Wednesday, September 12, 2018
After spending 2 days in Reykjavík, I finally got to see a sunny bright morning that day. The expedition team in India had also advised me that the weather was suitable for me to fly out and filed a flight plan for the leg to Greenland. After carefully studying the weather map and the map of Kulusuk airport, I left my guest house at 7am.
At the airport, I packed my belongings into Mahi and prepared her for her flight across the Atlantic Ocean.
Since it was going to take a few more hours for the weather to clear, I made myself comfortable in the crew lounge, cradling a cup of coffee, ready to wait it out. As it so happens, Reykjavík is a popular stop for people flying in from Europe, heading towards North America as it lies along the great circle track.
This where I met quite a few pilots who briefed me about their flights and the weather they experienced. After having my 8th cup of coffee I finally got a small window to take off.
After my briefing with Capt. Monga, I asked the NEXUS team to file a flight plan for 14:30 hrs. I was already well prepared for the flight as it was supposed to be good flying weather. Also, I was really looking forward to flying over the Atlantic ocean for the second time around.
Rolling out right into the ocean, it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be.
Skirting through clouds for almost an hour, I figured there was quite a bit of clouding at my altitude ahead, so I descended to 2000 ft.
After almost 30 minutes, there were black clouds forming all around me. I was orbiting in my current position just to see if I could skirt this weather somehow.
I decided that I would turn back, but it was impossible since the weather was all packed up behind me. So I resumed flying on my flight path to Kulusuk Airport.
A few minutes later the cloud base started lowering and to avoid it, I had to descend to 1000 ft, so close to the ocean. It was little scary but I had no option as the clouding was up till 5000 ft which I could not climb due to the extremely low temperature up there of -2°C, which could cause icing.
Somewhere here, at just 1000 ft above the ocean, I saw something break through the water. My heart skipped a beat and for a split second, I imagined that I saw a sea monster.
I realised then that I had just seen a whale tail breaking through the surface of the water! My first ever whale sighting ever!
Thereafter it was a continuous struggle with rain, clouds and gusty winds till Kulusuk.
Kulusuk has a gravel runway and a tight approach due to nearby terrain. I made my first attempt at landing but had to go around due to the wind gusts not letting little Mahi settle down. I tried again and my next approach was spot on. I had successfully reached Greenland!
This was probably one of the most challenging flights for me so far. But that’s what an expedition is all about right.
~ Capt. Aarohi Pandit | Pictures clicked by Aarohi on iPhone 7