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Business trips turns into trans-Atlantic epic

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 1, 2000
An recent business trip across the Atlantic Ocean became an epic European voyage for local pilot Neil Windham as he helped direct a twin-engine plane from France to Meridian.
Windham hop-skipped across much of Europe and North America to make it back home including stops in England, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland and Canada.
The unique adventure gave Windham, who had never been out of the country, a chance to take part in some unusual events.
The 22-year-old's journey to buy the Seneca III charter plane for Key Brothers Flying Service was scheduled to last only five days, but a stop for some minor repair work turned the voyage into an 18-day trek full of unforgettable experiences.
The following are highlights from Windham's trip abroad:
Stop one: Marseille, France. Picked up plane from previous owner who also has a vineyard. The owner gave Windham a tour of Marseille and a bottle of wine from his 50-year-old vineyard to take back to America.
Stop two: Channel Islands off coast of England. Stop to refuel.
Stop three: Wick, Scotland. Landed to make some minor repairs to aircraft. "I got to play golf on a course founded in 1870. On one side of it was a sheep farm and on the other was the Atlantic Ocean," Windham said. While in Scotland, Windham also saw Remembrance Sunday, the Scottish equivalent of Veterans Day, in which veterans from World War I and World War II march in parades playing bagpipes.
Stop four: Reykjavik, Iceland. Reykjavik is largest city in Iceland with a population of more than 250,000. "I got to eat in a restaurant that is built on top of five towers about 30 feet in the air," Windham said. "The glass dome covering the restaurant rotates 360 degrees."
Stop five: Greenland. "The approach to the runway was in between two huge mountains," Windham said. When he landed the temperature was 17 degrees below zero Celsius. Frozen runways made landing and taking off in Greenland "interesting."
Stop six: Iqaluit, Canada. Landed during a blizzard with wind gusts up to 45 mph. Snow was piled 4 or 5 next to buildings in town.
Stop seven: Refuel in Quebec, Canada.
Stop eight: Bangor, Maine. Cleared U.S. Customs. Last overnight stop before final stretch to Meridian. Stop in West Virginia for refueling before arriving in Meridian at 8:45 p.m. on Nov. 18.
Although Windham's journey across the Atlantic Ocean was a whirlwind he said the trip gave him the chance to learn a great deal about European cultures.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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