Iceland, The Prequel
Summertime flying in the North Atlantic can be vicious
It’s the longest day of the year in Iceland, but our plan to fly up to Grimsey for the annual festivities is frustrated by nasty weather on the small island. Reykjavík flight services manager Sveinn Bjornson calls the Grimsey Airport and learns that it’s suffering from low visibility, freezing temperatures, light snow and high winds. No fly-in tonight, and considering that they have had to cancel six out of the last 10 fly-ins because of weather, there probably will be no fly-ins ever again, a sad end to an interesting tradition.
Unfortunately, we don’t have the option of continuing to Greenland, as June 21 is a national holiday and all airports on the island continent are closed. With no other option, we drive out to Iceland’s famous Blue Lagoon, geothermally fed pools near the old Keflavík Air Force Base and luxuriate in the warm, soothing water. There’s always tomorrow.
June 22 And 23
Or maybe there isn’t? One reality when flying westbound on the North Atlantic route is that winds can become really unfavorable and remain unmanageable for weeks at a time. That’s exactly what happens. Headwinds on the 670-nm leg to Southern Greenland are 30 to 40 knots on the nose, and without the Kulusuk option, there’s no way we can make it to Narsarsuaq with anything like a reasonable reserve. As a result, there are only two choices: an extended holiday in Iceland or return home until the winds turn around. Since both Gardner and Minar have important business elsewhere in the world and I have a Grand Commander waiting in California destined for Melbourne, Australia, the only choice is to postpone the delivery.
So we tie down the airplane, hand the keys to Sveinn Bjornson and promise to return in two or three weeks. The following afternoon, we’re on an Iceland Air jet to Heathrow, and I’m back in California the next afternoon via Lufthansa Airlines through Frankfurt, Germany, and on to Los Angeles.
Bill Cox is entering his third decade as a senior contributor to Plane & Pilot® and provides consulting for media, entertainment and aviation concerns worldwide.