Bremen to Iceland: Learning by doing

Sunday, August 18, 2013
Wick, Scotland, United Kingdom
The night in Bremen was short, and there was too much in my head to sleep well anyway. Our airport was all of 100 meters from the airport so we were in Maggie on time for our routing via Denmark before crossing to Scotland. We had some clouds to our 12,000' cruise but nothing too long and completely turbulence free. From Denmark we made decent progress given that we were with our first encounter of what is surely to be constant headwinds. Talking with Scotish controls was interesting, and we learned our first new term: "deconfliction service". I still don't really know what this entails, but the controllers would repeatedly ask what kind of service level we wanted: "traffic avoidance" or "deconfliction service". Deconfliction service sounded cooler, so we opted for that.
We had chosen Wick in Scotland as our destination in the UK primarily because of the reputation of the one, the only: Andrew . This guy is well known in the ferry flight community as a character, and from our phone conversations to arrange our visit he already wasn't disappointing. Wick though, in the far north east of Scotland, isn't the breeziest place to fly in to. The crosswind flying in to Wick was hands-down the strongest I'd ever experienced. Wow. It was a lively approach, that's for sure. The windsock was beyond horizontal and gusting like crazy. I wonder how many of those they go through a year before they rip off the post. Good thing Maggie's responsive and I had good flight instructors.
Andrew was, to put it lightly, all over the place. Here we were, naively thinking we were going to get our oil changed while we enjoyed some fish & chips. He had other things in mind: immediately putting us to work to get it done. In a massive rusty hangar from 1937 we were taking off Maggie's cowling and working together to get the oil filter off. The facilities were hilarious: rain puddles from the leaky roof, no running water, the toilets were understandably looking the part, and we had to wash our hands iwith avgas . It was quite humorous "washing" our hands underneath the fuel drains of the other planes in there. At some point Andrew just took off without saying a peep, so Johannes and I were left to the task of learning by doing. It's not rocket science, but we wanted to make sure we had everything put back together properly. Maggie's cowling didn't fly off en route to Iceland, so we did something right ;-)
A walk through the extremely windy town of Wick on a Sunday took us to the thriving Tesco. Not much selection, and a lovely reassurance that Scotland also has a Walmart-esque target audience, but at least we grabbed something to eat & tide us over. Walking through the town made me realize how glad I am not to be living there.
As I'm sure will be common for us on the trip, we left a few hours after I'd hoped to. Our routing to Reykjavik was straightforward. After again getting deconfliction service while in Scottish airspace, off we were over the water to Iceland. At 12,000' this time we also didn't have to use supplemental oxygen like we did on the trip over the Atlantic . The higher we go, the stronger the headwinds, and with the broken stratus clouds nicely below us, 12,000' was just fine. Eating and drinking was also surely easier with the O2 masks on.
We opted to land in Keflavik because our friendly previous service here (I'm writing at the FBO). Plus, being Sunday and with our arrival time after 8pm, it's often cheaper for us to land at the giant international airports than for paying late arrival fees at smaller domestic airports. We're learning! The controllers were friendly as I made a couple rookie mistakes, giving a couple wrong runway transmissions and not setting the local pressure altitude after flying at QNE flight levels. Again, you live, you learn. The controllers had no other traffic, so it was no big deal, I was just a tick embarrassed. After a long day of flying, particularly with the conditions in Wick, Johannes assured me all was good and that a cold beer was waiting regardless ;-).
Our hotel was the same as last time, nothing special. Dinner was local angler fish - gotta go local - and well-deserved Icelandic beer.
For those of you interested, our flight routing was:

Wick (EGPC) to Keflavik (BIRK): DCT WIK313100 DCT WIK313150 DCT WIK313200 DCT BARKU DCT RATSU DCT KEF at 12,000'
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