On the 10th march there was a weather window for the North Pole trip to begin for 2017
It was very last minute and i made the decision to getting going, loaded my things and set off
Destination Texel the Netherlands
I flew down to Cromer in Norfolk then direct a cross the North Sea (147 miles) over the oil fields to a place called Texel, stopped there for the night before heading along the Fresian Islands of Germany and Denmark where I landed at a small airfield called Nordborg due to Fog.
Stopped there for the night in a sports centre motel room, and in the morning did a news paper interview with them before taking off and a jump across past Copenhagen to an airfield called Hoganos.
There I had problems with the aircraft not starting so sent back to the uk for parts, they arrived after a few days and were fitted with the help of Lars Ericksen and another club pilot, then i had to wait for the wind to drop. While that was happening a newspaper interview was done for the local area, then i got my break in the weather a day later so i was off again.
I was off the ground by 9.30am with a weather front of rain heading toward me, as i headed north the weather front was chasing me all the time, making it a very rough ride at times, after a 3 hour flight of just trees and lakes i came to the airfield i planned to stop at Dala Jama only a small airfield, as i parked up a couple of guys came to see me but before i got out of the aircraft i asked one of the club members about a hotel he said just one minute he would check it was only 500 metres away.
He came back and said sorry all steps i asked how close to the next he said 10km.
That was it they could have told me this before i came i asked days before hand.
So asked for a refuel and while they were doing that i got the maps out and had a look how far i could get in the day light i had left and before this weather from came in.
Hanosand was my destination, a small private airfield right next to a town perfect.
Another 2hours 30 mins flight to do and it was going to be a bumpy ride the front was right over the top of Dala jama airfield now, the sky looked like an old washer board with all the wave from the hills.
My plan was to head out to the east coast as soon as possible and sensible to follow that north until i came to Hanosand,
2 hours 15 minutes I Spotted the airfield and it was surrounded with trees and a snow covered runway, i looked further north for another airfield but it was just that bit too far before sunset, so i went in to Hanosand.
A very bumpy landing as the snow was compact ice about 4 inch thick with deep ruts, it was like landing in a ploughed field, nearly full power to taxi up to the hanger, where a man came over introduced himself Erik.
He said this time of year everybody uses skis here, i asked if there was space in the hanger with this weather coming through and it no sorry all full up.
Ok so i got out of the Quik into the wheelchair and we managed to push the quik back out of the wind and i tied it up for the night and covered it up.
I Said i needed a hotel so he said he would run me to one,
After trying 3 hotels we found one that had a room for me, so i dropped my things in the room and went to find food and water J and take a look at the weather.
i am now quite far up Sweden and still early as the ice station doesn’t open until the 4th april.
so i decided i would not get out of Hanosand without my skis but they were in England, a quik email to my flying club asking for help, and Dan Curtis and Darren Weston jumped straight onboard and the skis were boxed and send within 3 hours for a 2 day delivery.
Weather still not brilliant now but if i had them by Thursday the 23rd March i could fit them Friday morning and be off as the wind was dropping then.
The Ski's arrived yesterday the 23rd of march, it was bit bit late in the day so Friday morning we went to the airfield and erik and a couple of club pilots helped me fit the skis hardly any wind so i got ready to a cameraman filming me all the time, the quik started getting bad at starting again i think it was because the ignition boxes had gone it started to break down the spragg clutch (not good ) but got it started and flew off the ice on the skis heading north to a place called Pitea this was about 3 hours and as i called into the airfield a friendly voice came back saying the runway wasn’t clear and i needed skis so landing in the snow again
Now here the weather started turning again so i got intoch with simon Worthington from eccleston aviation about the spragg clutch and organised for him as he is a Rotax engineer to come out from the UK to fit a new spragg clutch and heavy duty starter motor very kindly supplied by CFS aero,
Media coming on Monday for the local news papers
Sunday the 25th march Simon Worthington arrived we went out for food and a beer, then on the Monday morning we went to the airfield, started straight away not long after 9am and took the back end of the engine off, simon then fitted a brand new spragg clutch and a heavy duty starter motor thanks to CFS AERO who provided them free.
Just after 2pm we pulled the Quik outside and started it up great stuff, it turned over like hell and fired straight up, run it for a few minutes to make sure there was not leaks or problems then pushed it back in the hanger out of the wind. Had a good look over it superb no leaks. So we went back to the hotel and went out for a few beers and food thank you to simon Worthington of eccleston aviation for coming out and sorting that and a big thank you to CFS AERO for supplying the parts.
On the Tuesday morning i went off to the airfield for a tv and news paper interview but it was far too windy even to pull it out of the hanger, and simon was catching his flights home.
Wednesday the 29th march the weather looked good for heading to Kiruna in the north of Sweden. I got to the airfield early and loaded up the quik, and it started up great, warmed it up outside temp was -7 degrees.
Taxied out and lined up, no wind at all on the ground so took off. As soon as i got to about 1,500 feet it started to get really turbulent so i tried climbing to get out of it but it just got worse, after only about 10 mins i decided it was too rough to continue and came back to Pitea, taxied back in and Gunnar was still there, i told him i would wait a short while before having another go at it.
30 mins later i took off again and tried getting further but it was still too much for me and the trike to handle so turned back again, but as i turned down wind my twist grip was very stiff so used the side throttle and as i turned onto finals my throttle was jammed i tried to release the twist grip and the side throttle but it just went up to 4,550 rpm.
The quik climbs at that so i trimmed the aircraft off for level flight at 100mph and did a go around, a quik 100mph circuit then on finals i switched the engine off to come in and slowed it down as much as i could for landing, and to top it all it was a gusty turbulent approach. But i got it down and tried to start the engine, NOTHING it just blew out the circuit breaker, tried again and nothing.
I was sat in the middle off the runway stranded, i rung gunnar up and he came and pushed me back to the hanger, that was that for the day.
We spent the next 3 hours pulling the quik apart and checking things until we found that 1 wire had been trapped by a small bolt on the engine and shorted the starting system out. Fixed that wire with tape and moved it and tried the starter, perfect but now i had run out of time to fly to kiruna as the airport closed at 3.30pm. so i went back to the hotel for another night.
The next day i got picked up at 8am weather looking better and went to pitea airfield, got loaded up again and started the engine no problem, sat there for maybe 10 minutes to warm the engine as it was quite cold now -17 degrees. Taxied out and took off to start with it was a bit bumby but then it smoothed out and i set the side throttle to 85mph and headed north into the wilderness. The further north i got i could feel the temperature dropping and the ground getting whiter, after 1hour or so i knew i was now in to the arctic circle J. The mountains of Norway coming into view all the time.
Thirty minutes away from Kiruna the wind chill was really cold now, the LCD screen on the radio and transponder were really slow almost frozen, i didn’t have my heated gloves on but my jacket and trousers were keeping me lovely and warm.
I got Just south of kiruna and there was another airfield with a CTR around it that i could have gone around its airspace but that would have taken me too close to the mountains so i gave them a call on the radio and they gave me clearance straight through their airspace at whatever height i wanted. Cleared there air space and gave kiruna a call on the radio and the ATC controller just said report entering controlled airspace so i did but then when i was only 3 miles off the airport i gave him a call back and he said report finals runway 21.
That was easy enough so reported finals and there was a problem with my twist grip again so had to land it on the side throttle only, once down taxied upto hanger 1 . There was nobody around so i got my chair off the Quik and got out, just as i did a car pulled up and the hanger door opened but not for me but a helicopter firm they saw me in the wheelchair and came over. One guy asked if i was stopping i said yes and he helped push it in the hanger which is where it is now waiting for the weather to give me a break through the mountains of Norway to Tromso my final airport of mainland Europe.