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Across the Atlantic in a Skyhawk: Part 3


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Before I got married, I did some dumb things in my Piper Cherokee;

like the time I had a sudden impulse one night to fly down to my South

Texas hometown and visit my mom. I called flight service and got the weather

briefing, which sounded pretty benign, so I took off from Houston Gulf.

There were a lot of 1000-2000 foot tall transmission towers around Houston, so

I stayed over a road because there was an overcast between 1000 and 2000 feet

and I didn't want to get caught on top. However, the ceiling started coming down

on me as I proceeded southwest along Highway 59. At a little town called Edna, I

put her down on Jackson County airport, which was deserted at that hour, and

slept in the plane.


The nice thing about FS9 is you can do all the dumb things you like without serious

consequences. My planned next leg in my transatlantic odessey was from Narsarsuaq

in Greenland to Reykjavik in Iceland, but it took two attempts. The map shows the direct

course to Reykjavik, but it goes over a glacier covered range of mountains. For my first

attempt I took off from BGBW, circled a bit to gain altitude, then started east over the

glacier thinking I could outclimb the rising terrain. This relatively short flight was aborted

when I heard the sound of my wheels rolling on the ice!


For my second attempt, I stayed over the fjord and flew out to the Atlantic before turning

east toward Iceland. This cost me a big chunk of my fuel margin, so I kept careful track

of the fuel burn rate for the next few hours. Not far from the coast of Greenland, I spotted an iceberg.




About two hours in, at 1000 feet and 2000 rpm, my fuel burn rate was 5.4

gallons/hour. This did not look promising, so I brought the rpm down to

about 1900 and let the altitude drift downward slowly at 82 knots. The fuel burn rate came

down to about 5 gallons per hour and the altitude drifted down to about 32 feet

before it stopped decreasing and started slowly upward as the plane got lighter. The numbers

looked pretty tight for Reykjavik, so I reset my destination to Kevlavik International on the

western tip of Iceland, which saved me about 60 nautical miles.




As the coast of Iceland came into view, the LO FUEL warning was on, so I squawked

emergency (7700) and flew straight in. When I parked the Skyhawk at Kevlavik, there were

4.16 gallons of fuel remaining. I probably could have made it to Reykjavik, but it would have

been tight.

Edited by csemar
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