OVER AND CLOSING THE CIRCLE! (07 June through 17th June 2003)
This was the first 3300 installed in a Europa . The engine # 084 is the replacement provided by Jabiru against the original engine #005 bought from the Cranfield exhibition stand having the small cylinder head cooling fins which never ran. Engine #084 has currently 450 hours under it's "belt" and now mostly runs on Unleaded Mogas or 50% mixed with 100LL.
An Oil Cooler "selection" mod. was fitted last winter which allows most flying to be done without the cooler selected (except in "go round" , extended climb, or ambient conditions in excess of 32 deg.C.
These details can be viewed at :- http://www.crix.org.co.uk ......click on "Bob Harrison's Europa G-PTAG" then scroll to "Oil Cooler Mods. NEW"
A report of a Scandinavian Trip beyond the Arctic Circle and "closing the circle" round the North Sea ..3,661 NM (Except Spitzbergen ..No Thanks)
The original aim was to attend the Barkaby (Stockholm ESDB) Rally and Danish Stauning (EKVJ) Rally with a trip North out of Sweden (using their cheap fuel) across the Arctic Circle through Kiruna (ESNQ) to the Norwegian town of Tromso (ENTC) undertaken between the two rally's. Then if the conditions were right (as ever!) back to Bergen (ENBR) before crossing to Shetland Sumburgh (EGPB) and home via Wick (EGPC) and Perth (EGPT).
The whole plan seemed more and more daunting as the departure date drew closer.
Clearance Authority had been applied for from the Norwegian CAA GA Section and granted without problems, they require faxed copies of Permit to Fly and Insurance details with the application, since they are not "harmonised " with the EU.
My flying partner, Ivor Phillips' Daughter had a well earned Flight Controllers Graduation event at the new Flight Control Centre Swanwick on Friday 6th June which of course there was no way he could or would have dodged. So for once we left on a weekend day instead of stealing a working day!
So the plan was to have a really early departure from Southend (EGMC), which whilst a 24 hour licensed field have pretty extortionate service charges for night time landings prior to 0600 local.
However their fuel facility isn't open until 0700 local and the pay point not until 0800 local.
I usually collect Ivor at Biggin Hill (EGKB) but since no landings are authorised prior to 07.30 local the Southend option seemed better.
This left me needing to have additional fuel for a Southend top up, and a departure from Wickenby (EGNW) at 05.00 local. So the plan was hatched, the plane was rigged and loaded the night previous.
The Saturday morning dawned with poor visibility and prior to getting to the field it rained "stair rods."
All contrary to the weather forecast, at least I waited for the rain to abate but the journey down to Southend would be best related by Waddington Zone Controller who must have been bemused by my circuitous route. The flight that was planned to be an hour took more like 1 hour 30 minutes and is best not related here!
However having topped up with the own supplied fuel on Southend Apron we departed for Sonderberg (EKSB) passing North of Texel (EHTX) airfield and the associated danger and air space areas in that region, and continuing via the mini island of Helgoland(EDXH) coasting in near Bordelum(EDWA). The flight took 3 hours 15 minutes mostly over water(377Nm) with just one slight misfire and soon after applying carb heat a slight engine surge. We had discussed the two man dinghy situation but had decided that a further 20 lb weight was out of the question, besides the engine doesn't know it's over water, was part of the statements I recall! (More on this later!)
We quickly refuelled and made the well necessary bladder adjustments! Only to find that the WX was suddenly impossible. A short wait of about 45 minutes gave us sufficient confidence to continue having flight planned to VAXJO (ESMX)(no IACO designations on Norwegian and Swedish Maps) Just prior to departure the controller passed us a message that Vaxjo was "closed this weekend due to bank holiday runway resurfacing!" So a hurried alternative of LJUNGBY FERINGE (ESMG) was submitted and accepted.
However all became somewhat irrelevant soon after take off. We soon over took the rear end of a cold front which drove us down to1500 feet and less past radio masts, power pylons/cables and wind generators (masses of them in Denmark, allow a good clearance for the rotating blades, they reach sideways as well as up!)
By the time we reached the Swedish Coast we were down to 250ft looking up at cliffs disappearing into the cloud base. I had previously always considered Sweden to be quite flat! Visibility was below minimum for VFR prompting us to select a grass strip called Hoganas (ESMH), however we quickly realised that to find a grass strip with such abysmal visibility was not the best of options!
We then selected Angleholm (ESDB) until recently a military base but in spite of vast sums of capital expenditure in the last year the military implication is now closed, however it is a most appropriately named airfield! On reporting in to their ATC we received repeated instructions" to be sure to fly back out to sea round the next headland into the next bay", a somewhat obvious instruction from our perspective looking at cliffs!
However having rounded the coastal point the controller suggested crossing the bay and report coasting in! This begged the question as to the probability of the usual masts, pylons and generators, to which he was unable to advise! However the chap continued to provide a radar vector verbal service, second to none, until he advised "We have turned the landing lights on and you should be able to see the ILS strobe arrows flashing to your right?" Sure enough there they were, a most welcome sight. This flight took 1 hour 35 minutes. But meant that the remaining "leg" could easily be done without any further refuelling.
We parked at the GA ramp by which time they had sent a car to collect us, but in getting our gear out of the plane we were well soaked by a further down pour.
This made continuing to Barkaby a clear folly so we gratefully accepted a lift from one of the firemen into the Town and checked into the "Best Western Hotel" to hell with the expense!
Next day Sunday the airfield wasn't open until 10am Local that caused us a further delay. However we refuelled (Swedish 100ll price is about 1/3rd of UK prices) and paid for a weekly "season" ticket which allowed as many landings and overnights as required in a week for the equivalent of £27.00(Very GA friendly?) We then left for Barkaby and what was left of their Rally. A new experience of being stragglers but at least we were alive to tell the tale!(2 hours 20 minutes not a licensed airfield so the flight plan cancelling needed a 'phone call.
We stayed over with my Son, who lives at Akersberga a northern suburb or Kommune of Stockholm, and enjoyed a BBQ of wild boar! My Son cooked the meal wearing a type of bee keepers veil to keep the mosquitoes at bay. He also has had a battle to clear a tribe of ants from the house in the woods in which he lives, some of the price he needs to pay for forest solitude. With the hub hub of visitors he forgot the last portions of boar on the BBQ so "Mr. Fox" enjoyed a breakfast of cinder like boar next morning! The Monday was a Swedish Bank Holiday so as well as having a conducted tour of Stockholm we were treated to a motor boat trip out into the archipelago past Waxholm and breathtaking scenery. Would you believe there is 27,000 islands and that is to a specific definition of size, and with no GPS to act as a guide!
We flight planned the next four legs to Tromso(ENTC) that evening using more co-ordinate way points the further north the route went due to little other specific points to use and phoned all the details through to Stockholm control. We gave phone numbers for any queries they may have and were somewhat surprised that no such queries materialised by the next day.
The Tuesday morning saw a very early departure north for Sundsvall (ESNN) in 2 hours 9 minutes. to Skelleftea (ESNS) in 1 hour 44 minutes by now over flying tundra terrain with little forestation. The timber from these regions is of superior quality to that grown further South, the growing season is so much shorter the annular rings through the tree trunks are closer and therefore the wood is more dense. .Kiruna (ESNQ) in 1 hour 20 minutes (the place of the famous Ice Hotel and founded on Iron Stone mining industry.) Here we enjoyed our last cheap refuel.
Having had coffee at the behest of the Air Traffic Controllers (they were ready to meet and chat with strange airmen having so little traffic through.) During this leg we were observing sun rise and sun set times getting closer together on the GPS, at the point in time where the two times coincided the screen went into night mode!
Wilderness Near Kiruna
Our final "leg" of the day was 1 hour 20 minutes down the reverse end of a valley to Tromso (ENTC)
Valley en-route to Tromso
Without a GPS the selection of the "watershed" to the correct valley would be very painstaking , in fact our Jefferson Flight Star system had put us into an incorrect position to access the right one. Get the wrong one and you can become boxed in to a dead end with the likelihood of insufficient room to either climb or do a 180 deg. return.
By now we were watching considerable mountains capped with snow on their Northern slopes, putting some new meaning to the phrase "sunny side up", particularly important when flying down mountainous valleys. We were also well aware of the likelihood of unmarked power cables traversing valleys, best to keep to the side of the valley, then you have a better chance to see the pylons than the cables. We didn't see any to be a cause for concern but could well imagine the difficulty posed by such death traps when they cross a very narrow fjord.
Eventually we routed via MALSELV (NDB ..MLV) and Bardufos ( ) a Military base with their ILS approach running down the valley bottom into our approach path , whilst we were at a reasonable height the female controller was somewhat miffed that we had been on their ILS path for a few minutes prior to contacting them. We were monitoring their frequency but delayed contact due to the distance and terrain and there were no contact calls for other aircraft. We decided it prudent not to ask her " madam were we some time previously married?" having already given her our registration !
We soon were away from their frustration, routing to their north and the KOBBE (KBV) NDB down a long fjord to HANSMARK (HMK) VOR and into the island of TROMSO with its permanent daylight, futuristic looking Cathedral, bridges and subterranean tunnel system enabling traffic to miss winter time ice and snow.
Final into TROMSO (Note Cathedral at right end of bridge)
GA control was at the opposite end of the airport to the Met office but we were fetched and carried free by airport transport. We decided to purchase another weekly landing (season ticket) although they charge for departures instead and it was £70 which came near to being a marginal benefit depending on the number of departures you anticipate whilst in Norway, they don't pass on any benefit of their oil rich status in their fuel prices though, with the "take off " charges in the region of £17 each at main airfields!(I asked how much for a "touch and go"? causing a major debate, the result of which escapes me, but the "season ticket" would be the way !) However we could see 4 take off's ahead and if the plan went OK we would be best on the "season ticket" provided we returned to Bergen for fuel before departure to Sumburgh, Shetland . Indeed accommodation and eating out prices were alarming, not to mention beer prices. A meal for two cost £79(882 N Krona) at a Steakers Restaurant ! It certainly pays to insist that the taxi drivers find you a lower standard hotel, even to the point of having them wait for the usual skirmish with the reception about their charges. There was a distinct chill in the air so camping would have been cool to say the least! A daylight late night walk was deserving of a good top layer of clothing. The 24 hour daylight was difficult to understand as to opening and closing times.
On the cost question there is certainly a case for planning a zig zag course back and forth into Sweden travelling south or north to get the benefit of their cheap fuel but of course a high cloud base is a must to enable this action ensuring a clear passage up the fjords. Also there is the question of flight planning across the border, customs and immigration implications.
We had been given to understand that we were about two weeks ahead of the mosquitoes in this latitude! Also a serious consideration .
Next morning brought somewhat doubtful weather, 1000ft. cloud base, freezing level of 500 ft,(outside temperature sensor would have been useful) rain showers , the mountain tops having a fresh dusting of snow (over-NIGHT!)Another party was going IMC to Spitzbergen . and a second group was heading for the North Cape. We were beginning to feel "boxed in" , but after much deliberation and lots of advice at the Met Office we made the usual decision of "lets go have a look, we can always come back" (so long as fog hasn't developed !)" We flight planned South West down fjords from Tromso past NDB SENJA (SJA) generally not above 1000ft dodging rain showers (remember the freezing level?) We were a little cheated by the low cloud base limiting our view of the mountain "back bone" of Norway but we did begin to get glimpses and it would have been great to have spent a day flying up selected fjords with a much higher cloud base.
Onwards past "our friends" Western end of Airspace Bardufos with its notams about rocket firing ranges. (of which we had now become aware ! )having been sure to contact them, the male controller was somewhat unconcerned of our presence and pleased to be rid of us into EVENES TMA FJELSTAD NDB (FS) and ODDEN (ODD) NDB out into OPEN SEA" COAST WISE" to BODO (ENBO) 1hour 45 minutes. Where a couple of F16's had to await our "long final", we had no sooner "vacated the active" than the two "re-heat" jockeys roared past.
The Norwegians accept "Coast Wise " as a flight plan statement quite often where there is the usual conglomeration of islands to pass. From a mariners view point I guess it would be nothing short of a nightmare! From an airman's view point with the cloud base at 1000ft and less, you may as well accept that the route is entirely over water because there's no way you would find a field to do a forced landing if "the donkey " became silent , just lumps of rock ! In fact it would be likely that you would hit a submerged rock anyway !(remember the two man dinghy item earlier?)
A quick refuel, a "leak" , a coffee and a hurried weather check and flight plan filed to Trondheim (ENVA) saw us again "coast wise" for 2 hours 33 minutes. We managed to get sufficient height to over fly some mountain terrain to skirt some very heavy showers incoming from the coast just north of the airfield. It became necessary to do an orbit to allow a passenger jet on the ILS to take the No.1 slot.
This gave us a great appreciation of the shape of the wake turbulence behind the big jet, it showed up in the rain and drizzle best described as two columns of rotating air /rain from ground to about 200 ft rather like the vertical brushes of a giant car wash brush, showing little sign of dissipation.
Due to an occluded front sitting east west across this area of Norway and moving length wise we were weathered in again for a full day. In an attempt to "keep the lid on the costs" we went out of town to the Hognes Gard Camp site where a HYTTE (like a beach chalet) with 4 bunk beds a microwave and precious little else cost 400 Kr with a further 100Kr for sheets and pillows! This cemented a decision to hire a car for the next day (200km) for £90 and travel inland nearly to the Swedish boarder at MERAKER where there is some white water falls rather spoilt by a hydro electric scheme and the resultant industry .
Norway mainland is very narrow for the whole of the northern regions with the maps covering more Swedish land than Norwegian but they only carry basic Swedish airfield locations with no other detail except terrain relief. (The Swedes claim that when they fought the Norwegians they didn't think it worth bothering with the mountainous areas !)We made a circuitous diversion to find some dramatic scenery but found that the road map provided by the car hire company gave us an imaginary road to follow, it just didn't exist ! So we "horsed" round a couple of lochs on loose gravel roads needing to ultimately back track burning up precious kilometres.
However we checked in to a roadside hotel with only about 100 km left to get back to Trondheim next morning. Here we spent a long morning investigating the weather and plucking up courage to "go have a look again" ! It is worthy to note that the weather check facilities across the whole of Scandinavia are excellent, and the flight briefing personnel make you very welcome. We had a little difficulty regaining access to the GA ramp due to the security control but then went through without the electronic screening!
We actually departed in light rain with the cloud base only around 1500 ft. We were still under the same occluded front but felt that the northern edge of it was visible some 20 miles away, meaning we were needing to traverse its full width to the south. This proved to be the case since we really didn't get much over 1000ft until near Bergen to the south. We had initially to fly from Trondheim west out of the Trondheimsfjorden towards Grakallen (GRK) NDB then north into Orland CTR towards the Uthaug ( UTH) NDB then south west down Trondheimsleia and continue "coast wise" again, getting glimpses of the high mountains to our east with huge fjords and snow fields, for 3hours 30 minutes just passing Bergen(ENBR)on its special VFR route to STORD (ENSO). This is a delightful airfield almost representing an aircraft carrier with approaches from both directions over sea to a field some 80 ft above MSL. We were pleasantly received by the ATC duty officer exchanging photos and details on the ramp, providing us with ice cream, and then having to rush back to his post to receive a passenger twin!
Having refuelled with the weather certainly dramatically improving we left for our next leg to the Danish rally at Stauning (EKVJ) via the FOYNO (FNO) NDB and VARHUG(VAR) NDB past Stvanger and LISTA (LST) NDB and since the weather was somewhat improved leaving the Norwegian coast direct to RASVI near the Danish FIR. This took 2 hours 56 minutes with the cloud still keeping us low until nearing the Danish Coast with again quite a long sea crossing.
We were received by Stauning Radio inviting a low level pass down wind with other aircraft approaching on final, hardly able to believe this we complied keeping north of the runway.
This was the type of relaxed control that prevailed through the whole event. We met numerous previous friends with a number of other Europa fliers arriving from the south together with the Auster Club Fliers from Biggin Hill on their regular pilgrimage.
It was here that we were kindly offered the use of a two man dinghy from another benevolent Europa flier when it became common knowledge that it was our intention to fly north via Bergen (ENBR) to Sumburgh (EGPB) Shetland. There was a little miss-information about the Norwegian Authorities regulations on single engine flight plans from Norway further than 100NM from their coast without a dinghy, which was clarified that the plan must be "no further than 100NM from land at any time", slightly different and making such a flight to Sumburgh would have just been within the specification without a dinghy at 198NM total !
However sown the seeds of doubt they were now rampant in our minds. The likelihood of the "donkey going quite" being guaranteed if we declined the kind offer of the loan dinghy we set about some pretty serious weight saving economy resulting in Mark Waite the new American Champion Aircraft UK Dealer being press ganged into taking a travel bag of clothing changes, and "dirties" back with him via the southern route to leave it for collection at North Weald.
We had flight planned on the Saturday Evening in the hope that the WX would allow the final pieces of our plan to succeed. We attended the usual evening dinner and prize giving in the hanger and I must say I was just a little miffed at not even getting a mention of the fact we were on something like 2,500 NM since my leaving Wickenby on the previous Saturday. The direct route rule to attend these functions determines the "longest" flight prize winner acceptably, but I did feel that we were on a point of considerable achievement, especially loosing out last year also to a factory team, or was it at Barkaby Stockholm ? The prize isn't a particular bone of contention but it would be a considerable incentive to less experienced local fliers to push out on longer trips if the award qualification was actual distance flown since leaving base to attend, because for instance in our case we were judged on a completely fictitious route. The winner took the prize on 700NM. However, I guess it's the taking part that really matters! The flying is a privilege anyway.
Next morning the weather was checked early and surprisingly indicated that the Shetland plan was in GO MODE! So of we flew back to Bergen except this time due to a high and broken cloud base after the sea crossing north to the Norwegian coast we were able to climb to about 6,000ft and over fly the high mountains and breathtaking fjords into the mainland of Norway.
Over the top approaching Bergen from the South
Final into Bergen
We landed at Bergen (ENBR) 2 hours 56 minutes . On parking, we were not allowed to walk to the terminal, but were collected and delivered to the security organisation and passed the customs and immigration procedure, no big problem really, except we had to provide interview details of our destination for the security system as a record of our identities and place of destination. This departure justified the previous purchase of the "season ticket" and it was already within their computer system obviously allowing them to track our various journeys.
We refuelled and duly departed the coast and headed to Sumburgh (EGPB) keeping a good height in reasonably cloudless sky. At around mid point we descended near an ideally situated drilling rig to take some photographs, and we never really got back to any decent height, with very mixed cloud and rain showers to within 5 miles of Sumburgh. During the very small "no communication range" in the middle of the North Sea we were suddenly drawn to attention by Sumburgh calling us, it was kind of reassuring that someone else was "looking out for us". This crossing took 2 hours and 8 minutes so with an endurance of 4 hours we would have been able to make the Scottish mainland at Wick.(EGPC)The predicted 15Kt head wind never really got much more than 10Kts.
Final into Shetland Sumburgh (Not unlike Stord with sea at both ends !)
We duly landed and submitted to the usual Customs and Immigration enquiries, we filed a flight plan to Wick since there was still a 100 NM journey over sea to complete, then came a bomb shell to our plans. Having arranged to meet up with my "co-Florida flight training" friend at Wick the Sumburgh Controller refused to accept the Wick destination on grounds that it was closed on a Sunday!
My instant reaction was "what kind of message is this sending out to air tourers of Scotland?" so we filed a plan as advised to Inverness. Needless to say it became necessary to make a "diversionary landing because of fluctuating oil pressure " at Wick anyway where another certified passenger aircraft was just departing anyway ! (1hour 1 minute)
On discussion with the airfield Manager next day, he was quite indignant that Sumburgh were diverting potential business from his much needed income forcefully emphasising that his airfield was able to receive aircraft at all times even if during normally closed times at the discretion of the pilot without emergency facilities on hand. He also took Sumburgh to task on the issue whilst I was present. There is a huge ex-military hanger there for overnight parking and it is tragically the local council's policy not to afford its maintenance.
I then enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with the friends and the area including the Kirk Burton (Huddersfield) Mother of a friend who is now settled in Savannah, only to find he was due to visit her that very afternoon! (some considerable coincidence?)
I gave my friend a 25 minute Europa flight experience that he has patiently awaited for two years.
Our departure on the Monday was slightly delayed due to the tail of a front needing to pass, but when underway we found it possible to fly at in excess of 5,000ft past Dornoch ,Inverness and over the Cairngorms past Aviemore to Perth Scone.(EGPT) Where we were somewhat indignantly forced into No.2 to land on final, in spite of our calling final as No. 1, by another clearly impatient airman. (The only incident in the entire trip?)(1 hour 33mins)
We quickly refuelled and departed for Wickenby (EGNW) flying past Edinburgh and climbing to 8,000ft past Newcastle and Teesside (2 hours) arriving at 18.10, ten minutes after fuel availability !
This prompted us to stay over at my home and return my flight companion ,Ivor, to Biggin Hill (EGKB) departing at 06.15 next morning (1 hour 30 mins) poor visibility and head winds.
I turned round quite quickly, dropped in to North Weald to collect the excess baggage and was back in Wickenby 1 hour 22 minutes later with a big grin on my face and all objectives completed.
The total flight time was 39 hours over 3,661 NM mostly cruising at 110 kts with only 23" manifold pressure at 2,300 RPM using an average of 4.98 Imperial Gallons per hour.
|Below: The Fastnet Light House (15 miles out into the Atlantic from the SW corner of Ireland) Photo was taken during a May 2003 trip round the Emerald Isle.|
Below: Photos from near Mollis (Zurich) Switzerland in August 2003