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Polar Flight 90 - The Polar Pumpkin's Journey to the North Pole

Flight Log

The Polar Pumpkin being unloaded in Fairbanks, Alaska after the flight to the Geographic North Pole.
The Polar Pumpkin being unloaded in Fairbanks, Alaska after the flight to the Geographic North Pole.

Even though so much of the treeless Arctic is a flat expanse of white, beautiful patters of wind erosion in the snow can be enjoyed.
Even though so much of the treeless Arctic is a flat expanse of white, beautiful patters of wind erosion in the snow can be enjoyed.

Eureka Weather Station
Sitting around the Eureka Weather Station dining room table: (Left to Right) Terre Welsh, Ken Borek Air pilot - Dr. Dale Andersen, Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe - Richard "Scruffy" Adams, Ken Borek Air pilot - Wayne Pollard, McGill University.

Ice Station Barneo
Ice Station Barneo


Traveling shelter built on Komatik sled with gas jugs tied on the back.

A research support vessel frozen in the ice for the winter.
A research support vessel frozen in the ice for the winter.

The Franklin Mountains just east of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories.
The Franklin Mountains just east of Norman Wells, Northwest Territories.

The mighty Yukon River, during Spring
The mighty Yukon River, during Spring "break up", is a dramatic scene of open water and ice choked channels.

One of the log churches in Old Crow, Yukon Territory.
One of the log churches in Old Crow, Yukon Territory.

 A
A "white out" as I flew down Coronation Gulf toward the village of Kugluktuk.

2013

May 5, 2013 - Old Crow, Yukon Territory to Fairbanks, Alaska

May 4, 2013 - Old Crow, Yukon Territory

May 3, 2013 - Inuvik, Northwest Territories to Old Crow, Yukon Territory

May 2, 2013 - Inuvik, Northwest Territories

May 1, 2013 - Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Inuvik, Northwest Territories

April 30, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to Kugluktuk (Coppermine), Nunavut to Norman Wells, Northwest Territories

April 29, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

April 28, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 27, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 26, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 25, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 24, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 23, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station to Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 22, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

April 21, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

April 20, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

April 19, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

April 18, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

April 17, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 16, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 15, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 14, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 13, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 12, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 11, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 10, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 9, 2013 - Ice Station Barneo to Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 8, 2013 - Ice Station Barneo

APRIL 7, 2013 - Ice Station Barneo

April 6, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station to the Geographic North Pole - and on to the Russian Ice Station Barneo

APRIL 5, 2013 - Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 4, 2013 -Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 3, 2013 -Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 2, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut to Eureka Weather Station

APRIL 1, 2013 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

MARCH 31, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut to Resolute Bay, Nunavut

March 30, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

March 29, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

 

March 28, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

March 27, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

March 26, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

March 25, 2013 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

March 24, 2013 - Kugluktuk, Nunavut to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

March 23, 2013 - Inuvik Northwest Territories to Kugluktuk, Nunavut

March 22, 2013 - Inuvik Northwest Territories

March 21, 2013 - Inuvik Northwest Territories

March 20, 2013 - Fairbanks Alaska to Inuvik, Northwest Territories

 

 

 

 

 

The 2012 Flight

MAY 4, 2012 - OLD CROW, YUKON TERRITORY TO FAIRBANKS, ALASKA

MAY 3, 2012 - NORMAN WELLS, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES TO OLD CROW, YUKON TERRITORY

MAY 2, 2012 - NORMAN WELLS, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

MAY 1, 2012 - CAMBRIDGE BAY, NUNAVUT - VIA KUGLUKTUK, NUNAVUT - TO NORMAN WELLS, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

April 30 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

April 28 & 29, 2012 - Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

April 27, 2012 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

April 26 2012 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

April 20, 21, 22, 23, 25 - Eureka Station

April 19 - Eureka Station

April 16, 17, 18 - Eureka Station

April 13, 14, 15 - Eureka Station

APRIL 12, 2012 - RESOLUTE BAY, NUNAVUT

APRIL 11, 2012 - RESOLUTE BAY, NUNAVUT

April 10, 2012 - Resolute Bay, Nunavut

APRIL 9, 2012 - CAMBRIDGE BAY, NUNAVUT TO RESOLUTE BAY, NUNAVUT

APRIL 8, 2012 - INUVIK, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES TO CAMBRIDGE BAY, NUNAVUT

April 4 - 7, 2012 - Still in Inuvik ...

April 3, 2012 - Fairbanks, Alaska to Inuvik, Northwest Territories

 

 

2011 Highlights

Nunavut, near the western ice edge of Hudson Bay.

 

During April of 2011, I did my best to fly the Polar Pumpkin to the Top of the World - 90 Degrees North Latitude. Weather - high winds, snow storms, freezing fog, etc. - caused frequent delays. Therefore, when I was perusing my last flight leg to the Pole - from Eureka Weather Station, at 80N/86W - I was behind the "time curve". The Russians had departed Ice Station Barneo; and my professional polar weather forecaster in Belgium advised that even though I could fly to the Pole on April 25, I could likely not be able to return, due to an approaching system of bad weather spinning off northern Greenland into the polar basin. So . . . I was forced to take the tough decision, and retreat. Immediately, I began making plans to fly the Pumpkin to the Pole during April 2012. I learned a great deal on this first attempt - logistically and scientifically; so, I reckon, my chances of success on the second attempt are considerably improved.

To those folks that have supported me on the first flight, I am forever grateful. If you believe that my objectives have merit, I would ask that you stick with me. For others wishing to join the Polar Flight 90 Team, I welcome you on board the Pumpkin to the Pole during April 2012.

 

May 1, 2011 - Gillam, Manitoba. As I look out the window this evening, I see patches of blue; so I'm hopeful that the Polar Pumpkin and I will be once again on our way tomorrow. Read Art's updates for May 1

April 30, 2011 -Baker Lake to Arviat to Churchill to Gillam. I was a bit anxious to get rolling this morning; because another low pressure system was coming in from the west - bringing more low cloud and snow. Shortly after takeoff, I got into these very conditions. In this part of the world - this time of year - most everything is one color - white; and it's very difficult to contrast the land with the horizon. As I flew toward Arviat, however, the weather did improve - as forecast; and was actually CAVU on my Arviat arrival. Paul, the airport radio operator, graciously directed me to a good parking spot for refueling. Pierre, another Inuit gentleman - who says his birth doctor must have been French - positioned my drum of AvGas immediately in front of the Polar Pumpkin. Pierre's Inuit name is Ikakhik Isitkuk. He was surprised when I told him my given Inupiat name of Tuluaq. As we parted, I used the words "taiku" and "koana" - both meaning thank you; but neither worked with him. The local Arviat dialect for thank you is "matna". Read Art's updates for April 30

April 29, 2011 - Cambridge Bay to Baker Lake. Conditions were adequate yesterday for the flight from Resolute Bay to Cambridge Bay. I was skeptical for a bit, however; because just after takeoff, I found a wide area of low "undercast" fog that extended to the east over the open water of Lancaster Sound. It was necessary to remain "VFR ON TOP" for the first 40 miles of so. Most of the route was CAVU - with the sea ice pack being tight, and no additional fog. On arrival at Cambridge Bay, I had another crosswind of approximately 15 knots. Alex, the fuel vendor, already had my AvGas in drums set out for me. Read Art's updates for April 29

Weather Chart for the North PoleApril 28, 2011 - I couldn't help but check the weather at the North Pole first thing this morning: 1 to 5 miles visibility with snow, and ceilings down to 800 feet. Although I would have so liked to have achieved my goal of landing at the North Pole by now, I can be so thankful that I'm not stuck with the Polar Pumpkin on a drifting ice floe - and maybe a breaking ice floe - with the improbability of being able to fly back to land in such weather. I must believe that all things work out for the best in the long term. Read Art's updates for April 28

April 27, 2011 - A relatively calm, sunny, and glorious Spring day in Resolute Bay. Read Art's updates for April 27

April 26, 2011 - Eureka Weather Station to Resolute Bay. The day "dawned" bright and sunny - only in a manner of speaking - because at this time of year, at this latitude of 80N, there is really no darkness or dawn. Read Art's updates for April 26

April 25, 2011 - Eureka Weather Station. So all things considered, I then had no choice but to cancel my flight from Eureka to the Pole for this season; and immediately begin planning for the flight next April. Read Art's updates for April 25

April 24, 2011 - Happy Easter to All! Time - for the Polar Pumpkin and myself - is a big issue under these circumstances. A direct route from Eureka to Ice Station Barneo is a distance of 626 nautical miles. The Polar Pumpkin has the fuel endurance for such a flight; but it requires a flight time of a bit under 7 hours depending on the winds. A certain amount of time is required to find my fuel - especially if the Russians leave the drifting ice station tomorrow - refuel, and then fly at least another 7 hours back. The return flight would likely take longer; since headwinds are forecast at approximately 20-35 knots. With no rest, the above scenario would likely take 16-18 hours. Read Art's updates for April 24

The Polar Pumpkin in refueling position on the Eureka Weather Station airfield ramp.

April 23, 2011 - Another gorgeous sunny day at Eureka. Read Art's updates for April 23.

April 22, 2011 - Eureka Weather Station. Read Art's updates for April 22.

April 21, 2011 - Resolute Bay to Eureka Weather Station.Read Art's updates for April 21.

April 20, 2011 - Ulukhaktok to Resolute Bay. Read Art's updates for April 20.

April 19, 2011 - Woke up to very poor visibility, high winds, and drifting snow. Impossible to fly today. Read Art's updates for April 19.

April 18, 2011 - Good weather still in Ulukhaktok; but strong gusty winds in Resolute Bay. Phoned Azziz Kheraj, owner of the South Camp Inn - who's lived in Resolute for a long time, and is the airport manger. Azziz did a visual check of conditions; and recommended that I do not try to come to Resolute today - scattered low cloud, and fog in the vicinity. There is a large lead of open water to the southeast of Resolute; and the current winds are bringing the moist air and poor visibilities into the airport vicinity. Read Art's updates for April 18.

April 17, 2011 - Good weather here in Ulukhaktok. But still marginal weather enroute. Read Art's updates for April 17.

April 16, 2011 - Ulukaktok, Northwest Territories
So . . . unfortunately, I had no choice but to tie the Pumpkin down once again, put my "freezables" back in warm storage, and catch a ride back into Ulukhaktok. Shortly after I canceled for the day, winds locally here in Ulukhaktok picked up also - in the 20 knot to 30 knot range from the north. Read Art's updates for April 16.

April 14, 2011 - Ulukaktok, Northwest Territories
Incessant seems to be the appropriate word - for the north winds that continue to blow along my route between Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories and Resolute Bay, Nunavut. The latest forecast is for "extensive visibilities from mile to 2 miles with ice crystals and heavy blowing snow". Winds are forecast to be gusting from the north at 35 knots. With that would normally come mechanical turbulence as well. This morning I met an Inuit woman whose family is out hunting on the north side of Victoria Island. They have been "cabin bound", as well, due to the high winds. Read Art's updates for April 14.

April 13, 2011 - Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories
Today - while visiting the Pumpkin - I worked on organizing gear, refueling tasks, warming a quart of oil that I expect to add before the next flight, etc. First Air and Aklak Air both arrived with commercial flights while I was at the airport; so it was - for a while - a busy hub of activity. In these colder temperatures - as I go north - it's been a challenge to keep the Pumpkin's oil temperature as warm as I'd like it - approximately 180 degrees Fahrenheit. So also today - in quite a brutal wind chill - I shortened the cowl flap linkage on the airplane; such that I will hopefully keep more heat inside the cowling, and with the engine. Every so often I had to go inside the terminal building to warm the fingertips, and other appendages. Read Art's updates for April 13.

April 12, 2011 - Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories
At 3 PM today I was invited to the Ulukhaktok Community Hall to attend a workshop entitled "Ulukhaktok Food Security Adaptation - Climate Change Impacts on Inuit Food Security in the ISR (Inuvialuit Settlement Region)". The workshop is planned for 3 arctic communities in this region; and today was presented by Dr. Vasiliki Douglas, with the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George. Besides the workshop, a nice meal was served. I had hoped to try polar bear, musk ox, whale, or seal soup; but no such luck. Approximately 20 persons - including many elders - were in attendance. Read Art's updates for April 12.

Renee, copilot, on the left - and Ted, navigator, on the right
Renee, copilot, on the left - and Ted, navigator, on the right - sitting on the horizontal stabilizer of the Polar Pumpkin. Renee and Ted are named after Supporting Partners from Massachusetts.

April 11, 2011 - Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories
Today I flew 400 miles northeast from Inuvik to Ulukhaktok. Strong northerly winds are forecast tomorrow; so I may spend the day here - taking the opportunity to update info for the website, and maybe even do an audio dispatch. Read Art's updates for April 8 - 11.

April 7, 2011 - Inuvik, Northwest Territories
Marginal weather persists once again today. Therefore, today the Polar Pumpkin stayed tied to its parking spot at the Inuvik airport. Read more (includes update on Ice Station Barneo)

April 6, 2011 - Inuvik, Northwest Territories
The weather was poor all day - light snow, poor visibility, and poor contrast. My DC-3 Ken Borek pilot friends - with their entourage of scientists - did take off for Resolute Bay. This twin engine aircraft can go IFR (instrument flight rules) and climb up to a 13,000 foot cruising altitude and be above most of the bad weather. In my case, I must fly much lower and go VFR (visual flight rules). Read Art's Update

April 4, 2011 - Inuvik, Northwest Territories
"Since I happened to be in Inuvik, I took advantage of attending the last day of the 54th Muskrat Jamboree  dedicated to the Past and Present Muskrat Jamboree Committee Members  April 1 to April 4." Read Art's Update

April 3, 2011 - Fairbanks Alaska to Inuvik, Northwest Territories
"After many test flights, checking gear and equipment, and focusing on Polar Flight 90 expedition logistics, I was finally able to Point the Polar Pumpkin North  and departed Fairbanks International Airport at approximately 9 AM. " Read Art's update


 

Previous Highlights include:

New Departure Date

2009

Spring 2009 - The Polar Pumpkin's test flights and cross-country tour.

Summer 2009 - The Polar Pumpkin at Oshkosh Wisconsin for the EAA Fly-in

Fall 2009 - Art and the Polar Pumpkin on the east coast

2010

Art's 2010 schedule took him around the world including St. Petersburg, Russia, Capetown, South Africa and Antarctica.

2011

As the departure date nears, Art gets the Polar Pumpkin ready for the solo expedition to the North Pole.

 

Renee is named after one of my Supporting Partners from Massachusetts.Ice Station Barneo

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