online Procurement System) and I got an email back with the reference number: ID/APGA74VS.  Blumin Americans!

On the day of arrival in America, I should call the port of entry. It would be Sault SE Marie and the number was a free call number: 1 906 632 2631
Then once they are happy, call the Canadian flight planning guys like I did to close my flight plan at Puvirnituq, same number but press 2 to file a Trans Border Flight Plan.

Land in the States. Clear Customs and Immigration. Then call and close my Canadian flight plan and I should be free to go to Oshkosh.

I was so greatful. I knew I had to do all this and soon, but having it explained and some of it done instead of having to research it on my own saved hours of invaluable time.

It was late, I was shown my room, and shower facilities and left in peace. I said I might be out early and told no worries and to just close the door behind you.

A shower and shave, last one was blimey, in Iceland

Thought for the day: I’m clean, resting in a comfy bed and not fighting mosquitoes or snorting fuel vapour! I had a little too much whisky and rum and coke, but it was nice.

Day 41. 01/Aug/2014                Puvirnituq to Le Grande Riviere 386 miles  4:16 hrs
                                                Le Grande Riviere to Kapuskasing  328 miles  3:31 hrs
Maybe around 1,220 miles to Oshkosh.                                                    Day score 10.

I woke up to see an amazing view. My little room’s little window looked out across the mouth of the river and close enough to see the dogs on Dog Island. Blue and sunny skies. Everything had cleared through.

I walked out at 7am. Comfy boots. And headed for the airfield. Once there I called the 1 866 wxbrief number to file my flight plan to Le Grande. I was number 8 inline and waited 20 minutes. The sun was out and maybe everyone wanted to fly? But after talking to the guy eventually, I realised why it may have taken some time. He ran through the NOTAMS with me. Notice to Airmen. He said there was one particular to me. There was a ship in the Puvirnituq River offloading fuel oil. I told him I had seen that. Next was the weather brief. He predicted clear skies but some coastal fog around the town of Kuujjuarapik, but further in land and effecting Le Grande, where thunderstorm later in the day. Ok, I thanked him and thought I better get there sooner than later.

Ok, with this done I went up and thanked the tower guy. He was a lovely old Inuit chap, as happy and polite as possible.

Itzy was still wet but came very clean considering all the dust on arrival. I climbed in and started up the engine. The runway was clear and there was no wind so I took off down runway 01. I climbed out turning left over the Hudson Bay and looked back on Puvirnituq. I was there maybe a day longer than hoped, but it had been wonderful and at least I now knew where I was going and what I was doing, so definitely not wasted time.

Still no where to land but dead flat for the first hour. Just rock and lakes. Direct route took me in land but the Hudson Bay comes in a curve some 40 miles inland and then I was along the coast again. This was good and I followed the coast as there were little beaches every 5 miles or so. I could land on any of them. The ground began to rise and fall a little and large water falls fed from yesterdays rain were pretty spectacular, but no one gets to see them unless in a plane, because there are still no roads or any civilisation. That looked like a valley of little bushes or trees. A little green amongst the ice smooth polished rocks and lakes. This was the tree line beginning. Hum, there was a road and the little town of Kuujjuarapik. But now was fog coming off the Hudson Bay area, but that was ok as I needed to head in land. In land there were heavy rain storms and wow, lightening striking the ground. Hum. Now I’m flying with fog on the Stbd wing and thunder clouds on the port wing tip. But I will admit, on route was clear and I had a good tailwind again.

A mass of thunderstorms had grown into one big line of them and I wasn’t going in there. Now just 20 miles from Le Grande I could hear him clearly and he warned of thunderstorms to the northwest, heading south. Ok, it was dark and now raining as I turned behind the thunder clouds flashing away and crackling on the radio, but there were the runway lights and a storm line not 1 mile to the north. Do I wait for it to pass? I have 3 hours of fuel still onboard, or do I dive in. Better just dive in and sit it out. I landed and taxied in requesting fuel and was directed to the Avgas pumps. It started chucking it down, but some guy turned up at my wing. I asked if we could wait till it stopped raining, he replied that it would never stop raining! Good point and I climbed out. His name was Rene, I remember because his name was on the pay slip and we pumped 50 litres of Avgas into the main tank and 15 more into the reserve tank, just to slosh out any remaining car fuel I had got from Iqaluit and Puvirnituq. In his little shack he explained about the power always going off. There was one of the biggest Hydro electric dams in the world just 20 miles down the road. Supplying most of the Canada and the rest to America and even though they were only 20 miles away, flying hydro plant employees in and out of the airfield, with the main highway running just outside the airport, they never had a reliable electric supply. I laughed and joked with him and bought some more oil, before running up to the main terminal building as there was a small $10 landing fee to pay. I didn’t have any Canadian money but the accepted $10 USD instead. I asked if they had closed my flight plan and they confirmed. I tried to speak my Schoolboy French as they obviously all were French speakers, but it was not so good. I asked if they had maps I could buy as I didn’t have the final one before America. They did not. Ok…

There was an Air Inuit maintenance hangar finally at the top of the pan and I ran to its open doors through the rain. Inside there were two guys. A licensed engineer and young lad just preparing for his exams. As soon as I broke the ice explaining I was a British licensed engineer and we talked shop a little and went on about the wows of our governing bodies, everything was cool. They showed me around and outside was an old British 748. The last one they had apparently. They had four but they lost three to corrosion. I asked why they were still operating them as they must be 60 years old and antiquated. The reason was because they had a massive rear cargo door. Ok.

I helped them bring it in out of the rain. It was highly polished and cherished. I asked if they had any maps and they hunted around the bins and pilot bags until the one I was missing was found. Out of date, but better than nothing and only just out of date. They couldn’t close the door because they had a phase out in the power lines and cursed the electric company as well. I thanked them and returned to the terminal as the sun was visible now to the north.

About another hour though of watching passengers come and go. They had to get their own luggage of the tractor trailer that brought it from the plane because the baggage conveyor belt wouldn’t run as it was also missing a phase of power.

I phoned up the flight planning number and filed for Kapuskasing. This was fine but the guy warned of thunderstorms in the vicinity. I sort of new that already.

Time was getting short, I could land at Kapuskasing any time of night, but still I didn’t want to leave it too long. I knew if I could escape out through the remaining rain showers I could probably fly around and storm once I was in the air. I asked to line up on runway 31 and was cleared to take off. In the rain at least the engine temperature would be kept low. I skirted around a while heading northwest when I needed to head southwest. Eventually I turned the last of the rain and headed on track. It looked quite good actually.

The landscape steadily turned from rock and lakes to trees and lakes and then just trees and then trees with big rivers and back to trees and lakes as I rounded Hudsen Bay and crossed the river estuary at the south of the bay. There were now a few power line avenues and may be a road or two, but still wilderness. The only real sign of life was a highway ahead that my destination of Kapuskasing lay on and I descended calling my intentions but no one replied so I landed on runway 35 because there was no wind and the terminal building was at the end of it and I wouldn’t need to turn around or back track.

I climbed out after stopping by the Kapuskasing Aero Club. Walking in to the terminal there was a young lady behind the desk. I asked if there was chance of fuel. There was but there would be a call out fee? But if I could refuel tonight then I could leave whenever I wanted to in the morning, so Norman or Norm would come out right now. I moved Itzy to the pumps and removed the engine cowls. The oil collector pot was almost full again, so I poured it back in to the engine, less the dregs of water at the bottom and added another half litre of oil I had bought from Rene.

Norm turned up, I apologised for the late call out, he was not busy so it was no problem. I put 100 litres on board. Combined with what I had onboard, that would get me to Oshkosh and I wouldn’t need the hassle of refuelling at Sault Se Marie. There would no doubt be enough problems with Customs anyway.

Norm offered me a lift to a Motel, I told him the 100 day rule and he said, oh in that case just sleep in the terminal or in the little room under the control tower, his friends Rick would be there all night anyway on radio guard, but don’t make too much noise as it upsets his dog.

We went up to meet Rick and I said I would be staying downstairs. This was not a problem and Rick came out with Norm to see my plane and then Norm gave me a lift in to town. Leaving the airfield on the main state highway, the first thing encountered was a massive grave yard on eth left. Then the massive papermil which took its electricity from a hydroelectric dam in town. He showed me where all the fast food stores were and I thanked him and jumped out. Subway tonight.

I then walked the big and little circles of town. Is this typically Canadian? No fences, big wooden houses with large churches everywhere in the suburbs? All very well equipped and tidy with a lovely park down by the river. Doing the full circle I came back to the industrial part of town and there was a massive old steam train parked up outside the rail way station. A huge thing from the Cowboy and First Generation Canadian films I’d seen as a boy. Reading a sign about the history of Kapuskasing, it meant in Inuit, ‘Bend in the river’… In 1911 the National Transcontinental train line arrived here as the bend in the river made it easier to build a bridge. But after a few years progress was stopped during the first world war. The creation of a ‘paper pulp’ factory expanded the town as this was the nearest place to trees and transport and water necessary for pulp and paper making.

The walk back past the seedy bars, motels and graveyards was long and treacherous as I wasn’t dressed to walk down a highway in my black Charlatans hoody. There were faint lights ahead of all colours, little lights some flickering.  Oh no way! You know you can get the solar powered lights for outdoor paths or to illuminate your garden or pool, well the mourners of the people buried here had place solar lights all around their graves. At first I thought it rather sad, but soon I could understand a reasoning…

Anyway, back at the airport I took refuge in the room below the tower. It had internet WIFI and I stayed up way past midnight trying to depict a route to Oshkosh. I didn’t have any maps of America, just software on my laptop. So the route would be to head southwest till I picked up Lake Michigan, then follow the coast off shore by a few miles and that would keep me out of all airspace and away from airfields. I would do this until I came to Sheboygan and then if I headed due west it would take me to Rippon and the start of the VFR route to Oshkosh, Sorted!

Well I needed to sleep sometime. And that would do for the night.

Thought for the day: Kapuskasing is the type of pioneering town I wanted to see in Canada. I got to see it just, even if by night. Oshkosh tomorrow, am I thinking about it? No… I dare not… Close but still lots to go wrong… But surely enough had. I mean if I couldn’t make it now, for the last weekend of the show and the main day as well being Saturday… Stop thinking and sleep...

Day 42. 02/Aug/2014               Kapuskasing to Sault se Marie       198 miles  1:58 hrs                                                                                                  Sault se Marie to Oshkosh              312 miles  3:07 hrs
  Day score 100.
About 510 miles to Oshkosh.

The first thought of the day was that the route I had been advised to take since leaving Iceland was exactly the one I wrote on a piece of paper, when knowing nothing back in Iceland. How bizarre? I must be a genius?

Right, it’s, where do I start? John had written a list of things to do today. First was to file ‘A Notice of Arrival’ with EAPIS. Gosh, they wanted to know everything, but I had registered with them already, so it was easier and I had my ‘Aircraft Decal’ number now instead of just a reference, which was: 830127. Time of arrival in America at Chippewa County Airfield would be? Well if I take off at and loose an hour due to arriving in Chicago and Oshkosh which is in the Central Time Zone in America and it’s a 2 hour flight then I’ll land at and they want it in local time. Ok, all sorted and sent. I got my EAPIS code by return of email and it was EAPIS: 5292724.

Ok, now I need to phone the Customs and Immigration office at my port of arrival to confirm their attendance at the airport. Hang on… Sault Se Marie is still in the Eastern Time Zone… Bugger, I’ll have to modify the EAPIS. It told me I could do this. Ok, I’ll now land at local, but now I’ve got a new EAPIS number? OK, write it down. EAPIS: 5292738

Now phone American Customs and Immigration. “Good Morning, I’d like to confirm your attendance at Chippewa County International Airport please?” He replied, “Why are you going there?” I didn’t have a good answer to that… “Because I was advised to?” He was not happy, “Heck no, its miles for us to drive there, why can’t you come to Sault Se Marie, like everyone else, it’s just up the road for us?” “Ok, if it helps you, I’ll come to Sault Se Marie,” not wanting to make a fuss. He then added, “And why have you filed two EAPIS’s?” Steady on mate… “Because I got the arrival time wrong on the first sir.” I thought I would put a ‘Sir’ in to improve his manner. It didn’t. “Have you filed an ESTA?” This was an (Electronic States Transferral Application) or something like that, but a Visa application to you and me. “No sir, but I can do if you wish on line now?” I didn’t think it necessary. “No you don’t need to do that, you are exempt due to your passage in a none commercial vessel. Ok we have enough information, we will probably be there 10 mins late as we are busy” “Sir, can I have your name?” “Bill, Agent Bill!” and the phone went down.

Right now I can phone the Canadian flight planning service and file a ‘Trans Border Flight Plan. This was relatively easy now for me and I made sure I told him I was now going to land at Sault Se Marie. The guy said he just needed to know what time I was expected to cross the border? I told him “I expect to be shot down at 13.50 zulu!” He laughed and said the weather looks fine with no NOTAMS and wished me luck. His name was Mario. I wrote it down. I sort of have to do that a lot now.

I fired up the laptop again and found the plate with information about Sault Se Marie. I drew it out on a piece of paper as I’d done with so many airfields when a printer was not available.

Ok, lets get in and go because its getting late. The tedds didn’t need to be in their bag anymore, there was little risk of them drowning now or being lost at sea with the plane. So I placed them in the back so they call all see out.

I’ll say now, I have to arrive at Oshkosh before 2:00pm CDT (Central D Time) whenever that was, as the afternoon airshow starts and the airfield is closed to all arrivals, big time…  By the time I took off it was 8:10 am local. I’m glad they said they would be 10 minutes late as so will I be…

It was hot already and there was a headwind. The engine oil temp went higher than I’ve ever seen it. If I climbed to get into cooler air, the speed slowed down and if I pushed it harder the engine temps went off the top without the cracked oil cooler. And if I descended lower to stay out of the headwind, then the air was warmer and you get the picture.

What ever I did, the GPS said I was going to be 5 minutes later than their 10 minutes late. The engine was on melt down.

You may ask about the Scenery? Yeah trees and stuff.

Ok, I needed to get a ‘Trans Border Transponder Code’ or as the Americans would say, I needed a ‘TBTC’… The thing was, being this low, I couldn’t reach Toronto Control on 128.3 to get one. I heard someone else much higher obtain a code of 4347. I wrote it down, I could always use that one in an emergency if I couldn’t get my own. I would have to climb soon anyway as the ground, trees and stuff, was coming up to meet me. I climbed slowly to 4,000ft. Toronto could now here me and I requested a Trans Border Transponder Code and he gave me one of 4365. Brill! I thanked him and since I was only 30 miles away he handed me over to Sanderson, who ever they were? It was the same frequency as Sault Se Marie, so I changed to it. It was busy. Aircraft coming and going and doing circuits but announcing Sanderson?

I approached the border and could see the town of Sault Se Marie. Now the airfield is to the south of the town which is south of the river, the river being the border. I can go and land straight into runway 14, but the training aircraft on this frequency are using runway 32 and possibly coming out at me coming in. I’m not going to fly low over the town so I’ll go west. Now just to add to the confusion, there are two airfields called Sault Se Marie. One about 5 miles west and in Canada, above the river and the airfield south of the river in American, the airfield I’m trying to land at. The Unicom frequency is sort of what it says. Everyone is uniformly on it and we can all sort out where we are going and what everyone is doing by ourselves politely. So I state “G-BYLP joining down wind left hand for 35. Another aircraft calls “Short finals 35 Sanderson!” good for him. Then on the frequency comes a loud voice, “Aircraft west of Sanderson you have just entered Sault Se Marie airspace!” Correct and that’s me. So I reply “Terribly sorry about that!” as if I’ve done something wrong? “I’m on a left base for runway 35.” He replied that “It’s a right hand circuit for 35!” What, over the city, are you kidding? Anyway I didn’t know that so I’ll apologise, “Terribly sorry about that old chap, I didn’t know!” putting a bit of Enlish tongue in there so he would realise I wasn’t from around here and he might leave me alone. “Ok well, next time!” As if… The training aircraft called “5 miles out on runway 35 at Sanderson and hanging back for the little plane on base!” I have no idea where he was but I was on left base for Sault Se Marie, the American one, and I called “G-BYLP final 35 Sault Se Marie” and landed and taxied off the runway as quick as possible and taxied up in front of the little terminal building. There was a big sign saying “Welcome to Sanderson!” It later transpired that because there are two airfields with the same name, they call the American airfield Sanderson. Oh, now you tell me. No wonder… Anyway I do not care, I’m on the ground. Hey, and I’m in America

Remember what John said, wait in your plane. There was a black and white wagon out in the car park and indeed two officers walking out to great me. But what a greeting! Again, like in Canada, a lady and a gent. And as in Canada, the lady did all the talking. “Sir you may get out of your plane!” Brill I went to say hello and shake hands, but note pads and Geiger counters were being carried so there was no shaking of hands. “Sir, do you know what an ESTA is?” “Sort of?” I replied. “Sir we have a problem with your documentation and the way you have entered the United States of America.” I’m sure you have I thought!!! What the xxxx now. She seemed disturbed at my lack of a surprise that there was a problem… “Sir, you did not file an ESTA with our Federal Government Immigration and Customs Department!” “Yes but I was told I didn’t need to!” Sir you have committed an offence in defiance of our state law and this will have to be dealt with down at the main head branch.” I’m just about (can swear?) I’m just about xxxxxx off with all this, “I’ve done something wrong and it’s serious’ crap!” To me Customs officers are just failed police men, and nothing I have done is that serious. I haven’t shot anyone, or stolen anything, its just paperwork and it’s not that serious. What can I do, I only do as I’m told, yet I’m Mr. Bad-guy. She asked me for my passport and said “I’ll be holding on to that!” Fine…

I wish he would stop waving that Geiger counter at my plane. I very much doubt it’s radioactive… “Look!” I said with a raised voice, “I discussed this ESTA thing this morning with an officer Bill and he said I didn’t need to file one as I was entering your country in a none commercial aircraft or vessel!” I couldn’t see this little failed police officer’s eyes behind her shades, but she replied that “We don’t have an agent called Bill!” The guy Geigering my teddy bears now said “We have an agent Hill!” “Hill, Bill, I don’t know it was over the phone?”  Argh, now that’s change things! I’m so glad I wrote his name down…

“Ok sir, can you arrange transport or call a taxi to take you to our department down town?” She asked. I shrugged my shoulders and we walked toward the terminal building. I opened the door for her, but she refused saying “Its ok sir, after you. I never let anyone walk behind me while I’m carrying a loaded and armed weapon!” I bet you don’t madam, because at this rate you are going to get it rammed down… They had a big wagon, surely they could take me down town in that, but maybe they had an anti aircraft missile system on the back seat.

I knew about courtesy cars. They have a spare courtesy car at most airfields so pilots can go down town.  All you need to do is place a donation or return it full of fuel. I asked if they had one and could I borrow it? This was not a problem, I was handed the keys and told it was the green Cadillac just outside the door. The lady agent asked if I was a safe driver? Admittedly the though of running her over had occurred.

I followed them down town in my Cadillac automatic and into their United States Customs building. It was a large building and built over the main highway and dealt with the main point of entry from America to Canada and vice versa. A ‘multilane’ customs area was below. A group of agents gathered in the middle of the room as soon as I walked into the public side of the assessment area. They left their counters and all the other ‘Joe public holiday makers’ wondered who I was to have caused this meeting and why was I dressed for Antarctic Survival. The discussion behind the barrier between them went on for some time, before it broke and the lady agent asked me to approach. Seemingly the problem was that they didn’t have my physio-metrics on file. Finger prints and all that, so she needed to take my picture and finger prints on a scanner. This was bull though because how, if the problem was me just not filing an ESTA, how would I have given them my fingerprints. I had to pay $6.00 for this and I was asked whether I wanted a receipt, “Oh yes!” the reply. As it was being written out, I had to ask “Look, I’m for ever going to wonder if I don’t ask, but was policeman Bill right or wrong this morning on the phone?” “Agent Hill was not entirely correct this morning sir”. So tempting to ask for an apology for being accused of committing an offence in defiance of there state law… But I knew none would come so there was no point.

With a stamp in my passport and it being handed back I could leave. “Have a nice day sir!” She embarrassingly said. I will now I don’t have to deal with you I, I, I thought…

Ok, back at the airport and handing the keys back, I asked if they had closed my flight plan for me. They said that ‘yes it had been done with an automated system when I landed,’ phew… Right, Jees, I’ve got now only 3:15 hours to get to Oshkosh before it closes for the airshow and it’s a 3:00 hour flight.

Leaving the airport was somewhat easier, now I knew what it was called and the circuit pattern, but the engine had hardly cooled down in the sweltering heat. I climbed out but at 2,000ft the warning light was flashing and that was at the raised level I had set to stop it flashing… I could see some cumulous cloud caps ahead. It was quite windy and I thought that thermal streeting might be occurring. If I could find them I could raise Itzy higher into cooler air using thermals rather than the engine. It worked well and soon I was up at 4,000ft and able to lower the nose for greater cooling speed and still not loose height with the engine on a minimal cruise setting.

The thermals died out over Lake Michigan and so did the tail wind as I turned south to follow the shore line. I could still use the Canadian map for a while as it extended into America, but soon I was off the end of that. So it was time to review my drawn map and put some places like Rippon, the start of the VFR route into Oshkosh that every one takes, in to the GPS. I read again all 15 pages of the Oshkosh NOTAM that I printed out in Iceland. I had hardly looked at them in case it brought bad luck. Well now I needed them and it felt good… Music, put music on to calm the nerves.  I could hardly see the shoreline for the murk. Still 150 miles to go.

I tuned into Oshkosh’s Airfield Traffic Information Service ‘ATIS’ on 125.90 and turned the squelch right down on the radio. “Page 8 and 12 of the NO… This is Oshkosh inf  at tim” He said ‘Oshkosh info’. For the last 42 days I’ve been trying to get there, trying my best and now I can hear Oshkosh… I listened to the signal getting stronger for the next half an hour. I even recorded it on my big video camera which had an audio input.

Look at the time… Must go faster… look at the temps… Can’t go faster…

There was cloud on route that I went below, then coastal fog crept in off Lake Michigan, but no way, none of you are stopping me this time... You’ve tried all the time on virtually every flight, but not this time. It was too early to turn in land but I had little choice. Dam, there was a big airport there, better go low and south of it and hope nothing big comes along. Ok, way to the south of the big airport I was now on track for Rippon, but quite low now. I tried the thermaling technique again to gain more height. Rippon was 50 miles away and 35 minutes at 90 knots which is all I could do in fear of cooking the oil. Well it was cooked already, but it just had to get me another 30 mins, that’s all. They oil pressure was down at 45 instead of 60 psi.

I changed to Fisk approach frequency 120.7 approaching Rippon as requested by the NOTAM and there was a picture of a water tower I was supposed to be able to see to recognise the town. I heard one aircraft turning to the tower frequency and then silence. On arrivals day on Monday, over 5,000 aircraft arrive at Oshkosh this way. It’s the busiest airfield in the world, by a very long way. The radio is none stop, but I could hear nothing. You are supposed to just monitor and say nothing, they have spotters on the ground who call up to you and ask you to rock your wings if they’ve got you right, 

There is the water tower, there is Rippon, ok find in the murk the rail tracks to follow, well there they are… The rail tracks lead to Fisk. 10 minutes engine, just do me 10 more minutes, I promise a new cooler and oil, just 10 more minutes. Speed should be 90 knots at this location, well it’s all I can do. The NOTAM mentions keeping line astern with half a mile between aircraft, but I’m on my own up here, I’ve been very alone up here at times. Just the flight to Hurkadalshmela in Iceland and aircraft at Sanderson, never saw them though really.

My head is full of memories, friends I’ve made, the unfairness of the journey. I pick up Fredy my lucky mascot and tears fall on his head because without him, I wouldn’t be here surely. I’m over Fisk but no one is looking up anymore, why would they, who in their right mind turns up at the biggest airshow in the world 5 minutes before it’s closed…

No one was going to see or hear me so I called, “Fisk approach G-BYLP overhead” “Aircraft calling Fisk say again?” “G-BYLP overhead Fisk” “Oh yeah, little white aircraft rock you wings!” I did. “Good rock, thank you, ok runway in use 36 left hand. Contact tower on 126.60” “Roger.” Oh wow, there it is coming out of the murk, the most amazing sight! There are a lot of aircraft down there. I had the video camera rolling, I was going to make a big speech. I failed. Could hardly breathe, let alone talk.

You see the last 42 days has taken years of my life to achieve, about 10 years. I can’t be a Formula 1 driver, an Olympic swimmer, rower or cyclist. But I can do this. You may think it easy. But have a go at building your own plane and flying to Oshkosh, then add my luck into the equation and, well I think it’s hard. But this approach to runway 36 that I had just been cleared to land on and at the yellow dot, indicating half way down the runway, well this approach is my 100 meter Olympic final, my last lap of Monaco or Silverstone, chricky, why not my small step for mankind. It’s probably the best thing I’ll do. And did I land on the yellow dot? You bet I did…

(That’s probably the most sentimental sentence I’ve ever written)

Anyway, made it - made it - made it - made it!!! Well done plane, well done engine!

Lima Papa vacate as soon as possible left” “Wilco.” I taxied across the grass and on to taxiway Papa. I lifted the canopy and held up my HBC paper sign to tell the marshals that I want to be directed to ‘Home Built Camping’. Not that Itzy was built at home, but I know what they mean. I was marshalled on and on towards ‘Papa 1’ and the ‘Home Built’ area. But then they turned me around and headed me back up towards ‘Papa 2’. There was some confusion amongst them and a John Deere Agrocat pulled up along side me and I stopped. A lady approached and asked “Hi there, where have you come from?” “England” I said, hoping she would believe me. “No way!” See I knew she wouldn’t. There was some discussion between marshalers and then she came back and said, “We are going to park you up near the Brown Arch. Would you like that?” I pretended not to know where that is, but I knew and humbly said, “Yes that would be nice…”

For those who don’t know, parking near the Brown Arch is reserved for famous aircraft, well not famous aircraft, but I’ve seen so many pictures of planes near the Brown Arch, like famous Earthrounder Jon Johansons ‘RV4’, ‘Voyager 1’ that flew around the world none stop and on and on.

There was a convoy of scooters and golf carts and Agrocats following behind as I was marshalled in with about 200,000 spectators all wondering the same thing, like “Who is that and where did he come from and why all the fuss?”

I pulled up in front of the arch well just to one side, lets not get carried away, there were other aircraft there, but I checked Itzy’s engine magnetos again, all present and correct, and switched them both off. When taxing and manoeuvring you have to be in control, with the mags switched off and the propeller stationary, you don’t and I wasn’t. I had dared to dream this, dared so often just in case I never made it. I mean I never expected to be hurt, but I could have lost the plane at any time and almost did three times. Now it was not a dream. This was real, but still too much for my fried brain. I just wanted to be on my own a while to gather and preserve this moment and my thoughts, so I stayed in the cockpit with my head in my hands sobbing like a baby. But I could do more of this later, there were people waiting for me to get out.

Valerie greeted me again properly, she was in control of this section of the flight line. She asked if there was anything I needed, food water. I was given sandwiches and a drink. I extracted myself from my immersion suit. Took off my thermals and put on some shorts and a fresh T’shirt. Valerie said to grab anything I needed from the plane because we had to leave this area for the start of the airshow and they were sort of waiting for us. I grabbed my phone and video camera and was escorted to the signing in tent. I met Alan, he took me through signing in. He asked me if I was a member of the EAA, I wasn’t but thought I better join. I was given bags of merchandise and a commemorative glass tanker and then went to mingle with the crowd.

I’m not sure if you want to hear or read more, I mean there, I made it…

That’s not the end of the story, not by a long way… The rest of the day was pretty good too. But that’s where I’m going to take a break…

Ok, I’ve had a thought about this diary. I’ll write up to the end of the show because I’ve met some amazing people here myself, sort of took the emphasis of me me me all the time.

So the airshow started with ‘Shaun ‘D’ Tucker’ and his Oracle Pitts. Pretty impressive and rolled on with countless war birds, 10 – 20 Harvard T6’s and Bob Cats and B17’s and… The Ospray, Vertical take off tilt rotor craft did a good display. But basically it was just a blur of aircraft for 4 hours. Four jets took off from the Cold War period, a Russian Mig chased by three American jets, one being a Saab, I didn’t recognise the others. There had been a team of American pilots flying Russian Yak 52’s earlier. The commentator came out with the comment, that “You may wonder why we are able to fly these Russian aircraft and leave the Russian star on the planes, well that’s because we won the Cold War and these aircraft are now ours!!!” America won the cold war??? I thought that no one won it and it sort of just fizzled out? Next came some of the middle weight bombers. There was a B17 some where, but as the Liberator flew low over the runway a line of pyrotechnics detonated and made everyone jump and the woop with joy as all the windows shook in their frames. Again, every time a plane flew low along the runway, another chest moving explosion would go off. Awesome!

Anyway, the finally had arrived, being the ‘Thunderbirds!’ Not the ones on string but F16’s of the United States Air Force. Six of them took off one at a time and began to put on a polished display. Everyone around was waiting for this and I’d heard a lot about them since arriving, so I suppose my expectations were built up too high. At times, the music was more dramatical than the performance. The polished voice of the Air Force’s commentator, building up every manoeuvre they did to be so difficult that only these professional Air Force Pilots with all their thousands of hours of immaculate, dedicated training could do. It was just a bit too theatrical for me or too American. There were big gaps where nothing was happening but loud music. But the crowd loved it and whooped and cheered and clapped every time God Blessed America and shouted out ‘Oh yeah!’, every time that it was explained that this type of flying and the aircraft flown went to show that America had the most formidable, capable and best Air Force in the world, to keep them safe. Safe from what? The crowd applauded as one by one the planes landed and the music came to a pleasant end to complete the airshow.

As I returned to Itzy, the plane was now surrounded by the crowd. People had moved forward again to the normal flight line, it had only been moved back for the Thunderbird’s display. I dare go back to the plane. I just stood there watching it being adorned by the crowds of people. It deserved it really. It had got me here! I just flew and moved a stick around occasionally. It was like two separate achievements. I could hide in the crowd. Itzy couldn’t. I wanted to phone my parents and tell them I had arrived, but I couldn’t. I knew I would never keep it together yet, if ever…

Eventually the attention Itzy was getting died down and I could walk back out to him, her, it? But as soon as I opened the canopy, I could see people approaching. I had to talk about building the plane and the journey and what to do if they wanted to build one, and people who were building KR2’s and what they were like to fly. It was little hardship and the least I could do.

Valerie had insisted I tied the aircraft down and returned to ask how I enjoyed the show and to make sure I tied Itzy down. Stakes were supplied and I hammered them into the ground and tied Itzy down. I couldn’t understand why as there was no wind, but I would do anything for Valerie’s piece of mind. She had been so kind.

Three people had stood at the back all the time and only really came to say hello when I had chance to step back. There names were Pablo, Carlos and Alberto. Pablo lived in Australia and worked for Qantas as an engineer but was born in Argentina, Carlos and Alberto quite a bit older and his long time friends on a once in a life time trip to Oshkosh from Argentina and Pablo was looked after them. They had met up in Chicago and hired a motorhome to drive up here in. They were all aviation nuts like me and they’d had a great time here and had been here all week. I asked them lots of questions about what I had missed and Pablo filled me in. He had always liked KR2’s all his life but said he had only seen one other all week. The KR2 is an American design and I expected to see about 10 here. So Pablo was pleased to see another and one that had flown in from England was just a bonus.

The night airshow began with the onset of dark. Aircraft, helicopters the Osprey, some with lights, some with Pyrotechnics, some with both. Two high powered Aerobatic planes took off and pretended to dive bomb the airfield. Ever time they swhooshed low a huge explosion went off, sending big balls of fire and then clouds of black smoke into the air for them to dive through with the aircraft. The Americans like big explosions as for the finally of their display a 500 meter line of explosions was let off. Wow… That’s a lot of smoke. Four Harvard’s doing close formation with spoke and flares a plenty then flew by. In fact there was so much smoke and little wind, it must not have been easy for them to see and stay focussed. The next aircraft was a helicopter, spinning around and around firing off flares and fireworks. Finally it was too dark to see what it was, but some twin radial engined aircraft, with so many neon lights on board it looked like a flying saucer, did a very good display with fire and smoke trailing all the time. With it too dark to be safe, it was time for a fireworks display to music and blessing America again. But quite beautiful it all seemed and a fitting end to the day of days. Itzy was lit up as the fireworks reflected in the shiny paintwork. I tried to take artistic pictures but I think I failed. With the final barrage of explosions, it was over and the commentator which everyone goodnight.

Pablo asked where I was staying. I would have put the tent by the plane, but as Itzy would be surrounded again by tomorrow’s crowd, it didn’t seem wise. Pablo sincerely stated that they had room in their motor home and it would be a sort of honour if I stayed with them. The honour was all mine. Valerie retuned with the John Deer Gator and we all climbed on board and she gave us a lift the several miles through the camp site and crowd. I had no idea this place was so big… There were 200,000 people staying on site, it reminded me of Glastonbury. We eventually arrived on Lindberg and 30th by the motor home and thanked Valerie again for a wonderful reception and I let on that I knew about the Brown Arch. She was delighted and wished us goodnight to set off back into the crowd. Glad of the lift we entered the motor home. Carlos cooked some potatoes and meet, unexpected but welcomed as I had hardly eaten today. Many more questions answered for me to fill in what I had misted. Pablo told me that Alberto had built a Tiger Moth in Argentina. No one just builds a Tiger Moth from drawings, making every single bit, they normally rebuild a wrecked aircraft and go from there. But no, he had built and created every last part, apart from the engine and wheels of course. They had been having plenty of problems with the engine and wanted to know if I knew about them. I did, but my friend Ben was a guru on them, having dealt with the Gypsie engines all his life. I would help them more to overcome the engine problems. But Pablo could see I was bushed and soon everyone went their different ways in this massive motorhome and the table we were sitting at was made into my bed.

Thought for the day: We made it!!! I didn’t care if it was the last but one day, I could fill in with thoughts what it would have been like, the days I had missed. But to just be part of it, if only a little part, that was enough…

Thought for the day: We made it!!! I didn’t care if it was the last but one day, I could fill in with thoughts what it would have been like, the days I had missed. But to just be part of it, if only a little part, that was enough…

Day 43. 03/Aug/2014     Lots to see in a day!                                              Day score 9.

I woke with everyone, else. Wow. I was tired. I mentioned to Pablo last night that that I hoped not to be rude but I wanted to shoot off early, I had lots to try and see today. It was completely understood. But I hadn’t got out the motorhome before seeing, through the open door, in Lindberg and 32nd, a hovercraft and trailer that I recognised. No way?! What possibility was that? I set off to say hello. The guy was Australian and flew with Qantas. I’d introduce him to Pablo, who worked for Qantas also. He was touring America promoting his hovercraft. For those of you who don’t know. I race hovercraft and I’m friends of BBV, the most established racing hovercraft team in the UK. I didn’t know the guy that well but had raced against him in Sweden and at the world championships in Towcester England. Bizarre! He’d had a good week demonstrating his hovercraft so…

Nice talking but I must set off… Back with Itzy I realised I still hadn’t told my friends back home or my parents that I’d arrived ok. I took my Mascot Fredypig and held him up in front of the Oshkosh 2014 Brown Arch and took a photo. I then posted it on my Facebook page with a comment of “He made it!” It was really for one person who I knew it would mean a lot to back home. I then took a picture of me to also post. But the Wifi went down or failed on my phone, so for the first day, the only people who knew who Fredy was, knew I had arrived.

It was early and I took the chance of lack of crowds to run around and try and take it all in. The Museum and anything that was staying here could wait, but the trade stands were already winding down, being their last day, but then all the last day bargains were out to.

Anyone who is anyone was here. Four massive building of trade stands, all sponsored. Actually there was too much money here for me if that is possible. I had walked through a camp site full of half million dollar motorhomes and everything on show was the lasted vastly expensive bit of kit. There is nothing wrong with this of course, but you sort of wondered what had happened to all the grass roots aviation? I know this is progress, but if you just bought the same quick build kit plane and put the latest full TV screen displays in, all the planes would cost a minimum of £150,000 and all look the same. Itzy cost about £20,000. Some of these instrument panels cost more than my whole plane. Anyway, flying is about looking out the window, not looking in at a big TV screen, showing so much information that you didn’t need to look outside, which sort of defeated the object of having the feeling of freedom when you fly.

Oh well.  Towards the home built section was the RV stand. There are more RV aircraft built or being built than all the makes put together, they are that successful and popular. Then the Sonex stand. Their factory is the other side of the runway here apparently and seemingly they had brought over the whole factory and put it on display. Then came the Rotec stand. They were Australian also and had copied the Jabiru mentality of making light weight aircraft engines, but they had made a 5 and 7 cylinder radial engine and very impressive they are too. There was a Chopper motor bike with one of their radial engines in it, Eccentric but nicely done. They also manufacture water cooled cylinder heads for Jabiru engines that are a lot better than the cylinder heads on Itzy. The also make an electronic ignition module, probably better and more reliable than the system on my aircraft right now and a better slide carburettor, giving better fuel economy and control than the simple Bing carburettor that’s also on Itzy now. I chatted about the journey I was on for a while. The guy listened and seemed impressed. He knew of me actually because he remembered my flight to Australia some years ago. He then said “Look mate, for you and only you, and now one has had this deal this week, you can have the heads and the carb for $2,000 and I’ll throw in the electronic ignition!” Wow. It was the deal of the week, month year. I said I would go and think about it.

Ok, I could do with all those parts, they would make Itzy more reliable, more efficient and more powerful. But then I had just rebuilt the heads before leaving and the ignition I had worked and so did the carb. And I didn’t have $2,000 left.

It had cost me £4,800 to get here and I still had some travelling to do around America. I could always see later. I could even get sponsorship out of Rotec later maybe?

The home built section was all RV aircraft, and not that interesting as they are all the same which disappointed me some what... So I continued on and walked out to the war bird section. I came across ‘Glacier Girl’, the p38 Lightening they had recovered from the Greenland Icecap near Kulusuk. This was all brill, but the sky had gone black behind us and I though it might be wise to walk back towards possible cover.

Hum, very black and it started raining and it got a little windy. I ran to the cover of the VIP tent, the guards were helpless due to the number of people running from the cloud burst and here I could see Itzy just 80 meters out there. It rained and rained heavier and heavier until I could no longer see Itzy. Then the wind really hit, blowing down some of the marquee and blowing all the white plastic chairs outside over and some away over the airfield. If this gets any worse I’m going to have to run out and get very wet and sit trying to hold Itzy down. It got worse, the rain was going side wards, you could hear crashing of marquees and leaves and branches broke off the trees and came flying down. But Itzy just sat there not moving. Not sure if it was the tie downs working well or if the small wings make it difficult to lift. It must have been the tie downs because everything else was flying around outside. The rain was spraying all through this VIP marquee from the lifted up sides. There was no shelter from anywhere and everyone and everything was getting wet. But the storm past and things calmed down and half an hour later, everything was put back up or in place. The only difference was the flooding outside.

I walked to the other extremity of the airfield now, only halted by another little storm, sending people running mostly to the Honda Jet huge marquee. There was panic actually as the people waded through the floods outside.

I’m waffling now really. Look come yourself, the place is just awesome as I’ve learnt to say as I headed for the vintage aircraft hangars and section. Food drinks and ice-cream everywhere as the crowds gather again for this afternoon’s airshow. Right at the far end of the runway was a separate little micro-light strip for them to operate off and to the west Bell helicopters like the ones you saw on MASH, were continually busy with pleasure flights. So was the Ford Tri Motors, they had been flying around continually all day, except for the storm.

Oh I needed to phone my parents and tell them I was here. I thought I could hold it all together now. How wrong was I. But at least they knew I was here and safe and enjoying it.

The airshow was similar to yesterday but not as complex or explosive. The Thunderbirds were again the finally. Same patriotism as yesterday and Music. The airshow was shorter to allow aircraft to leave and as soon as the Thunderbirds shut down, lines of taxiing aircraft began. I watched, feeling quite sad that the airport was emptying out. The show was over and people were going home. The trade stands were closing up and I’d only just got here.

I ran back to the main show rooms and bought some radio headset cables, the ones I had were getting old and dodgy. I found out where to get my Artificial Horizon fixed, I had promised I’d fix it if it kept working and it sort of has. I found out where to get a new screen for the radio display and I found a store selling maps. No it can’t be denied that I thought I would be tripping over maps everywhere. But no one seems to stoke them. They must all be flying round on moving map GPS’s or buy them on line. This store boasted the most rugged of maps. Maybe they should supply Iceland’s, which had fallen apart in one flight. There were 37 in total and since I might be doing a lot of flying around America in the next months, I thought I would buy them all. He had run out of 5 maps so that was only 32. They were normally $9.99. On special offer at the show for $8.00 but if I bought them all he would do them for $200. I needed them and this was a bargain. So I walked away with 32 maps or charts I think they call them.

I thought I would run up to the museum and see the full extremity of the airfield. It was big and went on and on. I found the Theatre in the woods which had held many a forum and also saw that they had an outside film theatre every night, put on by the Ford motor company, who had a big stand amongst all the corporate jet stands. Some great films had been shown that I had yet to see, dam! The museum was miles away but I was soon there, taking as much water as I needed from the bottles discarded everywhere, and it was hot... The EAA museum and headquarters is a massive building. It would be open all week so I could see inside later. There was a Kids zone with young people playing outside over in Pioneer Airfield section, an area of old vintage style hangars and since it was the only sign of life, except for some caterers who seemed to have eaten most of their food themselves, I headed towards the children playing football, or soccer as its known here..

There was a chapel of remembrance and a little hill to climb with signs every 100 yards around the path to the top, explaining the history of the EAA. Just about gone dark by now as I wondered through the EAA grounds. I came across a marquee and a lot of people. It was the volunteer’s end of ‘Airventure’ Party. There was beer and food flowing everywhere. I didn’t dare, but I eventually asked a guy what was going on. He explained what it was and said to go grab some food as there was plenty of it. Done!!!

Later I found him to ask another question. Itzy was still out on the flight line and I needed to know where to move him to. “Hey are you that English guy with the KR2?” “Yep!” Names names names but he was from the International arrivals department and wanted to know why I hadn’t been to see him. I wasn’t told to when I registered, but I told him I think it was all a bit late in the day, so.  His wife told me that, “Someone wants to meet you!” I was led to meet Charlie Becker. He was the director of the EAA museum and communications. I asked him where I could move Itzy to and he said, the plane would be fine there for a few days and not to worry. He asked if I’d eaten and if I had somewhere to stay. I was fine and in fact I better get back. I hadn’t arranged anything with Pablo, but they said I was welcome to stay there again and I thought it rude not to return and to just disappear. So I said by goodnights and headed off into the night, back towards the camp site. This place is huge… Charlie would like me to write an article…

Back at the motorhome I was welcomed. It wasn’t that late actually? Back down here it gets darker earlier. They had saved some food for me. I dare say I’d stuffed my face at the volunteer’s party so I sat to eat. We spent hours talking of what there was here. They agreed I’d done well to see so much in a day. I told them about meeting Charlie and that I thought everything would be ok…

Pablo showed me pictures of Alberto’s Tiger Moth and a short video of him being interviewed by Argentinean TV about it. I was still amazed by the fact he built one from scratch. It was being rebuilt though because of the engine problems forced a landing and it tipped over when touching the ground. He was not alone, I told him of the many stories about Tiger Moth crashes that I know. Ben is rebuilding two at the moment and had rebuilt many. Pablo told me that Alberto knew of brand new Gypsie engines still in boxes. I told them how much they are worth in the UK. They were for sale? But I said we would only want to buy them because we wanted to sell them on for a profit… It was rude to be interested in them. Alberto then invited myself and Ben to fly out to Argentina if we would come and look over his engine to make it reliable. Wow… I knew Ben wanted to go to Argentina for something so I said I would definitely get back to them on that one. Carlos’s English language was not so good but I’m sure he was the dark horse of the group, Alberto was the practical joker of the three, but he could not speak too well because he’d had a tracheotomy and Pablo did well to understand and translate. I can play and know a few jokes though to, so I got on well with them all.
I promised them a copy of my DVD, I’d get it for them first thing tomorrow.

Thought for the day: Shame it’s all over and sad, but glad a got a taste for it all.

Day 44. 04/Aug/2014     Bikes and coolers.                                               Day score 10.

The guys needed to set off early to get the motorhome back and then be three hours ahead of the flight time, so I ran down and got them a DVD of my Australia trip out of the aircraft and ran back. Photos were taken and fond farewells. It was amazing luck that Pablo had just caught the tail of Itzy with KR2 on it as they walked through the crowds or we may have never met and had such a good time.
I waved them goodbye as they set off.

Down by the flight line again with Itzy, I met an elderly gent called Dennis. He was partly responsible for taking things down and tidying up around the Brown Arch. The Thunderbirds departed, as did a lot of the other military aircraft and war birds and Dennis and I got chatting, as you do. It was Monday, the post office would be open and I could go and get my bike. I asked Dennis where the post office was and he pointed to a brown building on the other side of the airfield. He said he would give me a lift round if I liked, but I could see they were busy so I declined and set off to walk. About half way round near some buildings, Dennis drove past again in his John Deer Gator. He said he was going to the other side of the airfield to help his wife with the bags from the hotel as they were on the second floor and to jump on. This I did and soon I was lifting suitcases down the stairs and loading them in their car. His wife Judy was not busy so she ran me round to the post office and I picked up my box. They USPS had it in their stores for some time and they were glad to see it going to its owner. When I posted it, the box was square, now it was squished and ripped open a little. I hoped it was all still in there.

Back at the airfield I helped Dennis for the rest of the day just doing whatever he needed to be done, in thanks for him helping with the bike box.

The volunteers all get fed and watered and there were vast quantities of water, Soda and food to be collected in from all over and re-distributed. Chairs needed moving, buildings checked, coolers and fridges off with doors jammed open. I helped load his trailer up and return some of the excess golf buggies. They rent golf buggies for the show. There were over 1,000 of them. At least 200 Gators and 200 mopeds, all to be cleaned and go back into storage for another year. I mentioned my broken cooler and because we had done so well and Dennis now had some spare time, he took me to a couple of Motor Factors to try and find one. But none of them had this oil cooler as it was so small. We went round and had a look at Bezler, they do the PT6 gas turbine conversions on the DC3’s and in their back compound lay countless DC3’s of all states and conditions either waiting to be converted or just robbed of any useful parts left. It was so sad to see DC3 fuselages lying side by side of in the woods. We ended up with a tour of the Fox Flight Engineering Academy, when stopping to ask where this unique racing team supplier’s was. It was just across the road.  They called it the Fox Academy because it’s the River Fox that flows through Oshkosh town, linking the near by lakes with Lake Michigan. At the race car suppliers, they didn’t have an oil cooler either and a few phone calls around proved we were not likely to find one in the country. Not a problem, as long as I knew, I would just order one from home now.

Back at Dennis’s base, Judy had stock piled me some food and Soda’s for the next few days as a thank you. I was told I could pitch my tent there as it would not be in the way and everything was alright. I thanked them both for all their help today, but they thanked me for making their day easier. It had been a pleasure. I waved them off home as they had a three hour drive south.

The only activity left was a load of guys finishing of a Zenith kit plane that had been built in one week, all by volunteers at the show. It was basically finished and I saw it taxiing yesterday, just a few teething problems. I helped them a little so that I could sign my name on the plane, like several other hundred people had also. It was finished but not painted yet, of course.

I found that the large lean to, on the end of the home builder’s centre, where I had booked in, was still open. Well neither door could be locked. It had large open netted windows and benches and power sockets and wifi. I could just sit here and catch up with all the events I needed to. This was perfect as I could lay out all my paperwork and sort out everything I needed to keep or send home.

There were cardboard boxes stroon all over the place, so I gathered some up and took everything out of the plane and brought over the box with my mountain bike in. All I had with me on this trip was now in one well vented cool room. All I had to do was sort it out.

Thought for the day: Dennis and Judy were lovely. I really enjoyed the day. It’s awfully quiet now though.

Day 45. 05/Aug/2014    Will it fly won’t it.                                                 Day score 8.

In the morning, they were still playing with the Zenith. Engine runs and so on. Charlie Becker was there again. He said not to worry about anything and just make yourself at home. So indeed I did. I sat in my ‘quite large’ shelter and watched the B17 Flying Fortress doing circuits and the Swallows, who had nested from a suspended light in the front porch. The EAA guys and girls had strung up a little platform underneath the nest so their mess didn’t fall on anyone. Some of the four babies were having their first maiden flights.

I ordered a new oil cooler, which was a pain since my credit card and address here did not tie up. Hopefully it’s on its way.

I opened the box with my bike in. It was all still in there, rapped in the many towels and rags I had brought along for it. I put it back together, which cheered me up. It’s sad to watch everything getting taken down. With the bike back together, I went pilfering for more water and soda and food, it was left about everywhere.

I took time to get to know some of the security staff. I might be here some time, so I thought it wise. One of the ladies had never seen pound notes so I went through our money with them and shared some calenderers I had found. But soon I returned, to continue sorting photos paperwork and the dreaded diary.

Thought for the day: Strangely I’m in no rush. I just need to reflect and quantify and resolve issue at a steady pace and recover somewhat.

Day 46. 06/Aug/2014   Paper Scissors Stone.                                              Day score 5.

More paperwork, today I did the accounts. It cost £4,488 to get here, 1/3rd of that was spent in three days in Greenland.

Later I took a ride out to Subway for dinner. I also rode out to buy some clear fablon and some blue starry fablon. I bought some scissors as well, now I can cut out some template KR2 stickers a couple of inches across. I would have stuck them on the door at Narsarsuaq if I could. I love the bike…

Thought for the day: My co-inhabitants are not happy with my presence, but hey ho. I think all the four young birds have now flown as the nest was empty earlier. They all come back at night. I can see fireworks off in the distance… I sort of get a bit upset about people having a better time than me… But that’s life, and writing my reports isn’t that bad. Feel quite alone though again at nights.

Day 47. 07/Aug/2014     Time to go…                                                          Day score 6.

It was time to move the plane today. It was the only one left out there. I took the opportunity to move it right up to the Brown Arch and took plenty of photos. All the tedds got their Brown Arch photo as well. I pulled the aircraft 200 meters closer to my Home Built headquarters base.

With the scissors and clear fablon, I could cut out and mount all the stickers from the various locations I’ve stopped or stayed in. It made me quite proud of the friends I had made, except for the Kulusuk stickers, which was a shame because it was quite nice.

There is one of the three young swallows who can’t fly like the other rest. Is fines it hard. I’m not sure if it deformed, or weaker or what but he or she struggles to fly. I put some apple cake out for it, in case it gets ignored or left behind during the daily sorties by the others. Certainly loud enough.

Later in the day I took a ride out to the EAA maintenance hangar. They call it the  Kermit Meek’s hangar, because I think he must have sponsored itt. Kirmet Meeks has his own collection of War Birds down in Florida. A War Bird can be any aircraft that was flown through either the first, second or Korean or Cold war, but they are normally 40 to 60 years old now.

 I met Olivia at the front desk and she invited me in to have a look around. Inside there were the two Ford Tri Motors, various Aerobatic aircraft from the airshow, a spitfire Mark 12 that had a damaged rudder because some one put the tow arm on upside down and bent the rudder when towing it. The Zenith Build in a week was now in here and outside were the B17 and a couple of Harvard T6’s.  I asked John, the hangar foreman if it would be Ok to change my oil cooler over here when ever it turns up. I wanted to change the oil as well as it had no doubt been cooked on the way here. Nothing would be a problem and I could bring Itzy over anytime. Brill!

I hooked into their Wifi while I was there. No sign of the oil cooler yet. I had swapped emails with the company I bought it of saying Fedex didn’t recognise the address. Well the box with the bike in got here and it was a straight copy from the USPS web site. So I knew it had been delayed. But…

I rode out into to town through the suburbs of square blocks and straight toads. This was either an affluent town or America and Canada was all like this, which means I should move... The houses were big along with the cars and the jet boats and quad bikes. But the security guards looking after the Honda Jet marquee said it was a rough town with a drugs problem? I came across ‘South Park’ street. It’s an American comedy cartoon show that I really enjoy watching.

The centre of town and down by the River Fox, which split the town in two was quite stunning. The river narrows between Lake Butte Des Morts, which leads all the way back up north to Canada and Lake Winnebago, which leads on to Lake Michigan. Well here where it narrowed it was crossed by many bridges, well that was quite beautiful to. There were little quays next to the coffee shops and motor boats were moored up everywhere, with their occupants all enjoying the sun. I rode out to the Lake Winnebago. I had read signs that the County Fair was on at the Winnebago County Park. I knew it was north of the city and I must have been more than half way there now so I decided to ride out and take in whatever was there. I had to take directions as I didn’t want to ride out miles the wrong way, but I went wrong, and ended up riding through some retirement home gardens. Luckily as I exited, there was the Show Ground. $12 to get in and there were horse displays, dog handling displays, food stall, a large enough fun park with all the usual rides, there was a small rodeo, but I got there a little late and the evenings entertainment was a ‘Tractor Pull’ in the main arena which was also the towns speedway or banger race track for want of a better word. I chained my bike to the railing and went to sit in the stalls out of the evening sun. A tractor pull is where you take different classes of tractor and they have to pull a sledge with a massive weight on it, as they progress along the 150 meter track the weight moved forward and the sledge digs in more and eventually becomes immovable. The tractor stops or skids and they measure the distance.

Before it started there was as ever the parade of honour, the Beauty Queens were paraded but the judges must have been bribed and a lady sang the Stars and Stripes just, while everyone stood with their hand to their heart. I know that sounds very cynical, maybe I’m a cynical person, but poor God can only Bless America so many times before he gets a bit miffed about doing it?

The two guys behind me were talking sense and not long after we introduced ourselves. There was Scott and Dean, Scott was a construction manager who looked after building sites being built and used. Seemingly many companies just lease the building and the building is maintained by someone else. Dean was a dairy farmer and new his tractors. At last a chance to chat to people who really knew the area well and I must have bored them with my many questions. I wanted to go and check my bike was still there, but Scott said that I wouldn’t have needed to chain it up. I asked why and he said the people who were here tonight were good honest working type of people and they knew it wasn’t there bike and they would leave it alone… Wow. Go further south, he explained and chains and concrete wouldn’t save it. The discussion on politics was very interesting also. I put there anguished minds at rest saying it was similar all over the world. I explained our tax system and how many people work contracts now because of working rules. Scott’s family were some where Scandinavian having a surname of Halvorson and he knew about there tax system.  Dean’s farming way off life was fascinating. He was a dairy farmer but grew a lot of crops, because he fed a lot of his young calves as they grew up to then hand them over to the dairy farms. I think the size and nature of his farm would dwarf any back home. I told him we had no dairy farms now because we could import cheaper Polish milk. Now that was getting expensive with the catch up of wages in Eastern Europe, it was too late, many of the British dairy herds had gone and they don’t come back easily.

I mentioned my aircraft at Oshkosh and they couldn’t believe my flight over here. They both had flown, Scott quite a lot and he was going to Reno. I said I would meet him there… Small world! They asked how I paid for such a journey and I explained about the minimal costs actually if you stick to the 100 day rule. But then I had to go as the sun was setting, but the tractor pull was just getting exciting with the more powerful tractors now starting. Dean said I could put the bike in the back of his truck and they would give me a lift back? Tempting but I couldn’t really ask that much. But then the tractor pull, and it was a long way back, in the dark and my legs were tired. So I accepted. After the show we took highway 41 back to the airfield. I knew which gates would be opened and I invited them to see the plane, not to get a door to door service, honestly. I did this because when people actually see the plane for real, they always say “Wow, it really is small!” as if my explanations were never enough. With photos took, the both disappeared in to the night. Thanks guys, that was a brilliant evening.

When I got back, the swallow family were back in their nest, but the poor little swallow, who found it difficult to fly was on the ground. I went to pick him up, I and other people had done it before, but he flew of into the dark. Dam. On the wet grass it would never survive, so I had to get a torch and look for it. I flattened that torch and got another much brighter one. Fearful that the ‘All Seeing Eye’ like in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, in the large control tower - just back a little, would wonder what the light was, I had to do it in stealth mode. Eventually I saw it near a marquee. I scooped it up, much to its annoyance and fear of being killed and placed it on the little table suspended below the nest. You could sense the fear of the other swallows, even though I had turned the torch off, followed by an ‘Oh?’ he placed the other one back. You could hear them then talking to each other once I had sat back inside by this laptop. From going to so much good company to silence and an empty airfield again was too much, so Indian Jones came to the rescue to take my mind off this until my phone was charged and I needed sleep.

Thought for the day: Why is there always one, never any fully successful stories around me. Poor little swallow. Why can’t he survive and fly as effortlessly as his brothers and sisters now are?

Day 48. 08/Aug/2014  More paperwork. But its sterling stuff.                 Day score 4.

The little swallow has flown off… Well it’s definitely not there. All it needs to do is grow stronger, it may not be the best flyer, but I’m sure it could adapt.

All the paper work is sorted now. I just need to finish the diary so I can put the flight plans and paperwork for that part of the journey away and box it to send home.

Argh!!! They have turned the internet off. Dam, it was so useful. I don’t really need it desperately and apparently it’s still on at the Red Barn and Andy’s service centre, just all these remote spots have been turned off. I never caught up with any news from home… I’m really friendly now with all the security guards and the last of the volunteers, who will be departing this weekend. I also have become friends with Andy and Dennis, Andy is a full time employee of the airfield here, which is run by the EAA.

I think it was time for a break and to go and see the EAA museum. I rode up there. It was free entry to members. I am now one… Oh dear, this is going to be silly. From the entry foyer roof were suspended 3 Christen Eagle Aerobatic bi planes and two of the first original Pitts Specials that would the Aerobatic world championships. Why were they hanging from the roof, in a vertical display of three admittedly, but what I would do to own and fly such a plane back home and here they have them spare to display in a foyer???

I walked around quickly to see how big it was and decided how much time I should spend and where. It was big. I started in the War Bird section. Fascinating…There was a mock up or spare nuclear bomb that they dropped on Hiroshima and the documentation that went with the decision path and justification to use such a weapon in the secret weapon section. And quite what the battle for Mid Way and the pacific has quite to do with the EAA, I’m not sure.

Next I took in the early flight and history of flight section. But we all know about the Wright Flyer and Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis. The only link with these aircraft and the EAA was that the EAA had made flying replicas of these famous aircraft.

The experimental area was much more interesting. Dominating the auditorium were the array of imaginative and ingenuative aircraft from Dick and Burt Rutan. There were so many from, the earlier craft through the canards to Voyager, first aircraft around the world non stop (6 days) to finally a copy of SpaceShipOne. Not sure quite what three involvement was in that, I think their company made the mother launch ship. It was to win the $10.000,000 ‘X’ prize for creating the first commercial reusable space ship. There were many other firsts in the hangar and prototypes. The first RV series aircraft were there, and one off’s, like the smallest plane to fly with about 4 foot wings and the first car/plane, what ever you want to call that. A car with wings sort of thing. Now, hung on the wall was a Thorpe T-18, the first home built aircraft to fly around the world. Dam! Its been done then… Oh well. The guy was mad and really quite old to try and achieve all of what he had done. He had a very big fuel tank sitting on the passenger seat. His longest flight was from Hawaii to California. It was 2,394 miles and took him 16 hours and 45 minutes. Mad??? You see people say what I’m trying to do is a bit mad, but compared to other people. I think I’m staying completely sane!

The kid area was fun and the historical area was also excellent.

The EAA was set up by Paul and Audrey Poberezny from their house in Hales Corner? I wonder why it was called that and if it has a link with my family name? Anyway they had the Post-box that all the mail arrived in, encased in glass there along with the typewriter that Audrey and Paul responded with. The Americans are very good at keeping hold of their history and displaying it. Maybe because they haven’t got that much? Ours is spread to thin and nothing is preserved for prosperity.

It was closing time, but I think I did the museum justice, I can always return any time if I feel so inclined.

I rode out to subway again, where there is free internet. No sign of an oil cooler yet and no sign of a tracking number that I’ve constantly asked for.  How will I know it’s turned up except living at the post office, if I can’t track it… You just want a guy to do a decent job. It’s a company called Demon Tweeks. I was dealing with the international sales teem. Sure it is obvious to them that I need to track it??? Idiots…

On the way back I noticed a stadium that I hadn’t seen before. Was it coming down from Airventure? No it seemed to be going up. There was a lot of plugging in and lifting of speakers. This was a huge stadium or arena or stage? Was Gun’s and Roses going to play there? I asked a few people, but they did not know, they were either just security or just putting it up… I headed back home… The EAA site is now looking more like a bomb site. Some Marquees are coming down but there are still quite a lot left up?

The swallows are back, seemingly all of them, it looks like rain and they are not so stupid.

Thought for the day: I hope the little swallow has rejoined its family tonight. It would be about the first thing I had helped nurture back to health.

Day 49. 09/Aug/2014     Something big is about to happen!                      Day score 9.

More diary and I really need to get that Dawn to Dusk competition report completed if not printed or it won’t be excepted in the competition... Maybe I can email it to someone to print out and send in from home? A guy walked in wanting to know if he could plug his drill in to charge it. I told him it was not my building or power, but to go ahead. His name was Gene, not sure of the spelling, but… I walked out with him. He and his brother, called Bob, had been given the job to dismantle one of the small aircraft that had been parked outside for static display, while the hangars were used for forums or workshops. The aircraft were steadily going back in to where they belonged, under good storage, but I have to admit, it’s all taking a lot longer than I though.

This little unrecognised by plane belonged to a school or college where it had originally been built and Bob and Gene had to load it on a trailer and return it to the college, so as it could be re-furbed a bit and either hung up or looked after better than being left outside. It looked quite a sorry little biplane. Researching a little further, this was a one off. The school or college had designed it and built it. It wasn’t a kit, it was a one off aircraft. Wow! This needed to be looked after… I helped them finish taking off the lower wings, which were just hold on by almost nails or tiny bolts in big holes and then loading it on to their trailer. I found them some discarded carpet underlay. Its’ everywhere, there are masses of it at the corner of every dismantled marquee. This we used to place on the trailer and then rap the wings up in it before tying them down. It all went very well and the plane was secured quickly and thanked me, but it was a pleasure. We had chatted at length about politics and human nature. It was a brill conversation. They set off and I needed to get back to this report… Shame it won’t write itself.

Some guy on a fork lift truck has just walked up to my tent and half packed it away, rolled the rest up and pushed it to one side, then got back on his truck and drove off. I can see my tent but its half a mile away. I better go and get it.

I knew it… He’s broke some of the poles in his roughness and haste. So what the hell was that for??? I’ll try and get them glued back together or renewed.

I rode out to the Kermit Meeks hangar to use there internet if anything else and possibly shout at the Demon Tweeks guys I’d emailed and phoned regularly demanding a Tracking number. There was no tracking number in my email inbox, so I got on the phone. The guy was almost giving me grief about it, saying “Hang on hang on, I’ll try and see what’s going on here! I knew what was going on, they were not doing their job properly, that’s what was going on. He stated the old chestnut that his colleague had dealt with this order. I do not care, just give me a tracking number. I was given one, which wasn’t hard and put the phone down on them as if I was not impressed. I tracked it with the help of Olivia’s computer. The cooler was in Germany? Brill. I’m free for the weekend then…   

In the evening I went to check up on the stadium and find out what is about to occur. “Pathfinders”, a global gathering of venture girl guides and scouts, but with a religious theme or twist. Its going to be called the “International Pathfinders Camporee!” It’s held every five years, this is the 8th time its been held and the 4th time at Oshkosh. They use the facilities and marquees that are left over from the EAA Airventure…  That is why not everything has been taken down…

The venture leader I was talking to, who was setting up his camp before his group of children arrived, said that they are all associated with the ‘Seventh day Adventist Church? Each year there is a theme chosen and this year it is the preaching and story of Daniel? I was lost… He was ‘Forever Faithful’ to his lord Jesus Christ and that was the theme name for the Camp, “Forever Faithful!” Completely lost! The stage was being set for performances of Daniels story. The first being ‘Daniel in the lion’s den’. That’s the one where Daniel meets a lion with a thorn in his paw and Daniel pulls it out. When Daniel gets thrown to the lions, by the Romans I suppose, it’s the same lion who remembers his kindness and won’t eat him and everyone is happy and has a party. The guy explaining this wanted to make the point that this story was true because it actually ties up with what is recorded in history. I wanted to ask “And the rest of the bible doesn’t then?” But he had been kind to explain all this to me, and I thanked him and rode back to town for food. Wow… Apparently there could be 40,000 of them and they arrive on Tuesday the 12th

Ok, I have to try Hardee’s as its nearest and cheap and cheerful. I had a chicken Sandwich and Coke. It looks as if, from copies of their old posters of Burgers for 15 cents and 1960’s cars, that that they have been around for some time.

Thought for the day: Its all go… I must go as well, but no oil cooler and still plenty to see…

Day 50. 10/Aug/2014   Pioneer heaven…                                                  Day score 10.

I had to break up the monotony of the diary and the paperwork, so about I rode up to the Pioneer Airfield hangars. The first hangar was entitled the Wittman Hangar. Now, my friend has a Wittman Tailwind back in the UK, but I didn’t realise this Wittman was the same guy. He had a really poor eye, but refused to let it hold him back. He built his own aircraft from ideas and a motorbike engine when he was 18. It was called ‘The Hardly’ or something like that, because it could hardly fly and it crashed on an early flight. But this guy was a prolific builder, back in the 50,s pushing out aircraft after aircraft, designing new concepts and thoughts. He developed aircraft to air race them and was very successful himself. He was based here and indeed, even though the event is called the EAA Oshkosh Airventure, the airfield is Wittman Regional Airport. Well I never… The hangar was full of his prototypes…

The next hangar was the Peitenpol hangar, the original hangar, taken down and moved here. Mr Peitenpol wanted to design a very safe, easy to fly, easy to build, cheap aircraft. He took a high wing, boxy design and placed Henry Fords Model T
engine on the front, as at the time they were kicking about all over the place. But with the radiator in front of the pilot and engine sticking out high, you couldn’t see forward. Anyway, the design is still very popular today, but with more available and sympathetic engines.

The next hangar had unique and significant aircraft. One aircraft, the Travel Air E-400, The Travel Air company was founded by Clyde Cessna, Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech. These names all feature in the aircraft that a lot of people fly around in today.

The next hangar was the Pitcairn hangar. Again a very prolific designer of aircraft, creating the first planes to successfully carry airmail. He seems to have been hard done by though and the war seemed to have got in the way of a lot of these people aircraft empires.

Finally was the Ryan hangar. Ryan was the only aircraft company that replied positively to Charles Lindberg’s letter requesting weather they could build a plane that could cross the Atlantic. 6 weeks after arriving, Lindberg flew away with his aircraft for trials and soon crossed the Atlantic. There was a big race on due to another large reward or prize for the first solo crossing of the Atlantic. Lindberg did it about a week before others tried. Most of the others crashed and died trying… But you don’t hear of them and I’ve forgotten their names already.
He arrived over Paris in the dark, at night. It would scare me, how could he navigate to the airfield, but apparently there were thousands of cars lining the runway a few miles north of Paris and he couldn’t miss it. People tore fabric off the plane as a souvenir and almost tour Lindberg apart as well, he had to be rescued from the crowd.
I rode out for Hardee’s again and returned to check up on the stage and arena. Very impressive! They were rehearsing though now and I got asked to leave by security.

Thought for the day: The tour of the Pioneers Airport and hangars has filled in a big gap in my aeronautical knowledge. I did enjoy today…

Day 51. 11/Aug/2014     Planning ahead.                                                   Day score 9.

Dennis, one of the many volunteers, still cleaning the million scooters they used during the EAA Airventure, before putting them into winter storage, along with VW beetles and countless golf buggies, well Dennis stopped me as I was riding out. He said he used to live over by Reno and if I had the maps he would go through them with me and select a route. I said a definite yes, but I would be back later. I wanted to go see if my oil cooler had turned up.

It was Monday today, the post office was open again! So I rode through a herd of young people who had started arriving already, up to the Big Red Barn to get some food. The Big Red Barn was open again, acting as a supply store for all the new camping arrivals. If you wanted bulk quantities, to feed an army, it was ok, but nothing much in there for me… I wanted to see inside though all the same, as I had missed it during EAA Airventure. The cue of arriving coaches full of enthusiastic pathfinders was about a mile long now. I dropped in to the Kermit Meeks EAA maintenance hangar to sponge some wifi off them and to see if Demon Tweeks and Fedex had managed to get my oil cooler closer than Germany.

It had arrived! I rode to the post office to pick it up. It seems Ok? Back at the Meeks hangar Olivia introduced me again to John, the hangar foreman. He said I could taxi over here tomorrow to fit it…Sorted. I went to Hardee’s again for lunch dinner and to ‘Target Supermarket’, for coke and cookies and ice-cream and a DVD to cheer me up. The queue on the way back was now 3 miles. Thank goodness I was on my bike. Past security, just don’t stop. So that is what a camp of 46,000 kids looks like. Manic… Pure bedlam, and they haven’t all arrived yet.

I found Dennis again and we sat through the maps I bought and roughly set a route. I have to cross the Rockies and they are quite high apparently, 12,000ft in places, higher than Greenland. But there is a valley north of Salt Lake City where everyone goes through, its only about 6,000ft and 8,000ft would see you safely through. But Dennis said to go in the morning, because of thermic turbulence later in the day. That was brill Dennis, thanks. I headed back as rain was on its way. It was forecast, there is a front going through tonight, with imbedded Cu-nim thunderstorms. That will be fun for all those happy campers.

The DVD I bought is so apt. It was in the $5 bargain section. It’s called “Paul”. Two English guys come to America to go to a weird comic sci-fi convention. Then they hire a motorhome to tour America and all the Alien encounter sites. They actually come across an Alien called Paul? They befriend him and help him get to Devils Tower, the funny shaped rock that is at the end of “Close Encounters” and the very place I asked Dennis to point out as I want to fly past it on my way to Reno… Weird. I laughed a lot tonight. The Swallows are back. I wish I could see six, two adults and four kids, one with a bit of an awkward flying style, but who knows. I saw five… They were back because they knew it was about to rain…

Thought for the day: Itzy is getting the wash I promised him. It is heaving down. The fields are flooded again and the wind is howling. Of those 46,000 kids 10,000 will have been washed away, and 20,000 will be soaked through. It will be a lake and mud bath. They will all want to be going home tomorrow. With all the religious good will and emotional emphasis on believing in the bible to their degree, well their weather Gods have not been very good to them tonight. The weather is supposed to be better for the rest of the week. I want to stay around and look around this ‘Pathfinder Camporee’ though as it looks interesting. All the different activities I’ve seen them set up for the kids, I’d like to have a go at some of them myself.

Thought for the day: I have an oil cooler! Poor kids. It’s a nasty night.

Day 52. 12/Aug/2014  Different aircraft, different purpose.                   Day score 10.

More paperwork, more diary. Getting close to the end. I won’t tell you where I am or you will think I’m making it al up. I’m not, I’m using pieces of paper and photos to try and remember. Names I have a problem with, events I do not…

About midday though the weather had improved and all the low cloud from last nights storm cleared. I pulled Itzy out to P1 and called up Oshkosh Ground. I requested permission to taxi to the Kermit Meeks hangar and it was given.

I pulled up by the hangar. John was there and Charlie Becker, still playing with the build in a week Zenith. I started work right away explaining I had all the tools necessary. All I didn’t have is somewhere to poor the waist oil in to for the engine oil change. It would have only taken an hour or so, but four later and I’m done. I’d been talking to everyone and got shown around the Ford Tri Motors by the guy who looks after them and had the whole hangar ethos explained to me at length. Just as they were closing up, s couple of young instructors came over to talk about my KR2. They were going flying and asked if would hang around for an hour so they could talk more. The least I could do I thought. Before John and his crew left, they had been changing a main wheel on the B17 Flying Fortress, I asked if it was ok to push my aircraft closer to take pictures. Of course it was ok, I just thought it rude not to ask. I took some thought provoking photos. Two aircraft, very very far apart with their purpose and design. A heavy, powerful, four engined bomber, designed for destruction and a light weight, single engined, homebuilt, designed for putting a smile on peoples faces.

The young instructors returned in the lightweight Cessna craft. I know of them but I’ve never seen one in the UK. They were low time pilots wanting to build hours to gain a commercial license, just like I was. They wanted to build a KR2 because it was cheap, easy and really fast. I had to put them right. We spent about an hour going over the ins and outs of building aircraft instead of working hard and buying into one. I was as honest as I could be, gave what I thought was good, original, thought provoking views, to make sure they researched hard all other options. With a shake of hands and more photos, it was time to taxi Itzy back to 
my ‘Home Built Aircraft’ area. People had been arriving all day to park near the Camporee. I think they were going to give ‘Young Eagles’ flights to the Camporee guys and girls. When I taxied down to where I have been all week, the controller called up that I was going the wrong way. I told him that I wasn’t and that I was happy to go where I was. He replied that he couldn’t understand why I had gone down here though. I said I was fine and said goodnight and switched off the radio before he got even more confused.

Later I went to go to the main arena, but couldn’t find a way out as all the gates were locked. The area the kids had been using today inside Oshkosh was off limits after 8pm and they had locked all the gates. Eventually I found the one and only way out. I followed the crowds of people, on my bike, to the Night entertainment in the main Arena. When it started it was about an hour of praying and blessing and I thought better of it though and to go and get food before it went completely dark.

Hardee’s again because it was the closest and then rush back because it was dark.

The main show had begun and I only caught the last 20 mins when Daniel had already risen from the Lion’s den. It wasn’t the Romans, this was all much earlier, about the Babylonians and their cities and kings. It was good, but too soon it was over for the night, to be continued and everyone piled out. I struggled to get through the 40,000 kids and adults and golf buggies. And I struggled to get back in, but luckily one of the security guards recognised me and I cycled back to more diary and sleep.

Thought for the day: Itzy is ready to leave, but am I? Err definitely Not!!!  

Day 53. 13/Aug/2014   More, but I like it…                                                Day score 7.

Close, I’m in Canada. When I write it I see the humour value and unbelievability!

It’s quite intense this diary writing. It’s way too long, but contains all I want to remember. I’ll use it for reference and shorten it to write articles, a book and film.

So for a break, I put Gromit on my back, put a cap on, because the weather is hot and sunny and I went to explore the Camporee.

As we used to get ‘Badges’ in Cubs and Scouts for different activities, here it seems you get ‘Honours’. There are possibly several hundred to claim and you can make your own up as well? Quite what you have to for them seems a mystery, but there was a ‘Derby Car Honour’. This is famous in America, where you build a free wheeling Derby Car from a kit and race them down a sloped track. ‘Basic Electrics Honour’, ‘Wildlife Honour’, ‘Cat Honour’, ‘Dog Honour’, ‘Religious History Honour’. Outside there was a ‘Wooden Mallet Honour’, where you cut up your own pieces of mallet, made your own nail and nailed them together. There was an ‘Adventure Course Honour’, ‘Bicycle Honour’.  Once you got the Honour, you got a pined badge or pin for short. I had been asked often if I wanted to exchange pins quite often. I had none to exchange. Seemed strange to be able to get an honour pin then trade it? To entertain the masses between honours, as you had to book and they all had set times, there was slot car racing, bouncy castles galore and ball games and climbing towers and rope slides. They had a ‘Sinking Titanic’ inflatable to climb and slide down, like in the film. Motor cross display teams, stunt cycle teams. As a kid I would have liked it.

There were halls of merchandise to. ‘Forever Faithful’, because Daniel was ‘Forever Faithful’ to his lord. Well ‘Forever Faithful’ T’ shirts were the order of the day. Actually all the different unions and church districts from around the world, about 400, had their own different T’ shirt design, but with the same logo somewhere on it. There were Pin stalls where you could buy all sorts of pins. They were not cheap. Those people I had seen weighed down by them must have spent a fortune then? You could buy all sorts of religious books and paraphernalia. Not my seen, so I left.

There were drums playing and marching bands practising for a march, scheduled later in the day, but I was getting hungry and I took a roasted sweet corn because it had the shortest queue near the food area, pizza had the biggest queue. I sat down to absorb it all in. Gromit was a silly idea as 45,000 kid wanted to play with him. A ventriloquist with a lion called ‘Chico’ entertained well taking the pressure of Gromit and I... Considering that lions played a large part of the logo design and a place in the story of Daniel, Chico was a star. There was a live lion in a pen and Donkeys and camels and goats in the ‘Wildlife Honour’ area.

Gromit and I stayed to watch the marching parade, with a role call to start with and flags a plenty. Then I needed to go back to the diary. I’m on the final day now.

Ok, this time I’d go out earlier for food, take the folding chair that Pablo left me and sit down earlier and take in the show. So it was Subway tonight, then head back before dark. Tonight’s continuation of the story, after prayers and their theme song - which was scaringly hypnotic – sung by people who just shouldn’t smile and be that happy, tonight’s story was ‘The Kings Dream!’ Obviously I’d mist a lot, but Daniel and his Jewish friends had been taken prisoner. Now, not been eaten by lions had upgraded their tickets somewhat. But now all the wise men of the city would be killed if no one could tell the King what his dream meant. But God told Daniel what it was all about and he and his friends were saved. Hurrah! Then, to be continued, followed by a trendy preacher called ‘Paster Sam’, I’m not making it up, doing the final preaching ‘how the story of Daniel is relative to the kids lives today’ and if anyone of them wanted to be baptised, head down to the front, followed by lights up and a mass exodus.

Rather than face the music of security guards not wanting to let me get back in, I had been given the main gate security number, so I rode down there and tried it. Easy!

I know security guards, Jim, Sandra, Sarah, Angela, Damien, Paul and John. One of them would have let me in, but I’d rather not inconvenience them.

Back to write more reports.

Thought of the day: I know I’m harping on about them, but I think I need to do the reports and articles. I can’t deny there importance. I don’t want fame, honest, but a little notoriety wouldn’t go a miss and may help me in the future if ever I get a little stuck . And trust me, at some point, somewhere around the world, I’m sure to.

Day 54. 14/Aug/2014    Close, but not yet.                                                  Day score 7.

I keep justifying the reason I’m still here to the security guards, but they say I’m the least of their worries.

Seems like it really is time to go though as the B17 taxied out and went off on tour. I never asked where it was going?  I could probably have got a flight in that, but I just want to clear this diary and pack all paperwork away.

I took an afternoon break to go and sea what the kids were doing and grab another roasted sweet-corn. Very much the same as yesterday, yet not quite as frantic. There were kids asleep everywhere after the excesses of yesterday.

Returning to my shed, I worked while watching a pair of Sonex aircraft from factory go out for a blast.
I fancied something different for dinner so took a long ride out to Pizza Hut and grabbed far too big a pizza for one, but cycled back and ate it just around the back of the arena.

Sitting down to have to stand for prayers and not wanting to be disrespectful, tonight to a big cheer, Chico came on to entertain along with his handler. The joke was that Chiko had become vegetarian after talking to Daniel, so he wouldn’t want to eat him. Then on with the main show…

Tonight it was more of Daniels friends to be the stars. Daniel had been sent to mediate with another ruling king of a nearby city. With Daniel away a law was passed that everyone must bow down and praise the king and his new statue of gold showing how great he was. Daniels friends would not bow down to the staue so they were thrown into a firey pit, but the lord saved them, proving his existence and it not just being Daniel. Followed by, to be continued and then ‘Paster Sam’, still not making it up, showing ‘how this story of Daniel’s friends being saved is relative to the kids lives today’ and again if anyone of them wanted to be baptised to head down to the front, followed by lights up and the mass exodus.     

Thought for the day: I was told by the security guard tonight that the organisers had told the kids that no bikes were allowed on site. Hence the reason why people keep saying, “He’s got a bike!” when I know I have?

Day 55. 15/Aug/2014     Patience.                                                                Day score 6.

I wrote arriving in Oshkosh and all the emotional stuff last night. I wrote it as it happened. It sort of proved to myself what a wuss and an emotional state I can get myself in.

About the only thing of interest, above and beyond repeating what I have done for the last few days, because I did it again, was that a Bezler PT6 converted DC3 took off today and one of the gear legs wouldn’t go up. Luckily, the other one came back down and it landed safely and taxied back in. There are down locks that have to lift out before the gear will go up. Probably stuck or needed adjusting.

This afternoon I went up to Camporee I came across the ‘Aviation Honour’. I listened in for about 40 minutes while the guy did a very good about explaining the vitals of aviation as quickly and as in depth as possible. Types of aircraft, even including the Osprey tilt rotor. The four forces acting on an aircraft, the three axis of rotation and what part of the aircraft moves the aircraft around these axis. He did very well. There are about 4 or 5 aircraft flying continually ‘Young Eagles’ the American ‘Flying Youth’ program.

Evening food was Subway.

Tonight Daniel was back but the king had another dream he did not understand. It depicted the end of his reign and the city would fall. The king died and the new king was pretty naff. As the Persians came nearer, the new king went out to fight them leaving his useless sun in charge. His son had a party because he thought the walls of Babylon were impregnable, but the Persians, being clever people, diverted the river and drained the water supply into the city. They then went in through this water supply system and took the city without a fight. The rulers were in trouble. The thing was that the invading King was the King that Daniel had to go and mediate between two days ago, or was it yesterday? Anyway, he and his friends were saved. Followed by, ‘To be continued and ‘Paster Sam’, showing ‘how this story of Daniel’s mediation between kings is relative to the kids lives today’ and again if anyone of them wanted to be baptised to head down to the front, followed by lights up and the mass exodus.

Thought for the day: Ok, tomorrow I can I should be finished and can post all belongings and post Flikr photos and Facebook reports and blogs and emails. Then I can go… But tomorrow night is the last night of Camporee… I want to stay.

Day 56. 16/Aug/2014   The finale.                                                              Day score 10.

They are flying the Harvard’s again, I need to come here to fly war birds, then go back home and fly spitfires. I sort of feel as if I’m missing out sitting here all the time, but this is important and will tidy up my head as well as this room with posting things home.
The ‘Saturday Midday Siren’ test screamed out all over the city, in case of attack but also in case of tornadoes… Scary to hear though if you don’t know what it is.             

It’s very quiet up there today. I went to find out why and get my roasted sweet-corn. Apparently it’s the Sabbath and I was wished many times, ‘Happy Sabbath.’ Apparently Seventh day Adventist rest on a Saturday. Ok. So no food… But how could the rest on the last day of Camporee? They could not.

At it all started again. The main parade was about to start. Chico entertained the crowds while some 20,000 Camporee’s assembled in their marching gear in the main arena. The stars of Daniel, the nightly show, turned up and were mobbed as if real biblical heroes, which was nice, I was more interested in how a life size teddy had been made, I’m definitely going to make my own costume. I would also like to do ventriloquism and entertain. Maybe it’s time for a change in career?

They like their drums and flags and banners and their marching. To the sound of three mini canons that defend anyone near them, including me who was trying to film them, the parade began. First the stars of the show, then two air canons firing off T’shirts and little balls into the air for everyone to fight over, literally, I have a bruise to prove it… Then 20,000 Camporee’s filed past. All in there finest marching clothes, with badges and honour pins a plenty. Some of the groups had their drum bands to march to, but not all or it would have been too much. I watched pretty well the whole parade, we just don’t have a similar site in the Uk.

So close and it need to be done, so back to the diary.

I set off early to Hardee’s, it looked like rain. Wow, lots of fireworks, and very near the road… I got back and decided to return the bike and walk out like everyone else did. So I joined the crowds to watch the final lowering of the flags, with the apparent 55,000 others, or so it was announced. I sat through the prayers and singing. To a roar of delight, Chico the Lion made an appearance, before the finally of Daniel. In tonight’s episode, the tax collectors of the city wanted to show the wealth of the king by building palaces for all the important people to live in. But Daniel said they should build roads to strengthen the empire. The king agreed and the road projects were started. This upset the important lawyers and tax men so the city, so they created a new law saying you could not pray. Daniel did and he got thrown to the lions again. But Chico the lion puppet had turned them into vegetarians and Daniel was spared, proving to all the Babylonians that there was a God, or something like that. And that was the end, to rapturous applause.

Then all the dignitaries and leaders came on stage and were thanked. It was all well done. To finish the night, Paster ‘Sam’ came on with a few things to say. There would be three surprises for the crowd. 1: The winning drum team from the marching would perform, then 2: There would be fireworks and I had already left and never heard what the third thing would be. Ok, look, if I walk along the road when they let off the fireworks as other people were towards their cars, I would be right underneath them when they went off. I managed to get there as marshals cleared the area and closed the road. The fireworks were awesome and lasted for at least 10 minutes and I stood virtually underneath them. You could hear screams from the crowd when ever it got bad and when they let it rip for the end, the kids were almost as loud as the fireworks. I ran back to see what the last surprise was. They announced who the next star of the 2019 Oshkosh Camporee would be and what the theme was. And it was David from David and Goliath fame and the theme was ‘CHOSEN’ as he was the ‘chosen’ one apparently. This all met mass approval. And with that Paster Sam said a final prayer bringing the 2014 Camporee to an end and shouted “Goodnight!” But this time there was no mass exodus, there was a party atmosphere and no one wanted to leave. Pictures were taken at the front for seemingly hours with the cast of the show. I walked out after about half an hour. Some of the groups had packed up during the day and were already climbing on to coaches to take them home, others just seemed to walk about in a daze, knowing it was over too soon. I got talking to a group of people, there were two English girls with in it. Obviously they were fed up with answering the question with “From England!” But when I replied that I was too, they sort of grabbed the opportunity to talk. There had always been people walking around with signs of cardboard with Free Hugs written on it but now it was a full on hug and high five fest. I got told I had nice eyes, this was because they were blue and no one had blue eyes here. I won’t go on about it but it’s true. The two girls said that they were too old for this camp now and they had not mingled well because no one was there age. I had no idea how old they were, so just nodded. I slowly walked back to the airfield compound. Because it was after midnight, the store and all the food marquees were open again and the merchandising hall was open to. You couldn’t get in, it was a hive of feverish buying of pins an final trading of the Camporee’s. I was done for and left them to it and returned to my little home builders base.                                           

Thought for the day: What a good time I’d had. I love fireworks.