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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

En Route

Published: February 6, 2018

By Mark Seth Lender

Writer Mark Seth Lender has been travelling on the edge of the arctic, thanks to Adventure Canada -- and writing of his experiences. Here's the blog he sent us.

Mark Seth Lender
Blogpost #1: En Route

I am flying into the sun, a sun that refuses to quite give up the ghost, though it’s after nine o’clock. It is one day past the Solstice. The twin-engine Beechcraft is the oldest thing I’ve flown in for 20 years. The last old crate was a DC 3, then the only regular service in Costa Rica from San Jose to the Osa. The cowling blew off the starboard ending and they circled the field, landed again, found the damn thing and tied it on with a clothes hanger and off we went, indestructible. This time I’m dead-heading the other way. West of North, toward Toronto. The plane roars and rattles. It reminds me of the contraption Jimmy Stewart pilots in The Flight of the Phoenix (the 1965 original not the remake) except the kid at the controls has no idea who Jimmy Stewart was.

For all that this plane is the safest since that DC 3. The ground below is all farm land, we can put down almost anywhere, just gliding in, dead-stick, slower than you’d dare to drive your car on any four lane highway. We are 2/3 empty, there is only a two-man crew, pilot and copilot. There is no security door and you can look into the cockpit and watch them at the controls, adjusting trim, changing transponder from one tower to the next. And that peachy-orange light pouring through.

Toronto is only the departure point. The next leg of the trip is the flight to Kangerlussuaq, at the top of the long fjord of the same name, in Western Greenland. There I join up with Adventure Canada’s ship the M.V. Sea Adventurer, and we cruise south along the western coast, a land of glaciers and calving icebergs. In three days now I’ll be there, across the Arctic Circle, low enough the sun still sets, but not for long – not this time of year. It will never be dark beyond a bright crepuscular glow and I will sleep little. That’s how I am in the field. I never want to miss a thing.

It begins.

Mark Seth Lender





Back to Mark Seth Lender: Farthest North


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