Bonanza to Oshkosh - via Iceland and Greenland
by Bill Finlen

In 1997 and again in 1999, many ABS members had the privilege to meet with and welcome, 3 Bonanza pilots from Germany and USA on their way around the world.

This year, I had the pleasure of accompanying one of those pilots, JŁergen Timm to Oshkosh from his hometown near Hamburg in Germany. We flew via Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Canada in his 1974 V-Tail Bonanza and return almost the same way.

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What a trip it was!

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JŁergen and I prepare for the "Big Blue"

As we left JŁergen's Village Airfield in rain and a very low cloud base heading for Reykjavik in Iceland, I was pleased to experience JŁergen's carefulness of detecting a problem with the huge fuel tanks affectionately known as "Dolly Partons".

We diverted to Bergen in Norway for repairs before heading for Reykjavik the following day.

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Inbound Reykjavik

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The scenery over Greenland was fabulous!

As I looked down on the scenery over Iceland and Greenland, I could not help but marvel at the incredible opportunity that had afforded me. Some of the icebergs and glaciers are shown in my pictures, but they in no way capture the magic of being there. I felt so very fortunate to be in such places in a Bonanza just like my own.

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We learnt to fly "float planes" in Canada

Along the way, we teamed up with several other aircraft (including a "homebuilt") on their way to the world's best air show. An added bonus was to learn to fly a "float plane" at Orillia, Canada and near the Great Lakes.

For me, the absolute highlight of Oshkosh was flying in with hundreds of other light aircraft. The air traffic controllers are just amazing. In bound to the checkpoint we are instructed by NOTAM, to listen on the ATIS for instructions. The ATIS advises us to turn transponders OFF and then arrange ourselves in single file along the railway line at 1800 and 90 kts. We are told to listen on a new ATC frequency for further instruction.

We are instructed to not speak on the radio. Just listen.

"Blue Cessna, rock your wings. Thankyou. You continue straight ahead and you are on crosswind for right circuit runway 26. Change to tower 118.2. Bonanza with big tips tanks, rock your wings. Thank you, great rock. You follow the Cessna in front and go to tower 118.2. Home built behind the V-tail. Sorry but I don't recognise your type. Please rock your wings. Thanks and I want you to turn 90o right and you are on down wind for left circuit runway 18 left. Go to tower 123.4"

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We arrive at Oshkosh

Even when you go to tower, a similar format continues.

"Cessna on final. Cleared to land on the yellow spot. Bonanza behind, I an IFR twin at your 9 o'clock over the lake. I want you to let the IFR twin in front of you . IFR twin fly over the Cessna to land on the orange spot. Bonanza land on the first spot, the green one, behind the twin."

Not one word spoken back to the tower and it all happens so smoothly, stressful but smooth. Upon landing, 100's of ground people are ready to get you off the runway and then you just sit back and do as instructed by signs. So easy. And literally 1000's of planes being parked.

We all know of the fabulous aerobatics and displays at Oshkosh and the super markets full of the latest gadgets etc but for me the flight in was something I will remember forever.

Departure was into very low cloud base, again without talking to anyone and I must admit that I was relieved to have some distance between us and the others leaving at the same time. We landed at Sept Isles in Canada and met up with other friends and Bonanza owners for a great seafood meal.

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NOTAM warned us of icebergs near the threshold

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Next day it was back in the iceberg territory for a landing in Narsarsuaq in Greenland. The approach to Narsarsuaq is via fiords that can be very confusing. However with good charts and GPS we found ourselves on final fairly easily. At the base of the runway we are warned by NOTAM of icebergs and at the other end is a huge glacier probably there since time began.

Again, the scenery out of Iceland was breathtaking, with the ice and cloud merging to one. This can be very dangerous for the uninitiated.

Another ILS into Reykjavik followed by a very pleasant cruise over the Shetland Islands and "home" to Germany.

This is just a very short story of the highlights of my fabulous trip. Thanks to JŁergen for sharing a truly magnificent experience with me. Having learned lots about "Long Range" flying, I now look forward to my big one in 2002.


Location Distance Time
St Michaelisdonn - Germany Depart
Burgen - Norway 400 NM 2.75 Hrs
Reykjavik - Iceland 790 NM 6.00 Hrs
Goose Bay - Canada 1340 NM 9.50 Hrs
Orillia - Canada 920 NM 6.00 Hrs
Oshkosh - USA 400 NM 2.50 Hrs
Sept Isles - Canada 980 NM 6.50 Hrs
Narsarsuaq - Iceland 970 NM 6.50 Hrs
Reykjavik - Greenland 663 NM 4.50 Hrs
St Michaelisdonn - Germany 1111 NM 7.50 Hrs