6/16- Wick Scotland to Helsinki Finland
We spent a few days in northern Scotland waiting for the part we needed to continue our trip. We drove down to look at the Monster, but it was Sunday and he had the day off. The JPI Engine Analyzer arrived Monday night. Andrew Bruce, our handling agent (and everything else) in Wick, Scotland got things moving so we received the part about 9PM Monday night. Sharon and I installed it, checked it out, and had a gourmet meal at the only place that was open until midnight (see right). (We ate in the car.)
We took off from Wick, Scotland about 9:30 AM and landed in Norrkoping, Sweden for fuel about 4 1/2 hours later. If you look at the map it looks like we took the long way around. We did. The Air Traffic Controllers are on strike in Norway and there is no IFR flying in that country. In Norrkoping the ceiling was 200 feet and the visibility about 1 mile, which was at or above the minimums for an ILS approach. We picked Norrkoping because it was convenient geographically and appeared not to be very busy. I called first (which one should always do) and found out that they would only take an International Shell Card or cash. They wanted Swedish money only, but I begged and they said they would take US Dollars. We had the plane refueled, filed a flight plan for Helsinki and had to wait about 3/4 of an hour for the clearance. This is not such a big deal, except that Malmi, the airport that we are landing at in Helsinki, closes at 9:00 PM their time. We lost an hour from Scotland to Sweden and another hour from Sweden to Helsinki. We took off from Sweden and although we had lousy head winds, we worked with Air Traffic Control (or better yet, they worked with us) and we got a pretty straight route. It took us a little over 2 hours and we landed at 8:54 PM in Helsinki (a whole 6 minutes to spare). We were welcomed by Ulla, who got us a cab and set up at the airport. She really went out of her way for us.
So far, IFR in Europe is a snap. Clearances were easy to pick up, and when changes were required, they were done fairly efficiently. The communication is no problem. However, IFR in Europe is expensive. I expect to get billed about $50 per hour for the use of the system, when I return home. VFR is free. Customs, when in existence, is no sweat.
Our reservations (the only city in which we have reservations) don't begin until Wednesday and they have no room for us tonight. We checked into another hotel and will move on Wednesday. Bill & Judy Schramm will join us in the afternoon.