Visibility: fair, rain showers
Temperature: 21°C
Wind: 260°, 5 knots
QNH: 1020hPa
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: “Kilo Sierra” (Cessna 172, D-EKKS)

Today was great! I saw the big city from above, almost flew over my house, saw a new airport and had an Airbus waiting for me – but one thing after the other:

The big city has two international airports and a no-fly zone in between them. So everything west of my home airport is controlled airspace. I have been flying around it for two years but never ventured into it. Until today.

The sky looks dark towards the west and I can see rain showers. We hit the rain shortly after take-off on climb. Kilo Sierra is shaking but the shower is very local and we can go around most of it.

Rain and gusts up to 39 knots

We check in with the controller an I announce our intention: “VFR from Strausberg to Schönhagen, via Echo and Bravo, low pass over the runway of SXF (the larger one of the two international airports), exit via Sierra to Schönhagen”. The controller informs us that he has rain and wind gusting up to 39 knots. My instructor is not worried. “It always looks worse from the ground”. The controller is cool with us trying as far as we can make it.

“Delta Kilo Sierra has reached Echo 2 at 2.000 feet”

In the control zone I have to stick to a set route from one compulsory reporting point to the next. The first one is Echo 2 at the intersection of a train line and a highway. I announce our position, the controller acknowledges it and we are in. Easy as pie.

We fly over the suburbs, over the outskirts and then over the city. Before we reach the no-fly zone over the city center, we turn left towards the airport. The rain has moved to the east and the sun glitters on the wet roofs of the buildings. Between Echo 1 and Bravo, I can see my house. I’m loving it!

“You guys are lucky if I can get you in a gap to cross the field” 

SXF is being expanded and transformed into the cities new international airport. The terminal building, the new control tower and the new runways are directly in front of me now. I see the traffic on the ground (very cool) and a number of approach lights coming out of the dark clouds to the left (a bit frightening). I ask the controller for clearance for a low pass over the runway but there is no chance. The weather has delayed the afternoon rush hour and there are a bunch of large jets waiting to get in. In between two of them, we manage to cross over the airport at pattern altitude and make our way over to the next reporting point Sierra.

15 minutes break

From Sierra, it is not far to Schönhagen, south west of the big city. It is a very popular airport for the general aviation community. We land and taxi by a number of different aircraft on our way to the tower.

After a few minutes and a nice chat with the clerk at the desk, we take-off again. We fly north and re-enter the control zone via the Whiskey route. Whiskey 2, Whiskey 1, Bravo and another attempt for a low over pass. This time the traffic situation is more relaxed. We see two easyjet Airbus A319s lining up for take-off on runway 25 right. The first takes-off and by the time we are cleared for the downwind of the pattern, the second one is on the runway already.

We are trying to do this as quickly as possible. So we are not slowing down much on base and are not setting flaps. I turn into final approach and there it is: Runway 25 right, 2710 meters by 45 meters of illuminated concrete. Wow.

We are coming in fast (for a little Cessna) and I’m still caught-up in the moment when we see another Airbus waiting at the holding point. So we stop dawdling, I push the throttle to the fire wall and we are out of there as quickly as we came.

Getting so close to heavy metal was much less frightening than I thought!

To be continued…

PS: See the entire flight here (you will need a google earth plug-in). The tracking is provided by CloudAhoy.com, a great service that lets you track flights using an iPhone and analyze it online – free of charge.


(originally posted on July 17, 2012 by tilbo at aloft.blog.com/sfx/)

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