OSLO, Norway — Unseasonably warm weather greeted 11-year-old Tony Aliengena on Sunday after he conquered the North Atlantic on his quest to fly around the world.
The San Juan Capistrano aviator glided to a picture-perfect landing at Oslo's Fornebu Airport, following a tedious six-hour flight from Reykjavik, Iceland.
Emerging from the cockpit of his single-engine Cessna, Tony was crowded by Norwegian reporters and photographers, who asked him to pose by his plane.
Then, without having to show a passport or clear customs, Tony and his entourage of eight were shuttled to a suburban Oslo Hotel, stopping along the way for a look at Norway's Royal Palace, home of King Olav IV. On the drive, they saw scores of picnicking families and bicyclists brought out by the 80-degree weather.
Oslo's heat wave came as a welcome respite from the bitter cold that Tony experienced during his 2,500-mile journey across the icy North Atlantic.
Regarding the treacherous crossing that has claimed the lives of other, less fortunate aviators, fourth-grader Tony seemed nonchalant.
"No sweat," he said. "It was a piece of cake."
His father, however, was so exhausted that he expressed little excitement upon spotting the Norwegian coast, with its shoreline of snowcapped mountains and breathtaking fiords.
"I'd go out and party, except I am too tired," said Gary Aliengena, 39, who along with Tony's mother and sister, Alaina, are accompanying him around the world.
The much-feared transoceanic flight proved almost flawless during the 1,100-mile leg between Reykjavik and Oslo. But like the first, 1,500-mile ocean leg between Canada and Iceland, stormy skies at the departure point set a tense mood for the flight.
At flying time Sunday morning, dark storm clouds swirled over the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik, with intermittent rain and cold wind raging at Tony's fragile-looking Cessna Centurian 210.
Weather forecasters also warned of a powerful storm front churning its way midway across the ocean. Fog and rain from the slow-moving front fogged in a refueling base on the Faroe Islands, halfway to the Norwegian coast, forcing Tony and a chase plane to continue on without stopping.
Both Tony and Dr. Lance Allyn, an orthopedic surgeon from Hanford, Calif., who is piloting a twin-engine King Air chase plane, topped off their fuel tanks in Reykjavik and hoped that head winds would not exhaust their fuel supply too early.
The Cessna's flying range, with an added fuel tank, is 1,500 miles. The King Air's range is about 1,400 miles. But Allyn cautioned that strong head winds could significantly reduce the flying range of either plane, forcing them to detour to Scotland.
Wished Him Luck
As Tony was taxiing down Reykjavik City Airport, an American Ferry pilot watching from a heated flight office nearby shook his head and wished the boy luck.
"I would not have gone up today in that airplane," said Rod Davis, of Wichita, Kan., who has flown the Atlantic about 30 times.
Gudjon Atlason, a flight services manager at the airport, said that each year, between five and 10 small airplanes go down in the ocean between Iceland and Norway. Of those, he said, only perhaps a third of the passengers can be rescued.
The others, said Davis, either become trapped in the capsized planes or go down in a place too remote for an immediate rescue. Although Tony and Allyn both had life preservers and rafts on board, Davis said that waves of up to 60 feet in the Atlantic could make it impossible to remain afloat.
"In 95% of the cases," Davis added. "a plane has crashed into the ocean because it ran out of fuel."
"Today (Tony and Allyn) should be scared to death of the North Atlantic," he said. "That makes you plan better."
Allyn was clearly nervous as he revved up his engines in preparation for takeoff. The flight to Oslo, he noted, was nearly all over open water, whereas the earlier leg had been interspersed with islands and the crossing of Greenland.
'I Better Be Good'
"I hope that all of us are much more nervous than we need to be," Allyn said, adding that he had abstained from drink the previous night in order to remain alert. "I figure that since this is our longest water leg, I better be good."
As it turned out, the weather for the flight was not as bad as forecast. While departing Reykjavik, both Tony and Allyn popped above the clouds at 7,000 feet, instead of the 15,000 feet that had been predicted. Tony reported light icing on his windshield as he left the clouds behind and headed into into clear blue skies.
The frontal system midway over the Atlantic, while turbulent near the ocean surface, was not so treacherous that Tony, who is flying at about 11,000 feet, could not weave in and out of the higher clouds.
Allyn, on the other had, could not avoid going through some ice-laden clouds that rose to his cruising altitude of 21,000 feet. Allyn's plane, unlike Tony's, has sufficient de-icing equipment to lessen the hazard.