Friday, June 22, 2007

Day 27, Back home

We departed Thomson Friday morning at 8:45, early on in the flight we flew through a line of rain clouds, but after passing The Pas, Manitoba the skies cleared up, and the weather was generally good all the way to our destination. On arrival at the Tacoma Narrows airport we asked for, and were given permission by the control tower to make a high speed low pass over the airport, before we came in for landing. Touchdown was at 3:09 PM local time, (22:09 GMT). Taxiing up to the customs area we were surprised to learn that about 25 friends, including Mariza, had gathered to greet us. My friend Jay PerryCook had organized a barbecue which included Scandinavian specialties such as marinated herring and Danish akvavit. Local news reporters were also in attendance.

A word about the Twin Beech, N565US; this 48 year old airplane flew this 64 hours and 27 minutes flight time trip, without a single maintenance squawk on the airframe or the engines. For the ones of you that are in the know about the P&W Wasp Junior engine, the total oil added on the entire trip was 6 gallons. The engines were last overhauled by Covington Aircraft, Inc., the good engine performance speaks well for the work that they do at Covington.

In closing I will quote my friend Jay, by saying that it has been great to check one off the “Once in a lifetime” list. Lastly, I dare to speak not only for my self, but also on behalf of my travel companions, Ellen, Mariza, and Stein, when I say that the experience of flying the Twin Beech on this trip has enriched all our lives.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 26, Thompson, Manitoba

When we did our flight planning in Goose Bay this morning we went looking for the half way point between Goose Bay and Seattle, and came up with Thompson, Manitoba. We flew a direct routing from Goose to Thompson, the flight time was eight hours and thirty minutes, that's about as far as a Twin Beech is supposed to travel on a tank of gas. Our route of flight took us over the most southern part of the Hudson Bay. The ice on the bay was starting to dissipate, and looked very different from what we saw going eastbound a couple of weeks ago, but it was nevertheless a magnificent sight. Thompson is a mining town, and is the third largest city in Manitoba. Plans are to fly the final leg of our journey back to the Tacoma Narrows airport tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Day 25, Goose Bay, Labrador

Early this morning we departed Reykjavik for Narsarsuaq, the weather was clear most of the way, and we had a spectacular view of the Greenland ice cap as we flew toward Narsarsuaq. After about three hours on the ground in Narsarsuaq we continued on to Goose Bay, Labrador. Climbing out of Narsarsuaq the landscape was equally spectacular, and also the ocean crossing to Labrador was interesting with all the many different ice formations.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 24, Reykjavik

Doing our pre-flight planning this morning, we learned that the weather forecast for most of Greenland was something other than favorable. The long and the short of it, we delayed our departure for 24 hours. On the positive side of it, this delay provided us with the opportunity to see Reykjavik. Reykjavik is a modern city with many interesting sites, walking along the harbor, it readily becomes apparent that Iceland has a large fishing industry. And yet again we came across a statue of Leif Eriksson, an inscription at the base of the statue reads: Son of Iceland, Discoverer of Vinland.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Day 23, Stauning, Denmark to Reykjavik, Iceland

We departed Stauning mid morning today, heading for Reykjavik. Stein was born and raised in Southern Norway, so we routed our flight that way before starting our ocean crossing toward Iceland. The weather was great for the entire flight. Stein was able to take some pictures of the beautiful Norwegian coastline, but I am afraid that we will not have the time to post them here. Where are Ellen and Mariza when we need them?

The westbound flight route. If you click on it, it enlarges and there's the route....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day 22, Homeward bound

Yesterday my fellow pilot Stein arrived in Copenhagen. Today we drove from Copenhagen to Stauning, where we fueled the airplane and did some preliminary flight planning. Plan is to depart for Iceland tomorrow morning. The large windmill manufacturer Vestas has a manufacturing plant close to the airport, in the picture Stein is standing next to a 180 foot long windmil propeller blade.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Day 14 - Ras wins the prize for flying in from the farthest distance.

Over 3,000 people showed up on this glorious sunny, near perfect day to look over 254 aircrafts that flew in from all over Europe. The Twin Beech was the only non-European one. Admirers passed by on a non-stop basis asking questions and snapping pictures. People showed up early in the morning to reserve their spaces for a prime viewing spot for the air show and to inspect the variety of airplanes on display. The air show lasted most of the afternoon, followed by the big rally dinner in the hanger. Many prizes were awarded in multiple categories, the last one being for the farthest distance. Ras was asked how many hours it took him to fly from Seattle to Stauning and how many liters of fuel he used for the trip. As a token for consuming 5,000 liters of fuel on the 26 hour flight, he was given a certificate for 500 liters of fuel.

The coming week will be spent visiting Ras’ family and touring Denmark. I can only echo Ellen’s sentiments and emotions about this incredible journey the three of us have experienced together. Greenland was for me the highlight of this trip thus far. The Greenlanders welcomed us wholeheartedly ... such warm, beautiful and happy people. Seeing the ice cap, the long fjords streaming out from its edges, the clear blue water from the melting ice flowing into the sea, the pure crisp air, the sound of silence .... it was all magical. We had a bird's eye view from 5,000 feet on a clear day. It doesn’t get better than this.

This is the end of our blog for now. I will fly back to Seattle June 18th on a commercial flight. I’ve been spoiled!! (Oh No! Not those cramped seats and long security lines again!). The torch is now passing to Ras to report on his return trip. The trip will be shorter, hopefully he will have time to make the daily entries. Check in again the week of June 18th for the Twin Beech’s journey home.

Mariza signing off : )


Friday, June 8, 2007

Day Thirteen, Stauning Air Show

Today was a laid back day. We miss Ellen very, very much and wish her a safe and speedy trip back to Spain. We've all been spoiled by not having to go through security and long wait lines, so Ellen - get ready!!

The local TV station broadcast a newsclip of Ras' landing and reuniting with his sister and other friends. To see this seamless landing, go to

An additional number of airplanes flew in today to participate in the air show. Among the many entries we found a couple to be noteworthy. Two Danish built aircrafts,KZ4 - very rare and thought to be the only one left, and KZ2 - a pre-WWII aircraft. A unique French registered single seater Delta flying wing aircraft flew in from Belgium. It just didn't seem possible that this tail-less craft (which I dubbed the "ladybug") would take off, but take off it did, and beautifully. Tomorrow will be the highlight of the air show with flying stunts, a dinner and awards ceremony.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ellen Checking Out..... Mariza checking in to continue the journal.

I'm leaving tomorrow for Copenhagen and then Spain so my trip with the superb Twin Beech and Ras and Mariza is over. If this blog site had "emoticons" (or whatever those popular little pictures are called) I'd put in a thousand sad faces right here. This trip has been an experience of a lifetime for me and I thank both Ras and Mariza for inviting me along. May the skies always be clear for them both and for that wonderful plane-with-a-soul! And thank you to everybody who has followed us on this website. Sincerely, Ellen

The Twin Beech Landed in Stauning to Waves and Cheers!


We made it, flying from Iceland over the Faeroe Islands, the Shetland Islands and the North Sea to Denmark. It was close to seven hours in the air but it was worth every second of the trip. At the end, invited to take a low pass over the airport before landing, Ras flew his Twin Beech down across the field to cheers and waves -- his victory lap, so to speak, for bringing the plane all the way from Seattle. I doubt that it gets any better than this! It was a wonderful, wonderful trip.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


“Squawk ident,” you ask? Well, at 3:35 GMT we arrived in Iceland after a flight over the southern tip of Greenland and then the North Atlantic’s white-capped waters, a deep and shining blue. An incredible flight, Ras bringing the Twin Beech through the clear arctic air with his usual aplomb. Landing in Reykjavik felt as if we were coming back to the crowds after the open frontiers of Greenland. I, for one, am thanking Mother Nature for the storm off the east coast that has given us an extra day of flying in this plane, an experience affecting both heart and soul that words and pictures do not do justice to, no matter how diligent the effort. And now we are a day late for the air show in Stauning. They must wait for us as the Twin Beech has come a long way and deserves her day in the spotlight!

Monument to Leif Eriksson commemorating his departure to the New World one thousand years ago.

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The Norsemen Settlement at Narsarsuaq. Reconstructed Sod House

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007


The airport is tucked away in a relatively narrow valley and we landed after a steep, tight turn into the wind between the mountains...exciting! This place is marvellous and downright lush after Kangerlussuaq. Greenland is really green here. We flew south over fjords and glaciers and icebergs and deep blue water.

Unfortunately there is no wireless internet here so the photos that we took will be posted tomorrow.

Late this afternoon, after a hike in the hills, we took to the water in a small boat and visited Qassiarsuk, formerly Brattahlid, across the fjord. The settlement was founded by Erik the Red and his son, Leif Eriksson, set out for the new world from here, landing in L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, a thousand years ago.

More later. Whether we fly from here to Iceland or to the Faero Islands will be decided tomorrow morning after the weather report.


Forty-knot winds are still blowing in Iceland but the forecast for tomorrow is better so we are leaving Kangerlussuaq this morning for Narsarsuaq , a two-and-a-half-hour flight south along the coast to the tip of Greenland. This maneuver allows the option tomorrow to try for either Iceland or the Faeroe Islands depending, as always, on the weather.

As in Kangerlussuaq, the airstrip in Narsarsuaq (“the large plain”) was built, almost overnight, by the US military during the Second World War.

(PS. Mariza says that she is disappoint, VERY disappointed, that the alleged squash court in Kangerlussuaq turned out to be…agh!.. a racquetball court! There is no justice...)

Monday, June 4, 2007


A low-pressure system between Iceland and Greenland creating high winds in the west, has postponed our departure for Reykjavik until tomorrow morning….if the weather improves… Ras will get the final forecast at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow and will make his decision then.

We didn’t walk the planned 14 kms today to the harbour but listened to Jens, a Greenland Air pilot, regale us with wonderful stories of aviation adventure in the north instead, and then visited the local museum where an old Dane entertained us with even more stories. The museum is set in the old US Military Headquarters and houses good photos and other paraphernalia from those years of the Cold War when this town was created.

Day Nine, still in Kangerlussuaq

Mariza checking in again. A summer storm with winds over 40 mph are blasting through Iceland. Ras has decided not to fly this morning. We’re staying here another night. The temperature is a balmy 18 degrees C. We are having breakfast at the airport hotel and just saw an SAS flight land from Copenhagen. We met an American businessman who is here to organize for the first non-stop Baltimore, MD to Kangerlussuaq flights beginning Thursday of this week. The tourists are coming!! Will McDonalds carry the Musk Ox burger?!

There is a squash court in the athletic building the Americans built here during the cold war but I have not been able to see it yet. As Langley, my squash playing buddy would say, I’m having “white walls withdrawal symptoms”. I have my squash racquet ready …. Maybe tonight!

This afternoon we plan to hike 14 km to the harbor where the cargo ships dock. Everything comes in either by plane or by ship.

(Note to the “Little Bear”, my four year old grandson: Jack, Ras’ airplane buzzes like a big bumble bee and flies smoothly like a proud eagle above the clouds. Nona said hi to Rudolph the reindeer but he did not have a red nose because it’s not Christmas yet!)

On the Edge of the Ice Cap, There is Colour!


Sunday, June 3, 2007


It is another sunny day and we have noticed both the snow melting on the hills around Kangerlussuaq and the greening of those same hills in the two days that we’ve been here. It is the spring explosion! This afternoon we visited the ice cap and walked on the edge of this mighty glacier. For anyone used to snow conditions(ie. most Canadians…), walking in mushy snow is not particularly exciting but consider what was underfoot… the edge of a slab of ice over three kilometers thick at its centre, the melting of which may well (or will…) change the world as we know it.

Weather permitting, we leave tomorrow for Iceland.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


In another five weeks Greenland will be, indeed, very green as the weather warms up and the sun shines for long periods of time, melting the ice and “releasing the land.” That’s what we have been told anyway. At the moment it’s certainly warm and bright but all is brown with rock and sand and very little top soil. This afternoon from a distance we saw Musk Oxen. There are approximately 7,000 animals in this region (minus the one Mariza ate last night in hamburger form…) and they are all the descendants of a small herd introduced from eastern Greenland in the Sixties.

The river that runs through Kangerlussuaq flows from an inland glacier which recedes each summer releasing water into the valley. At the end of June, it will be a torrent compared to its volume now. Last night, a Danish painter (both art and trade) who has lived here for 30 years, told us that he had seen real climate change in this area. Thirty years ago the winters were very cold and the summers very hot and now both seasons are more moderate. Last February, for example, the temperature hovered around -1C. Today it is 20C and that feels downright boiling after both Churchill and Iqaluit.

Friday, June 1, 2007


It's a relatively balmy 10C and still sunny at 10:20 pm. The flight over from Iqaluit was wonderful with the Twin Beech flying us along and over the arctic circle at 8,000 feet. And while Greenland is not particularly "green" in Kangerlussuag, there are parts of the fjord where the water appears emerald against the ice. (Photos tomorrow.) Details tomorrow.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


The Twin Beech is fueled up and ready for the next leg to Kangerlussuaq (otherwise known as "the Big Fjord"), in Greenland. Departure is set for tomorrow morning; as alway, weather permitting. All day long we've had off and on snow showers here with a chilly wind. The spring hasn't come to Iqaluit yet, say the locals, one woman adding that the continued cold is good for the baby seals. Ras fueled the plane this morning from fifty-gallon drums, a method he has not seen used in years (see photo).

Iqaluit International Airport is a fascinating place and incredibly busy in spite of its remoteness or, perhaps, because of it. The airport manager, John Graham, whom we met this afternoon, told us stories of wide-bodied jets on the great circle route between the USA and Europe, forced to land in Iqaluit with medical emergencies on board, and other such stories. The local CBC radio interviewed Ras this afternoon, as well, so you may well hear us talking on the air about flying through the air if the story is picked up nationally.

More tomorrow...

Refueling in Iqaluit

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First Sight of Baffin Island


Wednesday, May 30, 2007



Touchdown Iqaluit at 4:10 Eastern Standard Time, Wednesday, May 30

We have landed.

Mariza checking in -- After helping Ras tie down the Beech at the airport (in case of high winds), we checked into the Frobisher Inn and later dined on Arctic Char, Caribou Stew and some good Canadian beer. The flight over Hudson Bay was spectacular. To look down from 5,000 feet on the pattern of the ice formations for hundreds of miles was breathtaking. At times it resembled those molecular structures revealed only by the fine details of a microscope. See photos. . . remember, a picture is worth ten thousand words. It's snowing and the sky is still light as we're going to sleep past the hour of midnight.

NOTE: We didn't know that some of you could not send us comments. We changed the settings, so please try again. Be sure to select "other" or "anonymous" if you don't have a google account. We tried to make the pictures on the left larger but can't seem to make it work. The blog photos are a poor reflection of the incredible images we captured.

Day Four, Churchill, Temperature -1 C

We just finished our breakfast. Not a cloud in the sky. We're heading to the airport to get the iron bird warmed up. Next stop Iqaluit, capital of Nunavut.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Arrived in Churchill, Manitoba, at 5:10 pm

It may have been sunny in Churchill this morning but we left Saskatoon at approximately 11:30 in heavy, wind-driven rain. The Twin Beech rose like the queen she is through the cloud until we leveled out at 5,000 feet. The rain continued for approximately 35 miles and then we floated between cloud layers to Thompson, Manitoba, where the weather finally cleared, and down below us, was a great expanse of the distinctly Canadian black spruce. Think mosquitoes in July.... Soon even those stunted trees disappeared and there was nothing but the tundra below with small lakes like ink blots to the horizon. Oh Canada! What glorious spaces! And then Hudson Bay appeared on the horizon -- a long line of ice. We circled, with a wing-dip over the old Hudson Bay Company fort, and then landed in Churchill (population 750 "on a good day") at 5:10 pm, local time. "November 5 6 5 Uniform Sierra" did her pilot proud and vice versa!

(As an interesting aside for those not in the know, the term asking for the plane's beacon to be activated for radar verification is "Squawk Ident." This is my new favourite expression replacing, "where are you?")

Early on Day Three..

There are sunny skies in Churchill, Manitoba, this morning so we will be taking to the skies once more in a couple of hours!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Day Two...Still in Saskatoon, Monday, May 28/07

The weather forecast for our next destination, Churchill, Manitoba, called for "quarter mile visibility in freezing fog, snow showers, and below zero temperatures," so we are still in Saskatoon. Tomorrow, however, the forecast is favourable and we are planning a mid-morning departure.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Day One ending in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Tacoma Narrows Airport, Sunday, May 27, 2007

We took off from Tacoma Narrows Airport at the designated time. Mariza sat up front with Ras and I was in one of the four back seats. There are two on each side facing each other with a folding table between each pair. A fifth seat has been removed to make room for luggage and the safety raft. It was chilly and overcast and it was raining in Seattle although not in Tacoma.

At 10:22am taxied out to the runway. We all had earphone on which connected us to the tower and to each other. Here we go.... We are "cleared for take off!" and then we are AIR BORN!

We climbed to 5,000 feet. The sound of the radial engines (propellers to the layperson) is a steady hum/beat, that is soothing as opposed to oppressive. We are in the cloud and there is some turbulence.

We went to 9,000 feet still in cloud although there was some break as we left the coastal rain forest, and Mount Rainier is spectacular, rising snow-capped above the clouds.

At 12:25 pm we crossed the Canadian border and climbed to 13,000 feet over the Rockies because of the mountainous terrain. We passed though clouds filled with rain and snow and experienced more turbulence.


We flew across the prairie and the sky was clear. At one point we flew over a rainbow. The ground is squared off into plots of brown.


Sitting in the co-pilot seat of this Twin Beech, the visibility is fantastic. The nose cone is small and, by leaning forward, the ground can be seen directly below.


We landed at the Saskatoon airport at 2:49 pm. It was 23C (74F) and the wind felt dry after the humidity of Seattle. The weather forecast for Churchill, Manitoba for tomorrow, however, is unfavourable so we may be seeing more of Saskatoon than planned....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tacoma Narrows Airport

Beech Landing

The night before take off - Saturday, May 26/07

This afternoon, Ras fueled the plane and Mariza and I went to meet him at Tacoma Narrows Airport. We are now ready to go. Tomorrow morning Ras will check the weather and, if the winds and cloud are favourable, we will leave for Saskatoon mid-morning.
It is a silly thing to anthropomorphize a machine but, really, it's impossible not to imbue Ras' Twin Beech with the qualities of a handsome and noble creature. She is strong and neat and smooth of line -- reminds me of an Airstream trailer with wings..., or arms, if you like, spread wide and elegant. Mariza and I wanted to name her, "Thule," perhaps, that mythical land of snow and ice, but apparently Vikings never named their ships so she remains "the Twin Beech." I love the plane. She has seen a lot of skies and yet seems more than ready to go up, up and away on yet another adventure.
There is a lot more I could write because spending a few hours at the Tacoma Narrows Airport was a glimpse into the world of yet another sub-culture, that of small planes and their enthusiasts. For your information, FOD means "Foreign Object Damage," which I trust we won't experience first hand.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Route Map

The eastbound flight route. If you click on it, it enlarges and there's the route....

The final countdown

Friday night and weather permitting, we are leaving on Sunday morning. The plane is ready.