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INNflight
Topic Author
Posts: 3527
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:11 am

Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Sat May 02, 2015 6:46 pm

Good day dear A.netters!

I'm a very regular reader of your reports, but seeing as I mostly spend my time flying in the cockpit rather than in the fancy first or still pretty posh economy cabins of the airlines of this world, I usually don't do reports.

Still, I figured maybe you'd like to read about the glacier flying here in Switzerland which I was able to do with a friend about two weeks ago.

It's a pretty unique experience and we tried all year to make it happen. Not only did our schedules rarely allow for a day off together, but seeing as you are landing on glaciers and not paved runways, you can not just jump into an aircraft and go flying, but rather have to plan out the entire thing.
Main factors whether you can go or not is the snow - obviously.

Conditions vary depending on recent snowfalls, temperatures at the glacier (elevation of the glaciers we flew to varied from 9,000 to 10,000 feet above mean sea level), sunlight (or lack of it) and winds in the mountains.

If you are an avid skier - especially backcountry - you will notice a lot of similarities to planning skiing off the beaten paths.

Anyway - it's I guess more focused on just sharing the stunning photographs with you, there's no crew food, no inflight entertainment (well... looking out of the windows is...) and also of course - the fun flying.

Still, any inputs, feedback and comments are very welcome.

If you like the photographs and would like to see more from my journey as an airline pilot or just travel pics, feel free to follow me on either facebook or instagram:

facebook: JETVISUALS
instagram: JV - Instagram
---


My alarm woke me up way too early at 05:00am local time and my day started out by flying Brussels - Zurich - Stuttgart - Zurich. For work. Not pleasure. Not that it wasn't fun or anything. But it was declared as "work" officially, so that's that.

I got home at noon, packed my camera gear and was all excited about the message from my good friend who used to be my flight instructor some years ago. Today was perfect really. Blue skies, not one cloud in the sky. About 20 degrees Celsius in the valleys, close to 0 degrees Celsius up on the glaciers. I was a little tired but also excited to give this a shot and capture some stunning images while enjoying the flying part - something that very few pilots get to experience.

The gear I took with me was a Canon 6D, my 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L II for some shots from the glacier, a 24-105mm f4L IS with a circular polariser on it for some flexibility and my newest toy, which I was excited to try. The Canon 11-24mm f4L ultra-wide angle lens. In addition a GoPro Hero 3+ in case we'd find somewhere to suction-mount it to (we did of course).

The objective was first and foremost to enjoy the flying and company, but also to capture some stunning imagery in hostile, alpine environment. Despite it being a rather hot spring afternoon in the valley we went flying with winter boots and skiing clothes on, because a technical malfunction or accident could have us waiting for rescue for several hours at freezing temperatures, which would quickly turn sub-zero once the sun goes down.

Anyway - on to the shooting. The scenery was yaw-dropping obviously, but for me mostly the silence was what impressed me the most. Once you are standing in the middle of nowhere on a glacier at approximately 10,000 feet altitude (3,300m) there is not a sound to be heard. No birds chirping, no cars, no people, nothing. Just some snow dusting across the surface occasionally. It is an experience you rarely get to have these days, and it is something I cherish tremendously.

As we were preparing for take off at LSMF - Mollis - a small airfield in the canton of Glarus in Eastern Switzerland - temperatures were still comfortable - we even left the door open to cool off a bit. I quickly realised that the 11-24mm wide angle lens is the perfect tool for the tiny cockpit of the Piper Super Cub. The image quality is stunning and really worth the money so far.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s4/v68/p1117912037-6.jpg

Looking back after departure. Winter is nowhere to be seen anymore. The airfield Mollis (LSMF) is seen in the center of the frame.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s12/v177/p1117912079-6.jpg

Enjoying the views while we are continually climbing towards the glaciers, doing a few 360 degree turns here and there to gain altitude. The lovely Piper Super Cub is quite the change from the airliners we usually get to fly. A great "toy" aircraft, though.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s6/v135/p1117912108-6.jpg

The higher valleys are still snow-covered.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s1/v48/p1117912183-6.jpg

Doing several low-passes over the glacier before attempting to land is basically standard procedure. The pilot tries to get an idea of the environment, the snow and older patterns of other ski fliers and familiarises himself with the terrain and wind conditions. There is no runway up here, a lot comes down to experience and training.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v162/p1117912215-6.jpg

We spot some patterns in the snow and a bright yellow taildragger aircraft on a neighbouring slope. We do a fly-by, rocking our wings to the fellow aviators. The image nicely shows that you land uphill and then do a 180 degrees turn to take off downhill again.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s1/v20/p1117912259-6.jpg

Turning base to final to our very own stretch of glacial awesomeness after the fly-by, attempting a first landing.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s1/v55/p1117912295-6.jpg

Here we are. After a few take offs and landings we take a break on the glacier. Engine shut down and then it's time to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s12/v170/p1117912319-6.jpg

My friend did a couple of solo take offs and landings, leaving me behind in the vast field of snow to take some photographs. I love how minimalistic these are really. A bright spot of yellow in front of the beautiful patterns of the Swiss glaciers.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s8/v81/p1117912347-6.jpg

Doing a fly-by for the camera.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s8/v84/p1117912389-6.jpg

http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s1/v48/p1117912405-6.jpg

The silence was interrupted by a second propeller sound up here, and after some passes to survey the terrain a second ski-equipped aircraft joined us briefly. They are the ones we saw before our first landing a while earlier. First time I put on the 24-105 with the polariser on.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v165/p1117912453-6.jpg

http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s3/v41/p1117912502-6.jpg

Glacier number three followed shortly:
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v163/p1117912655-6.jpg

More approaches and landings. With and without me.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v163/p1117912743-6.jpg

http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s6/v145/p1117912783-6.jpg

A steep turn - base to final for yet another landing. Time between take off and landing is usually - depending on how tight you fly the pattern - only a minute or two. The excellent slow-flight capabilities of the Cub help for sure.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s1/v48/p1117912818-6.jpg

On ground with the prop spinning.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v157/p1117912863-6.jpg

Back in the air once more, glacier number four is coming up. Fascinating to see the different shapes the wind creates up here.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s1/v56/p1117912523-6.jpg

Cockpit view of the Cub. The Canon 11-24mm lens working its proverbial magic here.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s2/v73/p1117912529-6.jpg

The surrounding terrain doesn't cease to impress. Navigating in the valleys between peaks requires good knowledge of the local geography and terrain. The wet traces of snow sliding down the cliffs are seen nicely. It is April, after all.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s8/v77/p1117912549-6.jpg

Polarizer doing a good job again during a small break up here. In the distance we see a vintage Junkers JU-52 fly through the valley at lower altitude. Most probably a sightseeing flight on this gorgeous afternoon. We keep sipping on our water bottles and enjoy the view before heading back to base.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v153/p1117912925-6.jpg

Airborne again - looking at various tracks we left.
http://www.jetvisuals.com/img/s7/v164/p1117912903-6.jpg

The airfield coming into view during descent. Not a lot of snow left down here. It's mid-April after all. Almost two hours of flight time later and we're coming in to land. On concrete, this time...


Well... now it's time for giving the Piper a good clean and put it back to sleep in its hangar. Also part of the fun and of course a good pilot takes care of his aircraft. We wash her down and get rid of some bugs on the leading edges of the wings and the prop, then put on the covers and she's good for another adventure - on another day.


That was it basically.... hope you enjoyed this one. I'd appreciate any comments or feedback on whether you'd like to see more flying reports or if I should hold back and let the airline-pros do their thing.  

Once again - if you liked this one, feel free to follow me on either:

facebook: JETVISUALS
instagram: JV - Instagram


Thanks a lot for your time - if you have any questions - either about glacier flying itself or being a pilot in general - feel free to pass them on!

Cheers
Florian
Jet Visuals
 
whitelight44
Posts: 134
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2014 6:02 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Sat May 02, 2015 7:31 pm

Absolutely spectacular TR and images. Very unique. Thanks for sharing  
 
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mh330fc
Posts: 103
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:13 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Sat May 02, 2015 7:36 pm

Your pictures are incredible!

Beautiful mountains and crisp clear shots. Really stunning report. You should do MANY more!! I could look at these pics all day.

It's nice to see the plane lands on snow. It must be exhilarating to look down from the top. The glass ceiling in the aircraft is a cool feature. You truly live in the best place on earth  

Thanks for posting.
 
CaptainRed
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Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:22 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Sun May 03, 2015 10:08 am

Hi Florian,

thanks for this highly interesting and quite unusual report, enjoyed it very much. Wonderful pictures.

Having done some flight training as well I know a little about the challenges of flying small planes in the mountains. Landing on a glacier must be a great experience. The classic Piper Super Cub is a lovely little plane.

CaptainRed
 
MVAair
Posts: 298
Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:59 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Sun May 03, 2015 10:38 pm

Awesome TR....grest pictures
 
Marvinhsv
Posts: 235
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 3:55 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Mon May 04, 2015 5:06 pm

Hey Florian,

what a nice report. Really like both the story as well as the photos of course. The new 11-24 seems to be fantastic but €3000 is just way overpriced. The Nikon 14-24 is also top-notch and starts at €1400 IIRC.

Regards,

MA330
 
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lesfalls
Posts: 3515
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:58 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Mon May 04, 2015 8:56 pm

Great TR   . Switzerland looks beatiful  . Anyways thank you for posting.
Lufthansa: Einfach ein bisschen besser.
 
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saleya22r
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 2:13 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Tue May 05, 2015 5:12 pm

I'd imagine that lot of experience is needed up there. Landing without any clear landmarks, when to flare etc? Absolutely fantastic, thank you for posting! 4 blade prop -an advantage in snow? The engine in this Super Cub 150 HP? 180?
 
INNflight
Topic Author
Posts: 3527
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:11 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Fri May 08, 2015 10:09 am

Thanks everyone for the kind feedback, it's refreshing to see you like these type of shots.
I'll try to post more from the airline flying part as well.

Quoting Marvinhsv (Reply 5):
The new 11-24 seems to be fantastic but €3000 is just way overpriced. The Nikon 14-24 is also top-notch and starts at €1400 IIRC.

True, the price is high. The quality is ridiculously good though, and the lens is corrected in such a nice way that vertical lines are still vertical lines even at 11mm. I'm pretty sure there's no other ultra-wide angle lens available at the moment who has this advantage without the dreaded fisheye look.

Quoting saleya22r (Reply 7):

I'd imagine that lot of experience is needed up there. Landing without any clear landmarks, when to flare etc? Absolutely fantastic, thank you for posting! 4 blade prop -an advantage in snow? The engine in this Super Cub 150 HP? 180?

Indeed, I think a minimum of 250 landings and take offs on 10 different glaciers is required with an instructor before you can even do the check flight. As for the engine and prop I don't know unfortunately, I'd have to ask my friend.

Thanks again people!
Jet Visuals
 
palmjet
Posts: 1231
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2001 2:35 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Fri May 08, 2015 10:11 am

Super report - thanks for the excellent pics. Nice to see something a bit different. Glad you enjoyed your day out.
Eastern - Number One To The Sun
 
MonsieurX
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:28 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Fri May 08, 2015 10:42 am

What an absolutely amazing report! The photographs are something else entirely in terms of their quality and composition!

Switzerland is such a handsome country, and I can't wait to be back there this summer.

X
 
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NZ107
Posts: 4946
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2005 6:51 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Fri May 08, 2015 12:30 pm

Love your stuff Flo! Amazing pictures.. Stunning quality with that new lens of yours coupled in with perfect weather. Those blues are so deep. I'd love to do a similar joyflight on the glaciers sometime!

Cheers
Nicholas
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
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TheRedBaron
Posts: 3276
Joined: Tue Mar 29, 2005 6:17 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Mon May 11, 2015 3:10 am

This is Airplane PORN at its finest...I am envious ! great photos and even greater adventure, my kind of flying... Keep doing it, life is too short..

TRB
The best seat in a Plane is the Jumpseat.
 
britjap
Posts: 264
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:47 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Tue May 12, 2015 9:44 am

Absolutely wonderful. A trip report to aspire to. The photos are superb!! And the scenery of course.

Quoting INNflight (Thread starter):
In the distance we see a vintage Junkers JU-52 fly through the valley at lower altitude. Most probably a sightseeing flight on this gorgeous afternoon.

Wait; you mean to tell me you can book a leisure flight on a Ju-52???    I did not know that. I need to book a trip to Switzerland quick!!

Thanks for posting.

Regards
 
ElanusNotatus
Posts: 720
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:48 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Tue May 12, 2015 9:59 am

Whst a wonderfully different report. Not only the different aircraft but also the fact of landing on an unmade "strip".

As others have said, the photography and scenery are stunning.

Thank you for sharing this unique experience. It was a joy to read.
Crawl, walk, fly into the future
 
FlightShadow
Posts: 1060
Joined: Wed Jun 15, 2005 4:43 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Tue May 12, 2015 11:35 pm

Wow. Those pictures.

I need a napkin to wipe up all my drool.
"When the tide goes out, you can tell who was skinnydipping."
 
invaders
Posts: 408
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RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Thu May 14, 2015 5:56 am

Thanks for posting. Awesome pictures!
 
INNflight
Topic Author
Posts: 3527
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:11 am

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Tue May 19, 2015 5:59 pm

Thank you so much everyone - once again - for the nice words. I feel humbled!
If you wanna see more flying pics feel free to like my facebook page.

www.facebook.com/jetvisuals

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
I'd love to do a similar joyflight on the glaciers sometime!

Yes I recommend it very much! It's unique!

Quoting britjap (Reply 13):
Wait; you mean to tell me you can book a leisure flight on a Ju-52???

Hehe, yes indeed you can! For example here:

http://www.airforcecenter.ch/index.php?id=25&L=1
Jet Visuals
 
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airbuseric
Posts: 3565
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RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Thu May 21, 2015 8:41 pm

Florian, lovely report and stunning photographs! I do love being up in the mountains, but a shame I can't be in that environment so often. I'm sure that day was a very special experience.
I'll look out for your IG profile.

Regards
Eric
"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
 
rugger
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:03 pm

RE: Glacier Flying In The Piper SuperCub

Mon May 25, 2015 11:07 pm

I've flown Cubs and Super Cubs before. I'd be so worried I'd get stuck in one of those canyons with not enough power to overcome the downdrafts leading into them. Most magnificent photos and scenery. Thanks for posting!

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