High and wide, we cruise above the forbidding white ice cap of Greenland at 28,000 feet and 300 knots groundspeed. I half expect a flight attendant to bring me a glass of pinot grigio and a plate of Camembert cheese. Except there’s no flight attendant. Drat! Next to me, über ferry pilot Margrit Waltz checks the instruments, nods to herself in satisfaction, pops one of her favorite German salty licorices into her mouth and regales me with another tale from her storied career delivering aircraft all over the world.
Waltz has been making ferry flights across the North Atlantic for 25 years now, which makes her a bolder pilot than most of us. EADS Socata, the multitentacled French aviation giant, hires her regularly to shepherd the flagship of its single-engine airplanes to American customers.
Now, comfy and warm in the fully pressurized cabin, I’m wondering what general-aviation pilot wouldn’t trade all of his hamburger hop flights to be sitting where I’m sitting right now because, defying most of my visceral persuasions, I’m not strapped into a Boeing 757 flying across the Big Pond, but riding shotgun in a sleek, sexy TBM 700C2. And, brother, it’s a cool ride.
The first leg was from Tarbes, France, to Glasgow, Scotland. From there, we hopped to Reykjavík, Iceland, for an overnight stay. Next stop, Narsarsuaq, Greenland, then on to Sept-Îles, Canada; Bangor, Maine, for U.S. Customs; Albany, N.Y., to drop me; then to North Perry Airport in Hollywood, Fla., for Waltz.
Waltz made her first crossing 25 years ago and believes she has more North Atlantic crossings at 588 than any other pilot alive. So when I look out the window and succumb to the occasional dark thought about the 40-foot wind-whipped waves clearly visible below—even from FL280, yikes!—I glance over at Waltz. Her kick-back confidence is all I need. That and the fact that although we’re making this crossing on one instead of four engines, the TBM 700C2’s engine is the most reliable of its kind in the world—a Canadian-built Pratt & Whitney PT6 A64.
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