Friday, May 3, 2019
Vestmannaeyjar aka Westman Islands. This little island that I had never heard of before, has been my home, on and off, for pretty much 3 months now. It was wonderful to come back to my room at the Lava Guesthouse and put down my bags. It’s almost like I never left.
What a journey it has been getting here though. Phase I of the WE! Expedition ended 7 months ago. After we took off from Patiala, we landed in Karachi, flew over the Iranian mountains, the green valleys of Europe, the white Alps, the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s safe to say that both of us have ended up older and maybe a little bit wiser.
But Phase II is going to be different from Phase I. After the hot and dry weather over Asia, I now have to fly over icecaps and glaciers in Greenland, Canada and Russia. So en route Iceland, I had the opportunity to fly with Nejc Faganelj, a fantastic aviator and Pipistrel test pilot in Slovenia. We did a lot of high altitude flying, practised emergency procedures and I used an oxygen mask for the first time.
Another stop before Iceland was in Ljubljana where I got to spend some time with our dear friend Damir and his awesome family. He is one guy I always look forward to seeing, with his positive energy and ability to make everyone around him happy. Also as promised the last time I was here, he took me for a hot lap in his Porsche which was the highlight of my day there!
Now that I’m packing my bags again (basically just one backpack) and preparing Mahi for our next stop, its time to say goodbye to the land of fire and ice, hands down the most beautiful country I have ever been to.
I am grateful to my mentor and amazing pilot – Gummi, who is an unconditional giver. He is so passionate about flying, you can say he basically lives for it. Thank you for taking such good care of this little girl and her plane from India.
To my lovely family here – Kolla, Biggie, Anton and my cute little brother Birgir. They have treated me like their own and made sure I was always warm and well cared for, no matter what the weather was like outside. I will miss them so much.
In Reykjavik, I have to thank Oli Oder, a ferry pilot par excellence who has always been patient, kind and helpful no matter how many times I’ve had to call him. A big thank you to Agust Gudmundsson, for taking the time out and meeting me for dinner and then also turning up to flag me off at the airport.
It’s overwhelming to see the amount of support I have got from the aviation community in Iceland. Last year this time, I would never have imagined that I would have so many Icelandic friends in my contact list who I can rely on and call in every situation.
With a promise to visit them again, it’s time to fly off to Greenland and the start of Phase II of the WE! Expedition. I’m ready for the challenge, but as everyone here has reminded me over and over, the most important thing to do is to have fun.
~ Capt. Aarohi Pandit