Day 3: CYVM to BIKF
Day 3 of our ferry flight to Europe began the actual north-atlantic crossing. Our planned route was Qikiqtarjuaq, Canada (CYVM) to Sondre Stromfjord / Kangerlussuaq, Greenland (BGSF) and then on to Iceland.
In the previous days we had been monitoring the flight restrictions around the volcanic activity in Iceland, and it seemed likely that by the time of our arrival at least part of the Icelandic airspace would be open.
Map courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.
We got a bit of a late start because avgas in Qikiqtarjuaq is available only in drums (and only by advance request), so the fueling took us a bit longer than usual. The weather was clear with favorable winds over to Greenland, so we said goodbye to the friendly people in Qikiqtarjuaq and headed out over the North Atlantic to Greenland.
Sondre Stromfjord (BGSF) is a former US military base that served as a fuel stop for the bombers in WW2. BGSF is an excellent stop if you’re going to Greenland, because the airport has a long runway, a localizer approach and a control tower. Because BGSF is located a bit inland, the winds tend to be less than at some of the coastal airports in Greenland.
When we checked the weather and flight restrictions for Iceland in BGSF we got the good news that the airport at Keflavik – the closest airport on our desired route – was open with no restrictions. So we filed to BIKF (Keflavik) and were on our way to cross the Greenland icecap.
Approaching the east coast of Greenland we heard another crew on the radio who were delivering a C206 to Poland. We had met them at the restaurant in Goose Bay, but since their airplane had HF and a ferry tank they flew the more direct route from Goose Bay to Narsarsuaq and then decided to go to Kulusuk (BGKK).
About 45 minutes out of Keflavik the controllers advised us to contact our handling agent because the flight restrictions for volcanic ash had been updated and the airport was now set to close at 6:00 am local time. At that point we didn’t have a lot of options, so we decided to proceed for landing at BIKF.
During our approach to BIKF I goofed because I was expecting vectors for the ILS, but since there was no other traffic in the area the controller put us on a 3 mile final for a visual approach instead and I still had about 2000 feet to lose. We slowed the plane down to 110kts and put down the landing gear, landing flaps and speedbrakes and got back down to a normal glidepath in a hurry.
After landing at BIKF we discussed our various options regarding the flight restrictions, from departing at night for Glasgow or getting an early start at 4:00 am to get out before the airport closed, but since it was getting late and we had had a long day already I decided just to go to the hotel for a good night’s rest and re-evaluate our options in the morning.