Into the Ice

This March I had the pleasure of being the pilot for a research expedition to the ice just east of Greenland, led by the Institute of Marine Research.

We landed onboard the Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker KV Svalbard in Tromsø, then steamed west for roughly 750nm to the West Ice. We were close enough to the coast of Greenland to see land in the distance most of the time.

Our objective was threefold.

1. Locate Harp and Hooded seal breeding patches.

2. Place GPS markers around the patches. This would make it easier for the fixed-wing asset responsible for aerial photography to locate the seals. The pictures from that is used to count the seal pups.

3. Staging. Flying transects through the patch where the researchers note the age of the pups. This is possible due to how fast the seals grow over a limited period of time. Harp pups are left to fend for themselves after 12 days, and Hood pups after 5.

We only had 6 days in the ice, so we were quite busy when the weather was on our side. Unfortunately the last round of staging had to be cancelled due to extremely poor visibility and low ceiling.

Though a short trip, it was a really nice experience, and I would like to thank all those who participated.

Article in Aug/Sept 2018 issue of Vertical Magazine: Into the Ice

An Open Letter to Jeppesen

Dear Jeppesen!

Last year we spent a good couple of months trying to renew our chart subscriptions for our fleet of helicopters utilizing the Jeppesen Mobile FD app on iOS. Not the Jeppesen Mobile FliteDeck VFR app mind you, but the one with the charts (great job naming them to avoid confusion btw). We had previously bought the subscriptions from a local retailer, but we felt it would be easier to buy directly from Jeppesen, since all we need is an activation key to activate the relevant chart subscription. Foolishly enough we believed this would be fairly easy in this day and age. Especially since all the subscriptions were listed on our online customer account. 

They were all listed there quite neatly, with a start date, and an expiry date. I figured we could click on a renew button on each of them, add our credit card details, and we’d be set for another 12 months. That was not the case though. There was a link above the list to renew services about to expire. I clicked that, thinking I’d be home free. Not so much though. In order to renew I needed an invoice I didn’t have, and that I wouldn’t receive. 

We contacted customer service to ask them how we could renew our electronic chart service. After about 30 e-mails back and forth I came to the conclusion that if it takes this volume of correspondance to answer a simle question, Jeppesen must have one of the biggest customer service departments in the world, good for you! Bad for us though, since after this lengthy period of sending e-mails, we were no closer to renewing the subscriptions. 

Ok, I thought, I’ll head online to Jeppesen online(JeppDirect) to order new subscriptions from there. No luck. Finding the correct area coverage was impossible. We sent customer service a new e-mail, this time trying to more or less say “we have money, you have a product, sell it to us please”. Still no joy. Sick and tired of it all we went back to the local retailer and bought new hardcopies with the magical activation codes on the back, then threw away the DVD’s (we only want the codes). At the same time we swore to do everything in our power to rid us of our Jeppesen dependency. The only backside to this is that we actually like your product, it is just that you are really quite terrible at selling it. 

That takes us to today. Our subscriptions are about to expire, and filled with optimism that Jeppesen has probably improved it’s online service in the last 12 months, we log in, only to be let down again. Ok, I figure, I’ll go to JeppDirect and buy from there, at least that HAS to have been improved in the last year. 

Bear with me on my quest through JeppDirect to buy new electronic charts for Scandinavia. I hit charts, and since this is a mobile service, I hit Mobile FliteDeck VFR (I know technically I need Jeppesen Mobile FD, but there is no such option, and I tried all other options for good measure). This brings me to the page for the Mobile FliteDeck VFR app, which I have no interest in. By a strike of luck I am able to find a link to the Mobile FliteDeck app. Finally! I scroll down and find “Purchase Coverages”, with a big green “Buy Now” button at the bottom. They did it, they improved since last year, I think to myself! When that button takes me back to the JeppDirect frontpage I realize I must be trapped in one of the nine levels of Jeppesen Hell. 

I search “Scandinavia electronic” and get one hit…on charts for all of Europe…a slight overkill seeing as we like it here in Norway, and very rarely visit our neighboring countries. 

One thing is for sure, if Netflix had made it this hard for their customers to renew their monthly subscription, they would be bankrupt a long time ago. Instead they have made it so easy for us to get access to their content, that we hardly notice the process at all. Again we are in a postion where we want your product, we have the money, but for some reason you do not want to sell it to us. We’re sorry if we have done anything in the past to hurt your feelings, Jeppesen, but we hope we can make up and become friends again. 

For the rest of you, feel free to support my post to Jeppesen by liking it here!

Another few weeks

Hi guys! I’m sorry I haven’t had more time to post new material here. This time of year is really busy for us. Add my other duties and I have my plate full both at work and at home. I just got back from two weeks away last night, so I thought I’d share some of the pictures I shot during that time. I’ve also included this rough map that illustrates some of the areas I visited these two weeks.

I started my shift at our main base at Bringeland airport.

I started my shift at our main base at Bringeland airport.

I spent the first day battling gusty winds in Sogn.

I spent the first day battling gusty winds in Sogn.

Continue reading

On the Ice

Sorry for the absence. I’ve been given some new duties at work that have kept me very busy. So here is just something while I prepare something more useful. I’ll try to dedicate a page to “How to Become a Helicopter Pilot” when I get time for it. 

In the meanwhile here are some shots from today.