In March, I had the unique opportunity to Ferry a plane from eastern Washington State to Dusseldorf, Germany. Two other pilots, whom I was instructing in the airplane, accompanied me for the journey. Luckily we were in an airplane was big enough to walk around the cabin, allowing the pilots to switch mid-flight so we were all able to get adequate amounts of rest. Seeing this was a work related trip, I only allowed myself to take photos when away from the flight controls (i.e. sitting in the back).
A journey this long and complex comes with its fair share of complications; like hitting marginal weather 300 nautical miles away from the closest land mass or getting stuck in Fargo, ND for 18 hours due to issues beyond our control (one of the other two pilots was not a U.S. Citizen). However, based on stories I have heard, our crossing was relatively smooth.
The scenery on the entire trip was spectacular. Flying over Greenland at 10,000 ft. is something everyone should experience. It is impossible to fathom so much ice unless one sees it firsthand. Iceland was one of the most unique places I have ever been, and the people were all very welcoming (more in-depth post on Iceland coming next). In addition, Goose Bay, Canada was one of the coldest places I have ever been. When we landed at 9am it was -19F and gusting winds of 20 knots. The Canadians have quite a sense of humor; at the FBO, a welcoming young lady and a bucket of ICE CREAM SANDWICHES greeted us as we walked in from the cold!
The biggest learning experience for me was learning how to navigate the oceanic routes, perform the correct position reports, and reading the weather charts for the North Atlantic. Understanding the European controllers also proved to be quite challenging.
After reaching Germany, I was able to reflect on the trip, and I have to admit, the biggest surprise during the entire trip was how uneasy I was during the ocean crossings. Ashley and I have flown small airplanes all across the U.S.A. in all types of weather and I have never been nervous or uneasy in the pilot’s seat. However, for some reason, crossing 800+ nm of open, near freezing, ocean in a single engine airplane made me a little nervous. Even knowing the statistics of turbine engine reliability, my brain was still running through the scenarios if anything were to happen to our engine. It was not debilitating by any means, just annoying. One part of my brain knew everything would be just fine, but there was that small, pessimistic, voice in the back of my mind that just would not go away. The nice thing was, once we made it safely to Europe, the journey meant much more to me because I ended up concurring a fear I did not even know I had.
I suppose the old saying holds true: “At the end of a worthwhile adventure you will have questions, which at the beginning you didn’t even think to ask.”
Spokane, WA –> Fargo, ND –> Scranton, Penn. –> Goose Bay, Canada –> Narsarsauq, Greenland –> Keflavik, Iceland –> Glasgow, Scotland –> Dusseldorf, Germany