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.
Reykjavík’s Old Harbor – just one of the many beautiful views of Iceland. Image: Nicholas Smith / AirlineReporter.com
Being based in Seattle, Icelandair’s nonstop flights bring Reykjavík about as close as the flight to Miami. The question that everyone keeps asking me, though, is “why would you visit Iceland?”
Iceland’s terrain and activities match Seattle’s “weather be damned” love affair with the outdoors to the tee. The trans-continental island’s atmosphere is unrelentingly Myst-esque; clean, fresh, bright, and utterly colorful. The temperate climate, driven by the warm Irminger Current, keeps the island nation splendid throughout the year. The looks are reason enough to visit, but adventure doesn’t come from looks alone.
Icelandair Boeing 757 (named Katia – reg TF-FIV) in Anchorage. Photo by Brandon Farris.
Who wants to fly from cold to not as cold? Now you easily can with Icelandair starting service from Anchorage to Iceland. Well, most passengers do not stop in Iceland, but continue with Icelandair to Europe. I had the opportunity to check out the inaugural flight celebrations recently on the ground in Anchorage.
An excitement filled the air when I walked through the doors at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) as a new day was beginning with new service launching to Keflavik International Airport (KEF) with Icelandair. Anchorage has become the eighth US destination for Icelandair.