"The Piper Cherokee PA 28 aircraft was routing from the Icelandic capital Rekyjavik to Wick in the North-East of Scotland. The pilot told Iceland Air Traffic he was at 9,000 feet (1.7km) at 1122 hrs. Seventeen minutes later he sent a Mayday message reporting severe icing to the aircraft control surfaces and that he was ditching. He is known to be in a survival suit but it is not clear whether he also has a dinghy"
Wasn’t there another one about a week ago? I hope they paid for their carbon credits in advance.
Anybody know the length of normal routes:
St. Johns to Reyjavik?
Ryjavik to Wick?
An international search is on for a veteran Spring Hill pilot who went down Thursday morning in a severe storm off the coast of Iceland.
Greg Frey, 66, was traveling from Reykjavik to Scotland in a Piper Cherokee single-engine plane when he made a mayday call to report “severe icing on the plane’s control surfaces,” according to a news release issued Thursday from the United Kingdom Defense Ministry.
Frey told traffic controllers that he was “ditching” the plane about 100 miles south of Iceland, the release states.
He was wearing a survival suit that could offer some protection from the icy waters, according to the release.
He also had a life raft aboard the plane, according to Greg Frey Jr., Frey’s son, who flew Thursday from California to Spring Hill to be with family members while awaiting updates on the search.
Frey had an emergency transponder that sent a distress signal after the crash, which confirmed that the plane was in the water, according to the defense ministry release.
The Royal Air Force launched its Nimrod aircraft to join the Iceland Coast Guard in the search. This evening, no trace of the plane, or Frey, has been found.
“The weather conditions are very bad with heavy thunderstorms and 20-foot swells,” a RAF spokesman said in the release. “We always try to remain optimistic on these occasions, but this is very much a race against time to find the pilot. You have to be realistic as well as hopeful.”
Family members have gathered at the Spring Hill home that Frey shares with his wife Maureen, awaiting word from U.S. embassies and the Iceland Coast Guard.
Among them was Frey Jr., who said the news that the distress beacon sounded for more than an hour after the crash is encouraging.
“That means he survived the impact,” Frey Jr. said. “That’s giving us some hope.”
The search had been halted until dawn, Greg Jr. said this afternoon.
The family has gotten calls from the American Consulate and the American Red Cross. A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite said today that the Brooksville Republican was doing what she could to ensure the lines of communication remained open.
Frey’s ultimate destination was Germany, where he planned to deliver the Piper to its new owner. He works for Globe Aero Ltd., a Lakeland-based firm that specializes in ferrying planes throughout the world.
Frey, who’d worked for the company for about a year, left Lakeland on Monday and headed up the East Coast to Bangor, Maine, Globe Aero President Phil Waldman said.
Frey then flew into Canada, across Greenland and on to Iceland, where he ran into storm delays and spent three days “waiting for the weather to move out of his way,” Waldman said.
Frey took off Thursday and likely encountered that same storm system, Waldman said. Ice on the wings slows an airplane down, forcing the pilot to descend, he said.
Waldman acknowledged this afternoon that, nearly 36 hours after the crash, it would be “a miracle” if Frey is found alive.
“The North Atlantic is not forgiving,” he said.
Waldman and others reached today described Frey as the most competent of pilots, a man with a serious love for flying and an easygoing personality.
He started flying at the age of 16, when he left a job in a steel mill to pursue a career in commercial aviation, Frey Jr. said.
He retired at age 60 after flying commercial planes for 34 years. He kept flying, though, doing aerial photography for a real estate company and working as a private pilot for a real estate developer before taking the job with Globe Aero, Frey Jr. said.
“It wasn’t a job, it was a passion,” he said. “It was something he loved second to his family.”
Frey also is well-known in the local aviation community. He is a former board member of the Hernando County Aviation and Airport Authority and an active member in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Hernando County chapter.
Frey was instrumental in securing a hangar at the county airport for the chapter, fellow EAA member Bernie Berger said.
Berger described Frey as “an idea man.”
“He has an ability to get people together,” Berger said.
Frey, who owns a single-engine Cessna, also works to instill a love of flying in young people as an active member of the Young Eagles program. He and other EAA members recently made plans to visit local schools to talk about the joys of aviation and the career opportunities in the field, Berger said.
Greg and Maureen Frey moved to Spring Hill in 1981. They have another son, Chris, and two daughters, Megan and Lisa.
The couple would celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary on March 2 and Frey’s 67th birthday two days later.
Frey Jr. said the family knew the possible perils of crossing the ocean in a single-engine plane.
“Everybody understood the risk, and we had confidence in him,” he said, “but sometimes situations tend to be out of our hands.”
Great circle mapper shows YYT-BIRK at 1626 statute miles (1413 nm) and BIRK-EGPC at 736 statute miles (640 nm)
Real world route would be very similar since it’s open ocean.