Grounded in Reykjavik

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Having joined friends for the delivery of a propeller aircraft from Europe to the US, we are currently grounded in Reykjavik, Iceland by the weather at our next landing point: Narsarsuaq, Greenland.

We left Paris yesterday by commercial flight to Billund, Denmark – home of Legoland – to pick up the aircraft. The co-pilot’s HSI, an electronic compass, had burned out mysteriously and needed to be replaced. The replacement also burned out shortly after we left. The pilots (I am the only passenger on this voyage) tell me that they have 5 separate GPS devices between them (including a GPS for jogging), so the compass is not actually vital.

Even if GPS and HSI fail, we apparently have Gmail for navigation – photo below. Should I be reassured?

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The photo of the three of us was taken at our first stop, Wick, which may be the northernmost airport in Britain. Andrew Bruce, in photo below, seems to do everything at the airport – from refueling to flight training to air traffic control.

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According to Andrew, there are 37 flights like ours that stop at Wick each month. There are quite a few single engine aircraft and about three aircraft per year perish. “You can blame the weather, but in reality it is almost always due to bad planning and doing things in a rush.”

Wick serves as the winter loading point for North Sea oil platforms, since it is flat enough for helicopters to land in very bad weather. While we were there an oil platform helicopter was clattering overhead doing various exercises.

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