There is a phrase that was coined in Scandinavia, flyskamm, which means “flight shame.” It denotes the feeling of environmental sensitivity regarding carbon emissions for airline travel. Before I get into flyraseri, its alter ego, I ought to address a question that comes up regarding my glacier photography pursuits. Flying a Piper Cub or Super Cub is compared with jet aviation (invariably by someone who just returned from a 20-hour flight to New Zealand on holiday), and then I am asked: “How do you answer using aviation to photograph glaciers?” The answer has a thing or two to do with fuel consumption with each aircraft type and then we carry on.
I wonder which one uses less fuel….
Flyraseri, as I call it, known in English as “flight rage” is a thing. No, it is not unruly passengers on airliners, but rather the built-up tension that results from either not flying or, as I have come to understand, the tension around being in a new location and wanting to get up in the air as soon as possible. I first discovered it when I repositioned the Cub to Portugal some years ago. I returned to bring the car and other items some weeks later, tied to the formal arrival with our rental accommodation. The weather was not good, though I found myself in the air, wondering how I would get back down in a raging crosswind on a flooded coastal, downslope runway. I am still here, so that says something, though who knew that wet sand is that slick?
There was quite a problem that had concocted itself in Norway. While I could rejoice at bringing the Super Cub from almost Africa to Skien, Norway in May, the weather was not cooperating for my July arrival in Norway. We had the car ferry overnight from Denmark to Bergen, Norway planned, though forecasts indicated that the only day to make the 2-hour flight from Skien to Voss was on the day of arrival. I bought a ticket from Bergen to Sandefjord a week before, only to watch both the weather tighten and come to realize that I might have chosen a silly time. The ferry landed at 12:30, and the flight took off at 2:15. My refundable ticket proved to be useless, as a pilot strike meant other options were filled, so I either would get the plane or leave it….for a week. How ghastly to contemplate.
My wife questioned the merits of such a stressful endeavor. Can we get off the ferry and get to the airport in time? “You’re going to have me get to the house by myself? I have never been in Norway.” Ever the tender husband, I kindly suggested that she figure it out. “Would you have me leave the airplane for a week on the other side of the mountains?” Knowing the bull-in-heat tension that would bring, I found myself on a turboprop flight to Sandefjord at 2:15, then a bus, train, and car ride to Skien, where I took off into worsening weather to cross Europe’s largest above timberline plateau, the Hardangervidda.
The flight was a baptism in wind, lowering clouds, ice, rock, trees, and fjords. Norway is more impressive than I expected.
While I snuck in one hour before rain, that didn’t solve the tension that arose 4 days later. The rain has been quite bleak, to the point of Norwegians whining about it (who doesn’t love summer afternoons in the 40sF/9C?). A weather window materialized, so I set off into the hills, wedged down an utterly stunning fjord, over to the Sognefjord, the longest in Norway and second longest in the world. Perhaps it is even prettier when the weather looks like it is trying to kill you.
Somewhere near Krossen. Doesn’t exactly look inhabited.
Southern terminus of Folgefonna, a rather large glacier.
All of this is glacier ice covered under snowpack.
One outlet of the glacier. White smooth snow in the distance is still glacier.
The glacier is 25 miles long. Hardangerfjord to the right, Norway’s second longest. It goes around the glacier, out to the left (out of sight) and eventually to sea.
Hardangerfjord with Hardangerjøkulen glacier on the right horizon.
Vangsvatnet, approaching Voss.
Voss. The town was a hotspot for Nazi resistance, until the Luftwaffe bombed it April 1940.
Four days later….near Oppheim, heading into the rainy hills.
…where I discovered Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I am flying at 2,700 feet above the water!
Over Sognefjord. An enlarged version of the image shows the longest electric span of wires in the world. I was at 2,700′, while wind reports at 3,806′ were 45kt. It was a tad like riding a bronco at times.
Time to turn around! The only way back is the way I came, which is the farthest water on the left, then down a long fjord to the right. On every flight after this, I have started wearing a lifejacket.
Nærøyfjord to the right. The only emergency landing option is the water. The fjord is up to 4,000 feet deep, depending on the location.
Heading up the Nærøyfjord. Two tiny emergency spots available. This fjord is one mile from the water to the top of the terrain.
While this field below looks suitable if need be, a boat tour through here revealed some different realities.
Approaching Voss from the north. Obviously ideal flying weather in the fjords and mountains…