Posted by: bahamasaviator | April 21, 2010

Dream Flight

Got a call a few weeks ago to pack my bags and go to France to make a video promotion of the TBM 850. Here’s the resulting flight from Tarbes France to my airport 44N, where we did some air to air from the Mooney:

Here some travel notes en-route:

The travel from France to Scotland was hard IFR, with the landing in Scotland very edgy. The wind was gusting to 60kts in blowing snow and ice, as we came in over the ocean near Glasgow.  Even the camera freaked out, with the overheat light blinking. The ocean flight to Iceland was much easier, and Iceland was in the clear! I got good shots coming in…thank god I bought the second battery.

In Iceland I hit the ground running.  First an outdoor swim in a geo thermal local pool…not a tourist in sight…but a pile of Icelanders soaking like seals in tight groups. Reminded me a lot of being in Sweden, looks and attitude-wise. It was fun to talk to cab drivers about the economic hardships, and big changes the country is going through. Still, in spite of devaluation, it is very expensive here…double NYC.  We then went to the Pearl restaurant, on a hill-top overlooking the city. It looked like a moon base, perched on the hill, with this huge glass dome, between 4 huge water tanks. The restaurant revolved with an amazing landscape as the sun went down…while we ate a major upscale 4 course dinner…  as the sun went down, Socata test pilot Stephan opened up, and spoke of his career as a test pilot. He has lost 35 friends flying!!  He has a spiritual, live fully in the moment attitude…his accomplishments are Chuck Yeagar level…clearly one of the top French pilots, and is heading the developing EADS space program. We had a dinner I will never forget…almost dreamlike in clarity, and wonder of how I got to that moment.

Back at the hotel I was having computer upload problems.  By now it was dark, and Stephan had gone to sleep, but I took a cab back into Reykjavik to see the down town. Walked around in the 15 degree night chill and got a small sense of the place…very cozy, interesting, upscale and artsy…worth coming back to, but I’m more interested in the nature then the famous binge drinking strip.  The volcano was active, but not yet a major air problem.

As we descended over the ocean in Greenland, it felt like landing on another planet…dramatic ice cap, mountains, and sharp crevasses, mark a barren landscape. Our luck help out and we had beautiful weather. The airport in at the end of a long fiord, and much has been written about how scary and hard it used to be to find.  We could see it from far out, but was still a dramatic landing.  After shooting the ground, I interviewed Peter, who runs the airport FBO. A stoic Swede, was amusing and filled with information…he loved the place, and clearly hated western civilization…my kind of guy. When I mentioned I was married the first time in Sweden, but it lasted only 7 years, he said…that’s very long, I’m impressed!  He is married to an Inuit woman, and lives in semi native fashion. We went outside, and he pointed out where Leif Eriksson had a settlement there. Every person walking by was interesting looking, and it was tough to leave so soon…but Stephen had a departure surprise… A high-speed fly by down the runway, while I filmed, and he took the gloves off, and flew like a fighter pilot. The high speed pass in Greenland splendor was another unforgettable memory.



  1. Here’s an article about a very interesting aviation race in Europe, I just covered:

    Paris-Madrid Air Race 1911-2011
    by DEAN SIGLER on 07/06/2011
    100 years ago, the idea of flying an 800-mile cross-country anywhere was a grand and dangerous adventure. With aerodynamics not yet a science and aircraft powered by the self-destructive engines of that day, it took a brave pilot to even make the attempt. The Paris-Madrid race of 1911 was a disaster from the start, and yet one man managed to achieve triumph despite the tragedy.

    21 aviators were motivated to sign up in hopes of winning the 200,000 franc prize, but between May 21 and May 26, 1911, only six actually started, and only one flew the entire course.

    According to Transpress, a New Zealand blog, “After a full year of airshows, advertisers had become bored with seeing flying machines going in circles on a racetrack: they wanted city to city races, as was happening with automobiles. Funded and supported by the newspaper Le Petit Parisien, the international aviation race Paris-Madrid, despite the risks, attracted twenty-one competitors. The announcement of a 200,000 francs prize on the poster was actually the total prize pool: the first three airmen sharing 50,000 francs, the rest going to the teams.

    “The race included three lengthy stages: Issy-les-Moulineaux to Angoulême (Charente), on 21 May, starting at daybreak, 400 kilometers that competitors should be able to cover in seven hours; Angoulême-San Sebastian (Spain) on 23 May, starting at daybreak, a stage of 335 km designed to circumvent the Pyrénées mountains in a six-hour flight; and San Sebastian-Madrid, on 25 May, starting 6 am, a long stage of 620 km and a real challenge, it traversed a pass that the best had to travel over in less than eleven hours. In all a total estimated 24 hours of actual flight for the whole race. “

    “The race began with tragedy. The airplanes were overloaded with fuel. The French War Minister, Maurice Berteaux, only in office since 2 March 1911, had come to Issy-les-Moulineaux to salute the French pilots’ performance. He was struck by the airplane that Emile Train, weighed down by a passenger, Marc Bonnier, was struggling to lift off the ground. The Minister of War was killed instantly. The
    Interior Minister, Monis, Deutsch de la Meurthe and several other people including a child were seriously injured. The crowd broke through the barrier and flooded onto the field. Marshalls charged from sides to try to contain it.

    “The race was stopped: only six pilots had been able to start before the abandonment of the race.”

    “Only Jules Védrines finished. He covered the 1,360 km between Paris and Madrid in fifteen hours of flight at an average speed of 80 km/h. His monoplane, which peaked at 125 kilometers per hour, was only powered by a 50 horsepower Gnome Omega engine.”

    Craig Peyton flew this year’s Paris-Madrid Green Race, sponsored by Morane-Saulnier (winner of the original event) and honoring the pioneer aviators 100 years ago who first flew that route.

    Craig says of his vocation, “With my production name, EarthFlight, I’ve been producing aviation videos and shooting stills for 20 years now. I work from a Mooney M20-J. Clients are Socata, Bahamas, JPI, etc. Many videos are here.” Craig is also a musician, and has provided background music for TV and films.

    Several electric teams had initially indicated they would compete, but all withdrew before the start of the race. In response to this editor’s comments about some of the terrain over which the race was flown, “I was sad that the Paris/Madrid had no electrics, but agree it would have been a very tough race over the mountains for any electric. I made this video to help pilots see there are ‘real world’ machines out there right now, that are efficient and safe.”

    The contest, as noted by Pipistrel, used these criteria for a final result: “Speed, Payload Capability, Fuel Consumption, Range distance, Noise Emissions and Safety Features.”

    Pipistrel won first and third places in the event, with pilots of a Sinus (seen us) and a Virus (vee rus) sharing the winner’s podium. One impressive performer was the Jodel D-119, a 60-year-old design that managed seventh place, and may have been the only airplane not flying with a Rotax engine.

    Thank you, Craig, for a great video of the event.

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