Where have you been? What have you seen?
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By joe-fbs
Netherlands Trip September 2018

Henlow-Lelystad-Ameland-Texel-Midden Zeeland-Henlow
Five and a half days. Five flights. Four new airfields. Six hours and forty-five minutes flight time.

In summary, this was an excellent trip. Based on two short visits this year, The Netherlands is highly recommended as a lovely and civilized country. The people are friendly and the landing fees are low. Everything else is expensive. You do have to accept flying everywhere at below 1500 feet.

As with our 2017 Scotland trip, this one was affected by some-one else breaking the shareoplane a few days before we planned to start. This year I was also a member of Henlow Flying Club and they were able to book me a PA28-181 for the week. Not as nice as our AA5 but good enough. Our son is at Utrecht University for this academic year so I planned my second trip of the year to the Netherlands (I was there in May for a work event). The convenient airfield for Utrecht is Hilversum but after doing some sums and much agonising, I decided that it is a little too short and chose Lelystad as our first stop.

Saturday 8th September dawned clear but forecast to become low cloud and drizzle early in the morning. We were a little later than I hoped at Henlow, we had to leave the house in a fit state for builders to strip the kitchen while we were away and this was finished rather late. The drizzle started just as I was fuelling the aeroplane. We were airborne at 0805z (0905 L). The first job was to fly off-track while I called London Information to open my flight plan. That done, it was change to Essex Radar and head for Stansted and our pre-requested transit. This was done with no delay, as was the subsequent transit of Southend. Crossing the coast at Deal, we did the crossing at FL50, limited below my desired FL60 by cloud. Passed to Oostende at KONAN, we turned north-east to follow the coast in Oostende’s class C. During this leg, we descended to 3000 to keep below cloud. We were passed to Dutch Mil at KEGIT and gradually descended to the required below 1500 feet by abeam Midden Zeeland. Handy hint, turn –off the terrain and obstacle warnings on SkyDemon, there are so many it becomes a serious distraction. We continued north up the east sides of the Rotterdam and Amsterdam zones then turned east at the PAM VOR (or the big white bridge at the bottom left corner of the Ijsselmeer) for the final few miles to Lelystad. The run from Point B then along the downwind leg follows lines of trees which helps. Land on the nice big tarmac runway and park by the tower. There was a brief friendly passport check (the only one of the whole trip) then the helpful airport desk people offered us free drinks from the machine while they called us a taxi to the railway station, via a cash machine. Handy hint, do not request a whole number of hundreds as you will get 50 Euro notes which tax drivers will not change. They do not carry card machines. Hence, trains to Utrecht (changing at Amsterdam Zuid) then a taxi to the Utrecht Holiday Inn.

The remainder of Saturday and all day Sunday we spent with our son. Utrecht is reminiscent of that equally ancient university town, Cambridge, vey attractive and expensive.

Monday 10th September we reversed the journey to Lelystad. Landing and two nights parking was 63 Euro. Avgas was 2.734 Euro a litre. The pump is self-service and stopped at 122 Euro, maybe something to do with my bank. We were airborne at 1300 L (1100z) for the 70 mile flight north up the Ijsselmeer to Ameland. I had finally, after months of trying, learnt to programme and activate the GNS430 so was able to follow the CDI all the way. We were the only flight around Ameland so I joined cross-wind from the dead side. The grass runway parallels the beach and is well marked with white lines and numbers. There are two small buildings, one for the tower and one for the parachute school. The adjoining fields are occupied by lots of horses who seem indifferent to aeroplanes. The nice man in the tower told us how to find the village, which is cross the road, and where there are places to eat. In summary, a cafeteria, a farm café and a high quality restaurant associated with a hotel. We chose the Hotel Nobel which was very good and very fairly priced for the quality. We also tried to stay there but they had only one night available and the weather forecast demanded two nights. The village has a few cute shops. In fact the whole place is so cute it should be used for a Dutch Midsomer Murders! So, after our fine lunch we refuelled, at 2.860 Euro per litre and paid the landing fee, 27 Euro. We were airborne just after 1700 L for the forty-mile hop to Texel. There are two restricted areas on the direct route so I had planned to go round which would also have made the flight a better length but the nice man in the tower insisted on telephoning the Dutch military to check the status of the RAs so when he established that they were cold I felt obliged to go direct. In fact we very nearly had to route around as the radio with Dutch Mil was almost impossible to hear. However, the chap at the other end persisted and we did eventually establish clear communication and hence a clearance. From the RA boundary it was a straight five-mile final to runway 22 at Texel. We booked into the airport hotel (it seemed only right) which does food only during the day so it was then a short walk east to another hotel which has a restaurant. This was very fine indeed and reasonably priced for the quality. We decided that Utrecht is an expensive university city.

Tuesday 11th September was a non-flying day with winds gusting 31 although the based 172s did a couple of sight-seeing trips. After the substantial airfield breakfast, we borrowed the airfield van to drive to the northern light house for a walk on the beach then to the small town of De Koog. That is a real tourist trap of a place. After returning the van (with a couple of gallons of fuel added), we walked a few hundred metres west to investigate a gallery that we had spotted. It proved to be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Late lunch / early dinner at the airfield which was OK but nothing special.

Wednesday 12th September started with drizzle and low cloud so we visited the above-mentioned sculpture and picture gallery which is highly recommended. Next was the airfield museum which covers not only aviation but also the German occupation from 1940 to 1945. The war did not end here until 12 days after VE Day. Departing at 1430L we had a transit through the Class D for the De Kooy military complex (airfield and harbour). One activity we saw was a group of landing craft exercising in the estuary. We continued south hugging the coast (and hence the edge of the Schipol Class A) so that I had a visual reference in the face of patches of low cloud and drizzle obscuring the horizon over the sea. Past Amsterdam and Rotterdam then turn east for Midden Zeeland. This is a large grass airfield operating light GA, gliders and commercial large helicopters serving the North Sea platforms. Landing including a night’s parking was 25 Euro. Avgas was about 2.60 Euro a litre. There is one hotel in walking distance but it was showing no availability on its website and was not answering the telephone so we booked a room at ‘t Waepen in Veere. This is about three miles in a straight line but twelve by road. The airfield has a Fiesta for rent at 50 Euro a day which would be rather cheaper than a taxi so we took that. Veere proved to be another impossibly cute old town, this one centred on a small harbour full of yachts. After a bit of a wander, we had an excellent dinner at the hotel. The rooms were not of any great quality but the food was impressive.

Thursday 13th September There were various faffs getting ready but we managed to be airborne at 1030 L. Through a combination of cloud, RA(T)s in Oostende airspace and a less than friendly Oostende controller, we did the channel crossing at 2000 feet, not my preferred idea! Coasting in just north of Dover, it was up to 3000 feet for a Southend transit then down to 2000 for a Stansted transit. Stansted required three orbits before clearing me through but I still prefer that to meandering around the various airfields on the edges of the zone. From the BKY VOR, it was a straight-in to Henlow 26 left and job done. An excellent holiday.
Last edited by joe-fbs on Wed Sep 19, 2018 10:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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