Surrounded by Ryan Air's 737 aircraft, Niederrhein (EDLV) was visited today by 4 (light) aircraft from 4 different airfields in The Netherlands. Today, the mini-fly-in (for ATCBox member-webloggers who obtained their PPL in 2005/6) finally happened after 2 earlier attempts that had been cancelled due to weather.
Marcel from Hoogeveen (EHHO), Rob from Eindhoven (EHEH), Frank from Lelystad (EHLE) and me from Rotterdam (EHRD) agreed to land around noon today in Niederrhein. We know each other of the Internet, and this was the first time to have a IRL-meet (in real life-meeting). Rob brought Ronald with him (member Doro) and Marcel came with Guus Poorte.
For some of us this was the first time to fly to a controlled airfield without an instructor sitting on the right seat. For all but one, EDLV was a new field.
The day began with some fog, but this cleared away quickly and at 11 (the time most of us left their home-airfield) visibility along the route was more than ok, and the clouds were high (as they should be). In the air all of us "plugged into" Dutchmill (132.35, the frequency for flight information in the eastern part of Holland), so we could follow each others proceedings.
I decided to fly a direct route to Niederrhein, through the Volkel CTR and even overhead the field. Over Volkel I went straight east to end up at the November reporting point. Niederrhein tower offered a righthand base, and appointed me soon number 2 (second to land on the field). Number 1 was Rob with the PH-WIM. He did a high-speed taxi to get off the 2.4 kilometer runway as quickly as possible, so I could get my clearance to land.
I made a long landing (not touching down before the second half of the runway), so that I did not have to taxi as far. After vacating the runway, Frank (with the PH-ABB) landed. Marcel was still in the air after experiencing delays in Hoogeveen due to a empty battery.
We met "Andrea of the follow-me car" and at the apron we waited out Marcel's landing. In the mean time we saw a Ryan air 737 touching down. Andrea brought us to the terminal and led us through some backoffice rooms and the check-in area to: the VIP room!
In the VIP room we had coffee and we paid our landing duties, which was 23.30 EUR per aircraft. Not bad at all. I filed a flight plan for the return flight at 15.00lt (after I found out that the airfield was closed for departures from 13.00 to 15.00 hours..... flight preparation rules....).
We had lunch (Bratwurst met pommes frites) in the airport restaurant. Subject of the conversation was of course: aviation. in general. After lunch we returned to the VIP room and checked out the weather. It seemed that the north of Holland would have some rain, for the rest everything was pretty OK.
Andrea (once again) brought us to the aircraft, and after a short inspection of the aircraft-types we said goodbye and taxied out in formation. Run-up checks and off we went! Marcel and Frank left for the north, Rob to the south on a scenic route to Eindhoven, and I went west: directly to Rotterdam.
The return flight was somewhat uneventfull. The "fun" started when I wanted to enter the Rotterdam CTR. Although I could perfectly speak to and hear Niederrhein tower and Dutchmill info, Rotterdam (118.2) could not hear me. I decided to orbit to give myself some more time, and of course because you can not fly into the ConTRol zone without permission.
I choose the Rotterdam ground frequency to test whether my radio failed completely or just on the 118.2 freq. Rotterdam ground responded to me (pfffew) and gave me a squawk code and permission to enter the CTR. We tried once more the freq of 118.2 but it didn't work. I was than assigned to use the 119.7 (regional guard frequency), and made a regular landing.
Just before landing (on short final) there was a beautifull photo moment: on the horizon the red sun (setting), with the contours of the towers and cranes of the harbours, the "darkness" around me (I was looking towards the sun off course, everything around me seemed darker) and the lighted runway just below. Beautiful! But, as I was flying solo and doing the landing trick, there was no way to make a photo of it.. too bad.
Great day and nice to meet you all guys! Till the next one.