formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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October 4, 2016 In search of Vikings... or airplanes

The Liberty Gazette
October 4, 2016
Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

The only time I saw the Aurora Borealis I was flying westbound at 39,000’ carrying a lot more weight and a lot less fuel than planned into an unanticipated 190-knot headwind. We’d rerouted about a hundred miles north of Chicago to get out of the brunt of the jet stream and there the northern lights were on display. Nose buried in aeronautical charts, busy locating an intermediate fuel stop, my attention was diverted from the beauty of dancing light streams. Now, under cold, mostly clear skies, we watch for electrons and protons to ionize, shedding their energy resulting in movement of light, like smoke, or ghost-like wisps streaking and swirling overhead is an absolutely amazing experience.

Linda: Greetings from Iceland!

Parking the Elyminator in Front Range, Colorado, we hopped on a 757 to Keflavik for an adventure celebrating our 10th anniversary. A few good books, magazines with great tourist tips, and a little conversation with a PhD candidate headed for the start of class in the UK filled the nearly seven hour trip.

Icelandair offers direct flights to Reykjavik from Denver, and as we happened to be in Pagosa Springs for an air race, Denver was the perfect departure airport.

We’re impressed with Icelandair. What a brilliant business idea to increase tourism via their Stopover Buddy program. For up to seven days passengers can stay in Iceland from anywhere the company flies, and be paired with an Icelandair employee who serves as a guide. Airfare is the same price as just changing planes. The airline has not only encouraged tourism, they’ve worked at making it possible - and inviting. Hotels sprinkled throughout the country owned by the airline ensure there are places to stay. Last year more than 800 people signed up for the program.

Even in the details, Icelandair replaced the usual lighting above luggage bins with subtle multicolored “northern lights” that move up and down the length of the cabin.

From Keflavik, through Reykjavik, we drove south and east to see the remains of a DC-3. Just inland on the shore of Iceland's black sand Sólheimasandur Beach, the hulk of the US Navy plane made a forced landing (not a crash) there in November, 1973. Everyone survived.

The Navy didn’t salvage the plane, leaving it to rot in the rough elements. The propellers and engines are gone, as are the whole nose, tail and wings. But most of the cabin and the engine nacelles are there and without U.S. lawyer mentality to keep the curious from exploring and climbing, people flock to the site and walk the two and a half mile trek each way. There were even pre-wedding pictures being taken while we were there. And you better believe we climbed in it and on it, and took lots of pictures.

Mike: Our first night here was in the small town of Vik (pronounced “Week”) where everything is within walking distance - restaurants and a grocery store, and the black sand beach, with a church at the top of the hill.

Wool sweaters on as we leave the internet and kaffi cafe and bring you more next week because we can’t fit it all in one installment.

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