In-flight journal - Day 19

Another involuntary no-fly day. We're being held hostage by Vikings! We hang around the Reykjavik airport, still trying to satisfy the civil aviation authorities that we're legitimate and that Arthur's Cessna is fully OK for the trip to Greenland. The Icelandic officials apparently have had all their questions - many questions - answered. They even called Namibia to check some of Arthur's paperwork, which he finds mildly insulting.

Now the Danes (who govern Greenland) throw in a new requirement: Arthur must multiply by several times his liability insurance. We're talking millions of dollars in extra insurance to cover what will be a six-hour flight in Greenland airspace.

Arthur's on the phone to his insurance agent in Namibia, who then communicates with the insurance carrier in London. Arthur envisions the worst: The insurer will conclude that the plane is not worth that much insurance, or that the premium will be prohibitively high. He muses about selling the Cessna here in Iceland and taking a commercial airliner home, or crating up our aerial steed and shipping it to Alaska.

But then we hear from the agent that the increased coverage has been approved - without prepayment. Arthur reflects on how important it's been that he dealt fairly and squarely with everyone in his years of flying in Namibia: the aircraft-service company, civil-aviation authorities, his insurance agency. We've had to call on all of them for special, unforeseen services. We're very grateful.

The added insurance will be expensive - nearly $170 an hour for our flight."And why the need for extra liability insurance?" Arthur asks ruefully. "Who or what could we possibly hit in Greenland?" By the time we've gotten this taken care of, offices in Copenhagen (two hours ahead of us) are closed. So we'll stay over another night and - we hope - get it straightened out in the morning.

Got an e-mail today with an interesting story about flying the North Atlantic. It's from John DeVilbiss in Ashland, Ore., who writes: "I'm watching your transatlantic flight with particular interest, given my past experience as a navigator ... flying C-118s out of Whidbey Island, Wash. We made the trip from Europe (most often from an airfield near London) to Iceland, past Greenland to Canada ... to the States numerous times.

"In particular, I remember a November night flying from Iceland to Goose Bay [Canada] in the midst of a magnetic storm resulting from an earlier solar flare-up. It was a spectacular night, with northern lights dancing along our track and Greenland's snow and ice fields visible in the soft glow of moonlight. Of course, the magnetic storm knocked out the several compass systems on board and we flew most of the flight on free gyros, taking heading information from the moon via sextant. It was a flight to remember. Here's wishing you a safe and pleasant trip, complete with northern lights and all compass systems up and running!"

Amen to that, John.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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