Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BBQ and the Robin

About a month or so ago, with the Summer weather finally making it's way to Amsterdam, I thought of a novel way to go flying with multiple passengers in the two-seater Robin. The solution was simple. Bring the mini BBQ, invite a load of friends, and then take them up one at a time.

I whipped open Google Earth and scoured the area for a nice spot close by to Lelystad airport but also nice enough for those who were busy eating to sit and relax while I took folks up for a spin in the Robin. As luck would have it, there was a nice wee spot in a woods close-by with a nice river area.

With the BBQ, burgers, beer and the dog pack into the back of the car, we headed off. The sun was beating down and it was perfect weather to go flying. I was so keen to get up in the air that I took our friends Nadya and Pavel up before heading off to set-up the BBQ. It was Nadya's first time flying in her life. And she was also the first passenger I had ever taken up in F-GFNP. So I was a little worried that she might get air-sick or worse....freak out on me. I told her that I would only do a few circuits and if she was up for going further, then let me know. The idea was that if she did freak out we'd only be a few minutes from the airfield to get her down quickly and safely.

Armed with her video camera (am still waiting for the video to load up to You Tube) Nadya strapped herself in and was busy taking in the sights. When I lifted off I could hear a happy scream from the right-hand seat. I looked over and saw the Cheshire cat grin on her face. When I asked her if she wanted to fly the plane, she declined and said she was happier if I flew. She sat back and enjoyed a quick tour of the area and about 20 minutes later we landed. This time to load Pavel into the co-pilot seat.

I can't remember if Pavel had flown before, be he was clearly not at all nervous and after listening to Nadya regale her experience, he was keen to get up also. I asked Pavel if he was interested in doing some light air maneuvers. He gave a cheeky grin and said he was up for it. As soon as we were up and I trimmed the plane for the climb, I gave Pavel the stick and asked him to head to the North. When we got over the North end of the Flevo Polder I did a 360 to check for traffic and showed him simple things like Dutch Rolls, negative-G flight and spiral turns. I don't have a parachute, so i wouldn't even attempt anything hardcore in the F-NP. He clearly enjoyed himself and he too landed with a Cheshire cat grin on his face.

After parking F-NP, we headed off to the woods to get the BBQ going. The girls found a nice spot and Pavel and I lugged everything out of the car and did what all BBQing men do the fire going :-) Not long after the BBQ was fired up, the rest of the gang arrived. My friend Jamie, his brother Kyle and friend Mike, and my friend Ben and his girlfriend Monika. Introductions over, we soon got down to the business of frying up the burgers and the girls digging into the ice cold white wine. Of course, I was the only one not allowed to drink....bugger.

Ben was next to come up with me. And as a novice glider pilot, he said he really liked the feel of F-NP. It was very light, and you only had to turn your body in the direction you wanted to go and found yourself heading there. I explained that it's as much a curse as a blessing. Especially if you're navigating long distances by yourself. I found this to be the case when I flew back from Strasbourg as well as a recent trip to Germany. With the guys and girls enjoying each others company at the BBQ, I took Ben up for about 40 mins. We did a large tour of the polder and took in some airwork. Before long, we were parking up F-NP and heading back to the gang.

The BBQ was winding down, all the food having be devoured by everyone (including Alko). So we packed up everything and headed to the bar on the airfield (Flantuas above Martinair's offices). The food there is fantastic, and they also have a great terrace overlooking the active runway where you can sit outside in the sun watching everything going on around the airfield. Jamie offered to pay for a C-172 for a flight with himself, Kyle and Mike, so I arranged the use of one of Polder's 172's for an hour or so. The rest of the gang sat enjoying beers while I took the boys for a jaunt over Amsterdam. I managed to squeeze in an extra passenger on this flight...a world reknowned traveller who goes by the name of Mr. Duck. Seems he was accompanying Kyle and Mike on their trip across Europe and Kyle smuggled him onboard :-)

The boys enjoyed their flight, snapping away at the majesty of Amsterdam below us. But I could hear the bar calling and I wanted to head back and enjoy my well deserved glasses of beer. I for one really enjoyed the day, and cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon....BBQ, beers, burgers and view from above. Isn't that right Mr. Duck??

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