We departed Keflavik in the morning with only a 20 knot wind, which seemed like nothing after the 50 knots from the night before. Since we landed in the dark the night before, we didn’t get to see Iceland from the air well at all. Mid-level clouds were present for much of the climb, but I got to see some of the beautiful geography from the air.
We flew in and amongst the stratus clouds for some time. About 1/2 way to Scotland the sky opened up and we got to see the North Atlantic brewing below. The strong winds were whipping up the white caps and probably creating huge waves. From 23,000ft, I could not tell how big the waves were, but since we could see the white caps, we knew it was rough down there.
As we came over Scotland, we caught a few glimpses of the Scottish highlands, but the views were somewhat limited. The clouds had returned, and so had the turbulence. The highlands were creating mechanical turbulence of the light to occasional moderate variety.
We tuned the ATIS at Glasgow and it sounded like they were receiving typical Scottish weather…rain. In fact, the ATIS broadcast stated the runway was, “Wet, wet, wet”, which really seemed funny to us. Margrit said that was what it always says coming into Glasgow. The rain stopped just before our arrival and we landed with the sun shining brightly. The runway and all its environs were truly wet, really wet. They must have received a good soaking just before we got there.
We spent only about 45 minutes on the ground in Scotland, just enough to file the flight plan and make hotel reservations for the night. Takeoff from Scotland was normal, except that we soon got our first glimpse of the crappy European Air Traffic Control. Man, do we have it good in the U.S. airspace. All the way to France ATC kept vectoring us for a short while and then returned us to the airway system. Every time we did so, we had to reprogram the GPS for a different route. I bet they put us a vector no less than 5 times on the way to Paris, each time then giving us a new route. The clouds were present the whole way to France, except for a short while over England when they gave way to offer us a view of the English Channel.
All the way to Paris, the clouds never abated. Patrick was incredibly helpful as he spoke on the radio to limit the communication problems. Although english is the international language of aviation, controllers frequently spoke with an accent that was much easier for Patrick to understand.
I performed a nice ILS approach into the Toussous Airport just west of Paris. It was a fairly short runway so I touched down abruptly and threw on props into beta. The King Air promptly responded and we stopped amazingly quickly. It was pouring rain and we taxied over to the customs building. Marie got out of the airplane, ran into the building, and processed us into France…amazingly easy. Within minutes we were parking the King Air and hailing a taxi for the long drive to Charles DeGaulle Airport to get a rental car. The traffic in Paris was incredibly painful. We literally drove about 10 miles per hour average across the city in the incessant rain. I definitely need to return to Paris again someday when the weather is more accommodating.