As previously mentioned, I flew to Alert on a C-130 Hercules plane – a wonderful experience. Recently though that trip was outdone. We were offered a day trip and flight to Greenland. Our ride was a C-17 Globemaster, the largest plane used by the Royal Canadian Air Force.
The time in Thule was fun; however, the highlights were the flights. A C-17 differs significantly from a passenger plane. Flip-down seats run along the walls of a cavernous and in our case completely empty, cargo hold. I am certain it could fit a full length school bus. On both legs of the journey I had a chance to sit in “first class”, i.e. the cockpit. Two seats directly behind the pilots are provided with 180˚ views and the chance to see and hear the pilots at work.
The Nares strait runs between Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Our flight took us this way, giving stunning views of to the right, Canada, and to the left, Greenland. We crossed the southern extents of polar ice cap to more open waters filled with innumerable icebergs. Sometimes the ocean was held back by soaring cliffs and at other times its fjords stretched deep inland. According to a quick internet search, Greenland’s ice cap contains almost 7 percent of the world’s freshwater. This is more than 100 times the amount in the Great Lakes. The white of the ice cap stretched off to the eastern horizon. Underneath us it reached the ocean through fjords and at other times extended unbroken out over the water to where one could see hundreds of recently calved icebergs.