25 August, 1999
Aloha from Greenland, Our plane had some mechanical difficulties and we have been authorized to return on the C-141 that will be leaving Thursday morning and arriving at Mcguire Air force base near Philadelphia.
At breakfast we talked with our Canadian Pilot friend, Ken Burnam, who has invited us to check out their operation. his flight had been delayed because they were refitting the planes to carry fuel. When we arrive at the hanger they were installing the fuel tanks inside the cargo bays. Ken then took us into the cockpit of the planes. Many, I am sure have taken a peak inside the cockpit of a jet and been amazed at the number of instruments on the "dash board". The instruments repeat for each engine the plane has. Since there were four engines on this parcticular plane, there were four sets of all of the gauges. There are four seats in the cockpit; one each for the pilot(left), copilot(right), engineer(between them to the rear), and the navigator (a desk behind the engineer to the side). I asked Ken if he still liked to fly as much as when he had started and he said he always comments to the new pilots, .."and we get paid to do this".
In the afternoon we met with two other pilots and took off to climb Dundas Mountain. Dundas sits on a peninsula extending out from the base. Around the area sits The Inuit village that was evacuated to Qaanaq farther north when the base was built. Dundas is is a straight climb up the side. Half way I froze. I kept thinking I would slide off the seemingly vertical side because each step made the shale like rock crumble under foot. I told the others to pass by me. Ken, the pilot, was also a little taken aback and stayed behind. This helped, mainly because the thought of a pilot being afraid of heights amused me, and I mustered up my courage to scramble up. The last 25 feet or so,which can be seen from the photos as a near 90 degree to the horizen, is scaled by using a rope that is anchored to the top. At the top was an amazing view of the Wolstenholme Fiord, Saunders Island, the base and out to sea. There were bright green rocky areas painted by the soldiers for an annual golf tournament held at the top. It would have taken all of my energy just to climb, much less take some clubs and play at the top! We placed a stone on top of a cairn that was built by those before us and started our descent. I was anxious about the climb down, but it was actually easier mentally although physically harder.
We wandered over to the village at the base and into the dugout sod shelters built by the Inuit. Knud Rassmussen and Peter Freuchen had their trading post in this area, but the original building has been removed to Qaanaq. We returned to the base to find that our plane had landed and that we would truly be leaving tomorrow, unless the weather turned. I am very hopeful that we will be able to return next year with all of the permits in place and be able to collect the fish to for our project. We have been very fortunate to have so many people befriend us and to be able to explore this little part of Greenland's beauty.
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