Pilots Blog: Atlantic Crossing – Will I need a jumper?

As with all things on this trip, there is a plan A, plan B and plan C, and this crossing was no exception. Before beginning the crossing I decided that plan C was going to be the best option as I’m really not much of a cold weather person. I live on the Sunshine Coast for a reason.

Originally I was to head up to Iceland via the southern tip of Greenland, and if that wasn’t an option then I would land in Greenland and wait it out there (plan B). Then there was plan C… Find the little cluster of islands off Portugal, in the Atlantic called the Azores.

Options A and B – Face a country with ‘ice’ or ‘green’ (which is their special code for ice) in it’s name, or the warm islands near Portugal? It was a clear diversion that needed to be made.

The flight from St John’s was relatively uneventful other than a departure into heavy instrument conditions (not flying visually). However it turned out to be an absolutely stunning departure, probably my favourite of the journey so far with some beautiful cloud formations and light pouring through.

With light variable winds and my cruising level clear of cloud, it was quite a simple journey across the majority of the Atlantic bar a few clouds to dodge about 3 hours into it.

Now, before leaving St John’s I noticed another Cirrus with a ferry configuration with my handler. I asked where it was going and it turned out he was on his way to the Azores on the same day as me.

My wing is white, so I was amazed to look out and see the reflection from the sky and ocean made it look blue. It looks painted blue, incredible!
My wing is white, so I was amazed to look out and see the reflection from the sky and ocean made it look blue. It looks painted blue, incredible!

Around 4 hours into the journey I heard over the long-range radio a position report from the Cirrus that I had met in Canada, he was only half an hour behind me! So I tried him on the VHF (short range) radio and we began to have a chat. It certainly was a much nicer to have someone to talk to for some of the 9 hour flight (other than Freddy of course, who is a great listener).

Upon landing in Santa Maria (Azores) I secured the aircraft and cleared customs before meeting my ferry pilot that I had befriended en route to Santa Maria. We had an excellent night at the ‘Central Pub’ and made sure to swap contact details before he headed off the next morning.

While the flight from St. Johns was a breeze, the preparation for the next flight was not as smooth as I had hoped with the flight plan submission being more of laborious task than spinning the propeller with my hands would be.

Beginning with refuelling and organising the aircraft I didn’t give a second thought to submitting the flight plan as it had become so routine… What a silly mistake.

I submitted a flight plan at 12:30pm, which was for a straight line between Santa Maria and Biggin Hill (England) with a waypoint at least every 200nm and an arrival procedure in England. This is the same process I had used for every oceanic flight up until this point and it had worked, so wouldn’t it this time. Expecting to have my accepted plan back in less than an hour I left the airport and headed back to my beautiful hotel room which overlooking some green fields that ran out to the ocean.

Dinnertime rolled around and so did my accepted flight plan (finally) at 8:30pm.

When I opened the plan, I knew it was going to be a much longer night than anticipated.

READ ON to part II: Pilots Blog: Crossing the Atlantic, I didn’t need a jumper (Pt.II) HERE