Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lunch in Texel

Well, finally the weather has broken and the sun decided to show his face this summer. The last few weeks have been really depressing, ever since returning from Ukraine I've been bombarded with rain and low clouds and haven't flown at all. It was getting pretty depressing, and even when the boys (my flight school buddies) were over for my 30th birthday party we were all complaining about the weather and had to scrub going flying that weekend.

But this weekend is different. I was chatting to a friend of mine in work, Joe Chapman, and saw that the weathermen were predicting good weather at the weekend. Joe was asking about my flying and I mentioned that is was supposed to me nice this weekend. After calling up Wouter in Polder and checking the availability of a C172, I let Joe know that we were a "go". I also sent an email out to the "Paddyish" Yahoo group to find other people who were interested in going flying with me. I've got a few replies and when I booked the plane I emailed them and asked if they wanted to come along.

With a full plane, and a plan in my head to fly over the city, up to Texel and back, we all met at Lelystad train station and headed off for the airport. When we got there, I got the keys to the plane, checked with Texel to see if the runway was OK. Since it's a grass runway I wanted to know if it was waterlogged with all the rain we had. They told me it was OK and so I went out to pre-flight the plane (PH-GYS...or Gijs) and strap everyone in.

We took off and headed straight from Amsterdam. I called the guys in Schiphol right away to give them notice I was coming. They asked me to squawk and told me to keep clear of the approach ends of the active runways. We settled in to the flight and were soon over the city and the girls in the plane were snapping away with their cameras (Joe forgot his camera). I did a few orbits of the city and descended a little so they could get a closer look. I heard the usual "oh, that's where I live" from the folks in the back. And I noticed again how much more unstable the air is over the city. All those roofs heating up at different rates causing a little turbulence. I then let Schiphol know I was leaving, headed North and contacted De Kooy for radar service to Texel. The wind was very strong and Marina in the front was beginning to feel sick. I asked if she wanted to go back to Lelystad but she asked would we be in Texel soon and I assured her we would, so she said she'd be fine.

A short dash over the water and then setting up for the approach a few minutes later and we were on short final for runway 22. The folks in the back couldn't see the runway until we were almost on the ground. The wind was coming from 260 and was blowing hard at about 22kts. I crabbed into the wind and then kicked the rudder to straighten before touching down. I was once again really chuffed with the landing. It was silky smooth, even with the crosswind. We taxied back and parked outside the restaurant.

During lunch we enjoyed the sunshine and the show of the local skydivers coming in the land and I enjoyed my uitsmijter. I have to say, food after flying, tastes even better....or maybe it's the satisfaction of eating well after getting yourself somewhere new :-) I even enjoyed the greasy spoons in the U.S. :-)

Anyway, with tummy's filled (and the tanks too) we walked back out to the plane to head home. I also love it when we get the looks and stares from people who "drove" over to the island with the ferry and knowing that we're going home in style in our Cessna....I know....I'm a snob, but sometimes it's cool being a pilot (heehee). I took off, turned East and contacted De Kooy again for flight following to Lelystad. I had a bit of a moment when the passenger sitting in the co-pilot seat got camera happy again and was taking photo's from every angel. At one point though she jammed her foot on the rudder pedal without knowing, the plane yawed left and I screamed at her to move her foot. Nothing bad happened as I corrected immediately, but she was a bit sheepish and all apologies. No harm done, but a new learning for me with carrying pax who are unfamiliar with light aircraft.

With a strong tailwind on our way back we were overhead Lelystad in now time. I tracked North and headed for "Sierra" before letting down and carrying out the prelanding checklist. Wouter called when we were in Texel to warn of wind shear, so I was on my toes. I turned on final, again with a crosswind and a smooth landing, although I floated a little because I landed flapless with the wind shear warning earlier.
After a great day flying, we decided to head into town to try out the new "Ice Bar" in Amsterdam. After a cool day we finished having a "cool" evening drinking vodka in -30C from glasses made from ice. :-)

Can't wait for the next weekend of good weather.