Brings Home Air Comp 7 All The Way From Lithuania
Bringing home an aircraft from overseas can a daunting task.
First, there's the paperwork and approvals. But then comes the long
journey over water. Last week, Al Pike completed such a trip,
flying an homebuilt Comp Air 7 from Lithuania to Florida. Here's
the first of a two-part story on Al's trip as told in his own
words, written in private notes to interested friends during the
The airplane has been flying for the past year-and-a-half in
Lithuania, where it was assembled by UAB Aeronika, a group of
private pilots and technicians sponsored by the ship-restoration
company AB Laivite in Klaipeda. The Comp Air 7 kit was purchased
from Aerocomp Inc. of Florida, and then assembled, test-flown, and
operated for private flights in Lithuania.
Preflight preparations for the ferry flight included 3 earlier
trans-Atlantic flights in a variety of airplanes (2 dual flights
and 1 previous solo flight). Prior trans-Atlantic flights, however,
had routed through the Azores and Canary Islands. This was my first
flight along the northern route, through Iceland and Greenland.
Because the airplane is an experimental airplane, special
authorization was obtained in advance from both Transport Canada
and the FAA. Insurance was provided by a Lithuanian insurance
A few minutes after stepping off the airliner in Vilnius, I was
seated at a computer terminal in the Lithuanian CAA offices, taking
an English version of the Lithuanian Commercial Pilot exam.
Fortunately, the regulations in Lithuania are very similar to those
of other ICAO countries, so obtaining the necessary Lithuanian
pilot license for the flight was not a problem.
Before leaving, we equipped the airplane with an HF radio rented
from Telford Aviation in Bangor, Maine. With the permission of the
Lithuanian CAA, we also doubled the airplane s normal fuel capacity
with a pair of welded aluminum ferry tanks installed
where the passenger seats are normally positioned. These tanks had
professionally wired redundant electric pumps, fuel level
sight gauge, and a flow meter. Some of the safety gear
carried included a cold-water immersion survival suit, life raft,
portable 406 mHz emergency beacon, emergency rations and water,
satellite phone, and a handheld VHF radio and GPS in a waterproof
container. Portable oxygen was also carried, as most flights were
conducted at 14,000 to 18,000 feet.
My departure from Lithuania was delayed several days, waiting
for a series of cold fronts to finish moving across Norway and
Sweden. After leaving Palanga, Lithuania, I flew in bright sunshine
across the Baltic Sea, but was then either above, in, or between
layers of cloud all the way across Sweden and Norway. The first leg
of the trip home was a non-stop 3.8 hour flight. During this first
leg, I was in a radar environment at all times and in constant
communication with ATC via VHF. It was very similar to flying in
Monday, Sep 27, 2004
Just when I want to start complaining about the weather in
Norway this time of year, I turn on the TV and see that hurricanes
are making things are much worse in Florida!
So I am not complaining.
Today I am in the scenic coastal city of Bergen, Norway, where
the good folks at Bergen Air Transport have been very helpful
assisting with some unexpected brake repairs. Fortunately, the
problem was spotted during a preflight inspection and the people
here had the tools and parts available to fix the problem. The
Lithuanian Comp Air 7 Turbine (registration: LY-XXL) is now ready
to begin the trans-Atlantic portion of the flight home.
The weather Saturday and Sunday was not suitable for a flight to
Iceland. The weather en route today (Monday) is much better, but
the winds are too high. With a 5+-hour flight planned, attempting
the trip with headwinds of 50 to 60 knots would reduce my fuel
reserves to unsatisfactorily low levels.
Also, the surface crosswind here in Norway exceeds my landing
capability, so if I were to take off, any need to return here for
landing would be problematic.
So I am still waiting in Bergen, Norway staying at the Scandic
Airport hotel, ready to leave on short notice if the weather ever
becomes suitable. The forecast for tomorrow is promising, but I am
skeptical of the forecast based on my own observations of the
satellite photos. But just in case the meteorologists get it right,
I'll be up at 5 am ready to head for Iceland early tomorrow if
Tue, 28 Sep 2004
Today I flew LY-XXL from Bergen to Reykjavik, Iceland. The
flight was good - no problems. The weather was good for the whole
trip, with light winds and just low stratus clouds with no ice.
Finally, the meteorologists got it right! The flight was non-stop 5
hours 15 minutes, and I burned 810 liters of fuel (10 liters more
than I had expected). I4m carrying 1200 liters, and estimating 1100
useable, so I had a 300-liter (2 hour) reserve. I stayed down at
FL100 to conserve my oxygen for the next two legs. This was
the longest leg of the trip. The next legs will each be a little
There is a big cold front of bad weather between Iceland and
Greenland today. I expect it to be here in Iceland tomorrow. So I
do not know when I will be able to make the next leg, to
Narsarsuag, Greenland. But I am hoping that maybe it will be
possible tomorrow, if the weather gives me a break, or maybe on
Meanwhile, I am comfortable in the Iceland Air Hotel beside
Reykjavik airport. I think I will go sit in the sauna for a while
PS. Sveinn Bjornsson of Flight Services Ltd, (the local FBO) has
been great. He really knows his stuff and has helped me with
Customs, accommodations, flight planning and weather, etc.
Thu, 30 Sep 2004
Sorry about the mass mailing. I'm working from a hotel computer
with the slowest dial-up connection I've seen in years. I should
have used the computer at the airport briefing office, instead of
waiting until I got to the hotel.
Today I flew LY-XXL from Reykjavik, Iceland to Narsarsuag,
Greenland. Encountered some scary ice when I was 1/2 way across
that was not forecast and that I didn't expect, but fortunately it
didn't cause any problems other than fear. Generally, the weather
was good for the flight (or at least as good as it is going to get
this time of year). The flight took 4.5 hours. At FL160 (16,000
feet), the temperature was -30C. By the time I landed, my feet were
getting cold. Next time, I think I will insist on a functioning
If the weather is good, I would like to fly to Goose Bay, Canada
tomorrow. That will be another 4.5-hour flight. But I must be very
cautious with the weather, and will stay here as long as
Meanwhile, I'm spending the night in the hotel at Narsarsuag.
This is a little village with only 150 permanent residents. The
hotel is the biggest building in town, and is used to house the 400
or so additional people that I'm told come here in the summer.
Flying over Greenland today made me wonder how it got it's name.
The whole country is one big frozen ice field (punctuated by
numerous mountain peaks). Only the very edges, down at sea level,