Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Enjoying the Summer sun

It's been a fantastic Summer so far, and no shortage of flyable weather days. The only downside to all this sunshine is the fact that I'm slogging away in the garden building a pond rather than up in the air flying. But I managed to escape the garden last week and got up for a few hours, and even managed to bring one of my best friends along for the ride too.

The plan was to take "NP" across over to Texel, meet with a potential new Aircraft Maintenance organisation, and then carry on South along the Dutch coast and back into Lelystad. The only thing to put a spanner in the works was the wind....it was STRONG, and it meant that as time was pressing on, we had to cut short how far South we'd ultimately go, in order to keep to our "other world" schedules.

With Andrew joining me in the cockpit, I decided to take it easy and let him try his arm at flying while I took care of the radios, nav and looking out for traffic. We refuelled the plane and were soon up and heading for the coast.

The trip to Texel is really very simple and straight forward, and it's pretty difficult to get lost. The basic route is to head for Lelystad city, follow the dyke across to Enkhuizen, then follow the coast to the beginning of the Afsluitdijk, and you should already be able to see the island of Texel in the distance.

Andrew took the controls early on into the flight after he had snapped some interesting photo's. As we made our way closer to Texel, I contacted Ed who was working Texel Radio that day and we were told that runway 22 was in operation. Andrew though was having doubts. It seems that I had neglected to mention to him that Texel was a grass runway. So I was oblivious to the reasons why he kept asking where exactly the runway was, because he was looking for a strip of tarmac rather that a grass runway. It was only until I had lined us up on final that he let out a "Oh....it's grass" that I realised why he was having issues.

We paid our landing fee and had a quick bite. A few poses in front of "NP" and we were climbing back into the cockpit and starting her up again. In the beginning, taxiing out was quite a bumpy affair. The ground is all chewed up from those Cessna Caravan's that take the skydivers up for their parachute jumps. But I soon found that by keeping to the far right where the grass was longer and greener was much smoother.

I took-off and held "NP" in ground effect for a while, building up speed before yanking back on the stick and climbing fast. I think Andrew liked it because there was a grin on his face and a slight "woohoo" from his headset. I love doing those soft-field take-offs. I asked Ed if he could open the flightplan I filed earlier so we could transition across De Kooy's CTR (Control Zone) which is Class C and we switched the radio over to De Kooy Tower.

De Kooy were nice and let us transition North to South directly over the airport. Andrew took the camera out again and started snapping at the harbour with all the Dutch naval boats and the ferry docked in Den Helder. When we cleared De Kooy's CTR we headed straight for the coast. With the headwinds blowing quite hard at around 25 knots we decided to see how far South we could get before having to cut across Schiphol and head back home. Andrew was flying again so I started to snap away at the people on the beach. Sadly, we were too high to spot anyone laying topless on the sands below :-(

I was half expecting to see some traffic flying in the opposite direction but it seemed that we were the only plane out flying that afternoon along the coast. We got as far as Zandvoort when I decided that we would need to head back or be late for our appointments. So I called up Schiphol Tower and requested permission to transit their CTR West to East and exit via the Amsterdam Sector. As is usually the case with chaps working the Schiphol Tower, our request was approved. We were asked to enter via Hoofddorp, pass west of the tower and enter the AMS Sector from Badhoevedorp. 

Andrew got almost giddy at this stage with the prospect of overflying Schiphol. Again, camera at the ready he was snapping away happily. He got some nice shots and enjoyed the view, while I aimed us towards Museumplein from Badhoevedorp. When we entered the Sector we did a few tight turns for some city shots before exiting Schiphols CTR near Ijburg.

The last time Andrew had come flying we tried to get a picture of his house in Almere, but it was too far away for anything decent, so we made our way towards his neighbourhood and made a tight circle around his block so he could photograph it from front to back. I almost had to do a wingover to reposition myself for another shot from the opposite direction, but I think he got off a few decent pics.

Andrew flew us then towards Bravo at Lelystad and I did the pre-landing checks before taking back the controls and landing us safely. It was a fantastic Summer flying day, and I got to fly along the Western coastline this time, something I had never done before. I think Andrew is well and truly hooked on this flying malarkey. The next planned trips are a boys day out to Germany, and I'm planning to fly to Cologne next weekend (weather permitting). With the ever present High's over this part of Europe, it's shaping up to be a great Summer for flying!!

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