Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Making the best of the sunshine

As I mentioned at the end of my last blog post, Curtis seemed keen to get up again for another sortie, only this time he wanted to go up in a plane that would let him stick his camera out the window. The solution was a simple one. We would go up in one of Polder's C150's and he could snap away to his hearts content.

The only difference with today's sortie was the choice of venue. Whereas the previous flights had been around the Flevopolder, Curtis had recce'd the areas around Lisse and Noordwijk. The only concerns I had about Lisse were managing the approvals with Schiphol to pass through their CTR (control zone) on the day, and then once we got to Lisse, making sure I stayed OUT of their control zone. Lisse is right on the edged of the CTR and can easily result in an infringement if you don't keep an eye on where you are at every given moment.

A quick call to Schiphol in the morning confirmed that it wouldn't be a problem to pass through, given the time of day we planned to be up in the air. And the airspace all in all was much quieter. Far fewer GA pilots out and about enjoying the sunshine. Our plane today was PH-ALI and was sitting all washed and cleaned on the apron. A quick refuel and safety briefing and of course checking that the windows opened for Curtis and we were off.

There was almost no wind and the "ALI" was simply cutting through the air. The fastest speed I noticed was 112kts. That's the fastest I've ever got from a C150!! I called Schiphol tower just after leaving Lelystad and was given a Squawk code and the local QNH settings. But Schiphol called when we were just overhead Almere and said they had not altitude read from our transponder. After fiddling with it, the solution was to just switch it off and then switch it back on. That seemed to work.

We were asked to Squawk 0060 and to report when entering the CTR. Ten minutes later and we were overhead the two large towers at Ijburg and I reported back to ATC. They asked me to steer direct to the Control Tower via Badhoevedorp. When I had reached the suburbs of Amsterdam they changed their instructions and asked me to head for the Mexx building on the A10. That meant a quick 180 degree turn to the left, by which time they gave another steering heading which would bring us right alongside the control tower. The best bit was their instructions to descend to 500ft :-)

We buzzed the tower and steered west to overfly Hoofddorp and eventually exited the CTR right over Lisse. The next 20 minutes or so was spent circling the many fields, watching from traffic and trying to make sure that wherever Curtis wanted to photograph did not mean I was venturing into Schiphol's CTR without their permission.

It took us just a few minutes to figure out the best line to take for the best angle, and of course to avoid the strong sunlight, but it was a lot of fun steering to each field and then circling it and off to the next. It was almost like being a bumble bee who buzzs from one flower to the next.

The route back was less complicated than the route in. We overflew Hoofddorp again and then straight on to Amsterdam city centre. I managed to get some photo's of my house from the air, a first for me, and we did a few orbits of the city centre before heading back across the water towards Almere. I thanked the folks in Schiphol Tower for their cooperation and then got ready for another smooth landing back on Terra Firma. All in all another great flight and of course, Curtis was well pleased with the photo's he managed to capture.

No comments: