Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Iceland, The Prequel

Summertime flying in the North Atlantic can be vicious

Summertime flying in the North Atlantic can be vicious

(Because of a computer glitch that only IBM could possibly understand, this column was written before the one you read last month. Therefore, it’s something of a prequel. Hey, if George Lucas can do it, so can I.)

June 18
This is being written on the road or, more accurately, in the sky. As I tap out these words on my Think Pad, I’m cruising comfortably at FL390 in a British Airways 747, only two hours out from Heathrow Airport in London. I’m flying to Jolly Old England to explore the puzzling British penchant for cold meat as well as warm beer.

But this is supposed to be an aviation column, despite what you might think from reading editor Lyn Freeman’s monthly social diatribes (“Partial Panel”). In reality, England (sorry, it will never be the U.K. to me) is one of my favorite destinations, partially because it’s so incredibly beautiful and the people speak an elegant version of the same language, sort of.

My real reason for riding across the Atlantic is to pick up David Gardner’s Cessna 421C in Biggin Hill, south of London, and drive it across the usual milk-run route over to Waco, Texas. Gardner, an executive with a San Francisco computer gaming company, purchased the airplane late this spring, did a minor refurbishment and contracted for his delivery in conjunction with the summer solstice, June 21, the longest day of the year. The plan is to fly to Reykjavík, Iceland, late in the evening on June 20, relax for a day and hop up to the Midnight Sun Fly-In on the Isle of Grimsey, 80 miles off Iceland’s north coast and right on the Arctic Circle.

When weather will allow, a group of Icelandic and European pilots fly their airplanes to Grimsey for a party in bright daylight at midnight on June 21, frolicking directly above a line painted on the airport that delineates the Arctic Circle at exactly 66 degrees, 30 minutes north, then fly back to Akureyri or Reykjavík at 2 or 3 a.m. (using only designated pilots, of course).


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