Flying over Reykjavik in a PA28
This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the whole Fly With Francis series here.
The flying weather continues to be dismal in Seattle – I’ve lost track at how many training flights have been canceled due to low ceilings, low visibility, potential icing, etc. – I stopped counting after 14. Even by Seattle standards, we’ve had an exceptional stretch of bad weather this winter.
However, during a recent trip to Iceland with Icelandair (watch for upcoming stories about their maintenance operations, fleet and route plans, plus an economy-class flight review), a series of fortuitous introductions led to my being able to do something I’d only dreamt of – fly in Iceland.
That experience more than made up for all the weather-based frustration with my stalled Seattle flight training.
The Piper PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior we flew that day
A huge crowd gathered to come see Icelandair’s newest addition to its fleet.
During a recent trip in April to Switzerland, I was able to make use of Icelandair’s Stopover option #MyStopover, and spent a weekend in Reykjavik to attend an employee-only plane warming party for the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 added to Icelandair’s fleet.
In February and March, Icelandair took delivery of their first three Boeing 737MAX 8 aircraft, TF-ICE, TF-ICY, and TF-ICU. The airline has 13 more MAX-series jets on order, with the next three scheduled for delivery in 2019, with the final delivery of this order slated for 2021.
The dark patches in the grey sky made for some nice contrast
The 737MAX features Icelandair’s updated livery, which has a simpler look. The blue is a lighter hue, the underbelly is grey, the words on the tail have been omitted so it only has the logo, and the yellow fuselage stripe has been removed. The aircraft were delivered without seats — they and the in-flight entertainment system were installed in Keflavik by Icelandair Technical Services.
There was a several-day delay, before the first scheduled revenue flight, but, very quietly on April 13, TF-ICE made its first revenue flight to New York (EWR) and back, just in time for the party.
On the morning of Saturday April 14, TF-ICE made a quick repositioning flight from Keflavik (KEF) to Reykjavik City Airport (BIRK), where Icelandair’s upper management, along with some lucky employees, invited guests, and members of the press were about to board this brand new Boeing 737MAX for a sightseeing flight over Iceland.
My trip to Iceland in 2012 – Photo: Katka Lapelosová
Three years ago, I traveled to Iceland for the first time. It was sort of a spontaneous trip that a friend and I had planned last minute, but it ended up being one of the best international experiences ever. And with flight time being less than five hours from NYC, the chilly country makes for the perfect “long weekend,” European getaway.
Most people travel to Iceland to explore glaciers (check), see the Northern Lights (check), play with Icelandic ponies (check), or hang out at the Blue Lagoon (major check). But one thing they underestimate is what they’ll have to eat while they’re there.
BONUS: Traveling to Keflavik on an Icelandair Boeing 757
Iceland is a foodie’s dream. It’s not really surprising, considering Icelandic dishes are typically locally sourced, and with such unique agricultural conditions, chefs and locals alike have gotten creative with their recipes. The food and drinks I had in Iceland were some of the highlights of my trip, from lobster stew and Skyr (Icelandic yogurt), to whale meat and puffin (ethically farmed, and better than it sounds, trust me).
The summer’s ever-persistent sun over the Perlan (the Perl), a hot water storage facility turned museum and mall
This is a continued story about AirlineReporter.com visiting Iceland, via Icelandair. Be sure you first check out: Review: Traveling from Seattle to Keflavík on an Icelandair Boeing 757 & Why Iceland is Not Just a Stopover, But a Destination – PART 1.
We spent the next day touring the Golden Circle, which took us about 185mi up into central Iceland and back. The first stop was Gullfoss (the Golden Fall). Walking down the path through misty spray reveals the breathtaking two-stage falls. Unlike falls in the US, there’s nothing but a little rope keeping onlookers from wandering too close to the edge. It felt a little dangerous and I liked it!