In January, retrieval of OAR's new Observer P68 would mean a one-way ticket to the UK and an adventure across the North Atlantic Ocean.
It was clear by the end of 2015, growth in OAR's infrared surveying would call for an additional aircraft.
The Observer P68 is a twin-engine, survey-specific aircraft and proclaimed crown of aerial platforms for imaging and survey.
The Observer P68
Seats 6 / Cargo load 1600 lbs.
Economical to operate, long flying range, few fuel stops
High safety rating
In December, OAR identified only a few Observers for sale in the world.
By early February, Pilots John Romero and Mario Brusasco, were en route to Manchester, England accompanied by OAR Maintenance Engineer, Jed Palmer, to purchase and retrieve a new (to OAR) Observer.
Palmer would review the aircraft before the pilots began their expedition North and then West flying in the acquired aircraft.
With fair weather, the trans North Atlantic flight would take at least five days and forty-five hours of flying time. Beginning in England, their route arched towards the Arctic Circle and then, making a wide bow, would return toward southern latitudes, Canada, and eventually the US.
Jed has given his seal of approval and returned home. John and Mario are currently preparing the Observer and themselves for the journey.
Earlier this week, the two pilots arrived in Wick, Scotland to outfit the aircraft with an assortment of safety equipment, including a two-man survival raft and extra GPS units. From Wick they’ll fly to Keflavik, Iceland; Narsarsuaq, Greenland; Goose Bay, Canada; and finally, Bangor, Maine— “once we’re in Bangor, it's easy from there,” says Romero.
It's possible in this moment, the they're climbing into a set of cold-water immersion suits, to board the Observer and orient their heading towards the icy ocean. They'll wear the neoprene, full-body suits as a safety measure. Mario says they’ve called them their “Gumby suits”. Which is fitting.
Almost 1,500 of the 4,500 miles of the flight will be punctuated by icebergs, ocean and, with some luck, the Northern Lights.
“It’s an adventure,” John says, “but I’m most excited to make it back and start preparations for sage grouse surveys.”
Once the Observer rolls into the Nampa, Idaho OAR headquarters it will be outfitted with an infrared and HD daylight camera system, stamped with an OAR logo and immediately put to work on the start of a season booked heavily with sage grouse surveys, ungulate surveys, and several more.