Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Beginning and the End

The two photos show our departure preparations and the one on the left shows a happy pilot, safely arrived in Texas.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Here are the winds for the critical crossing day. We must get from Iceland to Canada and that requires a stop in Narsarsuaq, Greenland. Hopefully good weather will permit a landing there!

The Trip Begins

We are underway with the ferry trip to bring N421DD back to America. We left Fairoaks at 9:30Z and landed Wick at 11:41Z. After a lesson with Andrew at Far North discussing life rafts and immersion suits we were off to Reykjavik, Iceland. 3 hours later we landed in the mild 15c late afternoon. Tonight we have dinner plans at http://fiskfelagid.is with Icelandic friends.

The winds are looking positive for our onward crossing. Greenland and then Goose Bay, Canada.

Our friend and fellow pilot John is due to land at KEF tomorrow. Once reunited we will make some final checks and get airborn for the long day ahead of us.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Returning Home

I am preparing to cross the Atlantic once again.

It is time for N421DD to be loved by whomever is next, and that is probably someone in the USA. It is very difficult to sell high end twin aircraft in Europe so I have decided to use www.jtatwins.com as the sales agent, based near Dallas, Texas.

The preparations are coming together. I updated the GPS navigation database today, ensured all of the maintenance is complete and that she is in good running order. The life raft is being tested, the immersion suits are waiting for collection and I just need to shop for emergency food rations next!
My good friends Steve and John are flying to Europe to help with the crossing. We expect to start next weekend.

I look forward to updating the blog with our progress!

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Friday, June 15, 2007


The opera is never over until the fat lady sings. A trip is never complete until you've safely landed and shutdown the engines!

After landing in Wick from Reykjavik I thought we had made it. No more overwater sectors to fly. Just two more hours and we would be in London home territory. We had just reached level cruise at 23,000 feet having departed Wick toward Aberdeen en route to Fairoaks airport. Mary Ellen noticed large amounts of oil on the left hand engine cowling. I asked air traffic control for a diversion to Dundee airport which was 10 minutes away from our position. They asked if I was declaring an emergency and I explained that we were losing oil but that we still had normal indications on the instruments and would continue without declaring at the present time. They asked how many souls were on board.

Those were a tense 10 minutes!

I pulled the power back to save the engine from working so hard. We began a rapid descent. You never realize how far up you are until you need to get down! It took about 12 minutes to descend through the clouds to the circuit height at Dundee airport. Fortunately we broke out of the weather for a visual approach on RW10. The winds were 100 at 18 knots. We made one last orbit to get lower and lined up for the final approach when we noticed the smoke coming out of the left engine! We guessed that it was just the oil dripping onto the hot engine since the fire sensor hadn't lit up. We put the plane down on the runway and watched out the window to see if we were going to explode into flames and have to evacuate! More puffs of smoke. They parked us in front of the fire station with a couple of firemen there to help us position the plane. Fortunately everything calmed down and the smoke stopped when the engine was shut down.

Once we caught our breath it was time to see the cause of our oil leak. As Mary Ellen had suspected, the oil cap was not fully secure after topping up the oil in Wick. The back half the cap was off allowing the air pressure to suck out about a quart of oil. It looked terrible all over the left side of the plane and the smoke added drama, but in the end we were lucky that no damage occured and no harm done. We spent an hour cleaning up the mess, added replacement oil, refiled out flight plan, paid a whopping £50 in landing fees (which would have been free in America) and headed on our way to Fairoaks.

2 hours later we landed at our intended end of the route. A friend John was on hand to say hello. A few minutes later an old flying buddy Alan landed in a Navajo. It was like old times. I took my first solo flight at Fairoaks and did my private pilot training there. Home sweet home!

It took 29.5 flight hours from San Jose International airport, via NY to London.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Iceland and Greenland

Early Vikings were clever at marketing. Leif Eriksson found a very cold and barren place and wanted to encourage others, he called it Greenland. Iceland was mild and livable, they didn't want invaders and called it Iceland. The two really need to take a brand honesty course and swap names.

It was an amazing day. It was the riskiest part of the trip and it could not have been better. We had a clear blue day, we had good tail winds and we had incredible views and each visited a new country.

We have landed in Iceland to spend the night before finishing the journey tomorrow in the UK. I have achieved a life goal - flying the Atlantic (I count this success because in 2005 I managed to fly from England to Iceland and this joins the dots).

More photos tomorrow, but here is a journal for today.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


We made it! 3h 12min from Goose Bay to Narsarsuaq, Greenland. The most important stop because there are no alternates within fuel range of my plane. It was a beautiful blue sky day. Thanks for all the prayers! I will upload pictures tonight. On our way to rest tonight in Reykjavik!

New York to Goose Bay Canada

We are standing on the edge of North America prepared to leap across the first leg of our over water crossing. Tomorrow at 5am we will wake up to get the early morning weather, check winds and cloud cover in Narsarsuaq, Greenland and make a go/no-go decision. The forecast looks very good with acceptable winds and what should be a blue sky day in Greenland. However it is a very unstable part of the world's weather and we will constantly review actual status on the sat phone once airborne.

Back in time earlier today... we left the NJ airport this morning and flew down the Hudson river along side the skyscrapers in Manhattan. Spectacular views all around but we had to watch out for the constant helicopter traffic. I've posted some photos of today below:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New York

Made it easily into NYC this morning. Only 2h 20m from Toledo. I landed at Essex County Airport (Caldwell, NJ) which took only 45 minutes into Manhattan. Had a lovely afternoon with Carla and the kids then saw Fernando for drinks at the end of the day. He had to go back to work to prepare for the Lehman investment committe. Nice commitment Fernando!

An early car to the airport in the morning. We need to stop in Bangor, Maine, to get our survival equipment and then get up to Goose Bay Canada for the night.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Last night Toledo. NYC tonight!

The great adventure begins! The family drove me to San Jose airport for a 9am departure headed east! Fair winds helped us travel over 220 knots for most of the way. First stop was Greeley, Colorado, home of the 3 burger rated airport restaurant (for more info on the which goes into detail). Unfortunately it closed by the time we had arrived! It is almost impossible to find the right place to fly to which is a mix of distance, weather, fuel price, hamburger rating, runway length and course direction!

The guy at the Greeley FBO, Peak Aviation, let us borrow a car and we drove downtown to find a reasonable Mexican food restaurant.

With the plane and our bodies refueled we were off further east. We had planned to go to Defiance, OH but after reaching cruise and avoiding the thunderstorms just past Denver we pulled the power back to conserve fuel and found we could reach Toledo with 45 minutes of fuel reserve.

Free internet at the hotel, a download from the camera (a 15 year wedding anniversary present from Eli last week - good timing sweetie!) and I can upload the story so far.

We are on our way to New York City for the day. Tonight John Fulton will join us for the crossing. That's when the adventure really begins!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Plans are firming up

Planning now to depart from San Francisco on Sunday morning to spend a night with friends in New York. Then an early departure on Tuesday to start the crossing after picking up our life raft and survival suits. Mary Ellen and John will fly with me to make us 3 pilots. The trip plan looks like:

Tue, 12-June: NYC-Bangor-Goose Bay Canada
Wed, 13-June: Goose-Narsarsuaq-Reykjavik
Thu, 14-June: Reykjavik-Wick-London Biggin Hill

Weather depending!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I'm thinking seriously about trying the crossing again. This time I plan to fly with the jet stream and fly from North America to Europe. I will travel with John Fulton in the front seat, an accomplished aviator with 8 previous crossings and 20,000+ hours of time in the air.

Our target is to depart the USA on June 7th.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

In America now!

An email from Bill Cox who is the ferry pilot. He went back to try again on July 16th...


Crossing was relatively uneventful once we finally got some decent winds. Greenland was OK on the West Coast, not much fun on the East Coast. Gidthab was on the ground with fog, and I listened to three Groensfly (Greenland Air) airplanes circling over BGBW trying to figure out what to do next. Picked up some ice in the last two hours, but what else is new on the North Atlantic in summer.

Airplane is generally running very well. Right engine demands running electric fuel pump most of the time above 14,000 feet, not good, as what do you do if the pump fails. (Duh! Obviously descend, but what if you can't.)

I'm in Bangor and will be out of here in the morning. Not much reason to charge down to Waco on a Sunday, as there's no one to talk to until Monday. For that reason, I'm going to stay with a friend tomorrow night and continue on down to Waco on Monday, then try to get home Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Once again, I think you have the potential for a winner here. It's already a good airplane. Dumb me, I left the squawk list in the airplane. Not that many, a dozen or so, and some are very minor. I'll try to get it to you possibly tomorrow night so you can decide what you want the folks at Air Impressions to fix.

Since many of the squawks are avionics related, you might want to consider having them addressed by Robin Howard at Howard Aviation. He's a whiz at that stuff, and he knows the 421 very well. He does all of Tom's work.

I'll stay in touch by email.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Meridian Pilots

I have heard from the other pilots that flew in their Piper Meridians on the Wednesday. The winds turned out to be much stronger than forecast. Confirmation that our decision to abort was wise.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Abandon Ship!

We are calling off this attempt and returning to London on Iceland air.

We spent the morning with the Icelandic weather team and the strong zonal winds are going to continue for another 3 to 5 days. We therefore decided the trip isn't safe to make with our fuel range and will now call off the attempt.

Bill Cox the ferry pilot will return alone to finish the ferry the other half of the atlantic in mid-July. The airplane will stay in Iceland until then.

We're sad but clear we have no other choice. Without fuel along the Northern Route we simply have to call it a fine day!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Stuck in Reykjavik

The winds are blowing too hard from Goose Bay, Canada to Narsarsuaq, Greenland to permit a safe flight with adequate fuel. We could get from Iceland to Greenland but then we'd be stuck there as the headwinds are from 30-50 knots. We've made the decision to stay another day in Iceland and try tomorrow. This until Friday when we will have to abort the trip since we all have a schedule to keep next week. It will be a great disappointment not to get further on the trip, but we just can't take the risk to run against the wind.

The shorter route North is definitely not a choice since all Northern airports are out of AVgas and the ships can not resupply until August when the ice in the ocean melts.

Spent the day sorting out electronics, airplane manuals and visiting the local sites.

A group of Piper Meridian pilots took off this morning. They burn Jet-A1 so they had choices. My next plane will be a Jet fuel burner!!!

I've posted some new tourist photos from the day.

Email Comments

I am getting your comments and emails, they are very funny and encouraging! If we aren't writing back it is only due to time pressures! Keep it up!


We are spending the day and day in Reykjavik (there is no night during midsummer!) It has been good to catch up on rest as everyone was either jet lagged or full of adrenaline sorting out last minute logistics and making preparations.

We did the usual in-town sites: Downtown, the Rock Church and the meteorological office. The latter to determine if we have a chance to continue the trip or if we need to abort. Strong jetstream winds might put Narsarsuaq, Greenland and Goose Bay, Canada out of range for Day 3. We have to be able to reach Narsarsuaq because there is no other airport en route and we must stop for fuel. The shorter route north via Kulusuk, Greenland is useless to us because of a fuel shortage. We've heard from other pilots crossing West to East that they are out of Avgas for the next two months in Northern Greenland.

We tried on our exposure suits for the first time in case we made any critical errors in the flight planning. Apparently you get about 30-45 seconds of consciousness in the water at current temperatures of +2c without these rubber bodies. We also have a liferaft which you need to survive for the hours necessary to wait for rescue. But of course we don't plan on requiring any of this. We are planning very conservatively and more importantly we spent an hour at the simple but powerful "rock" Church here in Reykjavik. God is with us!

Tomorrow, Wed 22-Jun-05, we do a final check on the winds and start for Greenland and Canada.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Made it to Reykjavik!

Two new world speed records have been set for the fastest time for a Class I.e aircraft to fly from London to Wick (2.6 hours) and Wick to Reykavik (3.5 hours)! To be confirmed by the NAA/FAI governing body...

June 21st is a holiday in Greenland and the airports are closed so we are waiting it out in Iceland to find out how the winds will treat us. There is a chance that with difficult head winds we will have to abandon the quest to reach America. We found out from some guys flying the Easterly direction that there is no fuel in Kulusuk which would be the only shorter alternative. Without fuel, we're stuck!! So pray for Westerly winds on Wednesday!!

I've uploaded some photos to see.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Cessna Golden Eagle

The Golden Eage is a twin engined, pressurized cabin aircraft. The year this aircraft was made was 1977. Details about this family of aircraft can be found at this link:

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What we are doing

The plan is to move N90JT, a Cessna Golden Eagle, from her resting place at London's Biggin Hill airport to Waco, Texas. Then some maintenance, upgrades and eventually to Northern California for the rest of the year.

Here is the North Atlantic route we will take from London Biggin Hill -> Wick, Scotland -> Reykjavik, Iceland -> Narsarsuaq, Greenland -> Goose Bay, Canada and then down to the USA via Bangor, Maine.

The journey is expected to take about 5 days flying about 5 hours per day. We will stay in hotels at the end of each day and hope to catch some of the local sites.

Planned departure: Monday, 20-June-05, 15:00 local