2018 season start with check-out on Mooney M20J

In my Belgian flying club, we have got a Mooney of the type M20J. A beautiful plane, with nice specs. The club upgraded the avioanics recently, making this complex plane even more interesting to fly with. I’m currently proceeding with the checkout, it is harder to fly and less forgiving than the Cessna’s 172 and 182 I use to fly with most of my life. But it is rewarding. It flies way faster than our Cessna’s although it only has 4 cylinders. A cruise speed of 150 knots ( nearly 280 km/h) can be achieved. Here’s a youtube of our Mooney with call sign OO-LVT 

Back to Georgia

I was back in Georgia last week, it is a great place for skiing and unknown by most Europeans. No long cues on the ski slopes (they haven’t got carnaval holidays), lots of fresh snow. The Gudauri station where we went for the second year is at 2200 meter and goes to 3300 meter altitude. We loved it. 

A second reason to go there was to visit my pilot friends at the Natakhtari airfield, the main general aviation airfield north of capital Tbilisi. With AOPA Luxembourg we are facilitating a private pilot VFR rally this June bringing French and Luxembourg planes to this place. Some 17 planes confirmed and as with every organisation, there were some issues to take care of.

Vanilla Sky – Cessna flying in Georgia, Europe

Airfield with a swimming pool

Dinner offered by Amiran Manjavidze, owner of Natakhtari airfield

Natakhari is a regional hub, terrain will be extended to 2500 m

old power lines at end of runway

Amiran’s newest purchase…to tow gliders

for glider towing

old timers 1

old timers – a gift for Amiran for his 60th birthday

old-timer Sovjet Gouvernment car

The Russian answer on Fiat 500

General aviation develops at Natakhtari airfield, Georgia

General aviation develops at Natakhtari airfield, Georgia

They install a Jet-A fuel tank, AVGAS is available in barrels

running as President for UPL-AOPA Luxembourg

I’m active since a couple of years in the board of the Luxembourg AOPA, which is called UPL-AOPA. The first year, I have been mainly a listener and organized some fly-outs , even long distance ones. I contributed to get AOPA Belgium on the fly again and am working on themes as digitalisation within UPL-AOPA as we need to reinvent ourselves to attract a younger crowd.

Our president is unfortunately not representing himself for election next Saturday at the General Assembly. It is a pity, he does a very good job. Our secretary, Marcel Felten, passed unexpectedly away some weeks ago and we have also two other board members who are not representing themselves anymore. 

Lucky for us, we have a couple of new volunteers to join the board. There’s also some news from my side. I’m running as president of our association next Saturday. Here’s the English version of the letter I sent today to the board members.

I’m running for succeeding Nicolas Bannasch as President of UPL-AOPA Luxembourg at the General Assembly of February 3rd, 2018
Flying has been my passion since the age of 16, when I obtained my glider license at the Belgian Air Cadets. When I started my professional life, I immediately started taking private pilot courses.
I’m responsible, a good listener and communicator and can bring people together.
I have organized several fly-outs for UPL-AOPA, actively contributed to the new setup of AOPA Belgium bringing people together and worked around digitalization and communication themes of our association.
I’m running as President of UPL-AOPA since I like to work around four themes in the upcoming period:
enable * kickstart * connect * inform *
Using digitalization as a lever for strengthening the setup of our association and reaching out to the interests of the general aviation community. Project by project, we’ll enable new initiatives within UPL-AOPA for the benefit of our pilot community– together.
We are passionate about kick-starting projects that help the general aviation community moving forward in Luxembourg.

We will actively bring together ministries, institutions, flight schools, aviation clubs and aviation enthusiast individuals, helping them to create innovative solutions to meet current and future needs of general aviation in Luxembourg.

UPL-AOPA is the central node in the Luxembourg general aviation eco-system, we’ll map the progress achieved and develop new ways to enhance communication about our goals and how we attain them.

Genk to Oostende with the Mooney

The online club reservation system in Genk Zwartberg indicated that the pilot who booked the Mooney M20P this Sunday, opened his flight for other pilots. So I contacted Sven Kuil. Although the indication on the website was made unintentionally, he and his fellow pilot nevertheless invited me to join them for an flight to Oostende. Good plan

This time I am sitting in the backseat as I am not current on the Mooney. The weather to take off in Genk is ok (VMC) but Oostende is still IMC. We flew at flight level 60 with more than 30 knots of wind coming from the west, which slowed don our ground speed. Richard Boer proved to be a skilled pilot (commercial license holder) and he mastered the situation.
Landing in Oostende went perfect although the weather was really poor. IFR flying clearly has its advantages.

When returning to Genk Zwartberg, we had the wind in our back and were flying at more than 200 knots. Amazing speed ! We could’t descent from flight level 60 directly to Genk (clouds) and had to make a controlled descent in Liège. The ceiling was quite low once below the clouds, but we headed full speed in VFR to Genk where we landed some minutes after sunset. Great experience and two new pilot friends.

Luxembourg party in Fayence

I received in my inbox an inviation of Luxembourger Arny Weber and his spouse Carine who are preparing to leave for Fayence as school holidays are starting in Luxembourg. What a nice initiative. 
Sounds so good, reason that I emailed Arny that we’ll join the kick off party for the summer of 2017 between pilots
As the readers of my blog know, I have been flying since the early 90’s regularly at the airfield of Fayence-Tourrettes, one of the best places in the world for gliding  ! The last two years, I have been focusing rather on motorflying as I’m lacking time to practise both sports. Likely when I retire (if ever) , I’ll pick up gliding again in Fayence. In the mean time, we’re going to join Arny’s party on July 17th
Arny and Carine Weber – party in Fayence

Report on the “Going Dutch” fly-out

5 pilot crews confirmed their participation at this new fly out we organized for UPL-AOPA. In order to coordinate activities, a whatsapp group was set up. The weather outlook was reasonably good for most of the traject bringing us from Luxembourg and Trier to Texel on Friday 7th.
what is on a pilot’s mind ?
485 nautical miles route

Only the last part north of Amsterdam proved to be marginal VFR with low hanging clouds. Quite tricky, which caused one pilot to cancel his participation.

low ceiling at Texel

descending to 1000 feet
islands in sight
Three crews landed safely in Texel. The fourth teaml, Stefan Stefansson, skipped Texel and decided to fly directly to the AOPA fly in in Twente. No worries.
We were lucky with the hotel reservation at the airport hotel of Texel. Sleeping with views of your plane is a great feeling 🙂 But prior to go to bed, the hotel owner, Walter arranged us a seafood dinner at the harbor of Texel. The food proved to be E X T R A O R D I N A R Y . The pictures below say it all

Saturday morning, a weakened rain front was passing. No worries, we had our bikes and have been discovering the island of texel. B I G  fun !! We had mixed feelings as we deemed that our stay on Texel was not long enough. Guido and Dani Peterzelka and their daughter Livia decided to extend their stay on the island. Smart decision, next year we’ll plan a longer stay on Texel as well.
Rajiv Aurora and Alfons Hesels arrioving with their Cessna 172
Great scenery

Peterzelka’s Beach Bonanza with V-Tail – 150 knots
Livia and Dani Peterzelka

Krista Touquet enjoyed biking on texel so much

The Peterzelka family

nights in texel are a bit shorter than in Luxembourg

Together with Alfons Hesels and Rajiv Aurora in the Cessna 172, we continued as well in our Cessna to the AOPA fly in in Twente where we were expected by our colleagues of AOPA NL. We landed at the right moment, plenty of planes and live music.

Of course we enjoyed watching planes and discussing the dutch management of AOPA, who did a marvellous job of getting their airfield nearby Enschede ready for general aviation.

We missed Stefan Stefansson, who just left when we arrived. No worries, our fly-out are entirely free, we create a program, but every pilot is absolutely free to adjust it to whatever suits him best.

Luxembourg and Dutch AOPA board members, committed for general aviation
In the evening hours, we discovered the town of Enschede, a very vivid town with plenty of terraces. We met our friend Maarten Top and his lovely wife Silvia. On Sunday, we all returned to Luxembourg, whilst making a fuel stop in Genk Zwartberg, where my son assisted me. Maybe a future pilot as well.

We were all back home by Sunday afternoon, exept Guido Peterzelka and his family, who was still swimming in the sea of Texel. Guido enjoys the good life. His Beach Bonanza flies up to 150 knots, way faster than our Cessna 172, who cruises the skies at some 100 knots.

They finally stayed until the evening hours in Texel and only flex on Sunday evening back to Luxembourg. With Flight radar 24, the other participants as well as Reinhard Krommes were following his flight as weather was getting a bit stormy in Luxembourg. Via whatsapp, we were sending him live weather updates as the thunderstorm got very nearby. But end good, all good

Some thoughts for the 2018 edition: Texel was definitively a great place, in July 2018 we’ll go to discover Ameland. We’ll ensure to have a more relaxed program, so we can enjoy biking around the island for some more time. Biking and flying , a great combination !

Mon professeur préféré Eric Buyens not in Tienen anymore

My first flying instructor was Eric Buyens in the late 80’s at the Hasselt, Belgium airfield. I only have good memories of Eric and his lessons. His was very exam focused in teaching me the theory of flying and practicing radio lessons with him. He was as well my flying instructor. I got very well along with him. He was perfectly bilingual. His courses worked our very well, I passed all exams with such a high score, I remember I even achieved even the score of 100% on reglementation and meteorology back in that time. Great memories. Eric moved however to the flying club of Tienen in Belgium. That’s the last update I ever got.

On June 25th, 2017 as I was planning a solo precision flight and looking for a nice airfield, I stumbled upon Tienen for a short flight from Genk Zwartberg.
The Tienen airfield proved to be very outdated, it looks being back in the 1950’s, such an old and dated infrastructure. The welcome was nice although.

After landing, I asked for Eric Buyens but they did not know him here anymore. Strange story as he has been flying here many years.  I hope to meet him again sometime. If any reader of this blog knows, drop me a comment hereunder

Eric Buyens – flight instructor

technical problem in Cessna 172SP whilst flying to Teuge

Last weekend, I went flying with my lovely sister-in-law, Micheline Bodson. It was her first time in a small plane, so we selected to go flying a Sunday with nice sunny weather conditions. The plan was to fly to the Netherlands and have lunch at their airfield of Teuge. However, something happened on our flight to Teuge.

After take off in Genk Zwartberg, I flew north towards Eindhoven and climbing out towards flight level 55. After climbing out, I checked the engine settings and noticed an error I never encountered before

I was wondering what this could be, just an erratic reading or something else. Probably nothing to worry about as the motor was running smoothly. I continued my flight.

Ten minutes later, the situation seemed to worsen as I got the following reading

2 out of 4 EGT sensors causing troubles

2 out of 4 EGT sensors did not work, a big fat red cross appeared. On top, the sensor of the CHT did not work either.

Not sure what to think about. Crazy sensor readings, but the plane runs smoothly, which is the most important. So I continued my flight and kept my worries for myself and landed in Teuge without problems. Here’s a screenshot of how our flight was retrieved on Flightradar 24.

OO-LVA on flight radar

First things first, we discovered a VERY nice restaurant on the airfield, with even a sushi bar. Amazing and atypical from what I typically encounter. Micheline and myself ordered a light lunch and we enjoyed a nice time as you’ll see on the picture below whilst I was thinking about our technical problem aboard.

lunch at Teuge with Micheline Bodson

I called the President our Gank-Zwartberg club, Michel Notelaers, as well as with Kristof Goossens, my flight instructor to discuss the problems I encountered on our one hour flight.

The advise I got was to perform a run up at full power, it the engine was running smooth, he advised me to fly back to Genk Zwartberg. Apparently, it is only a sensor reading which is false.

excellent and cosy restaurant in Teuge, what a difference

I performed the run up tests , everything seemed normal. However, after take-off in Teuge back to Genk-Zwartberg, the same problem appeared again…whilst the engine still runs smoothly. We continued our 60 minutes flight and landed early afternoon In Genk Zwartberg.

I noticed the plane was booked by three other pilots, I decided to stay at the airfield in order to notify them as it was a Sunday afternoon and the maintenance was closed.

I was somewhat pissed to see that all three persons who booked the plane after me that same afternoon, did not show up at the airfield and canceled their flights. Bad habit, especially on a sunny Sunday afternoon. I hurried to be back in time in Genk-Zwartberg, there was no reason too.

Luckily for me, some nice planes passed that same afternoon in Genk-Zwartberg and I enjoyed watching them on the terrace of our clubhouse.

Spotted in Genk Zwartberg

I informed the maintenance of our club and they decided to fix the problem prior to allow further flying on this plane.

dining in Trier

Summertime is the season by excellence for making cosy evening flight with friends. This year it is not different. Together with my my pilot pal Maurice  and Céline Flammang we decided to try out the nearby airfield of Trier on June 14th, 2017. 
It is indeed only a short flight, but I realized I never flew to that place before, don’t ask me why. 
First, we refueled the plane (Cessna 172 – call sign LX-AIO)  in Luxembourg and headed off for the Trier airfield. 
refueling LX-AIO
Good atmosphere in the cockpit

In less than 30 minutes, we landed in Trier. The staff on the tower proved top be super friendly.
We found out that Trier airfield has got a super nice terrace for outside dining whilst the sun slowly goes under. Perfect and so cheap prices compared to Luxembourg. Amazing and high quality with German portions. We went for a cosy dinner (I cannot retrieve the pictures).

Around 9pm we hurried up an took off again in the direction of Luxembourg where we landed around sunset. The views we had from the plane were absolutely stunning. 

sunset over the Moselle river

Landing in Luxembourg is a luxury, the strip is nearly 4kms long. Nevertheless, I always go for a precision landing, this time was no different

Perfect landing at Luxembourg airfield