A few days holiday and a short landaway
We spent several days with our friends, visiting Wernigerode Castle in the Harz mountains, taking the train to Hannover and looking around Braunschweig while the thundery weather passed through. I watched the weather forecast closely to plan ahead for our departure.
Highlights included an organ recital, which ended along the lines of the Last night of the Proms – it was surreal listening to a hall full of Germans singing “Land of Hope and Glory” in English. There are a wide range of tastefully reconstructed buildings in Braunschweig today, including a huge shopping centre hidden behind a dramatic facade of what could have been the main town hall. We also rowed up the river, walked in the countryside and generally had a great time.
A local flight to (old) East Germany
Once again, our hosts were quite intrigued with the opportunity to take a short flight.
Because of the construction work at the airport, NOTAMs stated the minimum local flight duration was 1 hour and all flights required 24 hour prior notice. I could probably have negotiated a short local flight if I had asked – the controllers were extremely helpful – but decided to make it a short landaway instead. We first chose Hieldeheim to the west, after which NOTAMS and a website check found it to be closed for a major pop festival. So instead, we chose Magdeburg City (EDBM) to the east – formerly in East Germany and still the state capital of Saxony-Anhalt. The airport website made the facilities look both comprehensive and friendly, even providing a VFR chart (which normally you have to pay for from the DFS). This isn’t to be confused with the larger Magdeburg-Cochstedt airport served by Ryanair etc., located further away south of the city.
Prior to the departure, I asked Braunswcheig Tower if I could made a couple of orbits on the south edge of controlled airspace, overhead our hosts home. I was advised that (at least at the weekend), this wasn’t controlled airspace and outside the ATZ so I could basically do what I liked. The AFIS cleared me to enter the runway, backtrack and depart at my own discretion – just like the UK.
Circling and sightseeing
Soon we were circling overhead the west side of the city, and my passengers easily recognised their house. Then we headed south to Wernigerode, where we’d visited a few days earlier, turning almost overhead the castle with a clear view of the Brocken mountain – the highest in the Harz range. We could make out some of the old East/West German border, including a watchtower, then flew directly to Magdeburg City. I didn’t speak with Bremen Information during the short flight, but did have the radio tuned in. On first contact with Magdeburg Information, I was given the runway in use and pressure (always QNH in Germany), asked my aircraft type and told to report downwind. Parachuting was in progress, but I could proceed with the possibility of needing to delay before landing if there was a conflict.
I heard the controller say to another aircraft in German something like “I have a little Englishman inbound”, which was quite amusing. It was easy to join downwind (at about 45 degrees), circuit height (268 feet plus 1000 on QNH). After reporting downwind, making the usual checks, it was a straightforward turn to base and landing on the long tarmac runway.
Fire brigade called out after landing
We were given taxi instructions to park on the apron, but I asked to park up outside the Paparazzi restaurant, where we stopped in for coffee and ice-cream. They accepted payment for landing fees there, but due to a fault with the printer, they said they’ve have to send it across from the tower in person. A huge fire truck pulled up outside and handed me the quittung (receipt), which cost less than landing at many UK grass strips.
Straightforward return back to Braunschweig
We routed directly back to Braunschweig, taking only about 20 minutes. The visibility was surprisingly poor and there was some slight turbulence, but again we could spot some of the local landmarks including a couple of very large open cast mines near Schoningen.
Flight Time today: 1:20