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Thought I should give an update on my fitness workouts while I am on a Hercules resupply mission up to the "Top Of The World", as the folks who are stationed in Thule Air Base, Greenland and Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut (the northernmost permanently habitated place on earth) call it.

We Canadians use Thule Air Base in Greenland (Danish territory, but with US Air Force here as well) as a staging field to fly supplies up to Alert.  These resupply flights happen almost every week and then there are more concentrated resupply operations (called "Boxtop") twice a year for 3-4 weeks where 3-4 Hercules move tons of supplies and fuel up to Alert that were shipped up to Thule when the ice melts in the harbour in spring.

This is huge frozen territory right now, but at least the sun has returned.

It's a rugged cold land here, but the base at Thule is well maintained with a long runway and good hangars.

It was a "warmer" sunny afternoon when we arrived, but still down to -40C windchill with only a light wind.  Because there is a glacier up from the base, when the Katabatic winds roll down to the base at over 100 knots, the windchill can get down to -70C!!!  Everything here is built tough and emergency supplies are in every building!

Fortunately they have a taxi service around the base and the gym is well equipped with a solid weight room, cardio room, bike spin room, athletic floor, a "never-end" swimming pool (for one) and suntanning bed ... all free for use ... 24 hrs a day!

They have organized fitness classes of all kinds, including spinning, but I have not been able to make any of those yet.  They do have two of their spin bikes out in part of the cardio area and I have really enjoyed using them.  They are made in Denmark and they are very well designed and smooth.

Most of my flight crew on this trip are into working out, so it has been easy to stay motivated.  In the four days we have been flying away from home base, we have worked out each day.  I have done almost 3 hours on the bike, 1 hour of rowing and 2 & 1/2 hours of weight training so far.  I state these numbers not to brag (really ), but to revel in the reality, because it is not normally the case when I go on the road flying.  Usually the days are too long and the hotel has mediocre fitness equipment.

We have more flying tomorrow up to Alert and back to Thule, but then we plan to hit the gym before supper again!  Oh, but no more suntanning ... I over did it ... a minor sunburn in Greenland? ... crazy!
Cool to see pictures of the gym and stuff...the upside of all of this is all the great workout time and socializing.  Your not missing spring here, either - still a very nippy windchill!  See you Saturday!
Mark B.
Tom, great to see aerial photos. I've flown over Greenland a couple times, but that was over the south and south east portions of the island. It looked insanely craggy and isolated. Is it the same up the west coast?

One day (if such a thing is permitted) you should strap your helmet cam to your head and take some footage flying.


Cool pics Tom.  It's funny to see the outdoor shots that look so desolate, and then the gym shots that look like, well, pretty much your standard urban full service gym.  Good on you to get the workouts in when out on the 'road' (or I guess the sky, as it were).

Went flying up to Alert and back to Thule today on a picture perfect weather day (-40C though!).
The scenery was very dramatic ...

The northwest coast of Greenland (really should have been called Iceland!?) is very desolate, with massive glaciers flowing down from the permanent ice shelf.  Check out all the icebergs "calving" off that huge glacier (biggest source of icebergs for the Atlantic).  There are some steep cliffs in some fjords on the Greenland coast, but when you look across to Ellesmere Island in Canada, then you see some really big mountain ranges and glaciers as well.  Btw, the small island in the middle of the right picture above is Hans Island (disputed territory between Canada and Denmark ... doesn't look like much to me!)

Flying back down into Thule today took us over some large fjords and icepack.  It made for more interesting views on arrival back at the airport ... a nice change from an instrument flying approach in bad weather to a slippery runway !

Only a light workout after flying today ... time to get back down south and prepping with Lori for Moab ... Oh Yah!

Maybe we can just sell Denmark the island and settle the dispute.  What's the asking price for moderatly sized ice-blocks with a view of more of the same these days?

We tried to fly home today, but a few things got in our way ...

We taxied out for departure, but had to wait while the only other aircraft for probably almost a thousand miles was coming in for landing ...

It was a Ukranian Air Force IL-76 transport jet moving supplies for the Danes up to a scientific station on the top of Greenland.

I know the cold war is over and they are our friends now, but is still weird to see a former Warsaw Pact military plane landing at a base like Thule with it's strategic early warning defence history!  Now while we were waiting for them to land, what we didn't know is that one of our four engine-driven hydraulic pumps was about to fail ... which it did as we lined up for takeoff ... after trying to problem solve the failure and check for leaks, we had to take the long taxi back in and shut down to check for internal engine area leaks.
Result:  the airport was closing by then and it's not open again until Monday !

So, after a bunch of coordination and calls down south, it was off to the gym ...

Got in another couple hours of cardio, weights and a little suntanning ... making the best of it as I can as far as workouts anyways.
Scott, I would like to point out that it is technically waterfront property, which should jack the price up a bit.  With global warming and all that, it may increase in value, although i think we should check to see how much of that island is ice and how much is actually land.  My vote is that we should hang on to it.......or, as Brett was telling me recently - apparently  he met a few guys who were talking about the opportunity to go up north to some such disputed land 'mass' (or ice mass, as one should have it) and basically live on it in order to technically claim possession. 

Scott - you could bring your new kayak!


My new kayak is too fragile for icy conditions, but my old one is banged up enough that I'd be happy to bring it along with the other squatters.  Tom, it's kind of quaint that the airport appearantly closes for Sunday's, though I'm sure you'd just as soon get home.  Nice that they have that gym though, and odd that you're getting a tan while you're there.

Ok now, we need to settle this little dispute ... but let's look closer first:

This little Hans Island might just be a diamond-in-the-rough.  Check out the view from the west shore looking out toward Canada's Ellesmere Island ... pretty nice eh!  How about the cliffs on the southeast shore ... I betcha in the summer when all the ice melts, tourists would pay big money to do some cliff diving into the pristine waters!  Not to mention the ski and snow board run potential of the slopes from the south high ground to the gentle shores on the north edge!

Wow ... who knew how smart our government was being all these years disputing the Danish claim on this sweet little island !
I say mobilize the Army, the Navy and the Air Force ... wait ... they kinda already did that last year ... oh well !!!

Scott ... get that little hole (from our trip last year) in the stern of your kayak fixed again to perfection ... I think there may be a northern expedition is the works!  Duty may be calling!!!
So today we got our aircraft fixed and ready for departure home tomorrow ...

Into the nacelle bay of engine #2 for a little TLC, courtesy of Barry and Oscar ...

Just a quick disconnect of the hydraulic pump for a modification and back on ... voila, we are back in business .

Then it was off to the gym for some cross training ...

Today's new cardio surprise ... the "Endless Pool" ...

The pool room comes equipped with a great stereo sound system set to a european dance track station (which I cranked up).  It took a while for me to dial in the right current setting and then I got in a good workout ... once I noticed the goggles hanging on the wall and the underwater mirror set up so you maintain the right position back from the vent.  Cool.

Then I remembered that my camera was waterproof and decided to take a few underwater shots.  Easier said than done though in a strong current, but it worked alright.  I know what your thinking ... "this cat is starting to get cabin fever/bored crazy up north ... time for him to get home"!? ...  I agree!

Next up was chest, shoulders and back in the weight room.

Finally, came my discovery of a sauna hiding in the back of the men's change room - sweet!  Funny part is that I fell asleep in there for almost 30 mins ... I came out drenched in sweet and down over 7 lbs from my pre-workout weigh in!  Fortunately, I made it to the dining hall just before closing and did my best to regain most of that loss!

A pool with built in euro dance music?  Cool.  Tom, I'll agree to the trip up to the disputed island if you can find someone with an airplane big enough to fit my kayak.

Got the airplane ... start planning the trip!

Ok, so maybe I can't just use it whenever I want ... but for northern sovereignty?  Should be no problem to tag it on to one of the Operation Boxtops, eh!  Oh wait ... defending Canadian sovereinty while flying from Greenland/Denmark ... might be a flaw in the plan !
Tom, only you could fall asleep in the sauna!

Tom, you could put Scott in the back of the Herc - in ready position, fully ensconced in the kayak, paddle a-ready, and then just open the ramp and cargo door.  Voila - let'r slide out the back....you guys have pretty good aim.....
parachute?  dragchute?  or no 'chute??
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