North Atlantic Crossing by single engine aircraft

When you fly a small plane around the world the typical way pilots get from North America to Europe is via the North Atlantic hopping from Canada, across to Greenland, then refuelling in Iceland before the long hop across to the tip of Northern Scotland.

It’s a flight I’d enviously seen ferry pilots and Earthrounders do many times before through videos posted on YouTube or incredible photos of the icecaps shared on Social Media. So as part of my preparation for my own world flight I decided to get the help of my friend and certified Instructor Philippe and fly some of the North Atlantic route myself.

Our journey started at East Midlands airport where we met each other and flew up to Wick, the traditional departure point from the UK, where the always wonderful team at Far North Aviation helped us complete the paperwork required to leave the UK and head over to Iceland.

The aircraft we were flying was a Cirrus SR22T G6, the turbo variant of the SR22 I fly in Australia so after a short tuition in engine management and some avionics difference training I felt very comfortable flying it.

N123VP – the Cirrus SR22T that we flew on this trip

Flying across the cold North Atlantic ocean required a lot of extra preparation. We both wore immersion suits for the long overwater crossings. We carried an inflatable life raft in case we had to ditch the plane. We had a grab bag of emergency supplies and before each flight we briefed each other on who would do what in the event of a water landing.

Our concentration faces – taken somewhere 100s of miles across the Ocean

We had headwinds all the way to Iceland with the flight stretching the endurance of the SR22T. In total it took around four and a half hours, still leaving us a healthy reserve of fuel, but certainly a flight that had us watching fuel flow and winds aloft very closely for a lot of the flight.

But once we sighted land the pressure was released and we enjoyed some low level flying to get a better look at a country that I’d never visited before.

Low-level flying around Iceland

On the third day of the trip the weather looked just about good enough to attempt a crossing over to Greenland. Seeing the frozen oceans and permanent ice caps of this huge landmass in the North Atlantic was something I’d wanted to do for many years, and the views out of our window as we approached probably the remotest corner of the planet I’ve ever been on did not dissapoint

Greenland out the front window
Snow capped peaks and frozen waters of Greenland
Greenland’s East coast – not many landing options down there
Being refuelled at Kulusuk Airport – this taken from the airport control tower where you pay landing fees and file your flight plans
Exploring the town of Kulusuk

The remainder of the trip saw us flying back to Iceland and having a few days on the ground to explore the rugged South Coast. The weather turned on us on the last day as we headed back to Scotland so we used the full capabilities of the Turbo aircraft and climbed to 24,000 feet on oxygen to get over the bad icing conditions down below.

At 24,000 feet on oxygen on the way home (with tailwinds for a nice change)

You can watch the video series of my Arctic Circle flying adventure in the video playlist below.

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