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Autor: Til

Dad, host, private pilot
Back in the Cessna again

Back in the Cessna again

Visibility: Ok
Temperature: 9°C, partly cloudy
QNH: 1025hPa (high pressure)
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: Cessna 152 (D-EMFM)

2020 has not been a great year for my personal flying. My company was – and still is – affected by the global travel restrictions of the Corona pandemic and I have been a bit reluctant to go out and fly. As a result I am very rusty. On paper (my last log entry is 10 months old) and also in my head.

Private pilots have do do a check ride with an instructor every other year. Usually that is a pretty relaxed affair. An hour or so to make sure that the pilot has not developed too many bad habits. My Biannual check ride is due and for the first time, I did not fly the required number of hours in the 12 months prior to the check ride. That means that the check becomes a bit more formal and a bit more intense. It is now more about making sure that I have not forgotten too much.

I arrive at the flight school looking forward to flying as well as the obligatory coffee & gossip. I will be flying with an instructor I have not met before. We go through the preparations and he asks many questions to assess what I still remember and what I might have forgotten. I instantly like his quiet, methodical style.

Foxtrott Mike

Our chariot of fire today is “Foxtrot Mike”. A Cessna 152 from the 1970s. We both go way back. My first ever international trip was on “Fox Mike” as a navigator, before I even had my license. Later I did my night rating on her and the first trip with my wife to the coast was on “Fox Mike” as well.

We are getting her ready and talk about every step on the way. When we finally take to the skies, three three hours of intense flying begin. Navigation training, touch-and-goes, air work, emergency drills. The instructor lets me sweat like I have not sweated in an airplane in a long time. The training is hard work for me and much appreciated. When we are finally back at the home base, I am exhausted.

I am current again and I spent a great day in the air. But more flying on a regular basis still beats the crash course!

To be continued…

The little airport that could

The little airport that could

Eight years ago I started a blog post with the sentence “My idea of fun is going to the airport”. That is still very true but todays trip is easily one of the more strange airport visits.

I have volunteered to be part of a big test program for the new airport before it opens. That in itself might be interesting to an AvGeek. The “strange” comes in when I explain that I have volunteered for the exact same test at the exact same airport before. More than eight(!) years ago.

My native country of Germany prouds itself with a long engineering tradition. That is why the debacle of the failed opening of BER is very hard to accept. Let’s just say it has not been a good decade for airports in my beloved Big City…

Now I am back. The airport team is pretty confident that they can pull the actual opening of this time, so they called in the troops again. About 400 of us arrive in the morning. We sign-in and get our briefing as well as a bag with accessories for the day. Pen and paper, a lanyard for the security ID, even a little token to unlock the luggage trolleys. And a coffee cup – most important tool for the day.

The organisation of the test day is flawless. I have two “flights” on my schedule. Check-in is fast and efficient and the line at the security checkpoint is quick.

The airport terminal is unused but not new. That leads to a very peculiar kind of ageing. Where you would expect wear and tear on a working airport, you see dust and faded paint. Yellowing plastic wrapping on unused chairs. Instead of the smell of food, people and floor cleaner, the air here is a bit stuffy.

The new furniture has been waiting for eight years

Turning around the corner to my departure gate, it gets even stranger. This is the first addition to the new airport. So the unused airport terminal has an also unused addition which nonetheless looks different. Without signs of use, which would help to identify different periods, this just looks like bad planning.

I’m excited about the new airport. But the back and forth of the last eight years left a mark. It feels a bit like owning a lemon. If too much has gone wrong, you are never quite confident. The trust is gone and you are waiting for the next terrible thing to happen. And after eight years of delays, it is really hard stay patient with the little problems and shortcomings that are unavoidable in any large project.

Waiting to „board“ our test flight

We can just hope for a successful opening of the airport this time around and many uneventful years to come. After all we have already had enough excitement for one airport lifetime.

To be continued…

The BER and me
Souvenir from my last time here

New license

New license

So, I got an upgraded license in the mail.

It makes it legal for me to fly „power driven flying sport products“ (I love legal language!) with a maximum empty weight of 120 kilograms (about 260 pounds). Those are single seat ultralights.

Question is: how do I train for exercising this privilege…? 🤔

Flying with the big jets

Flying with the big jets

International airport in the middle of the city

Visibility: unlimited
Temperature: 25°C
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDDH (Hamburg)
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)

The second city is a little over an hour away as the Piper flies. They have a big international airport in the middle of the city. Not all of them are easily accessible to small aircraft. But this one has a good reputation in the general aviation community. Friendly and relatively easy to navigate. In fact I have been there by air once, many years ago with my flight instructor. I am qualified to go there, I am comfortable with the radio and I have current charts. How hard can it be, really! (Sounds like whistling in the dark? Maybe a little bit.)

„Follow the Condor 757“

Big Jets
International airports are the playgrounds of the pros. They fly the big iron, they do it all the time, they do it fast, and they sound cool on the radio. That can be a bit intimidating for piston scum like myself. But I’m on a mission. I want to visit my buddy before he moves away and I want to get there with as little ground contact as possible!

The day is gorgeous. I look over my flight plan and the approach briefing one more time, then I’m ready to go.

The flight is beautiful. I enjoy being in the sky again after spending a lot of time on the ground lately. The rain last night has washed the dusty heat away. The sun is out, the temperature is pleasant, not a cloud in the sky. When I get close to my destination, I listen to the ATIS, the automated broadcast about the current weather, runway in use and other important information at major airports. Then I call the tower.

Controlled airspace
I fly under Visual Flight Rule (VFR) and I typically move through the uncontrolled airspace. I can go where I want and although it is possible (and a good idea) to check in with air traffic control, I’m under no obligation to do so.
The pros fly under Instrument Flight Rule (IFR). IFR traffic moves through controlled airspace, typically at higher altitudes. The big airports are the place where these two worlds meet. They have an area of controlled airspace around them in order to deal with the IFR traffic. When I want to enter, I ask the tower for permission and follow their instructions.

On a clear day like today, the approach is easy. The friendly controller vectors me to the correct end of the runway and tells me that I will be number two for landing after a CRJ regional jet. I report the traffic in sight and have enough time to watch him land before it is my turn. The runway is so big in all dimensions that I could probably land the little Piper sideways. When I taxi off of the runway, a follow-me car is already waiting for me. It guides me to my parking position, then the driver gets out and marshals me in with illuminated wands and a huge smile on his face. What a great welcome!

I feel like the king of the world and will probably come here again, soon!

To be continued…

Follow Me
Plane spotters at the GA apron – not here to see me

Summer Night

Summer Night

Visibility: More than 10 miles
Temperature: 20°C
Wind: 260°, 4 kts
QNH: 1019hPa
Location: EDAV
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)

Summer has finally arrived. The sky is blue, the temperatures are high and the days are long. We are approaching mid summer, the longest day.

By definition that also means the shortest night. Not the most obvious of times for night flying and yet we are on the way to the airport while others are thinking about one more for the road.

My flying friend is working on his night VFR rating as a prerequisite for IFR training. I am more than glad to share the cost and get some additional dual time at night. I have gained my night rating a while back but have not practiced since then. And night flying requires even more practice than flying during the day.

The sun is already low when we arrive at the airport. We pre-flight „Tango India“ in the dusk of the warm day. Then we go over the flight plan once more. Our route today will take us right over the Big City that never quite sleeps. Then on to the old mining town of Eisenhüttenstadt for some pattern work before we eventually turn back home.

Night flying always requires a flight plan as well as radio contact to a radar controller. They don’t want you to get lost at night.



I am flying as a passenger in the back on the first part of the trip. The ride over the city is amazing. The air is glassy smooth the visibility is unlimited and the lights below look like from out of this world. When we cross over Tegel airport, the controller is friendly and talkative, but he will not let us make a low pass.



In Eisenhüttenstadt we are one of two planes making use of the night time operation. After a quick coffee break and a nice chat, we are trading places. It is my turn to guide the Piper through the night.

I am on guard, but I also enjoy the special atmosphere of flying under the stars. The relaxing cruise part of the trip is short and before long it is time to begin our decent into Finow.

We do pattern work in the familiar traffic circuit of our home airport and yet, nothing seems familiar about the impenetrable sea of dark below us. The distance to the impossibly small string of pearls that comprises the landing lights is hard to judge.

After we have put the Piper to bed, we are making our way back to the Big City in flight level 0. We are all exhausted but also full of adrenalin and excitement from the great night.



When I arrive back home, the sun is confident about her impending victory over the dark of night already. I have a cold beer on the balcony before I go to bed for a short nap.

To be continued…

100 dollar hamburger run – sort of

100 dollar hamburger run – sort of

Visibility: OKAY
Temperature: 9°C
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDAZ (Finow)
Equipment: D-EITI (PA28)

The days are getting longer, the sun is coming back from its winter break – time to shake off the frost and get into the air! My destination for today is the island of Rügen. It is just under one flight hour away but a different world. I love coming here in the summer for the beautiful beaches and the fresh fish.

Todays trip will be in the spirit of pickled Hering. It is a great tradition in general aviation to go places for the purpose of having a meal. It does not always have to be a hamburger, and it is almost never limited to 100 dollars any more. But the „100 dollar hamburger“ still has a nice ring to it.

Flying to the beach with the family is one of my plans for the coming summer. Todays objective is training, scouting, and just having a good time in the air!

The visibility is okay and the clouds are few and high. I file a flight plan, because when I think about it, I realized how long I have not done that. The waypoint is the Friedland VOR (FLD) and the CDI needle is glued to the center in the smooth air.

The island airport is not big and there is no easy-to-spot landmark close bye. I remember the smirk on my flight instructors face on my first visit here. I did not spot the runway until I was almost in the pattern. This time I know what to look for.

It is early in the season and there is not much going on. A tired Cessna is flying the first tourists over their vacation homes. The Restaurant will be buzzing in the summer, but now only one other table is occupied. We quickly start chatting, a flight instructor and his student.

The fish is excellent and all the way home I am looking forward to my next visit here in the summer.

To be continued…


Geeks united!

Geeks united!

Visibility: OK
Temperature: 6°C
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDDT (Tegel)
Equipment: PH-BGO, KLM Boeing 737 („Paradijsvogel“)

It is about two hours before dawn and I am waiting in line at the airport security checkpoint. It’s moments like this when I hear the small voice with the nagging doubts in my head. The voice gets louder in the wee hours of the morning or when the subject of funding for the hobby comes up. But so far the view out of an airliner window or the rush of excitement during the takeoff run in the Piper has been enough to send the little voice back to its corner, pouting.

I’m on my way to Amsterdam. It’s going to be a long day full of good company and airplanes. There is a vivid international community around several aviation podcasts with the Airline Pilot Guy Show at its center.
Community member Sjoert from the Netherlands has extended an open invitation for a meet up and organized a day at the Aviodrome aviation museum at Lelystad (EHLE). Most of us are in touch online on a regular basis. But we don’t see each other in person very often. It will be fun!

Nine arrive in Lelystad. What began as a foggy morning in the Netherlands turns into a sunny late winter day by the time we are ready for the outdoor part of the Aviodrome – perfect!

Sjoert has a bunch of recordings planned for the various shows. It proves to be a challenge to get us all focuses on something else than the airplanes in the museum, but it all works out in the end. The results are featured in these shows:

Here are some of the pictures of the day!

My ride to Amsterdam started in a clear winter night in Berlin

We arrived to a foggy morning in Amsterdam. Just in time before the morning rush hour.

Looking familiar, Jeff? Hanging out with Sjoert while we are waiting for Nev.

Gathering at the Aviodrome museum

Greeted by airplanes

Cpt. Jeffs MD88 on display!

No, this is not an MD88 (too many engines). Its a Lockheed L-749 Constellation.

Inside the Constellation. it is being kept in flying conditions – more or less

Lunch with (plane)nuts


When „style“ and „air travel“ could not be separated

Old terminal building. A work of art.

Douglas DC2, next of kin to the MD88

End of a great day

Bianual check ride

Bianual check ride

Visibility: Ok
Temperature: -5°C
QNH: 1030hPa (high pressure)
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: Cessna 172 (D-EKKS)

Private pilots have to take check rides with a flight instructor every other year. This is to make sure that they do not take on funny habits – or that they stick to the ones their instructors taught them.

The day at the office is light, the weather is good and so I decide to fly a Cessna instead of my desk today.

When I leaf through my logbook, I realize that it has been over a year since I last flew „Kilo Sierra“. I read up on the most important check lists and speeds. I also familiarize myself with the cockpit again. I have made it a habit to take pictures of the instrument panels of all the aircraft that I fly. Studying the photos helps me to remember the differences between the planes.

Flying with a passenger 

When I arrive at the flight school, a new student is finishing a theory lesson. The flight instructor asks me if he can come with us. Of course he can! 

I remember how much I appreciated being a passenger on numerous occasions during my own training. It is motivating and great fun. The experienced instructor knows this.

Flight planning 

Our trip today will be a triangle. EDAY-EDAV-EDON and back to EDAY. We will do touch-and-go’s in EDAV, air work on the way to EDON and navigation training on the way back. EDON will be a waypoint for is today, not a stop.

Easy does it

We are in a weather inversion. The visibility is not great but gets much better above about 2.200 feet. „Kilo Sierra“ and I are still friends. On final approach into EDAV, I’m a bit too fast for the instructors taste. Other than that we are both happy.

Approach into EDAY (I’m the photographer in this one, not the pilot)

The sun is shining. By the time we start making our way over to EDON, it is pretty much in our face. Combined with the climbing inversion, this makes for very limited visibility forward.

The flight instructor is keeping the eyes outside, I’m concentrating on the navigation and using the occasion to practice some instrument skills. An unexpected extra on this trip.

When we are done, I have a little more than one hour for my log book. I am familiar with „Kilo Sierra“ again and I think my passenger had a good time, too. That’s a successful day!

To be continued…

Sun & Plane

A long day of flying

A long day of flying

Visibility: More than 10 miles
Temperature: 5°C
Wind: 150°, 10kts
QNH: 1021hPa
Location: EDAV
Equipment: Piper 28 (D-EITI)

We are on the way to the airport. My flying friend and I are full of excitement. Our passenger is eying the sky with suspicion. It has been gray and drewry for days and the sun has a difficult time to break through the clouds now. Neither one of the pilots is worried though. We have the been studying the weather for days and today is going to be gorgeous!

Our schedule is tight. We are planning a nice and relaxed summer day all crambed into the few precious sun hours of this short winter morning has to offer. The trip is about flying and about scouting the destination for future reference. The pilots are looking forward to the trip – the passengers have yet to understand the extend of our craziness.

On the way there we practice old fashioned visual navigation. My flying friend has made a detailed flight plan. GPS and auto pilot stay off and we are consulting over the map and try to identify the landmarks. We reach our destination within two minutes of the flight planned time. Not too bad!

Our trip today takes us to Moritzburg Castle. The sunlit beauty holds what the view from the sky promised. We have time for a harty lunch and a strol around the grounds before we need to think about the way back. The tour through the inside of the historic place will have to wait until the summer.

Schloss Moritzburg


Schloss Moritzburg

We will turn into a pumpkin at sun set + 30 minutes. This is when the airport will close. No time to waist, he takes care of the paper work while I preflight „Tango India“.

„Tango India“ patiently waiting for us

The return trip is my leg as pilot flying. We do a radio navigation excercise. EDAK to KLF VOR, then on to the FEW VOR before we make our way home on its radial 326. We have a strong tail wind which lets our ground speed peak at 139 knots. Not bad for the little Piper!

The sun is low already and we are past enjoying the last evening rays before we touch down – right at sun set. We even would have had a few minutes to spare. But you never make a plan that includes the last drop of fuel or the last minute of daylight.

To be continued…

Almost home

Farnborough International Airshow 2016

Farnborough International Airshow 2016

I’m on my way to the UK to spend a weekend with airplanes, airplane noise and Airplane Geeks. A lot of English beer (if I as a German can call it that…) will lead to quite a bit of Plane Talking. I’m sure that Plane Safety will also be a topic although all the Airline Pilot Guys there will have good Flight Fear Solutions. It’ll be a weekend just like in the old days, at the ω τ fraternity…

The meet-up

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.

Hand delivered T-Shirt
Hand delivered T-Shirt


Welcome drinks
Welcome drinks

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.

Great view from the media centre
Great view from the media centre




What was the question again?
What was the question again?


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Live Recording

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!

Listen to (or watch) APG episode 229 here.

FIA 2016 - 27

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!

FIA 2016 - 28
Last preparations


FIA 2016 - 29
Getting ready (it took forever…)


FIA 2016 - 31
Group picture


FIA 2016 - 37
Cpt. Jeff and yours truly


FIA 2016 - 32

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…