Sunday, 25 June 2017

Fabulous photos by Jeremy Martin of Prepare2go of our Beech 18 in formation flight across Iceland!

The Beech crossing northern Iceland/photo by Jeremy Martin
Just enjoy those amazing photos by Jeremy of our formation flight across Iceland en route from Egilstadir to Isafjador.

Betty the Beech with a hot air balloon inside crossing the ice cap
And check out Prepare2go's facebook page where you shortly will find even more spectacular photos by him from yet another incredible formation flight across the Ice cap of Greenland! 

All photos here by Jeremy Martin - thank you Jeremy and I can't wait to see the rest! 

Beech 18 G-BKGM and the RV G-RRVV

Flight to Kulusuk and nearly getting stuck in Bluei East Two!

Betty stranded at Bluei East 2
The next day (Friday) we had to face a very challenging and slightly frightening crossing to Greenland as the weather was bad and we were stuck in low cloud, tried to climb to get out of the cloud but then the aeroplane started to freeze and the front windscreen was totally iced up!! 

After 2 hours though finally land in sight and we had a great landing in Kulusuk.

Betty deep stuck in the sandy runway
And then came the most amazing story of our lives and this trip and world's history so far: We dared to fly into Bluei east 2! - which is an abandoned American airbase from Second World War!! 
derelict American army trucks and the Beech in the background
No civil aircraft has landed there since 1947 when the Americans suddenly stopped using this base on  this remote island/fjord and left everything including trucks and thousands of oil barrels behind (creating an environmental disaster that is just being discussed between the Danish and the Greenlandic government).

spooky atmosphere! Quite like 'Fitzcaraldo' by Werner Herzog!

As Betty touched down on the soft ground, John made a solemn face: Betty looked quite stuck!! Her tyres deeply in that soft ground!! If we couldn't get her out of here, then that would have been her final resting place forever probably!!
Betty and us praying to get out of here!

It was an hour of huge worries for us... but John, the bush pilot from South Africa managed with a special technique to lift her off the runway and we rose like in the film the 'flight of the Phoenix!' What a relief!!!

Catching up finally with internet - find links to other pages here!

route from the UK via Iceland to Greenland
Hi dear followers,

I am sorry for the long silence but modern high speed internet hasn’t (gladly in a way!!) not yet arrived in north-eastern Greenland! So since we got here to this massive piece of land near the Arctic Circle internet has been extremely expensive and not strong enough to upload photos or send Whatsapp messages.
from left to right: John Herbet our pilot, Tim, Paula Phil
Luckily today is Sunday here in Greenland and all is shut, including the airport at Narsarsuaq where we are for the first time on this trip staying for two nights. Time to finally catch up with writing, sorting hundreds of spectacular photos, tons of gopro and video clips and catching up with a bit of desperately needed sleep.

Added to that, the internet here in Greenland is quite poor and extremely expensive.
A lovely local girl at Kulusuk airport
Before I forget it, I wanted to let you know that you can see some superb photos and youtube films of our adventures by following the ‘Vintage Air Rally’ facebook page of Prepare2go.:

A few photos (see captions ) that I am posting on this blog were shot and edited by Jeremy Martin, team member and photographer of Prepare2go. We also have another professional photographer and film maker on this trip: Timothy Allen whose footage you also can track by clicking at the following links:

(sorry don't have the time to create proper links, please just find yourselves!).

And if that wasn’t enough, there is one more wonderful character on board of our trip: Paula Froehlich from the New York, USA, a journalist and writer whose profile you can also try and find somewhere in the wide world of facebooks and instagrams.
Paula in love with a polar bear

So let me know try and catch up where I have left you last by recollecting all the stories and adventures since we left Isafjador on that grey, windy and cold Friday morning… it feels like a century ago and it’s actually only 2 days!

view from our hotel in Kulusuk, Greenland

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The most incredible flight in a Beech 18 across Iceland flying in formation

WOW!!! This was to all of us - except maybe Sam our expedition leader who has done this already several time - the most incredible flight of our lives!

We had set off from Egilstadir with a four hour delay to due the fire on the RV which meant missing getting to Greenland on the same day, but the take off was uneventful luckily this time and soon we were all cruising fairly close to each other at 5,500 feet.
The RV without its spats/pants

And the scenery got stunning, and more stunning and more stunning!

It was just incredible as we past endless uninhibited vast plains with ice, rocks and tarns. Then there was suddenly a vulcano sticking out of this moon landscape with its snow-capped top spitting steam and attracting cloud.
watch this video from my inflight commentary: (took hundreds of film clips but sadly no time to edit)

for several long minutes we flew a very close formation with the Saratoga which Sam was flying and had the photographers Tim and Jeremy and journalist Paula on board..

We then hit a bit of weather and the RV decided to do a left turn to avoid this big storm cloud whilst we and the Saratoga went right hand side past it. we couldn't go much higher as it would have meant a risk of freezing the aeroplane (and us!) but luckily we entered another good patch of lovely clear weather that ;lasted pretty much till our final destination - the small town of Isafjador.

Sam refuelling his aeroplane

As we flew into the valley of the airstrip my eyes kept searching for it. But I could see nothing that looked remotely like anywhere to land. Then John headed the aeroplane straight for a massive mountain and I nearly thought 'that's it'! we are going to crash. But I knew that I was in safe hands with John and indeed we suddenly did a very steep bank to the left and there it was: the tiny airstrip of Isafjador! Pew!! That was tight!
the runway on the left

so happy!!!

Later on we were taken by bus to our little hotel in town and enjoyed the most delicious rustic seafood dinner in an old traditional icelandic hut. the food was soooo good! So in retrospective we were all glad to have stopped here and not rushed onto Greenland. that's something for today !

the most delicious seafood

Balloon flight in Iceland and country no 84! Fire on tire of the RV and stuck so far in Egilstadir

What a day!!
happy in the air over Iceland!
Sector 3 of our Trans-Atlantic rally turned into a huge mix of highs and lows!

It started at 8am with Phil, myself and Cameraman Tim driving up to Egilstadir to find Marek, our helpful Polish gas station manager who then drove us to find his friend August.
August runs the most amazing work shop with screws and parts scattered everywhere around his yard.
August and Marek at the garage trying to create a connector
After long explanations and more trials in how to fit together the parts that we needed to create  an Icelandic refuelling hose, August seemed to have finally managed the trick! Back to the gas station and the refuelling worked like a clock.

Rush down to the airport where we kindly have been granted access to use the entire strip until 3pm local as no in- or outbound traffic. 
Allie inflating the balloon

With the help of the local fire- and security guys and the rest of the Prepare2go team we rigged the 0-56 in no time and I had the balloon upright at 10.45 despite quite some strong 8-9kt wind.

Ping, and off I went shooting up the sky as I flew solo and had to do a positive take off due to the wind. 

The visibility after the heavy rains from last night was amazing. 
view down the runway of Egilstadir
Egilstadir international airport from a hot air balloon

I saw the snow-capped  mountains and ahead of me the coast and the fjord. 

As the higher wind pushed me towards the inhospitable looking freezing cold waters I descended again and landed after a brisk 50m drag landing on the runway sides in the grass.

What a feeling !! Country no 84! The first female pilot to fly here and only the fourth flight ever that’s been made in a hot air balloon in this country. 
What a relieve! Thanks so much to everybody involved!

After refuelling the bottles, returning the hired cares and loading up we were all ready to set for Isafjador and onto Greenland. 

But then fate struck: as the three of us taxied to the end of the runway, I suddenly saw the left hand tire of the RV on fire!!

Luckily they managed to extinguish the fire and with the help of two fire engines everything was quickly under control but it meant abandoning our flight and returning to the apron.

It’s now a matter of finding a new tyre and some spare parts to get going on. The time pressure to get to Greenland is on and we are very concerned not to make it. 

Every day here is this country costs a fortune and the weather in Greenland sounds fantastic right now – but might not hold. Keep fingers crossed we can move on soon again!

What a day so far and it’s not finished yet!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sector 2: via the Faroe Islands to Egilstadir in Iceland

Heading north to Iceland!
A view across to the Faroe islands shrouded in overhanging cloud
Sector nr two : our flight past the cloud shrouded Faroe islands into still snow covered Iceland went extremely well with an early take off at 7 local and just over 3 hours for time. 
3 hours and 18mins over water. view to the Faroe Islands

approaching the Fjords of Iceland
On arrival in Egilstadir we had to hire two cars to drive to another village 32 km away whose name I cannot pronounce and remember ...

an unusual offload!
Phil with our luggage

Betty parked at Egilstadir 
Whilst one car went directly to the hotel, I and some of the others stayed on in Egilstadir trying to refuel our two gas cylinders. I had sourced propane in Iceland months ago but then the troubles started as we struggled all afternoon in vain to fix the correct adapters to refuel.
I even had a personalized bottle reserved for me!

after spending hours in a specialized shop we went back
 to the aeroplane to try and fix connectors ourselves - also in vain!
Various local guys were extremely helpful but so far no success.

On top of all this the weather now changed to miserable tipping rain, wind and low cloud and not looking great for tomorrow either! 
there are certainly lots of waterfalls here and I think I know why!

An American tourist cooking a massive BBQ just for himself
Temps around 8 degrees and that's in a place where a beer costs you 10 bucks and propane four times more than home. And my tooth is also starting to bugger me again.

Hei ho enough moan.. It was still a very exciting day and we' ll flight on tomorrow! Too tired now and nearly deleted all of this...