With the arrival of Covid 19, our world changed. We got confined Immediately after the last check flight back in March on a C182 with Bernard Frechen. All of us need to stay at home. A NOTAM was published causing all private pilots were suddenly grounded.
The confinement period took way longer as we initially thought. Our Pilot community complied. However, the flight restriction was quite radical and caused problems as one needs to have a plane in the air every month to keep the engine healthy. The alternative, which is putting a different kind of protective oil in the plane, seems complicated.
With AOPA Luxembourg, we’ve been reaching out to the Minister of Transport outlining the troubles General Aviation was confronted with. In parallel, the flying clubs and schools have been putting a plan together with safety and health measures to tackle the Covid-19 virus.
All these actions helped and since this week, all flying restrictions are lifted. But it remains complicated to cross the border.
Attending a European AOPA meeting is truly instructive. The themes covered are quite technical, but one gains a better insight in policy and regulatory topics related to the world of General Aviation. This year’s Edition at Rovaniemi (Artic Circle) was no different.
Franky and me enjoyed a lot flying around the Spanish coastline. We rapidly approached Almeria where we considering making another fuel stop. There was a bit more wind in the Almeria region, but the views were absolutely stunning.
This May 2nd became a day to be full of adventurous flying. Every team topped up their planes with AVGAS as we’ll have to cross most of Spain. There will be no AVGAS available for our planes in Melilla, so I planned to make a fuel (and toilet) stop somewhere in between Southern France and Southern Spain. I choose landing in Castellane (LECH).
On May 1st, our group of AOPA Luxembourg planes (8 in total) was all supposed to land in Béziers in Southern France. That would be the first gathering of our group. As we were already ahead as being in Macon, we took it from the relaxed side on this Labour day. I took only off just before noon towards Béziers.
In the past, I’ve used the low altitude VFR corridor East of Lyon to cross to this narrow area. This time I climbed out to a Flight Level and following IFR waypoints, we passed Lyon from the Western side leaving the hills and mountains under us. The excellent weather proved to be helpful.
Our fly-out to Melilla starts ! By late Tuesday April 30th in the afternoon, our Mooney got out of the 100 hours maintenance by Smets aviation at the Genk-Zwartberg airfield. Ready to go !
As I learned from the french AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) and the NOTAM’s (notice to Airmen) that there are plenty of military exercises on this April 30th on my route towards France, I managed to speak to a French Army captain who informed me that after 6pm, the exercises are over for the day. He learned me that no exercises were any planned above Flight Level 75 on my route. The weather outlook was favorable (scattered clouds) and so we took off around 6pm local time quite heavy packed.
Only a couple of days to go prior that our UPL-AOPA Luxembourg group flying to Melila starts. The trip will be more than 2200 Nautical miles all together, to be performed in 4 flying days. Quite intense to say the least.
I intend to fly with the Mooney M20J , with call sign OO-LVT starting in Genk Zwartberg (EBZW) where it is based. I received a call that the plane of which the engine and propellor are to be replaced this spring, will undergo on the last two days of April its 100 hour maintenance.
We’re preparing for the UPL-AOPA flyout to Melilla scheduled on May 1st, 2019, which I intend to fly with the Mooney M20J of Limburgse Vleugels. In order to be “well-prepared” with this Mooney, I try to fly it more often nowadays after a forced break last winter due to a license admin issue.
This Sunday afternoon, I invited my nephew and student-pilot for the Melilla fly-out, Franky Coene to join me for a short flight from Genk Zwartberg to Mönchengladbach. A short but intense flight as we have to contact Brussels Info to activate the flight plan, as Beek Tower for a crossing clearance for the Maastricht CTR. Then switch to Langen Info, watch out for intense glider activity and finally prepare for landing at Mönchengladbach. We focused on using the Garmin GTN 750, a really nice tool.
The reason to fly to Mönchengladbach is because they had this Sunday a full (90° degrees ) crosswind blowing, the same crosswind as what Melilla’s airfield is know for. With this Mooney the maximum demonstrated crosswind is only 11 knots, whereas a Cessna 172 can go to a demonstrated crosswind of 15 knots.