Fred Scott, Jr.
(434) 295-4188


Our Baron B55 was skimming low and the crew was looking for polar bears, as we headed north over the broken rubble of pack ice jammed up on a leeward shore against raw, cold-looking vertical cliffs rising from the Labrador Sea. Huge icebergs floated imperceptibly southeastward. It was a beautiful day in northern Labrador.

The rugged Torngat Mountains, pierced by ten mile fjords, rose high above our left wing with a 4000MSL overcast just grazing their crests. Glaciers flowed seaward from their massive ridges. A low pressure system over Frobisher Bay - the next airport 350 nautical miles further north - was beginning to show its fringes, yet visibility of fifty miles or better offered views of rugged country not often seen by flatlanders. The crew had departed from Goose Bay two and a half hours before. Curious, the pilot punched "nearest airport" on his GPS navigator and the result was only one airport -- Kuujjuag, 175 nautical miles to the west -- instead of the accustomed ten airports that normally appear. How in the world did a farmer from Virginia get in this situation?

After a three-year drought, the summer of 2002 was dry and desert-like in Virginia and Fred Scott (ABS LIFE 2219) got tired of looking at his farm -- where he raises Hereford cattle and teaches people to drive teams of huge Belgian draft horses -- drying up and turning to dust. He thought a change of latitude would improve his rapidly-descending spirits, so he arranged for the cows and draft horse teams to be watered and he headed for cooler climes. To the northern tip of Labrador. Here's his story:

I have been all over northwestern Canada, and New Brunswick, but had never been further northeast than Nova Scotia where I have walked and toured the wilderness in the Maritimes of Canada. Having always wanted to see Newfoundland and Labrador, and having been told by friends that the Isle de la Madelene and far northern Labrador were also worth seeing, I left Virginia on a late July morning in my B55 (IO-470) Baron. It's an all-weather plane with modern GPS navigation systems supplementing a complete dual vortac-based system with flight director, weather radar, and deicing equipment. We prepared the ship by pumping the struts as high as was possible, so as to protect the props from gravel; by adding 2" rubber collars clamped on the bottom of each strut so as to have "get home" ability if a strut collapsed up north.. We carried spare fuel injectors, spare tires and tubes, a rifle and arctic survival gear.... most of it left over from my sheep hunting days in the Yukon.

The first leg was from this farm near Charlottesville, Virginia to Bangor, Maine to clear customs outbound with the survival rifle. On approach to Bangor, one of our two vacuum pumps driving the flight instrument gyros failed, so as I was doing the customs paperwork, I asked the adjacent Telford Aviation FBO if they could order a new one and have it FedExed in by 10AM the next day. They pulled the top cowl off and got the part number, then reported that they had the correct rebuilt spare sitting on a shelf, so we installed the unit and off I went. Total stop time: under one hour! Unbelievable! Now we see why NASCAR is starting to hold races in New Hampshire (Bangor will be next, obviously)

First night at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, a farming community of exquisite beauty, mostly flat, growing mainly potatoes, but with a new automotive bridge from New Brunswick that will change the island permanently.. To bed in a small hotel and dinner in a quiet English pub, the Merchantman, with scallops on rice. The next morning I walked about five miles all around the town, enjoying the architecture and the beautiful Victoria Park.. At the end of my stroll, I noticed the cruise ship ROTTERDAM at the dock, and figured she was about to disgorge 5000 people into my quiet space, so I called a taxi and headed for Isle de la Madelene, a 100 mile long island in the Gulf of St. Laurence.

Arriving around lunchtime, I took a low-level air tour of this exquisite island. The terrain is similar to a Bahamian island, mostly low with sweeping scimitar shaped beaches and tall grassy covered cliffs that were being eroded by the Gulf of St. Laurence; architecture similar to Nova Scotia, mostly scattered farmhouses, but clearly the farmers had discovered that hard top campers paid more than sheep, as there were many groups of campers-on-pasture.. Lunch in the "Au Vieux Couvent" (the Old School) restaurant ... a fabulous bouillabaisse (fish soup). A long and friendly chat with the three flight service specialists in the tower (which is not a control tower, though) at the airport, and another weather briefing as there was a hurricane "Arthur" dissipating just east of St. John's, Newfoundland, my destination for the evening.

We filed IFR from Madelene across the Cabot Strait to Stephenville on the southwest tip of the triangular island of Newfoundland and, when twenty miles from the southern coast, asked Gander Center for "direct St. John's." No problem, and that route - I had figured - would take me over and parallel to the southern coast.. For an hour and a half or more, and well out of Gander's radar coverage, I flew over the most desolate and incredibly beautiful coastline, large fjords, and tiny coastal villages served only by boat; over green grass growing everywhere except on the barren rocky hills and across thousands of small utterly clear lakes among the rounded rocks.

Newfoundland is not high, so we flew at 4000MSL most of the time. Because of the westerly flow around the center of "Arthur," I was in and out of the bands of rainshowers that are so typical of tropical depressions, but had quite good looks at the coastline below.. Only three small roads descend north to south from the main east-west Trans-Canada highway on the north coast... so only three tiny south shore villages are accessible to the Islanders by road.. The other occasional "outports" on the south shore are served only by boat. Huge and extraordinary ten-mile-long fjords offer shelter from the sea. One single pleasure boat filled with adventurers was sailing on a broad reach up one fjord and there was no one within fifty miles of them. I wondered what they were thinking; they must have been in awe, as I was.

Landing in St. John's I met a USAF C-130 crew heading from Florida into harm's way in Afghanistan and a civilian C-130 freighter crew just in from Anchorage. The USAF bird was an old special operations ship with structures to hold two forks out in front, whereby the plane drove through a balloon-supported rope, catching it and jerking a person up off out of the jungle.. I recall seeing that done once - in a James Bond movie, perhaps - but the Air Force crew said they don't do it any more! Just as well, and anyway, that's a ride I do not care to take!

St. John's was home for two nights. Dinner on the first night at NaGeira's Restaurant, highly recommended by my Abba Bed & Breakfast host. A sophisticated establishment worthy of success in any major cosmopolitan city and run by Lynn Pike, who claims to be descended from a pirate captain's lady...There I had a meal of mussels, poached calamari, and a salad.. Lovely Lynn joined me for a glass of wine, and asked why I was in Newfoundland. I replied that I was just a pilot, on holiday, looking around. She laughed, said that her favorite plane was a Twin Otter, and since she was not a pilot, I thought that slightly unusual and asked how she arrived at that choice. Her dad, she explained, owned Air Labrador, a local airline, and was sitting at the next table with some pilot friends. They all invited me to join them after dinner for coffee.

Above NaGeira's in the bar -- Finnigan's Wake, named after Lynn's Newfoundland dog -- I met Lynn's dad Roger Pike, her mother and three American pilots: Mark Rebholz, Blair Adamson, and Dennis Holbrooke. These are the pilots and supporters who built a replica of the British VIMY biplane bomber, which - flown by Alcock and Brown - was first across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919 nonstop. Mark told me that it is a pig of an airplane, requiring 80 pounds of force to move the ailerons full deflection and then achieving only nine degrees per second of response. The pilot had better hope he never gets into moderate turbulence (and has strong shoulder muscles!) Mark Rebholz has made two previous long-distance VIMY flights and is a senior United Airlines captain (from Aguila, Arizona) . He flew the VIMY biplane replica from Britain to Australia and then again from England to South Africa and is now preparing to fly it in Year 2003 from St. John's across the Atlantic. They are bringing the VIMY to the Newport News-Williamsburg airport, in Virginia, near where I live, for the Aviation World's Fair 2003 where from April 7-27, the VIMY biplane will be prominently displayed in the historical exhibit. I hope to see these nice folks again then.

Over coffee, Roger Pike spent some time extolling the beauty of northern Labrador and encouraging me both to go further north, perhaps as far as Frobisher Bay, and also to check with his northern flight crews about local operations in these very remote areas. All very generous of him.

To Lynn Pike, who owns NaGeira's restaurant, where we all met, and who joined me at my dinner for a while, and Roger Pike and Mark Rebholz, please again accept my thanks for a great evening. What a small world we live in, as I have a friend, Mark Hegg - a proud owner of a Colemill variant of the B55 and, like Mark Rebholz, a United Airlines captain - who has made thirty transatlantic crossings in light aircraft. He was the first to encourage me to head for Baffin Island and similar places.

The next day I rented a car and drove for six hours around the "Irish Loop" on the Avalon peninsula where it's easy to see - after a short boat ride - seabird colonies of thousands of kittiwakes, puffins, etc. Much further south, I drove through a herd of Woodland Caribou (no woods, though, as they live in the utterly stark barrens, eating moss). Shortly after, near the Cape Race LORAN transmitter station, I watched huge humpback whales playing in the surf of the Atlantic Ocean less than 200 feet from where I was standing on the cobbled beach of St. Vincent. Then home to St. John's for dinner.

Next morning, I headed to the government offices and bought some detailed charts of upper Labrador -- for use in the unhappy event of our walking out of the north country -- and then to the St. John's airport where I met another C-130 crew - this one a well-armed "Spooky" or "PUFF" gunship - returning from Afghanistan. I told them I'd not like to make them mad at me, and expressed concern for them about the recent wedding party incident in Afghanistan. They suggested that there was more to hear than we had heard so far. (Upon returning to Virginia a week later I discovered that their story had come out: apparently the gunship had video of itself being fired upon, before it returned fire into the village).

That morning - the second day after I met the VIMY crew - the little Baron flew along the northern coast of Newfoundland - again facing the Atlantic - and back to the west coast to have a look at the Gros Morne national park from the air. Rivaling Glacier Park in the states for raw beauty this fjordland of green magic is simply awesome.. From the air, just above, there appeared to be no auto-accessible overlooks or even walking trails, so I'm guessing it is a park much under-used by the public. I shall return with my walking friends and we will spend a week or so there.

Then, turning north up the western coast of Newfoundland and across the Straits of Belle Isle to Labrador, followed by a low level flight along the curved lower southeastern coast of Labrador for several hours over bare rocky slopes pierced by lakes, ponds, and inlets from the Labrador Sea. Ultimately we arrived at a large inlet heading west from Groswater Bay and flew across the length of Lake Melville into Goose Bay, adjacent to which is a smaller body of water called Gosling Bay... but, of course!. This flight brought into view the huge icebergs floating southeasterly down the Labrador Sea. The coastal terrain seen from above is scalped rock, with very little soil, as the glaciers had removed it eons ago.. Thousands of small and large lakes are interspersed with grassy spots or yellow caribou moss. Further inland, small trees struggle to live, and still further inland, large forests thrive.

Goose Bay is located about 150 miles inland and is mostly fog-free, thereby making it an ideal stopover for the W.W.II crews who needed fuel. I was greeted with warmth by Beverly Curlew - one of the best of all aviation Customer Service Representatives I have ever met - at Woodward Aviation. All I needed was a place to sleep, so I checked into one of the hotels there (they are all about the same). It was a metal building quickly thrown up, but excellent for protecting sleeping guests from the MINUS 40 degree winter temperatures. (I will be long gone by then!!). The room was perfectly comfortable and clean.

Dinner that evening with three charming Frenchmen who I had met at the airport. As I was working Goose Approach, I had heard two French-accented pilots approaching as well. After landing, I pulled up next to two new TBM-700's with US markings which had just arrived from France. They were flown by two EADS Socata test plots: Christian Briand and Dominique Deschamps.. Their chief avionics engineer was along for the ride, all headed to Florida to deliver these beauties to two lucky new owners, and then on to Oshkosh, to attend AirVenture 2002 which was a few days off.

The following day, I took Roger Pike's (owner of Air Labrador) advice, and dropped by the float dock to meet Mike Byrne, a legend in the north country and a senior Air Labrador floatplane captain (40,000-50,000 flying hours) and get some local advice before heading further north. I have flown quite a bit in the north country, and mostly on floats, but a Baron in the north is unusual, especially when many of the bail-out strips are 2000 feet long and gravel. The farther north one goes, the less is the likelihood of finding readily available 100LL fuel. So, the trip can be done, but the strips are a long way from fuel, the short strips have none, and it's tough to do when carrying full load of fuel, so I was looking for all the advice I could beg, borrow, or steal.

Mike Byrne was was heading out in his Twin Otter on straight floats to take a few salmon fishermen to camp on the Eagle River, one of the most productive salmon rivers in Labrador. We had talked for some time while his Otter was being loaded, and he, knowing by then that I am float rated, said "get in" (the back, which was fine) so I had a nice flight to Eagle River, met some interesting fishermen and ladies, and after we docked at the lodge 150 miles from Goose Bay, Mike and I walked up to this wonderful salmon lodge Rifflin Hitch Lodge - and they ain't roughing it! and we then returned to the Goose Bay float dock.

Incidentally, a friend and I once owned a Caravan on amphibious floats, which is OK for private use, but is not a very good moneymaking floatplane for use in airline service, for a number of reasons, so I'm reasonably familiar with turbine float operations. At Eagle River I saw something impressive: Mike landed the turbine powered Twin Otter upriver, which is normal, then pivoted 180 degrees and docked the plane at the base of a riffle, with the tail upstream and with the river water running along the dockside at about five to seven knots, by BACKING UP the Otter with asymmetrical reverse thrust, and the water rudders, also operating backwards. He had no choice, because the Otter, like my Caravan, only has one large cargo door on the left aft side. I had known it could be done but had never tried it in running water or ever seen it done before. It was an honor get to know and to be flown by someone who made it look so very easy; which it most assuredly is not. I asked how he did it in the Caravan and he replied that they did not.. The Caravan was unloaded into boats on the river side.

Note: the images on this page are copyrighted by
and being used with the kind permission of
Harnum Scenics (709) 745-0812 and M&B Postcards (709) 745-1908
Some images are from the Newfoundland & Labrador tourist bureau.
We thank them all.

After unloading, reloading the Otter and flying the previous week's fishermen back to Goose Bay, it was then 10AM and Mike was doing his best to figure out how to go with me "Up North" (where I was headed, but well north of his normal routes) as he loves it up there and repeatedly said how fantastic our flight would be. But he was scheduled to fly all day, so he hooked me up with his young dispatcher Mandy Kean, who - by the time you read this - is also flying the line in her Air Labrador Twin Otter. Mandy is a commercial, multi-engine and instrument pilot, with really good flying and cockpit communication skills and Mike as ked me to show her the north country - which she had never seen - at the same time she was telling me about the strips to which she dispatches aircraft daily.

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Many of these images were taken from the aircraft.

While you are here, have a look at our horse teams, and carriages, or take a tour of our farm in central Virginia.

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