Reykjavik (Iceland) to Prestwick (SCOTLAND- HOME!)
I had spent yesterday relaxing at the airport hotel, and looking on the internet for the likely weather for my last leg of the journey to Prestwick. The forecast weather for Prestwick was for poor conditions in the morning, but for an arrival in the early afternoon it looked fine. My intention was to leave around 07.30 Iceland time (08.30 British summer time). The flight would take about 5 hours which would give me an arrival in Prestwick around 1.30 in the afternoon (local time).
Last night as I was sitting in the hotel cafe I overheard two younger men discussing aviation matters (in English) and asked if I could join them. I think I just felt the need for a bit of conversation as I was nearing the end of my journey, but they welcomed me to the table. One was a Dutch tourist to Iceland, and the other was a British pilot whose company had been engaged to fly around different parts of Iceland for photographic survey work (in a Cessna 404, I believe). Photographic survey work needs good weather and visibility and this had not always been available in the last few weeks; as a consequence, the work period had been extended. We had a good chat about what we were all doing, but it was soon time to turn in for the night, if an early start was to be achieved in the morning.
Got up at 05.30 and checked my emails and the weather. The forecast for Prestwick was still good for the afternoon, but the local weather for Reykjavik was for low cloud around 700 feet with the freezing level initially possibly as low as 5,000 feet. I decided to file the flight plan for a cruising level of 5,000 and then ask for higher as I went along.
My first mistake was not to have filed the flight plan last night. When I entered the flight centre there was no-one there as they didn’t open officially until 8:00. I telephoned the tower and they gave me a number to call, followed by a number to fax the flight plan, and I did this. But this took time and my planned 07.30 departure was now looking more like an 08.00 departure. Just before I started up the engine someone ran out from the flight centre and spoke to me through the pilot’s window – “was I about to leave, and would I like to pay the bill....?!” In my desire for an early start, I had completely forgotten about settling the bill for their services (hotel, fuel, etc). My fault entirely, so I passed my credit card through the window and told them I didn’t need a copy of the bill – I wanted to be on my way.
Taxied out to the holding point for runway 13, received my flight clearance, and I was soon on my way. Entered cloud soon after take-off and was soon cleared to 5,000 feet. The outside temperature looked like 4 or 5 degrees C so I soon asked for, and received, clearance for 7,000 feet. At this height I was just above the cloud with a clear blue sky above. With no cloud I could have gone much higher without any fear of icing, but was happy to stay where I was. The Icelandic controller said that I would lose contact eventually, but gave me the frequency for Scottish Information which I should be able to receive shortly after passing 60 degrees North latitude. When I passed this point I waited for a while and made a couple of calls, which went unanswered. A passing airliner (Delta 171 at much higher altitude) offered to pass on my position, and when this had been done he passed on instructions from Scottish Information giving me a transponder code so that they could identify me when I did come within range. Some time passed before this happened but good contact was then established.
I had been above cloud all the way from Iceland, but there had been a few breaks allowing occasional glimpses of the grey Atlantic below. About twenty miles before Stornoway there was one such break which gave me a glimpse of the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, but it disappeared again within a few seconds. It was as if to say “You’re nearly home, but not just yet”. My course from Stornoway was roughly tracking south, and I was soon in touch with Prestwick Approach. As I flew over the Isle of Arran, the clouds opened again to present a view of Goatfell mountain below. The controller then routed me south of Prestwick and then gradually descended me through the clouds to intercept the ILS for runway 31. As I turned onto the final approach, I remembered the email last night from Muir, a relative, who’d said that he would watch for my arrival as his place of work was under the flight path to runway 31.
Romeo Tango was soon on the ground and taxying in to Prestwick Flight Centre, where I was welcomed by my friend May, and Norna and other staff from the Centre. There were a few surprises as well. My friend Steve, who had travelled with me from the UK to Australia, had caught a Ryanair flight up from Stansted and was there to meet me. Also, I had stayed with friends Barbara and Ian in New Zealand, and Ian’s sister and her husband and children were there, as they lived locally to the airport. It was good to be back home after 3 months away and over 28,000 miles flying.
May had arranged a small garden party in Troon, with around twenty friends, and a few bottles of champagne were consumed.
In a few days I will fly Romeo Tango back to my home base of Fowlmere, near Cambridge. I will also make a final entry to this diary, and hope to put many more photographs on to the website, to show a little bit more of the scenery around the world.
This entire journey was unsponsored by anyone else , or any company, apart from the website which was provided by friends Keith and Jill at Granite5. If any readers feel that they would like to make a donation to any of the charities which I have chosen to support, please just click on the links to either the RNLI or the Glasgow University research fund and make your donation. Thanks to those of you who have already done so.
Flight Data: 802 nautical miles in 5 hours 5 minutes.