The whole trip was the idea of APG listener Stuart from Farnborough. He got in contact with the APG crew and suggested a meet-up during the Farnborough International Air Show.
What started as a nice idea soon developed a life of its own. The UK Podcasters loved the idea, Nevil Bounds spent days and weeks on the organization, the Airplane Geeks sent Micah and Brian, Marcus came for Omega Tau and listeners and viewers from all over the world started to fly in.
I first met everyone on Friday night for a beer. I was afraid that the evening might be a bit awkward but found myself quickly in the most relaxed conversations.
The air show
The following Saturday and Sunday were the main air show days. The air show area on the airport in Farnborough is so vast that it never felt crowded. The amazing flying displays included the A380, B727, A350, Catalina, A35B, A400M and many more. I only realised just how much I had gazed into the sky when my neck started hurting. The view from the media centre was first class and so was the catering on the flight line.
When I left, I felt a sadness in my heart that FIA is only every other year.
The air show was great and could only be surpassed by the live recording of the Airline Pilot Guy show with guests from several other podcasts as well as a live audience.
We had a lot of fun at The Hog’s Back hotel. The beer was cold and plenty but not a requirement for the good time that was had by all! The show went on for hours (as usual) but the time just flew by!
The ball room of the Hog’s Back Hotel was a great stage for the show. And Matt, Carlos, Nevil and crew converted it into a professional recording studio, including satellite uplink as a backup. Amazing!
Meeting Micah was a great pleasure. So many memories of great stories are commented to the remarkable radio voice of his!
I had an amazing weekend and I am very glad that I had the privilege to meet so many fellow airplane geeks as well as many great podcasters. They are collectively responsible for many hours of my lifetime that are gone forever and will never come back.
To be continued…
Too expensive, to inefficient: Government ends controversial chemtrail program
I knew it! All of my conspiracy fears were true! Read this breaking news by news outlet “Der Postillon”. I did a rough translation, as the original was published in German.
Berlin (dpo) – The federal government has announced today that after 19 years, it would end the controversial chemtrail program for poisoning the general population.
According to spokesperson Steffen Seibert, the reasons are rising costs and low efficiency of the stripes of chemicals that are often visible for hours in the sky.
“The government would not go as far as to call the program a failure, but the desired results could not be achieved to the expected degree”, Seibert explained. After years of chemtrail-output, the German population is still largely fertile. Soils are not contaminated with devastating levels of Barium, as was hoped for, and the average temperature in Germany did not drop.
All together, poisonous chemicals valued at approximately 310 billion Euros have been sprayed. With ending the program, the federal government is following the long standing recommendation of the German Federal court of Auditors, which has criticised the program as inefficient.
At its introduction in 1996 under Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the plan to use commercial airliners to spray chemicals over a large area, was trend setting. Over the last years however, the efficient use of taxpayer money for this program had been questioned more and more. The Illuminati as well as the US government have in the meantime confirmed the ending of the agreements about chemtrails in Germany.
The German federal government has announced that it would concentrate on more traditional and more cost efficient ways to poison the population in the future, such as vaccinations and contaminated food.
It will take until the end of the month until the rest of the poison stored in the basement of the Department of the Environment is used up. After that, jets flying over Germany will leave nothing but exhaust contrails in the sky for the first time in almost 20 years.
The evening is sunny, visibility is great and the clouds are high. I’m getting ready for a night VFR training flight. Two days ago we had a full moon. So I don’t expect the night to be pitch black. Good training conditions.
When I do my flight planning in the afternoon, I check the METeorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) for the near by international airport. Low winds, great visibility, few clouds. When I check the less detailed General Aviation FORecast (GAFOR), I am surprised to see marginal conditions in my area.
GAFOR has the country split up in regions. My local area is number 18 and stretches from the Big City to the north and the east. Weather can be a very local thing and I always try to combine different sources to get a better picture.
When I call the airport, conditions over there are okay. A cold front is not expected to get to our area until tomorrow. So I decide to go.
I catch a bit of the evening rush hour out of the city. When I finally make it to the outskirts and onto the highway, most of the other traffic slowly disappears. And so does the visibility. I’m driving into fog which seems to be coming out of nowhere. When I finally arrive at the airport, I can not see the end of the runway from the tower. Taking off is out of the question.
Back home I see the bright moon and the glittering stars from my balcony. I toast them with my beer and go to bed.
Visibility: clear, more than 10Km
Wind: 010°, 4kts
Location: EDVE (Braunschweig)
Equipment: Piper 28-181 Archer II (D-EITI)
We are in a conference room with a tired, wooden table, a few chairs and an institutional look. The windows are overlooking the parking lot. The door across the hallway however, leads into the hangar. Full of airplanes in various stages of being serviced.
The table is covered in stacks of paper. They brought two laundry baskets filled with paper to the small room.
My flying friend has been looking to buy an aircraft for a long time. We have talked about it a lot, we went through options and looked at sales ads. A few weeks ago, he had made up his mind. But by the time he called the owner back, the airplane was gone.
Today nothing should go wrong. We drove to Braunschweig this morning. My flying friend, his flight instructor and myself, as the driver. Someone needs to bring the wheels back if he buys the airplane.
The mission today is to check-out and hopefully to purchase D-EITI. She is a Piper 28 from 1979. Her second owner is sitting at the table with us. He speaks with a calm and deliberate voice and has a tired smile. The day is emotional for him, he is here to sell the aircraft that he has owned for 27 years.
This is the second time that I witness an aircraft changing owners. The first time was with my flying buddy when he got his rocket ship „Kilo Tango“. Today a slightly larger and slightly more complex airplane changes hands. The difference is mainly in the tonnage of paper.
We touch a lot of paper before we get to touch some aluminum. „Tango India“ is waiting for us in the sun outside of the hangar. When I see her for the first time, I am impressed. Her paint job is just a few seasons old and she looks new.
We check the aircraft inside out and our first impression is confirmed: „Tango India“ has been her owners darling. She has been well loved and taken care of to extremely high standards. Everything is clean, all connections are tight, all instruments are well adjusted. She looks great!
Time to fly
„Tango India“ flies like she looks – solid. My flying friend gets a feeling for the aircraft, the flight instructor tests her systems, I am in charge of documentation from the back. When we are back on the ground, the verdict is clear. An airplane is going to get a new owner today.
Back in the conference room, the transaction is quickly finalized. And then comes the hard part: While my flying friend and proud new aircraft owner follows the instructor to the hangar, I go back to the parking lot. What an anti climactic way to end this beautiful day!
2014 is almost over and I realized that time flies even without much flying. For flying this year was a bit slower than I would have wished for but there were a few nice trips non the less.
In April I continued my night flight training and had magic moments under the stars. Completing the Night VFR endorsement is on top of my list for 2015. Wish for clear nights!
In July we moved servers and the blog upgraded to the new web address of aloft.aero. Easily the coolest web address out there! That same month I ended my baby break and was back in the saddle again. Flying „Lima Juliet“ was a treat after being grounded!
I started training on a new aircraft as well this past summer. The Piper-28 proofed to be a bit of a challenge for this low time pilot and I’m looking forward to the next lesson and more Piper flying in the future. Especially since September started with a major set-back. My beloved traveling companion „LISA“ had a „heart attack“ and could not come out to play for the rest of the summer.
This fall started promising with my flying buddy planning an amazing trip all over Europe. I was cast as co-pilot and although the weather folded on us during our first attempt, I am looking forward to flying south with him next spring!
All the best wishes for you for the next year. May there be a lot of time aloft!
Visibility: about 10k, rain showers
Wind: 270°, 11 knots
QNH: 1010 hPa
Location: EDDB (BER)
Equipment: standard issue tour bus
More than two sears ago, I volunteered to test the passenger experience at the new airport. A lot about the airport has gone wrong since then. The opening has been postponed with only a few weeks notice (what a disaster!!).
At the center of the problems is the fire security system of the main terminal building. It was designed to be a market beating high tech wonder. But the very elaborate control system never quite worked right. And little by little more problems with the basic design of the entire system surfaced.
All efforts to resolve the technical problems have been rather helpless and chaotic ever since. The sparkling new gateway into the city has become a nightmare and a laughingstock.
Today I am back. After much public discussion and derisive media coverage, the PR department of the unfinished project has finally woken up. A media campaign invites people to see for themselves and this is what I’m here for today.
The cites airports are both dated and long over the capacity they were designed for. The southern airport has a smallish and dusty main terminal with a cacophony of annexes. South of the terminal is the single runway.
This single runway is going to be the northern one of the two runways of the new airport. In between them are parking structures, highway connection, a large train station, offices and hotels as well as the troubled new terminal complex.
So in some way the new airport is an expansion of the already existing airport. But the project is vast and the new airport has nothing of the backwardness of its predecessor. If only they would get it done…
The tour group meets at the old terminal. We are almost 30 people and our tour guide is very knowledgable. He has been working at the airport for 20 years. We board a bus and a short trip over the highway brings us around and into the new part. We drive past a large area for a new business district. All the roads are ready but on the lots the grass grows high.
The bus takes the empty roads up to the main terminal building. The atmosphere is like in a SciFi movie.
When I first saw the terminal building more than two years ago, I was impressed and intimidated at the same time. It felt large, impressive and contemporary. The architecture is strong, the design is refined but not delicate. There is no understatement, no scandinavian lightness. This building carries a message of self esteem, it looks impressive and expensive – a bit like a golden Rolex would.
Little has changed since my last visit. Most of the plastic covers have disappeared and some of the screens are working. The most significant change is the „flying carpet“. A metal sculpture suspended from the ceiling above the center of the main hall. It is red, delicately woven and noticeably changes the room. It breaks the seriousness and does bring lightness after all.
I had mixed feelings about the building. Now the positive associations outweigh my skepticism. The building is beautiful and does have elegance.
The stream of bad news, new scandals and uncovered problems on the construction site has turned the public opinion against this prestigious and important project. Our tour guide talks openly about mistakes and short comings during the planning phase. He also points out that the problems with the complex fire alarm system are not solved yet and that he personally estimates two more years before the opening. He patiently answers our many questions.
After visiting the terminal, the bus takes us out onto the Tarmac. The vast, empty airport structure is both impressive and very sad.
For the end of the tour, we go down the new runway. As the bus speeds down the 4 kilometers, my seat neighbor starts calling „pull-up, pull-up!“. Everyone smiles.
Location: New Place in the digital universe
I started this blog at blog.com with the very nice address:
Catchy, easy to say and to remember. I liked the service as it was uncluttered, had nice themes and was easy to use.
However, over time it became apparent that the operators of the blog.com service do not pay as much attention to details as they should (or even would like to, who knows…). The service was down a lot and veeeery slow.
So after checking a number of alternatives, I decided to do my own website with the new – even cooler domain of www.aloft.aero!
This will give me more control and the readers better performance in the future. And turning my hobby into a learning experience in WordPress can’t hurt either!
Over the next few days I will move the old blog posts over here step by step. I also have to decide on a nice theme and finally, to complete the move – I will link the new site from the old blog. Farewell blog.com, I really liked you!