My circle of old friends is getting wider. Yesterday I received a long e-mail from Troels Nørlem – another old pal from Greenland. What a thrill it is to hear from Troels – the official Thule Air Base Photographer! Sounds like he’s is doing well with his wife and two kids in what he refers to as, “the outskirts of the civilized world (Djursland, Denmark)”. These days he’s working as a photojournalist and sells photographic flash equipment on the side. That’s him on the left.
Way back in 1987, Troels and his friend Jesper flew to Germany in a 1953 Danish military aircraft to visit yours truly. The trip turned out to be a test of their endurance and bravery. The two of them managed a top speed of about 70 miles an hour in the old plane with fabric-covered wings and a back seat made of bare sheet metal. I remember Troels telling me how frustrating it was seeing cars on the Autobahn below speeding away from them. Not only that, but the plane had a very short cruising range meaning they had to land every two hours to refuel. I think it took them 8 hours to make the trip from Copenhagen to Pirmasens, Germany – a distance of about 500 miles.
I got a chance to fly the old plane – but only for a few seconds. I “took control” and immediately realized that if the pilot was to release his tight grip on the stick, (it took both hands to control) the plane would go straight into a nose-dive. Yikes! All I can say is that it was a very good thing that Jesper was able to take back control of the plane, as we’d certainly have crashed with me on the stick.