The final few legs of our European tour were somewhat more compressed – partly because we were now back in territory we have explored before, and partly because we had a wedding to be at in central Germany that was focusing our minds on making progress southwards!
Our full route is below:
On leaving Norway, we headed for Denmark – specifically Copenhagen-Roskilde airport, which we had heard was particularly well-equipped, friendly and welcoming for GA aircraft. We were not at all disappointed! They were efficient and had absolutely everything that a GA pilot could need. Excellent terminal with a small cafe, toilets and briefing facilities, a friendly and helpful team, long opening hours and decent rates.
We hadn’t realised how beautiful the north coast of Denmark is – an absolutely huge stretch of golden sandy beaches! The centre of the country is characteristically flat but also interesting to see from the air – at least the airports are easy to spot!
We have visited Copenhagen before, otherwise we would have headed into the city (which is only about 20 minutes on the train from Roskilde). But accommodation there is incredibly expensive and we only had one night, so instead we stayed at the youth hostel in the town of Roskilde itself. Roskilde is very pretty at this time of year with some really impressive historical buildings, a friendly town square with lots of outdoor cafes and an absolutely brilliant viking ship museum that is worth the trip in itself!
From Roskilde I took us in to Schönhagen, just south of Berlin. We were avoiding the more expensive commercial airports closer to the city and looking for a convenient fuelling stop, as well as an intermediate stop for me to get some landing practice in (lots of long-distance touring is amazing fun as a newly-qualified pilot, but it does nothing for your landing technique as you don’t actually land very often!!).
Schönhagen has a decent-length runway and is very straightforward and reasonably-priced, but they are located in the middle of a nature reserve so the approach plates need to be studied carefully to make sure you avoid all of the prohibited areas. This makes the inbound leg quite high-workload so it’s important to be properly briefed in advance. There are also noise abatement restrictions due to the wildlife and adjacent residential areas which prevent circuit training at certain times of day. Unfortunately we arrived in the exact time window when circuits are not allowed, so whilst I got one landing in, I wasn’t able to spend an hour practising a bunch more, which had been my intention.
When I spent a year living in Germany as part of my degree, I visited the town of Coburg and its impressive castle with my host mother. When I looked at the details of the airport, I saw that the approach path takes you straight past said castle, so I was keen to fly it for old time’s sake. Distance-wise, it was also a good place to stop off and switch pilots on our way down to Austria (which at some point during the day we decided was our next overnight destination).
The runway at Coburg is only 632m, which is by far and away the shortest I’ve attempted – but you’ve got to learn sometime! I asked J to cover the controls and was absolutely prepared to go around if things didn’t look right. The approach was very interesting – the airport is on top of a hill so the ‘picture’ for landing just looks wrong, and the runway appears even shorter than it is! It took some nerve but I got it down reasonably well and stopped in good time. Phew!
A few days later we read a post on an aviation forum saying at least 100hrs of post-PPL experience are required before attempting to land in Coburg…oops! I *think* I had about 15 at that point. There’s nothing in their official literature or plates so the restriction may be unofficial or a rumour, but it’s certainly more challenging than the average airport!
I made sure to get a photo alongside the castle for my host mother 🙂
We swapped pilots and re-filed an IFR flight plan in Coburg as we weren’t too sure what the weather was doing further south. J took us down to Salzburg in a couple of hours. The approach there is very pretty with a backdrop of mountains – the instrument routes are a little odd as they have to dodge the foothills of the Alps! Obviously we’re all in favour of avoiding large mountains on the flight path when you can’t see, but it is a little disconcerting.
Salzburg is very welcoming – it’s a large commercial airport but there is a lot of GA traffic and it’s kept somewhat separate from commercial operations. Refuelling was efficient and the team in the terminal were very friendly and helpful.
We stayed for two nights to explore the city of Salzburg, which didn’t disappoint. The weather was also a balmy 20C during the day, which was a far cry from what we’d been used to in Iceland! J went out in just a t-shirt in the evening (which was admittedly ambitious as it had dropped to about 12C by this point) and got shouted at by an Austrian lady in a thick coat, who claimed that looking at him was making her feel cold.
Some shots of sunny Salzburg – a beautiful city to visit:
Whilst in Salzburg we were determined to fit in a visit to the Red Bull Hangar 7 museum, where a large collection of aircraft and F1 cars are housed. This is open to the public completely free and we really recommend it. It’s directly opposite the Red Bull team’s maintenance hangar, so the planes and vehicles on display change according to which ones are not being used or worked on at the time.
After our stint in Salzburg, we flew on to Kassel-Calden, which is an old favourite due to its proximity to J’s family. We called in on his Grandmother and then drove over to our friend’s wedding, which was a wonderful day. From Kassel we flew directly back to Biggin – interesting weather en route with some CBs to dodge, a fittingly dramatic end to our Epic Tour!
- ICAO code: EKRK
- Elevation AMSL: 146ft
- Runway direction & length: 03/21, 1,500m; 11/29, 1,800m
- Runway surface: Tarmac
- Landing fee (at time of visiting): 78 DKK
- Facilities: Toilets, cafe, briefing facilities & shops in the main terminal.
- Transport links: The GA operations team are happy to organise taxis when you arrive. Roskilde town is a 20-minute train ride from Copenhagen
- ICAO code: EDAZ
- Elevation AMSL: 164ft
- Runway direction & length: 07/25, 1,550m; 12/30, 700m
- Runway surface: Tarmac (12/30 also has a grass runway next to it)
- Landing fee (at time of visiting): 13 Euros (fee depends on the plane’s noise certificate due to sensitive surrounding area)
- Facilities: Briefing rooms, lounge & toilets
- Transport links: About an hour by road from central Berlin but relatively close to Potsdam
- ICAO code: EDQC
- Elevation AMSL: 1,491ft
- Runway direction & length: 12/30, 632m
- Runway surface: Tarmac
- Landing fee (at time of visiting): 13 Euros
- Facilities: Toilets, briefing room. Lots of gliding taking place at the field
- Transport links: Close to the town of Coburg, a short drive or taxi ride into town
- ICAO code: LOWS
- Elevation AMSL: 1,411ft
- Runway direction & length: 15/33, 2,750m
- Runway surface: Tarmac
- Landing fee (at time of visiting): Not sure as we got fuel as well – I think it was quite high at around 50 Euros, but the service was very good
- Facilities: Briefing rooms, lounge and loos in General Aviation area, shops and cafe in the main terminal.
- Transport links: Taxis available into town, it takes about 20 minutes. Public buses run from the main station to the airport.
- ICAO code: EDVK
- Elevation AMSL: 820ft
- Runway direction & length: 09/27, 2500m
- Runway surface: Tarmac
- Landing fee (at time of visiting): Less than 10 Euros – I think it was about 6
- Facilities: Separate General Aviation Terminal with cafe, briefing rooms and loos. Desk staff are very friendly and helpful.
- Transport links: Hire cars can be taken from the main terminal, the town of Calden is 2km away and there are buses to line up with commercial flights. Most importantly for us – it’s 10mins’ drive to J’s Gran 🙂