Wednesday 18th December and, to be honest, I'd been dreading this leg.
The prospect of another long haul in permanent night, with little of interest in the way of screenshots didn't inspire me at all. Fortunately, I was proved wrong.
I decided to give Weathermaker a try as my internet access prohibited me being on-line when I wanted to take off. I refuelled the Baron (I owe those passing penguins a few fish.. ;-)) and lined up on the runway. At least I assumed I was lined up on the runway because with blanket fog everywhere, it was very difficult to tell!
I dialled 12,000 feet into the autopilot as a cruise altitude. This leg spanned 898nm and didn't give me much cause for concern regarding fuel, and took off at 11.41a.m. local time.
The fog was at it's worst at ground level and cleared sufficiently for me to see that Alert has some hefty mountains close by which I decided to clear without the autopilot being on...just in case.
I reached 12,000 feet some minutes later and took a look at my new temperature gauge. At this point I must give a BIG thankyou to Dani Backhaus who took the time to program me a gauge that would toggle between Centigrade and Fahrenheit. It's a strange thing that hadn't occurred to me before requesting this gauge, but the English at least, tend to refer to cold weather in degrees Centigrade, and hot weather in Fahrenheit. Anyway, I digress.
The readout told me it was an unbelievable -66C!! I pulled my emergency temperature early warning system out of my bag and placed him on the seat. (He's a brass monkey called `Alfie` <Grin>)
After a few hours of fairly boring flight the temperature rose to around -44 degrees. I was back in on-line availability time and decided to revert to Activesky for real weather. The result was interesting in that the temperature as reported for real weather was only one degree different at 43. The one thing that did occur when I changed to Activesky was a fabulous display of the Northern lights. I know I've already posted a few pics of this phenomenon but I couldn't resist a couple more.
Shortly afterwards, the darkness beneath me (I was over the sea at this point) was replaced by a picturesque blanket of cloud. It's hard to describe, but I couldn't help but feel a sense of complete tranquility. I'm not sure the screenshot does it justice but it's marked in my mental diary as another of those unexpected moments FS2002 sometimes bestows.
However the weather is a fickle friend and I soon found myself in thick, unrelenting fog. This gave me a few worries. I was about an hour away from my destination airfield, Qikiqtarjuaq (try saying that after a beer!) and it has no ILS, or VOR. All I had to work with for a landing was the GPS and an NDB. The prospect of attempting this blind did nothing for my confidence!
With half an hour to go, the fog lifted to a light mist with a significant increase in temperature, and another brief display of the Northern lights. I started my descent with a cautious eye on the GPS. The thing that was worrying me at that point was that Qikiqtarjuaq is right on the coast in an inlet. I had no idea how high the surrounding terrain was and how much room I'd have to line up an approach.
Then it started snowing. "That'll help!" I thought cheerily. (Actually I made that up - I wasn't at all cheery).
With only 10nm to go I could just see the outline of some fairly high cliffs on either side of the inlet. No sign of any runway lights though. I lowered the speed, dropped the flaps and let the undercarriage down as I flew closer in, still with no sight of the runway.
Roughly 2nm out, I spotted it through the snow. Some swift corrections to the course and altitude kept me busy but I finally landed safely without too much fuss. There were some vague hints of dusk in the sky through the last 20 minutes of the flight and I sincerely hope I can catch a little daylight here. From what little I can see, I suspect this place looks quite spectacular. I'll do my best to get some screenshots before departing for the next leg if possible.
For now, I'm heading for the bar and Alfie's gone in search of a welder. :)
1) I haven't moved since my last screenshot - the NDB is in there somewhere!
2) I'm about to disengage the autopilot and clear the rise.
3) Cruise altitude and look at the temperature!!
4) The Northern lights.
5) Really tranquil..
6) Just awesome.
7) Fog as I begin my descent.
8) Fog clears to reveal the lights again.
9) And then a mixture of the two.
10) Snow falls as a hint of daylight creeps into the sky.
11) If you look VERY closely directly beneath the Baron - you can just make out the inlet. (This was about all I had to work with forming an approach too).
12) Safely down.
13) I bet this place looks great in daylight.
Source code and graphics © J.Consterdine 2003