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Greenland – Part 1 (Getting there)

GreenlandThe security line after checking in at Icelandair was not so bad but using Clear made it a breeze. The biometric fingerprint and iris images enables the Clear agents to know it is really you and they then escort you to the head of the line. Shoe and laptop removal are still needed but those requirements will soon go away for Clear subscribers. The same approach will hopefully soon make notaries and doctor office clipboards go away too.
Other than normal late departure from JFK, Icelandair’s Boeing 757 made the flight to Reykjavik, Iceland in just six hours. After a three hour layover we boarded the 38 passenger Dash 8 twin-engine turboprop for a three and a half flight to Nuuk, Greenland. The flight was uneventful for the first three hours when the pilot then announced that the Nuuk Airport was closed due to high winds and heavy rain and that we would be diverting to Kangerlussuaq (also known as Sondre Stromfjord and one of four airports in Greenland) for a refueling to enable us to make a second attempt for an approach to Nuuk. The Kangerlussuaq airport was interesting in that there did not appear to be any roads in the vicinity. One of the Greenlandic passengers told me that the main purpose of the airport was to accommodate flights that are unable to land at Nuuk. There were eight planes there waiting to head for Nuuk. (I later learned that there are not many roads in all of Greenland).
We were the first flight to finish refueling and depart for Nuuk. After an hour of flight we entered a holding pattern and the pilot told us he was hoping to get an opening in the clouds and more importantly a break in the winds so that he could attempt a landing. Being a pilot myself I have experienced landing in high winds and even extreme cross-winds but never before have I experienced winds like those at Nuuk. The pilot told me the winds had been 68 knots but they had subsided to 48 knots when he decided to make the landing. The buffeting was tremendous and once the Dash 8 was on the ground and had reached a full stop it felt as though the plane was still flying. People in Nuuk say that Greenlandic pilots are the best in the world because they constantly experience adverse conditions and are always on their toes. I was quite impressed with their skills and calm.
We were met at the airport by Anders Læsøe who is VP of Business Development at Tele Greenland. Tele was the host for the Sarfarissoq — En Rejsei Fremtiden, a conference about the future of technology. More to say about that in the next posting. Nuuk (known as Godthåb in Danish) is the capital and largest city of Greenland. It is located at the mouth of a very large fjord called Nuup Kangerlua on the west coast of Greenland, about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle (and 2,300 miles from home). The population of Nuuk is roughly 15,000 or 40% of the entire country. Approximately 80% of the population were born in Greenland.
There were some exciting things at the conference that I will describe shortly — I learned a lot and met many new friends. There is a very big and special thing happening for the people of Greenland. You can get a preview in the following video.

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