Visit to Grimsey Island

After some days of rest at Húsavík, our team of EU experts decided to fly to the island of Grimsey. This is the northernmost settlement in Iceland, with a population below 90. Still, it has a nice airfield, which is the main connection to the mainland. After that, the plan was to fly back to the mainland to Akureyri. On the way, the experts also asked be to report them on the availability of various NDB beacons that are essential to IFR navigation in this area.

That was the mission.

As always, I started by checking the weather. We were ok, winds calms, nice visibility and a broken cloud layer at 6000′. I was planning to fly lower than that, so it should not affect us. At about 0750 local time, I started the engines on our trusty Britten Norman Islander. I taxied out to runway 21 and took off. The runway was heading south, so I had to turn right to fly north and head to the Grimsey island.

Flaps up, fuel pumps off, engines 25′ of MP @ 2500 RPM, landing lights off. After takeoff checklist completed 🙂

Just after reaching the cruising altitude of 2500 feet.

We flew North, along the cost and overlooking Flateyjardalurm which is deserted, nowadays. We also overflew the Flatey island and soon we were within visual range of Grimsey. Unfortunately, I had forgot to note the time at which we overflew the Flatey island, so I couldn’t calculate the distance remaining to Grimsey. I had to judge the descent visually. Oh well…

Grimsey island ahead! Time to start the descent.

Since weather was nice and winds were calm, I planned to make a straight-in approach to runway 36. When the field was in sight, I knew I was a bit to the right of centerline, and a bit high. I dropped out a notch of flaps, reduced throttle and soon we were on glideslope. The rest of the approach and landing was uneventful. We were now inside the artic circle!

I taxied to the parking area, shut down, and opened the doors so our experts could disembark and go inspect the airfield.

It took them about 30 mins an then they were ready to head to Akureyri. In the meantime, I checked the weather to make sure we were still ok. Weather in Iceland can be tricky at times, and the summer is already ending. We can never be too careful. Also, I was thinking about the possibility of taking off from the opposite side of the runway (runway 18/36) we landed. Winds were calm, no planes were in the pattern, so runway choice was down to me. There were two advantages: i wouldn’t need to turn South after taking off, and I wouldn’t need to back taxi for almost the whole runway before being lined up.

I restarted the engines, placed my radio call on the UNICOM frequency and taxied to runway 18. Takeoff was also uneventful.

Leaving Grimsey behind, heading back to mainland Iceland.

For the first few miles, I had to guide myself from the NDB beacon on the Grimsey island (which was working fine, by the way), until I came into range of the beacons in the mainland. This trip is proving to be a nice refreshing course of my NDB navigation skills! Fortunately, the Icelandic aviation authorities seemed to be well prepared for this EU inspection – we hadn’t found a single faulty NDB beacon for the whole tripe (side note: these are the beauties of simulation flights. Navigation beacons only fail when we want them too!).

On our way to Akureyri, we managed to capture some nice pictures of the Iceland coast, before contacting ATC to get clearance for approach and landing. I was happy that they cleared me for runway 19, which meant yet another straight-in approach.

View from the cockpit, heading back to Akureyri.

Approach was smooth, but the landing was a bit rough. Well, I could try to find some excuse, but… It was my fault really, I messed it up. Oh well, hopefully the next one will be better!

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