Monday, November 14, 2011

On the Ground

After two years, ten thousand nautical miles, two hundred landings and seven Alp crossings, our home built aeroplane adventure is at an end. The final week of the trip was made challenging with misty and hazy conditions across northern Europe. Currently excited and relieved to be on the ground in London, we are looking forward to being in Australia next week.
In Rome, packed and ready to roll out for the flight north.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Poland and Czech Republic

Flying west from Lithuania through Poland, we visited the Masurian lakes district on the advice of a German aero journalist we'd met in Bonn. The area is fast developing into an aviation hot spot and swooped and cycled around several of the airfields there. Hitler's eastern front bunker, where he spent the majority of his time in the war is clearly visible from the air, though overgrown with vegetation.

The amazing huge flying club/hotel at Kikkity was a revelation. The pilots there invited us to accompany them on a four day tour of the Czech Republic, along with 18 other planes.

There are many timber carvings like these ones in the forests in the area.

Czech is an excellent place to aviate - the rolling terrain is endlessly interesting, there are many amazing historic towns to see and they have a strong history of flying and aircraft design and manufacture.
For anyone thinking of going to Prague who hasn't been there before, I'd suggest you go to Cesky Kromlov instead. It is jaw droppingly awesome.

Here we are relaxing under the wing at the first of 7 stops on the rally schedule.

This is Siggy who invited us to join the Czech rally.

We managed to snap some decent mid air shots of our friend Simon on the final leg of the day. We are still trying to meet up with him again after several failed attempts due to bad weather or us having to fly elsewhere. He is a totally classic character!


This is all I have to say about Prague really....

Saturday, September 17, 2011


We flew to the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, in formation with Justinas, a great guy that we met at an aero club at Kaunas in the centre of the country. His lightly loaded modern microlight with retractable gear wasn't much slower than our much larger heavier plane and it certainly climber quicker!

The whole Vilnius area is wooded and hilly and we spent a week checking out the nice areas around the city as well as looking at the history of the place and its people in the museums. This photo below shows a carved bellows from a blacksmith's shop.

The airport at Kaunas where we met Justie is named after these two aviators, shown on the 10 Lat note. They made a vast pioneering flight only to perish in an accident shortly before making it back safely.

This amazing town wall gate contains a chapel, complete with organ and Catholics taking mass!

I bought a pair of running shoes and whipped myself to crank out a few laps of the local forest which was very soft, green and peaceful. The climate here is wonderful in mid summer. We bought wild mushrooms and tiny wild strawberries (packed with flavour) from the roadside and cooked them up at Justinas' house. Isn't this sculpture great?


 This is the largest timber building I have ever seen. It is some kind of strange restaurant now, fully furnished with oak and leather tables, chairs and couches. It felt like an old school barn/hotel establishment.

There are some very good beers brewed in the area and some great non alcoholic brewed malt drinks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


We spent around 10 days in Latvia, catching a train between several towns on our way west to the capital  Riga where we stayed for mid summer. The solstice is celebrated by wearing leaf and branch wreaths and lighting huge bonfires. Several stages were set up for bands to play all night.  

Monday, September 12, 2011


After a long day flying between Stockholm and Helsinki, we were disappointing to find no hotel rooms under 250Euro available in town (seriously) so we bounced back into the plane at 6pm and flew across the north sea to Estonia's capital, Tallin.

An old Hansa trading town, it has a lovely elevated fortified old town populated by friendly positive, outward looking people. Their modern art gallery (Kumu) is the best I've seen recently.

Tallin central;

Moscow Olympics 1980 (cold war era) sailing was held on the bay at Tallin. This is a concrete underground ice rink built for the games, now fallen into disrepair it is still an amazing piece of architecture.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stockholm and Skaa

We managed to time our arrival in Stockholm to catch the annual flying meet up at the airfield just east of the city, Skaa Edeby.

We cycled into town and caught up with Kina, who I met skiing in Chamonix 5 years ago, and partner Cedric with their new baby Leon. These two are both marathon runners and generally super fit and motivated which is always good to see. Cedric is a great guy who moved up to Stockholm from France while he was still a student and now runs his own IT consultancy and has a partnership in some Swedish running stores. We were both really pleased to have met with up them while we were in the area.

H washing bugs off the strut;

Jimmy took us for a tour around his town of Sigulda, north of Stockholm. The country was run from here several hundred years ago and the town is rich with history. Jimmy is a captain with Next Jet, flying twin turbo props with about 70 passengers up and down the country. This man knows about ice.

Mats and Tina, who we met last year, invited us to lunch and showed us some awesome hot spots in Stockholm. They know where all the good lunch spots, lookouts and little mid city islands with interesting timber buildings are. Mats had just run the Stockholm marathon. Inspirational. I've actually been running myself since then and all I can report is that I'm a loooong way from being able to go the marathon distance. Mats was in the military, a member of the super elite 'kysten jæger' (coast hunters, like SAS). All I can say is, if you see a sticker with a trident on the back of a car in Stockholm, don't get into a road rage incident with them.

Michael working the new grill at the aero club at Skaa Edeby. It has a built in bottle opener! Sweet :) 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Vissingso - Lake Vattern and others on flying tour :)

Vissingso airstrip is next to a golf course on an island in the middle of the second largest lake in Sweden -Vattern (meaning water). You don't have to have done many laps around an IKEA to have heard of it. The town Grenaa, on the mainland across the lake is one of the oldest in the country and was buzzing with holidaying Swedes at this time of year.

Since it is very deep, the water is very cold. We swam anyway and it HURT.

Incidentally (but undeniably) this crop circle proves that we have nothing to fear from the Aliens.

Lenny and Terry bombed in briefly on their way back from the Eeslov fly in. Once we heard about all the large rocks in the lake, we gave up insisting that they should have landed on the water ;)

Johan and Vanya landed late in the day (maybe 10pm, still with good light). We were surprised to see them again having met them at the Siljansnaes airpark further north last year. We had a chance to eat brunch in the sun and catch up which was very pleasant.

Martin and Gabriella arrived the next day on route to the arctic circle (microlight pilots make all the best adventures)! He is an Engineer like me in Muenster.

The lake water is so cold that as you walk down to the island shore, the air temperature drops about 5 degrees. It is a little spooky. Here we are climbing out bound for Stockholm.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eeslov EAA fly in 2011

Back to Sweden, for their home build annual event held this year in the Skaane town of Eeslov.
Over three days of stunning weather we watched displays and met many new people from Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany and the UK.

This is Dieter and Marie, who we camped next to. He used to be an airline captain but now they live on north of Jutland in Denmark where they sail and fly and photograph. Dieter lived with bears in Alaska for 8 years. His site rocks

Carsten built his Savanna on Anholt (Denmark) where he runs the power and water for the island.

H wants a flying boat. The guys who brought this water micro to the fly in, Lenny and Terry distribute this design in Sweden. We saw them again a few days later when they landed on the island of Vissingso in the middle of lake Vattern a few minutes after us, on their way back to Stockholm from the fly in.

Daniel, the aerobatic pilot from Skaa Edeby near Stockholm, who we met last year while he was crating up his Yak to display in China, is now flying a Sukhoi. These are the best aerobatics aeroplane in the world. A small number were made in the 80s with no expense spared by the Soviet Union to ensure their supremacy in competition. They have a ridiculously stiff wing and titanium undercarriage. Since they reputedly take about 2 years of training for a world class aerobatics pilot to adapt to, I though Daniel was flying pretty cleanly after only a few month with the new plane.

DC10 :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Aero - Danish Island Villages and Summer Sailing

Aero is a southern Danish island with the statistically warmest weather of anywhere in the country. Presumably this is the reason for it being just across the water from the Royal's summer palace at Sondeborg. The villages haven't changed in several hundred years, they are wonderful thick stone walled dwellings on winding cobbled streets, huddled together against the weather from over the water.

Aeroskoebing (along with Marstal, one of the two main towns on Aero);

Marstal (below) is the center of wooden ship yards in Denmark and there are several restoration projects underway there. It had been an important trading port for many centuries.

We flew north to Tarsinge where we helped start a Rans micro that had been hangered all winter before cycling over the bridge to the much larger island of Fyn.

Svendeborg on Fyn, over the bridge;

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Samso - Pankosh and Casa Tua

To catch up with Eva and Rune we headed west from Sweden back to the Danish Island of Samso. Rune was in a flurry, organising his imminent departure to Sydney to fly float planes for a week so we were pleased to catch him before he left.

We hear about a pan cake fly in on Fun, east of Odense so took to the air for the 20 minute flight south.
As well as seeing Lars and Catrin again (and convincing Lars to come for a round of golf on the course on Samso), we met several of the micro pilots from that area. Excellent pancakes, enthusiastic people. Great combination :)

 Erik and his wife host the local micro club and have installed a former boarder control guard box to act as a pancake eating and pow wow station. Excellent!

A troupe of German parachutists arrived overhead Samso one day, as part of their 3 day 15 airfield jump safari. We were impressed. What an operation.

This vast castle on the south edge of Samso turns out to have been built for the mistress of a Danish king. It now seems to be the part of a privately owned farming estate.

Valentina and Lorenzo have recently moved up to Samso from Venice. They invited us for dinner at their new house which they have refurbished into a store for the Italian wine and food that they sell. This summer they are starting Gelato production. Lorenzo has attended the Gelato university that we've been considering so it was interesting to hear about the course, which he recommends. He was the Italian dealer of a particular modern microlight design and is waiting for the chance to pull his plane out of his garage and fly it again.

If you are on Samso, I highly recommend dropping in for a chat, they are lovely and have some wonderful Italian food and wine products.

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