Pipeline flying

Pipeline flying

Visibility: Clear in the north, less so in the south
Temperature: 15°C
Wind: 270°, 2 knots
QNH: 1015hPa
Location: Finow (EDAV)
Equipment: D-MAKT (FlightDesign CTLS)

My flying buddy has a day job. Part of that is aerial documentation of pipelines. On occasion I will go on a job with him. He gets to take better shots, I get to fly for free.

Todays construction site is more than two flight hours away. There is a mountain range about half way there and we are not sure if the weather on the other side is going to be good enough. So we make a quick stop for fuel and a weather update at one of the mountain airfields.

The spring sun has started to lift the clouds and burn-off the mist on the other side of the mountains. So we fuel-up and venture forward. The route of the pipeline plays with a highway, a train line and a river, all competing for space in the narrow valley.

We set flaps and trim the aircraft for slow speed. Then we sink to the legal limit into the valley. He opens the photo window and I follow the windy path of the pipeline as slowly as possible, always looking ahead for raising terrain. After a few moments I get used to the strange sensation and “Kilo Tango” almost feels like a helicopter.

After about half an hour we are done and the memory cards of the camera are full with the days work. We turn towards home and through a large hole, we climb above the clouds. The sun is bright and powerful up here and the air is smooth. On the way home we might even get a tan!

My friend has a long night of driving ahead of him. So he just jumps out and I take “Kilo Tango” to bed. She is stationed at an old military airfield now. The hangars were constructed as bunkers for the fighter jets of the cold war area. Now they are the safest space imaginable for a peace time photo ship.

To be continued…


(originally posted on April 30, 2013 by tilbo at aloft.blog.com/pipeline-flying/)

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