Thursday, July 30, 2015

Norman and Roxy have a memorable time in Nuuk, Greenland

Norman finally arrived in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk after numerous delays caused by weather at his stops in the the wilderness airfields in the far north of Canada.
His lengthy flight from Baffin Island across the Davis Straight to Greenland was one of the most spectacular he has undertaken. He reported back that he flew over many large ice floes as well as the occasional Iceberg, the hidden majority of these watery peaks gleaming blue through the crystal clear icy waters.
He also saw a number of Polar Bears who looked as though a red suited gyronaut would make a lovely snack for them!
Icebergs showing their hidden depths!

But Norman made it safely to the airport at Nuuk where he was greeted and looked after by local pilot Dan Rasmussen. We had arranged for another pilot to meet Norman but the delays meant that he was away on the actual arrival day, but he had sent a heads up to Dan who was more than willing to come out and help Norman.
Dan Rasmussen with Norman

Dan was not only able to advise and support Norman with the aviation details at Nuuk and find 'accommodation' for Roxy but also saw to it that Norman had a good time during his stay in the capital.

They always find space for Roxy when she arrives at a new place :-)
Dan was also kind enough to host Norman and Norman was able to experience the real atmosphere of living in this community at the edge of the icy world.
Enjoying food and drink...Greenland style

Out and about learning how the locals survive in these inhospitable climes

Showing a youngster where Roxy and Norman had been before

There was also a heart stopping moment that lasted 2 days when another pilot went missing.
We at Norman's support team had also been in touch with another circumnavigator, Russian Sergey Ananov, who was flying around the world in a Robinson R22 helicopter. It turned out he was a day behind Norman and was due to arrive in Nuuk the day after Norman's arrival...this seemed a good opportunity to have two rotary circumnavigators at the same spot on the globe at the same time...a great photo opportunity and a chance for the two adventurers to chat about their experiences.

But as Norman waited at the airport for the arrival of this little helicopter it soon became clear that something was wrong as the hours passed and no arrival. Norman contacted us and we contacted the Russian team and it was soon announced that the helicopter had indeed gone down in the Davis straight...the same area Norman had flown across the previous day...complete with Icebergs and Polar Bears.

It was two days before we got the good news that he had been found by a rescue ship, clinging to an ice floe, surrounded by Polar Bears! Norman was happy to receive this news and so prepared to continue to Narsarsuaq at the southern point of Greenland ready for his coastal flight North to then make the jump across the Atlantic to Iceland.
Watch a TV report about the rescue by clicking this link

Norman did depart Nuuk on Sunday for the flight to Narsarsuaq but that is another story...
Filling up the TurtlePac in the usual way
With an eye on the weather, Norman prepares to depart Nuuk

'Good Bye Nuuk, it was great to know you'

We would like to thank Dan Rasmussen for all his help in Nuuk and especially for letting us use his great photos of Norman and Roxy. We would also like to thank all of Dan's friends, the airport staff and locals in Nuuk for making Norman so very welcome.
Nuuk gets a special place on Roxy's rudder :-)

The Gyrox team

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Winter Woes in the Middle of Summer

If you have been wondering why there has been no movement on Roxy's tracker or many updates as to the onward journey North through Canada...then all will now be explained.

Norman departed the airport at Schefferville on Friday the 10th July after a short but pleasant night in this remote Iron-Ore mining town in the remote Canadian wilderness. It was due to be a long 5 hour flight further north to the Inuit named, Kuujjuaq, a small but busy community near the northernmost coastline of mainland Canada.
Norman, about to depart Schefferville

It turned out in the end to be a trouble free flight with good weather, plenty of blue sky and favorable winds that shortened the flight time considerably. The most noteworthy thing that Norman reported was the complete lack of human presence for the whole of the flight. Not another human being was spotted once between Schefferville and Kuujjuaq!
A hundred thousand lakes but not a single fisherman.
The trees are thinning out...a sure sign of nearing the frozen north

Norman arrived at Kuujjuaq and was greeted by a team from Air Inuit who had stepped in to look after Norman's arrival because the airport handlers had gone away on vacation! Air Inuit is what we would probably call a 'Bush Airline', flying smaller aircraft between the remote communities in Northern Canada. It does have larger jet airliners for use between the southern cities but up here in the widerness you are more likely to see a Twin Otter or King Air on the ramp, which was great for Norman and Roxy who fitted right in straight away.
Arriving at Kuujjuaq. The water on the right is the Koksoak River.

The guys at Air Inuit helped Norman find accommodation and joined him for dinner where the chat was all about flying small aircraft in these high latitudes. Norman had intended to spend a full day in Kuujjuaq to have a rest after two long and draining flights and also to give Roxy a quick check over before the flight over Ungava Bay and the Hudson Strait to Iqaluit on Baffin island, now more correctly called Nunavut. Iqaluit is not only the capital of Nunavut province but also possibly the last stop in North America before Norman and Roxy fly to Greenland. We say possibly the last stop but this is all down to weather, especially wind directions which may mean another stop further north in Nunavut.
But all plans for that next flight to Iqaluit came to a sudden halt the following morning when the weather reports from our contacts in Iqaluit showed any kind of arrival was out of the question due to a 200 ft ceiling and heavy rain. This was also bore out by the scene outside Norman's accommodation that morning...
Great weather for ducks but not for Gyro's
It then became an hourly vigil of the weather reports, both at Kuujjuaq and from Iqaluit...the Gyrox Team were poised to let the world know that Norman was flying again and Norman was ready to jump into his famous red suit and brave the elements...but, it never happened.
The weather remained bad in Kuujjuaq and actually got worse in Iqaluit with fast, freezing winds blowing straight into the path Roxy would take.
A wind map designed to halt any slow aircraft heading east.

But Norman has faced longer delays, many times in the past and instead of moping about decided to explore the world of the Inuit and the frozen (ok, muddy) north.
Norman selfie in Kuujjuaq main street...Note the sign in English and Inuit
On a trip to a supermarket, Norman was surprised to see how well stocked it was...including paddles and fully set up fishing rods stacked alongside the cold drinks and M&M's.
I'll have a Cola light, a bag of apples and a paddle please :-)
More strange sights greeted Norman as he made his way around the community...
Not many trees this far north so maybe it's an Inuit Totem made out of local stone?

Not much snow yet but sledges and Skiddoos are everywhere...

Local churches are designed to cope with the weather and not to look pretty.
Large pieces of machinery abounded...with no obvious idea of what they are used for.
Being a remote community, everything has to come in by air or sea. Norman was amazed that the fuel storage center gets one delivery a year and it arrives by sea.
Kuujjuaq's fuel terminal
So, what happens next? We can say that Norman is being magnificently looked after by his new buddies from Air Inuit and it is now a waiting game, not only to see how the weather improves at Kuujjuaq, but also to make sure it improves for all the upcoming legs of this historic journey.
We will of course keep you all updated as we get the latest news...

The Gyrox team

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Norman heads into the Canadian Wilderness

Norman has departed from Schefferville airport where he stayed the night. He is now heading further north across the Canadian wilderness to the first of a long line of airports whose names would make a great Scrabble score! First stop - Kuujjuaq on the river Koksoak near Ungava Bay. 
Kuujjuaq in the far north of Quebec Province

He will also accomplish a first just a few miles after departing Schefferville...the first time he has flown further North than at any time since he left Larne 5 years ago! Both Larne and a point 3 miles north of Schefferville lie at 54' 51" N Latitude...
Kuujjuaq terminal...civilisation in the tundra!

Norman had an interesting stopover in Schefferville, an Iron Ore mining town, where everything was covered in a rust coloured dust! Luckily, the guys at Air Inuit found a place for Roxy to spend the night and saw Norman safely ensconced in the town's 'modern' hotel.

'Roxy' all tucked for the night in Schefferville

The flight yesterday was quite an epic one and Norman reported that he saw only two other human's during his 5 hour flight and crossed only one road! Today's flight is into an even more barren area where Norman's only hope of a diversion landing would be on the permafrost or a convenient lakeside. But at least Kuujjuaq is a bit bigger than Schefferville with more cafe's and a post office, it even has a small beach... wink emotic
Norman's hotel in Schefferville

Rust-dust is the prevailing colour as seen from Norman's hotel room

Follow Norman's route via the onboard tracker - Spot

We apologise for the lack of blog posts recently, this has been due to workloads and logistics of getting information back.

A series of catch up blog posts is being prepared to bring the flight up to date.

The Gyrox Team


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