Ever since changing jobs, I have found many new colleagues who are both intrigued and enthusiastic about my flying hobby. And I have been equally keen on taking them up with me once the weather Gods allowed us to go flying at the weekend.
This weekend saw the Gods play nice, and I took some friends from work flying. Our plan was the usual sight-seeing flight in Amsterdam followed by lunch in Texel. We arrived at the airport at around 2pm and I grabbed all the paperwork from Vivienne in Polder Aviation. She told me though that my plane for the day (PJ-PJL - "Julie") needed fuelling.
I had the guys jump into the plane, and taxied to the fuelling station. The boys sat patiently until I filled the tanks and then I had Csaba help me push the plane back from the pump so I could then start her up. But I was like a jack in the box. I had forgotten to pick up the check-list which was on the ground near the pump. It had the fuel card in it, hence why I took it out of the plane in the first place.
But once we settled in and buckled up we were ready to go. I had a heavy load in the plane with me, four grown adults and 3/4 load of fuel. So the plane was a little slow to climb-out. After we settled into the low level cruise, I left Csaba steer us towards Amsterdam. He held a vice-like grip until I explained you could fly with your thumb and forefinger. He got the knack pretty quickly but was chasing the heading a little bit until I showed him how to trim the aircraft. Good job Csaba ;-)
I contacted Amsterdam-Info and asked them if the sector over Amsterdam was busy or not, but I was told it was best to call Schiphol Tower. The boys in Schiphol were pretty quiet when I called them, and they had no problems letting us into the sector, but the airspace over Amsterdam was busy. There were already 3 light aircraft either en-route or in the sector already, so I asked the boys to keep a close eye for traffic.
The boys were so quiet in the back when we were orbiting the city. Camera's were clicking and the occiasional "Oh that's the street I live on" could be heard. When able I did some tour guide stuff, like "to the right is Dam Square, on our left is the Rijksmuseum" etc. But my tummy was grumbling so I asked the boys were they ready for lunch. Jamie, who's always stuffing his face in the office, gave a resounding "Yes" so we exited North and made our way to Texel. Csaba kept her straight and level again for the way up and De Kooy Approach gave us Traffic Advisories on our way over to the island.
No for the fun part...trying to find a grass runway on an island covered in grass!! Runway in use today was 04, the North Easterly runway. And we were approaching from the South. I asked Texel Radio is I could make a straight in approach, and they said fine, just be aware someone was doing circuits at the field. Not a problem. In fact, when I had thought I found the runway, sure enough I saw a plane in the distance setting themselves up for final, so I just followed it in for a really soft landing. I have to admit....I'm starting to like grass fields more and more :-) They're very forgiving.
The boys jumped out at the cafe, ordered some coffee and I came back to the tower after paying the landing fee. But just as we were about to order our food a call came from the tower. A departing plane had encountered a bank of fog to the North which was moving towards the airfield. Apparently earlier in the morning the same thing happened and everyone was grounded. Bugger!!! We had to scrap lunch and head off sharpish. Coffee drank, trip to the toilet and we were ready for the off again. This time Jaime was sitting in the P2 seat.
I took off, climbed out and turned South East towards the Afsluitdijk. Jamie was asking lots of interesting questions and had a nice touch with the controls. I told him where to aim for and he banked the plane into the turn and then settled her on the new course. My arm was on the dash and so restricting his ability to see the altimeter, so I'd ask him to climb or descend a little. I only found out I was blocking his vision after we'd landed ;-)
Sunset was glorious and Anthony started to perk up a little at that stage. We flew over the city of Lelystad and I was told that the traffic pattern was empty. So I was give the go ahead to join from Sierra rather than Bravo and set us up for a nice descent and approach. The landing was a little wobbly, but still soft. With the full PAX we rolled a little further than usual, and we taxied back to Polder. After settling the bill, I told the boys about the cafe in Martinair. I was famished at this stage. But when we got there we were told the cafe was being used for a private function. Damn...I couldn't catch a break at all today. We elected to grab a steak in Amsterdam, so off we went. Talking about the days events on the way home and tucking into a nice cut of beef and a cold beer toasting their accomplishments from earlier that day.
I think they've got the bug in them now....I'm looking forward to the next flight with them.