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May
29

First DA42-VI Makes the Crossing Part II

GlassPilotNews, Pilot Reports

This post is the continuation of the North Atlantic Crossing of the First Diamond DA42-VI sold for delivery to the US. The aircraft was sold by Dominion Aircraft Sales and the new owner made the flight with the ferry pilot and provided these reports.

Flight 2: Wick, Scotland (EGPC) to Reykjavik, Iceland (BIRK)

The second flight of the trip was shorter than the first, 3 hours 44 minutes while covering 652 nm of mostly open water. After about a one-hour stop at Wick to refuel and file another flight plan, we prepared to launch towards Iceland.

While at Wick the FBO handling agent at Far North Aviation offered to rent us immersion suits, personal rafts, and personal locator beacons, at a cost of something like 50 GBP for a suit, and more for a raft and beacon — one-way rental to Goose Bay, Ontario, Canada. But before any money could change hands, he asked if we had any room onboard the aircraft to carry additional suits, rafts, and beacons to Goose Bay. Apparently there had been an imbalance of too many aircraft being ferried eastbound to Europe and not enough going westbound in our direction, so Goose Bay had run out of gear, and Wick had accumulated too much.

Since there were just 2 of us onboard the DA42 and the nose baggage compartment was completely empty, we loaded the plane with a set of 6 rafts, 2 suits, and 6 beacons. The total weight about equalled carrying a 3rd adult passenger, spread between the nose compartment and the back seat. With all of our fuel tanks (including the auxiliary tanks behind the engines) topped off, were were probably overweight, but not by too much. The irony of carrying this gear was that Fritz and I decided not to wear the very uncomfortable immersion suits, so all the survival gear probably wouldn’t have done us much good if we had to ditch in the icy-cold water.

During the stop at Wick I had neglected to completely shut down my GoPro camera and killed the battery, so here’s the takeoff video captured with my iPhone:

Check out all the black cows (or are they sheep?) in the fields below.

We flew at 15,000 feet mostly above the overcast cloud layer, but would occasionally be in the cloud tops. As a result of flying through the tops, even at the cold temperatures below -20degC, we started picking up ice on numerous occasions and were forced to use the TKS system. This experience seemed to refute the guidance that you don’t need to worry about icing at such low temps. This was my first real experience flying in icing conditions, since I’d always been afraid to fly our DA40 in cold winter clouds.

Fortunately as we crossed the southern coast of Iceland most of the clouds gave way, and we got our first glimpse of the island. Although it was possible to see a few volcanic cones, the area was mostly just covered in thick ice and snow:

When we got to the landing at Reykjavik, we popped out of clouds into beautiful clear sunshine; unfortunately my iPhone focused on the inside of the canopy and glare shield reflection instead of the scenery outside, so that video was unacceptably blurry and not included here. (But the good news is that I got a terrific clear view of Reykjavik on the takeoff video the next morning — shown in the next posting.)

I’d been to Reykjavik more than 20 years ago on a business trip, so I wasn’t too surprised to see how civilized it was, with a freeway full of auto traffic right off the end of the airport. Here’s our plane on the ground:

While at the FBO we ran into the crew of a brand new Quest Kodiac single-engine turboprop (somewhat similar to a Cessna 208 Caravan) that had been stuck for days waiting for the low pressure system and icing conditions to move off the route from Iceland to Scotland — the route we had just flown. They were obviously interested in our PIREPs of cloud tops and icing since they had no de-ice on their aircraft and were too heavy to fly very high. They were ferrying the Quest from the Idaho factory in the US to a customer in Johannesburg, South Africa by way of Europe!

After clearing customs at the FBO we walked less than 100 yards across a parking lot to a very nice modern hotel furnished in Danish contemporary style:

That was the end of an exhausting first day; tomorrow it’s off to the amazing surreal landscape of Greenland!

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