dinsdag 25 juni 2013

Pilot of propeller plane cancels landing procedure close to Ny-Ålesund

25 June 2013

Abandoned Arctic Coal Mine at Longyearbyen
© Bas Bolman

Yesterday morning our flight from Longyearbyen to Ny-Ålesund ended differently than expected. After 30 minutes of flying the pilot started the descent; however due to the mist the pilot decided to cancel landing procedures. Because of the noise of the propeller plane, a Dornier 228, we didn’t understand the pilot’s instructions. After another 30 minutes we finally landed. When stepping out of the small plane, the small airport looked very familiar… Or maybe even a bit too familiar. It appeared that the pilot had actually returned to Longyearbyen because of the bad weather. Subsequently the flights from 15.00 hrs and 19.30 hrs were cancelled too. And thus the Arctic team was left with no other option to find a place to sleep in Longyearbyen. Luckily we were not alone: three researchers from France were also stuck, as well as the Dutch author, actor and poet (Dichter des Vaderlands) Ramsey Nasr. The Hotel "Mary-Ann’s Polarrigg" still had several rooms and also cold beers left.

Ariadna and Ben in
the Dornier 228 propeller plane
© Bas Bolman
Today we made another attempt to get to Ny-Ålesund. This time with more luck: nice weather, not too cloudy, and hardly any wind. On the way the views were truly stunning. One snow-capped mountain after the other, large glaciers connecting to even larger glaciers, one fjord being bigger than the other. After a smooth landing a small bus took us to the service centre where we were welcomed by Maarten Loonen, the station manager from the Arctic Centre of the University of Groningen. After registration and lunch Maarten explained us about the do’s and don’ts in the village. Especially safety is an issue since polar bears might unexpectedly visit the settlement. The instructions: when you step outside the house, do a bear check for 10 seconds first. Stay on the gravel roads and be aware: you’re always bait. Last but not least: do not leave Ny-Ålesund without a gun.

Glacier close to Ny-Ålesund
© Bas Bolman

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