Thunderstorm

Thunderstorm

Visibility: about 10 miles, sunny
Temperature: 28°C
Wind: 100°, 8kts
QNH: 1019hPa
Location: southwest of Heringsdorf, 3,000 feet
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)

The weekend promises to have some of the last hot days of the summer. My flying friend and I are taking his Piper for a spin. EDAH is the destination for the day.

The sky is blue and so is the forecast. So we are a bit surprised to see a dark storm frot looming to the west when we come closer to the coast. Loks like we found the only patch of bad weather in a 500 mile radius.

Approach into EDAH
Approach into EDAH

An unmotivated rain shower makes for a nice atmosphere under the sun shades on the terrace of the airport restaurant.

War bird approaching
War bird taking off

 

Airplane museum at EDAH
Airplane museum at EDAH

When we are ready to leave, the weather radar shows a thin but long storm front almost completely stretching along our way home. So we decide to fly west at first and turn south as soon as we are behind the front. „Tango India“ is equipped with a storm scope. An antenna that can detect electro magnetic pulses (EMPs), their direction and intensity. These pulses are caused by lightning, so the system can put lighting strikes in the area on a map.

This is the first time that either one of us is flying close enough to a storm cell to see the system in action.  We navigate along the back side of the storm and the storm scope is lighting up. After the initial excitement of seeing the new gadget in action, we start referencing the information on the screen with what we see outside. What a great learning experience.

Thunderstorm
Thunderstorm

When we get close to the Big City, the last bit of weather is still between us and our destination. So we divert to EDBF for a cup of coffee. The sun is shining but the runway is still wet. We are told that the storm here was short but strong.

Back at EDAV later that evening we move the other airplanes out of the hangar to clear the path for „Tango India“. Her spot is in the very back. This morning, when we had to move the same planes in order to get her out, we discussed for a moment if we should just leave them outside for the day. I’m very glad we spent the couple of extra minutes to put them back into the shelter.

To be continued…

Europe on a wing strut – Part 3

Europe on a wing strut – Part 3

My flying buddy calls: „Do you remember the Europe trip we planned last year? Are you still up for it?“
Me (wondering if he can hear my smile on the phone): „Sure! When?“
Him: „Two days from now, I’ll come pick you up!“

I had planned a few days off with the family. The pilots wife roles her eyes at me when she hears about this and then gives me that smile that touches my foolish heart.

The day before the trip I go through my preparations from last year. The route has changed a bit because we only have four days to spare. This trip will be about flying and about learning new routes and seeing new countries. There will not be time for sight seeing – the view from above is all we really need anyway.

We have ambitious plans! The first day is going to take us from The Big City to Millau in southern France. On the second day we plan to cross over the Mediterranean with a lunch break on the island of Corsica and on to Florence in Italy.

For the third day we plan to cross the Alps and fly back home. Sunday will be our extra day for bad weather or nice places that invite to stay.

EDAY in the morning

Thursday

I am at the airport early. I have packed light but I am sure that I will still bring things back unused. The doors of the small terminal building are open but the staff clearly does not expect anybody yet.

My ride is wheels down at 6:01 Zulu, one minute after the official opening time of the airport. We have no time to loose, there are a lot of miles in front of us. After raised eyebrows and well wishes in EDAY, we are off to EDGF, the home base of the Rocket Ship. It is on the way, makes a good fuel stop and we have a few more things to pack before the trip.

The Rocket Ship is a FlightDesign CT LSA. She is small but very capable, well equipped and she has a lot of helpful details. For example, the two luggage compartments aft of the cockpit which are big enough for our two backpacks, my headset bag, our two life vests for the Mediterranean crossing as well as two empty 20 liter fuel canisters in case we need to go to a gas station for refueling somewhere.

France

The goal for today is LFMC, Millau-Larzac in the south of France. We have a stop planned at Besançon, about half way. The Rocket Ship makes its way towards France. The clouds could be higher and the visibility could also be better. But there is nothing but improoving weather in the forecast and we are confident. Crossing the border is a non event. We are asked to contact a new controller on a different frequency but that is pretty much it.

The VFR maps of France look intimidating. There are a lot of restrictions. Neither one of us has been flying in France before but we have heard positive things about flying here.

The controller in charge of us is also handling some IFR traffic on the same frequency. Her English is flawless and full of routine and we only have problems understanding her when she talks about waypoints that we are not familiar with. The Jeppeson Navigation software on the trusted iPad is warning us of one restricted area after the other and the controller clears us for all of them. We only have to deviate from our course to go around the airport of Lyon.

Before we know it, it is time to plan the approach into our half way stop in Besançon. Both of us are surprised about how quickly time passes. So we decide to skip the stop and continue on to Millau. There are plenty other airports on the way in case we should need a break after all.

Passing Be

We reach the Causse du Larzac in the golden light of the mid afternoon. The scenery of the plateau is spectacular. The airport comes in sight and there is no traffic and no controller on the frequency. We state our intentions and land with a strong, warm head wind on the long runway. Both of us need a moment before we have a full grasp of the day.

We spend the evening with friends and fresh sea food on a terrace overlooking the city of Millau. In the evening sun, para gliders are pirouetting over the hills across the valley.

Friday

We use our fuel canisters for the first time to fill the Rocket Ship up. The miracle of technology lets us file the flight plan online before we take off. After departure we contact Montpellier information and ask for our flight plan to be opened. Then we enjoy the spectacular scenery and speculate whether or not the glittering on the horizon is the Mediterranean already.

Ready to cross some water

The rude awakening comes in the form of Camarque Information. Over Marseilles the friendly controller tells us in no uncertain terms that he has a problem with us. Our flight plan did not go through and we are not allowed to cross over to Corsica without one. So he tells us to find an airfield and land to file a proper plan for the trip.

Le Castellet (LFMQ)

Le Castellet is on our way and proves to be our luck. Rarely have I been treated as friendly at an airport. We get coffee, a flight plan form and all the advice we could ask for in an air conditioned lounge with view of the smart looking Global Express.

The misunderstanding is cleared up quickly. Our flight plan made it to Touluse but we were probably in the air before it had time to make its way through the system. No problem, we file a new plan and thanks to the recent training at the AZF class, yours truly masters the task in no time.

Le Castellet

Water

From Le Castellet we are routed to the St. Tropez VOR (STP) to start our crossing of the Mediterranean. There are a number of mandatory reporting points on the route so that no small plane gets lost. We venture out onto the open waters with a bit of a weird feeling. We have both not flown over open water before.

The engine does not quit; however, the trusted iPad does! Just before passing the first of the reporting points, the Jeppeson app shows a loss of GPS signal. Fortunately, the build in Garmin also knows the points. Finding them with compass and stop watch alone would have been a challenge!

DSCN2114

Corsica

Long before we can see the island of Corsica, we see the thunderstorm that is drenching its hills. The clouds are towering high over the land mass.

The controller informs us that our destination of Corte reports rain and strong winds. We decide to try our luck anyway and see how it develops. Corte is located on the central plateau of the island and we are greeted with rain long before we are there. After some consultation with the controller, we decide on Bastia (LFKB) as alternate.

DSCN2128

We did not plan on landing on a towered airport but the controller at Bastia is friendly and the airfield by the sea is in the sunshine. We are number two for landing behind a commuter twin and have a difficult time loosing altitude fast enough. The last mountain we cross is about 4,000 feet high, the threshold at Bastia is at 26 feet and not far away.

DSCN2142

The service in Bastia is friendly but the staff is clearly more accustomed to airliners than to piston scum like us. Our handling agent is young, speaks Excellent english and is breathtakingly clueless in a very charming way.

I file our flight plan to Italy with him and when we are ready to go, the tower does not have it. A few moments later, our friend comes driving back out to us to retrieve the flight plan form from me. He needs it again as there has been a technical problem with the transmission. I don’t say anything but suspect the way the paper was facing in the fax machine as root cause of his ‚technical problem‘. We leave with a warm feeling for him in our hearts.

DSCN2146

Italy

Bastia is on the eastern coast of Corsica and it does not take long before the island of Elba comes into view. The controller of Roma information does not seem all that interested in us. We both are happy when it is time to switch over to Firenze approach. The controller there is familiar with our destination aerodrome of Collina and double checks if we are, too. It will take a landing on the wrong field before we understand his concern.

On the northern border of the Firenze control zone, we cross a mountain range and then descend into a valley on approach to Aviosuperficie Collina. At the GPS coordinates from the webpage, we circle and look for the runway – but nothing. After a few minutes we see a field that looks promising. A low pass confirms our hopes, an airstrip with runway markers. So we fly a small pattern, radio our intentions and land. Italy at last!

Wrong airfield but welcome break

We are on the ground safely but it does not take long before our sneaking suspicion becomes certitude – this is not Collina. A farmer tells us that Collina is only a few miles away to the west. Hard to miss as it is right next to a racing track. So we are off again and after maybe five minutes we arrive at our destination for tonight. And we are being expected. A dry spot for the Rocket Ship is prepared and the dinner table is set. The warm welcome extends into a delicious meal and good company.

Collina

The next morning begins relaxed for us. The weather is not great but a high pressure area is coming from the west. So we are not planning on leaving before noon. Time enough for a tour of the hangar and the exchange of some pilot stories.

Tour of the hangar

After a good Italian lunch, we feel ready. We leave Tuscany for the Emilia-Romagna region. The city of Bologna is in the sun and we can cross midfield over the airport.

City of Bologna

The Alps are coming closer fast, so we start climbing while we are still over Bologna. The next controller wants us to go via the Bolzano VOR. That is actually a bit further east that we would like to be but we go with that routing for now.

Clouds over the alps

The clouds are towering high but they are clearly defined. In between them, the air is clear and the visibility is good.

Bolzano

We pass Bolzano to the west and go on north towards Merano on the lookout for a pass that is clear. We are high enough so that terrain is not a problem. To keep it that way, I am busy checking position, our flight level as well as the minimum safe altitude. My flying buddy is navigating around the puffy towers and looking out for a clear path.

As a team, we are safe. Alone I can see how a pilot could loose track of one or more of these factors.

The atmosphere between the clouds is very special. The sun gives the perfectly white barriers a stunning glow. My four-year-old has asked me before if one could land a plane on the clouds. I told him no but looking at them now, I am not so sure anymore.

With all of their beauty, we don’t forget for a moment how dangerous clouds can be to the untrained pilot. I did some basic training in flying after the instruments and I know how hard it is to keep the aircraft straight and level if you don’t see the horizon any more.

is there a path?

After a few circles, we realize that there is not going to be a clear path for us to sneak through. We finally turn west and see how far that high pressure area from the forecast has come. That’s okay, it was worth a try.

It’s not long before we call the Austrian controller. He is upbeat and friendly and does not seem very busy.

free of clouds

We finally meet the high pressure zone around St. Anton. As we turn north, the controller is very interested in the exact weather conditions. We can see the high pressure pushing the clouds. To the east, they are towering high over us, to the west, everything is clear. We are on our way home.

Version 2

We are flying north over a patchy layer of clouds. The controller lets us stay up here so we enjoy the sun for a bit longer. We have done it; we have crossed the Alps!

Home stretch

North of Kempten, the cloud cover ends and looking ahead feels like looking over the edge of a table. We descend further and Italy and the Alps feel like a distant dream. This region used to be my flying buddies home, he knows every tree and every runway. Our thoughts start drifting off. We did it, what a trip!

End of the cloud cover

After a bit, my focus comes back to the plane and our fuel. The search for the hole on the clouds took quite some time. We have a pretty strong head wind now and the „Time Remaining“ on the fuel computer and the „Time to Destination“ on the GPS start getting uncomfortably close to each other. So we decide for a fuel stop after all.

We get into EDGF just before it starts to rain. We move the Rocket Ship into the hangar and go to the hotel where a cold beer, a hot shower and a soft bed are waiting for us.

Close to 3,000 kilometers, more than 20 hours in the air, eight legs in four days, three countries, many smiling faces and a wealth of experience. I can’t wait for the next trip!

To be continued…

Going back is hard

Going back is hard

Visibility: about 10 miles, sunny

Temperature: 21°C
Wind: 230°, 8kts
QNH: 1013hPa
Location: EDAY
Equipment: Rider MD3 (D-MPCO)

I am back to fly an ultra light for the first time in a while. I have been busy flying Cessnas and Pipers and my trusted Riders have been neglected lately.

My old flight instructor is teasing me. „Back to flying real airplanes, are you?“

I smile but he is right. In many ways, the very light two seaters are more demanding than the stable and tranquil larger Cessnas.

D-MPCO EDAY

I’m flying „Charly Oskar“ today. With her 100hp Rotax engine, she is very well powered for her weight. I take time to go through the short check list and taxi to the runway slowly. I push the throttle forward and the world accelerates around me. No time for watching the airspeed build up before rotating eventually. The airspeed indicator comes to life and the needle shoots past the rotation speed. I pull slightly on the joke, the rumbling stops but the acceleration does not. I can’t hold the „Yee-Haw“ in!

For the first few moments I’m a bit overwhelmed and very busy managing the energy. After that, the fun starts.

D-MPCO in flight

I have no big plans for today. Just getting comfortable with the Rider again. I start with a few patterns. The approach is easy. The glide slope feels natural and the landing is acceptable. Good.

After three or four landings, I take a quick strool around the hood. The sun is shining and I relax. Holding my altitude requires a bit more attention than on the Cessna. The ultra light is more agile but also more nervous.

D-MPCO cockpit

After the last landing of the day, I taxi back to the apron. I shut down “Charliy Oscar” and finalize the check list. The flight was fun but I have mixed feelings. I enjoyed the simplicity and agility of the Rider but at the same time I missed the tranquile solidity of the Cessnas and Pipers. Going back is hard.

To be continued…

Buying an airplane … again!

Buying an airplane … again!

Visibility: clear, more than 10Km
Temperature: 20°C
Wind: 010°, 4kts
QNH: 1019hPa
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.

Preflight

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.

„Tango India“

 

Checking the aircraft
Checking the aircraft

 

Engine
Engine

 

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!

To be continued…

 

FLYING
FLYING

 

Turning into final
Turning into final

Night rating completed

Night rating completed

Visibility: about more than 10 miles, low hanging clouds
Temperature: 3°C
Wind: 260°, 4kts
QNH: 1015hPa
Location: EDAY
Equipment: Cessna 152 (D-EMFM)

The weather has been variable all day. The sun has been busy chasing clouds away and whenever she was not looking, they threw a few rain showers into the mix. I have been eying them nervously. Rain tonight would be bad.

I arrive at the airport in the dusk. “Kilo Sierra” is being loaded on the apron as I walk by. “Fox Mike” is sitting next to her, waiting for me. I’m flying with Klaus this evening. I have not seen him since my light sports training and having him on my right seat is a pleasant surprise.

From the fall to the spring, the airport offers extended night operation hours once a month. I have started to train for the night VFR endorsement well over a year ago. Then I missed a season for my baby break and this winter has been grey and cloudy. Not great for night flying either. Today is the last chance of this season.

Night Flight D-EMFM
Minimal Machine

Fox Mike“ is a tiny Cessna 152 with minimal equipment. I like her and night VFR is legal with her, but she is pretty much as simple as it gets. The instrument panel is iluminated by a small red light mounted on the ceiling above my head. The radio is very basic and the single VOR receiver makes for very limited cross referencing capabilities. Quite a difference to the high tech ship “Alpha Hotel” that I have been flying recently. But that is all part of the training.

The plan for tonight is to pick-up where I have left off a year and a half ago. We go north to the Friedland VOR, then back to Finow for a bit of pattern work before we return home. I enjoy flying at night. The air is calm and the lights are magic.

Navigation

Klaus has a hand held GPS in his lap. He is double checking my navigation and tells me stories to every single light on the ground. I have a feeling he does not really need the GPS. He has been flying in the area for a while.

The trip is pleasantly uneventful. On the way back we run into isolated rain showers. Since we did not see the clouds at night, we have to fly a pretty abrupt evasive maneuver. After all we don’t want to fly into the clouds. Almost immediately the controller comes on the radio to check on us. Nice to know we are being watched over.

Landing

We are almost abeam the airport before we spot the runway in Finow. I adjust speed and altitude on the down wind leg. When I turn final, I am still a bit high. For experienced pilots it is very hard to judge the height above the ground corectly at night. For this junior aviator it is almost impossible.

PAPI
The runway has lights on the right and on the left. Some more lights at the end and a pretty big aray of lights at the threshold. For the approach we have a set of four lights to the left of the runway. This line forms the “Precision Approach Path Ilumination” (PAPI) – always helpful and crucial at night.

The papi lamps change their colour depending on the viewing angle. On my first approach I come in too high. All four lights are white. As I am adjusting my glide path, the right light becomes red, shortly after that the second light from the right also looks red too me. “Two red, two white – you’re alright”, I’m right on the glide path. Holding this rate of descent will take me to the runway.

Photo by golfcharlie232
Photo by golfcharlie232

At the end of the night I have enough hours for the rating. And I get why being current at night flying matters. Looking forward to the next trip after dusk already!

To be continued…

AZF

AZF

„Kennedy Tower, Delta Echo Kilo Kilo Sierra, good morning. Established on the I-L-S runway two-two right“

Did I cross the atlantic ocean in my old training ship „Kilo Sierra“ in order to do an instrument approach in to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York city? I may wish – but no.

I’m sitting at a desk at a flight school in Kyritz training for my next radio license. So far I have the regular radio license for private pilots. The next step will be the so called „AZF“ – a pre requisite for commercial pilots and for the instrument rating.

The instrument rating is something that has been tickling me for a long time. The radio license gives me a pretty good glimpse into the theory of instrument procedures and navigation. And who knows…

„Delta Kilo Sierra, you are number 2 behind a heavy Boeing 747, caution wake turbulence, cleared to land runway two-two right“

To be continued…

JFK ILS RWY 22R

Airplane of the future

Airplane of the future

Visibility: unlimited
Temperature: -1°C
Wind: 290°, 4kts
QNH: 1022hPa
Location: EDAZ
Equipment: Cessna 172 (D-EXAH)

The Cessna 172 is the Chevy of the skies. Affordable, reliable, easy to service and ist does not turn heads. In fact, I used to think they are a bit ugly. But beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and I have changed my mind when I learned to fly the 172. I have actually grown very fond of her sturdy reliability and easy handling.

Today I am flying the future of the 172. „Alpha Hotel“ has a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit as well as a diesel engine.

D-EXAH 1

Integrated

The G1000 avionics suit is the gold standard of glass cockpits in general aviation. The system typically is configured with a „Primary Flight Display“ (PFD) and a „Multi Function Display“ (MFD) – both large flat panel displays which dominate the cockpit.

The PFD is a large attitude indicator (artificial horizon). Some versions even come with a computer generated image of the terrain – very valuable in low visibility. Course, altitude and airspeed are displayed on a layer over the horizon. The information is easily accessible and comprehendible.

D-EXAH 5

The MFD can be used to show engine information and is used as a giant navigation display.

The difference between traditional instrumentation and a „glass cockpit“ is enhanced situational awareness (no chance to miss that big horizon) as well as system integration. All relevant information is in one spot.

Diesel-Jet

The piston engines of small aircraft are very reliable and light but also very old fashioned. Because of the very small numbers, technical development is slow and because of the emphasis on reliability, the adaptation of new and unproved technology is slow.

The power plant working in „Alpha Hotel“ is a major innovation. An electronically controlled diesel engine by the Thielert company. It has 135 horse powers and and adjustable pitch propeller. It runs smooth and quiet and it has great fuel economy. On top of that, the Thielert diesel engine burns jet fuel – Jet-A happens to be very close to diesel fuel. And Jet-A is much more common and way cheaper than Avgas.

D-EXAH 2

Easier makes it harder

A standart 172 has two leavers in the throttle quadrant – power and mixture. The Thielert engine has two redundant electronic control units (ECU) to manage the engine. So I only have one leaver for power. Everything else is adjusted automatically. What has been standard in cars for 30 years has finally arrived in general aviation!

The adjustable pitch propeller is also controlled automatically. The blades of the propeller are pitched according speed. This further improves fuel economy and speed.

 

D-EXAH 4

After a very thorough briefing and explanation of the systems, we take-off. The majority of my flying as private pilot has happened on Cessnas. So I am a bit surprised when I have considerable troubles with the approach.

I am used to aircraft with fixed pitch propellers. On a stabilized approach, very little manipulation of the power is needed. Once the desired sink rate is established, the speed is mainly controlled with the pitch.

On short final with slow RPMs, the propeller of „Alpha Hotel“ pitches high in order to be effective for a possible go-arround. At the same time, this setting increases the resistance of the propeller in the air stream. It acts like a big air break on my nose, bleeding down the air speed fast!

I push the nose down and the instructor tells me to also increase the RPMs. The landing is pretty lousy. On the next couple of approaches I am more careful with the combination of pitch and power but I don’t ever feel fully in control of the situation.

We debrief the flight over a cup of coffee. I am a bit down about how many problems I had with an aircraft I thought I was comfortable with. A humbling experience.

We make a new appointment and this time I am more prepared for what to expect. I concentrate on the power/pitch settings on final approach. After an hour of pattern work I am still not happy with my landings but they are at least more or less under control. I’m keen on getting better with „Alpha Hotel“ and book her for a solo trip the same week. I do patterns for a while with okay landings but not much improvement.

Then I climb to 2.000 feet and turn north. I will take an advanced radio class at a flight school in Kyritz (EDBK) next week. Today I plan to fly there to pick-up the books. The flight is about 30 minutes. Enough time to start playing with the auto pilot and to dig deeper into the powerful G1000 suite. It will take a long time before I can make full use of it. But the basic functions are so intuitive that it is a joy to use the panel.

The approach into Kyritz is a bit hectic. There is a lot of traffic and I am number 2 behind an aircraft that simulates an engine failure. The runway is much smaller than the one in Schönhagen and I am a bit tense. And then it happens – a greaser of a landing, right on the numbers, perfect speed and so smooth that it makes this pilot smile. Looks like „Alpha Hotel“ and I will be friends after all.

To be continued…

D-EXAH 3

Junior aviator

Junior aviator

Visibility: about 8 miles, low hanging clouds
Temperature: 3°C
Wind: 260°, 4kts
QNH: 1009hPa
Location: EDAY
Equipment: Cessna 172 (D-EKKS)

On the way to the airport, my passenger is shifting in his seat. He doesn’t say much. Probably a bit nervous and anxious to get there. The morning is cold and the clouds look a bit too low for my taste.

When we arrive, a solitary Cessna is doing pattern work. I start the pre flight and all of a sudden he has a million questions, is very excited and interested in every detail. I put the booster seat on the back bench and help him to climb in. When he gets his own headset, he is very proud – and he looks quite cute in in, too.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The grandfather is also here. He will take the other rear seat in order to calm the junior aviator down. After all is is going to be his first flight with dad.

IMG_0269.JPG

The night was rainy and the ground is still wet. I taxi „Kilo Sierra“ carefully through a puddle. After the run-up, I check in with the two behind me again. Ready for the flight? They are!

The air is cold enough to give the engine something to bite into. We reach the clouds before we reach patter altitude. It’s pretty clear that we will not go anywhere else this morning. Still, there are cheers from the back on every turn. The little passengers enjoys the view of the ground when I bank the plane.

We do a touch-and-go and a second round to see, if the wind is blowing the low clouds away. But we are not that lucky, the cloud base stays low and we decide to call it a day. After the two quick rounds, we are back on the ground. A bit shorter than I had hoped but the passengers don’t seem to mind. The first of hopefully many more trips to come!

To be continued…

IMG_0270.JPG

Merry Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas 2014

© 2014 AVIATORwebsite
© 2014 AVIATORwebsite

Seasons greetings!

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 spent a summer day on the construction site of the new airport. It is still not opened but at least there are tours now.

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!

To be continued…

Europe on a wing strut – part 2

Europe on a wing strut – part 2

Visibility: very low
Temperature: 7°C
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDGF (Fulda)
Equipment: Hotel sauna

One of the few advantages of winter in northern Europe is visiting a sauna. My flying buddy and I have been sitting in the mist on the airfield for a while before we decided that it would be better to sweat in the sauna than to sweat in minimal weather.

When taking to the skies, a very informed and very critical look at the weather is crucial. We are planning a long trip, so the weather observation is complex. We have postponed our trip from Thursday to Tuesday because a weather system was moving through southern Europe. Today, our route looks good but we ave problems getting started.

The aircraft is stationed at EDGF, a grass field at an altitude of 1558 ft. The cloud base is almost touching the field, a few of the hills we have to cross are actually in the clouds. No point in getting worked-up about something we can’t change, though. This is VFR flying in the winter.

EDGF in the mist
EDGF in the mist

After two days of waiting for the weather to improve, we decide to postpone out trip once more. My flying buddy goes home and I visit family close by.

Visiting an old friend

A few weeks ago, my dear LISA was moved from Schönhagen to Egelsbach. I am staying just a few miles away from the airport and so I decide to go see her. The local weather is not great either, but a number of small planes are in the pattern. So I take LISA for a spin – for old times sake.

I fire-up the ipad and make a flight plan for EDRY, about half and hour to the south. I have been meaning to visit the Technic Museum Speyer for a long time. I’m on my own, I have no schedule and no pressure. Great conditions for a training flight in less than optimal weather. If it should get dicey, I can just turn back. No danger of get-there-itis which can cause oh so many problems…

Jpeg
Getting LISA ready

The flight is demanding. The visibility is not bad but the cloud base is low and with rising terrain, there is not all that much room to maneuver. All within legal limits but when I get in between two hills, I keep looking over my shoulder to make sure the escape route is clear.

Finally the terrain is getting lower. I navigate around the controlled airspace of EDFM and very soon I see the city of Speyer on the river.

In the pattern at EDRY, I have the last demanding moment of the trip. There are individual clouds in the pattern. Like big, puffy sheep they are blocking my path and I have to navigate around them.

In the pattern at EDRY
In the pattern at EDRY

The airport staff at Speyer is extremely friendly and on a day like today they have time for a chat. I even get a discount coupon for the museum. Nice gesture but I would have gone anyway…

Amazing Museum
Amazing Museum

In the afternoon the winter sun has had enough time to raise the cloud base and has even burned a few holes into it. The trip home is delightful and much easier.

I am very glad that I did get to fly after all. And the trip was great training. Over the next couple of days I will monitor the weather development closely to see if another window opens up for the big trip!

To be continued…

Blue Skies on the way home
Blue Skies on the way home