The most predictable aspect of travel in the Arctic is that it's unpredictable. So often is travel there and back.
A bleary-eyed group of Arctic researchers turned up at 4 a.m. Thursday at a commercial hanger here in Winnipeg only to learn that their charter flight – scheduled to depart at 5 a.m. – was still at its starting point in Quebec with mechanical problems.
The aircraft is ferrying a change of crew and scientists to the Coast Guard ship Amundsen, which is providing a floating laboratory for a year-long investigation of vanishing sea ice around Banks Island in the western Arctic.
The plane is now expected to arrive here no earlier than 4 a.m. Friday. The 24-hour delay gives the dozen scientists joining the flight here time to deal with another perennial problem of research in the Arctic – two much cargo for the available space.
Fortified by coffee and freshly baked pastries, University of Manitoba professor Tim Papakyriakou, chief scientist for this leg of the expedition, began sorting out the cargo problem with his colleagues.
I snuck back to the room I had just vacated in an airport hotel. Fortunately it was still available, since all other hotel rooms in Winnipeg are taken because of the Brier curling championship here this week. Maybe I’ll be able to take in the Alberta-Ontario matchup before the flight leaves?