Mönchengladbach visit with friends

The mild autumn weather seems not to end in 2015, temperatures keep flirting with 20° celcius although we’re mid November. Weather is also fine with clear skies.

Reason enough to plan a nice Sunday flight with two friends from the Hasselt region.

This time, I planned a flight with a Cessna 172SP (OO-LVA) from Genk-Zwartberg (EBZW) to Mönchengladbach (EDLN) in Germany. Sounds remote, but it isn’t, it is only 40 nautical miles. 

But it is a complex flying area and two borders to cross, so I had to file a flight plan. We’ve taken off shortly after noon. First I had to call Brussels info to activate the flight plan. We’re reaching the dutch border after only a couple of minutes, so I had to let Brussels know I’m changing frequencies to Maastricht approach asking to pass the TMA. That goes fine and shortly afterwards, I had to ask them for leaving the frequency as we entered the German airspace. Here I had to call German Langen info. Something I don’t understand very well, is that all the radio communication is not in English (in Belgium and Luxembourg it always is) with flight information services. With Langen info, I noticed a lot of pilots where chatting in German. Approaching Mönchengladbach, I left the Langen info frequency in order to ask Mönchengladbach tower (Class C airspace) to enter their area via the Whiskey waypoint. Quite easy, I just had to follow the canal and was able to land here around 1pm. Not much going on here. After having paid the local taxes, we went by taxi to a nice Brasserie- restaurant (GERO) in the center of town which I found earlier on Tripadvisor. Nice place and excellent food, but not much going on either. After lunch, we had a little walk into town and headed back to the airport.

The return flight to Belgium went smooth and fast although the visibility started to drop. All by all, it was a highly enjoyable Sunday afternoon with my friends

Symphatieke Limburgers Johan Brees en Erwin Govarts

complex airspace putting pilot’s at work

My 5 year old son Alejandro in the co-pilot seat

There was a strange weather last weekend. In Belgium, plenty of sun and in nearby Luxembourg, plenty of fog. Lucky for us that we stayed the weekend in Belgium. Our son Alejandro received an invitation of my wife’s parents to spent the week in their house nearby Brussels, together with his two nieces. A good reason to fly him over to Brussels 🙂
Nearby Brussels, there’s a small general aviation airfield, called Grimbergen (EBGB), which I never visited so far. It is located within the Brussels CTR and one needs to follow a strict pattern at 900 ft above sea level to get there. The Bottlang did not mention it was PPR, but according to their website it is. So I called them early Sunday morning telling I intended to fly to their airfield. The officer on the phone mentioned as this was my first time I’d fly to Grimbergen, he needed to do a small “interrogation”: he asked a couple of questions on how I intended to fly in their zone, what the landing procedures where and how I intended to fly out. As his phone “test”, he said I could fly in.

My son was quite happy as he could sit next to me. I was very happy to have a junior co-pilot. We took of the the Genk airfield in eastern Belgium (EBZW) in a Cessna 172SP (OO-LVA). Flying from here to Brussels-Grimbergen is complicated, you need to avoid several zones, the more that Diest Schaffen was active

Alejandro ready for take off as junior co-pilot
foggy horizon views

After take off, the horizon views were quite atypical because of the fog over the nearby Netherlands.

I learned Alejandro some basic stick movements…. his first attempt was a bit too heavy however, so we have been doing this together, whilst Kika was sitting on the backseat.

flying over Flanders with great views

 I flew most of the track at 2400 ft above sealevel (QNH) in order to stay out of Brussels TMA (starting at 2500ft). I had to descend to 1400 feet QNH whilst approaching Brussels and followed the small corridor between Brussels and Antwerp CTR at this altitude in order to the waypoint at the north of Brussels CTR. From there, I descended to 900 ft and followed a precise track bringing me directly over the Grimbergen airfield. The runway 19 was in use, so descended to 800 ft for the pattern and proceeded with the landing whilst having a view on the Brussels Atomium. Not bad at all.

A more than happy son  

Landing on Grimbergen airfield was easy. There was not much happening over there, even witch such a beautiful weather. 

Our Brussels family was waiting us up at the airfield and our niece Laura enjoyed taking a closer look to our Cessna and enjoyed sitting on the co-pilot seat as well. Maybe we have two future pilots over here.

Alejandro and his niece Laura

We enjoyed a small family lunch with the kids on the Grimbergen airfield, prior to say goodbye and fly back to Genk Zwartberg

Lunching at th terrace of the Grimbergen airfield

It was the warmest 1st of November on record in Brussels: 20,8° Celcius
Kika’s parents

I had to take of on runway 19 and turn immediately to the left after take off and head from there to the north. It all sounded more complicated that it effectively was and some 40 minutes later, we landed again on the Genk airfield, whilst enjoying the views of flying relatively low over Flanders. We watched the cars driving on the race track nearby Bolderberg (Zolder) prior to prepare for landing.

fog at the horizon

The contrast with the Genk airfield couldn’t  be bigger. Here there were plenty of people on the terraces, we had the model pilots which were very active on the airfield as well as the glider pilots and the sky divers. Due to the good weather, the terrace was full and we remained over there for quite a while. Again another nice Sunday.

Hobbs time and Tach time & hourly flying prices in Europe

I retrieved a good description of the difference between Hobbs and Tach time which I like to share over here

Hobbs Time
Hobbs time Cessna

In most planes, the Hobbs clock is started and stopped based on an oil pressure switch, so it starts when the engine starts, and stops when the engine is shut-down. While it’s running, it just ticks off a tenth of an hour every 6 minutes, based on “regular wall clock time”. So a tenth of idling on the ramp is the same as a tenth at cruise.
My Belgian flying club Limburgse Vleugels (Zwartberg, EBZW) bills its members Hobbs time.
The current hourly rates are:
Cessna’s 152: 120€/hour
Cessna 172 (classic): 150€/hour
Cessna 172 SP with G1000: 180€/hour
Mooney M20J: 210€/hour

Tach Time
Tach time Cessna

The tach clock isn’t really a clock at all, it doesn’t actually measure time, it really measures engine revolutions. But it’s calibrated such that a tenth of an hour of tach time is clicked off when the engine is at cruise RPM for 6 minutes. In other words, if the plane is at cruise RPM, the tach clock will be clicking off tenths of an hour at the same rate as the Hobbs clock, and the same as the watch on your wrist. But if the engine is idling at an RPM speed that’s half of what cruise RPM is, then the tach clock will be running at half the speed of the Hobbs clock.
My Luxembourg flying club AéroSport (ELLX) bills its members Tach time.
The current hourly rates are:
Cessna 172 (classic): 149,3€/hour
Cessna 172 SP with G1000: 180,07€/hour
Piper PA28: 149,31€/hour
Cessna 182 Q: 241€/hour
Cessna 182 RG: 281,77€/hour
Twin Engine Piper PA44: 327,6€/hour
So, for the tach clock, less “time” is clocked when the plane is idling on the ramp, or flying at low RPM. For short flights (where ramp idling time is a significant percentage of total time), and flights where you’re doing a lot of pattern work (and thus operating at low RPM), tach time will be significantly less than Hobbs time, which is the case in Luxembourg. In general, one can say that when I fly an hour on a Cessna 172 classic in Luxembourg, I have 0,9 Tach time, meaning that I have to pay 135€ for the plane, whereas in Zwartberg, the same flight will cost me 150€. But with the due landing fee of 6€ in Luxembourg (as we use the intl. airport), we end up paying 141€ for flying an hour in Luxembourg