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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 52 December 2014

Welcome

Yet again it has taken months to get around to publishing the newsletter.  Sorry about this, but the past few months have been very busy with work, and have taken me to Charlotte, NC, Philadelphia, Heidelberg, Barcelona, Tokyo and Münich, in each case running events which take lots of preparation.  For the last 2 months I’ve only managed to fly one hour per month :o(

2014 has been a terrible year for GA in the UK. We have lost Manston and Panshanger airfields. TG Aviation at Manston has managed to relocate, but sadly Haim and Sue at Panshanger were unable to find a new home. This was a terrible loss, as the great social atmosphere at Panshanger was superb. Other UK airfields are under threat, including my home base Bourn. Just days ago it was announced that the ex-Rolls Royce airfield Hucknall in Nottingham will close in March 2015.

We have also 'lost' 2 of the Ercoupes based in England, although temporarily in one case we hope.

So we have lots of news in this newsletter, not all of it good unfortunately.  But hopefully you will enjoy reading it and send to me lots of material for the next issue.

I would like to wish everyone compliments of the season, and a Happy New Year! Let's hope 2015 is better than 2014 was.

Mike Willis
G-HARY

Ercoupe News

European Ercoupe Owners Fly-In 2015 Antwerp (EBAW)

Robert Rombouts writes: Already we are preparing the 2015 FlyIn, because it will be a very special one.  The Stampe & Vertongen Museum organise for the 25th time this event, and we the European Ercoupe Owners (EEO) for the 9th time in a row.

As I understand it will be huge, with the Belgian Air Force participating, all the still existing SV4 of England-France-Germany and the Nederland’s are specially invited and some already express their participation.

Because we may join them with our Ercoupes & Aircoupes & Mooney for now the 9th time, I suggest you very warming (hotly) to add in your 2015 agenda the date - 16 and 17 May 2015 - for a mass participation of our marvellous ERCO’s.

The International Antwerp Airport authorities will give us there fully support.  All the amazing Volunteers of the Aviation Society of Antwerp (ASA) are preparing, with physical training their muscles, and dedication.  The weather Office assures us already (in there crystal ball) a fantastic weekend, can you expect more good intentions than those.

If you see what already is achieved during the expertise of 24 years, this 25th anniversary will be an unforgettable Meeting you cannot miss.

I hope to see in 2015 all the lovely Erco pilots with or without plane at Antwerp, we will have a very nice weekend together. I am already waiting for this huge event, and you may be sure that I will be happy to see you all, don’t wait confirm already your intention of your participation.

The conditions of participating is the same as last year, but I will send you later the exact terms. Hope to see YOU, YOU & YOU……..if I forget somebody then YOU TOO.

Robert & OO-PUS

Mystery of the tube

Tony Smith writes: Hello Mike, here's one to invite some feed-back!  I have come across a reference to a "parcel discharge tube" fitted in the fuselage of Ercoupe 415-C N2423H.

Flare tubes were fitted to other aircraft but this is the only time I've come across anything like it mentioned in connection with an Ercoupe.  Does anybody else know of this modification and can provide details; also if any other Ercoupes were so kitted out?
Hope all is well with you.

Cheers - Tony Smith

A sad day

Ernst Viehweger writes: Hi Mike, I'm forced to stop flying.

In April I had a stroke, a speech like heavy drunken and a total paralyzed left side. I spent nearly 4 months in a hospital and in rehabilitation but I’m at home again. Now I can speak nearly as normal again and move every joint on the left side. But at this time only partly with pain, not with the full movement, not with any force, not with any fine control.

A stroke is a complete another thing as a broken bone. A stroke affects the control from the brain to the muscles. Of course my condition will improve, but only very slowly. Anyway, don't bemoan me, the "death on test" failed, - I'm alive and on my way up.

The good thing is: with a stroke, things are improving slowly. With other diseases of a similar kind as Multiple Sclerosis or Alzheimer or Parkinson there is the direction only down hill.
 
Although I have a good view, at least for the future, I'm forced to stop flying, because now and for the next couple of years I'm not flexible enough to enter and exit a plane. And my left arm as my hand is also in the same condition.

The plastic of one of my steering wheels is broken and will be renewed at the current annual. I have a set of new ones out of metal (from a C150? or a Piper?), the fresh powder-coating looks good. They are a little lighter. Just now I bought a Dynon D1 screen (artificial horizon, direction, speed, altitude, ROC ... all GPS supported) and an AV8or (touchscreen with moving map) are on service. The one Erco of Robert Rombouts is equipped the same way. This way flying would be fun, if I can fly. But I'm forced to sell my flying machine. A friend flew it to the annual inspection. The fresh annual will happen during this month of August. My plane is already advertised in the leading German flying magazin (Aero-Kurier). Also on other website www.aerozentrum.de in German language. No one will be interested via your newsletter, - because every reader has already an Ercoupe ;-)

Blue Skies, Ernst Viehweger

PS Just in case someone has a friend looking for an Ercoupe, here are the basic properties: Serial Nr 2650, built July-30-1946. Model 415-CD, engine O-200, TT frame 2084h, TT engine 133h,  registered in Germany as D-EHIR, comes with Dynon D1 (Horizon Course, Altitude, Speed etc by GPS) and AV8or (Touchscreen GPS moving map), it has EGT, CHT, ELT. COM is a Narco COM 120 TSO, two headsets, no Transponder. But it includes an active and excellent Usergroup (!). Hangared in EDAM in the middle of Germany. I'm asking 26.900 EUR = 21'256 GBP . Contact me via ernst@viehweger.org (or phone +49-30-8131769 with TAD, but my English is "not perfect").

A lot can happen in 2 weeks! A sad tale...

9 September

Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi Mike, It was great to catch up with Andrew at Sywell - albeit as everything was grinding to a halt.

Still can't believe we were the only two stalwarts propping up the beer hangar there for a while - amazing! Don't you just love the backdrop on that picture that Ann took!

I've copied this to Mike and Robert just to show them what they missed out on. Polished my Ercoupe yesterday and it looks awesome.....almost !!

Cheers for now, Derek

 

 

 

 

25 September

Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi Mike,

FAREWELL N99495 !

How I hate to start a message like that, but I'm afraid I have some very bad news concerning my beloved (and seemingly cursed) Ercoupe. With corrosion 'suspected' within the darkest bowels of '495', it was decided to put the matter to rest once and for all and de-rivet the upper surface of the port inner wing to get a closer look. On peeling the skin back it became very apparent that substantial corrosion was indeed present at the trailing edge of the wing ribs (amongst other places). The damage was inspected by three independent experts in the field and the verdict was, very sadly, unanimous. The verdict being of course that the aeroplane would not be getting airborne again until the issue was rectified.

'Rectifying' the issue would entail dismantling the entire aircraft with a view to sourcing and replacing all ribs where corrosion was present along with treating the rest of the affected areas accordingly. This can be done of course, but an initial quote of £20-30k to get anywhere near to repairing and restoring the spar/centre section has basically deemed the aircraft a write-off. It would make a great, and challenging, project for anyone that has the relevant skills to do the work himself, but in my case it just isn't viable. Since importing the aircraft from the U.S. many years ago I have spent around £60-70k along the way in a vain attempt to get this project off of the ground. Although I did log around 10 hours or so in the little beast you could say it cost me around 7,000 GBP per hour for the privilege! My initial feeling was to carry on regardless and finish what I started, but knowing I can purchase a nice fly-away example for around £15k puts everything into perspective.  A very sad day indeed, and I have to admit I am absolutely devastated.

I will be advertising the aircraft on Ebay as a 'challenging' project for anyone that wants a cheap Ercoupe (and of course any would-be purchaser will be made well aware of the problems needing to be dealt with).

Anybody know where I can buy a cheap Auster?

Best regards, Derek

Faint-hearted look away now

Paul Rushton writes: Mike and a few others know me from the Solent and Air-Britain fly-ins we held at Popham a few years ago.   Well I’m one of those ‘Aviation Enthusiasts’ who like to look at aircraft, collect their registrations and take photos rather than fly in them.   It takes all sorts as they say......

At the end of May I visited Ireland with a coach full of like-minded enthusiasts, for those of you that have visited Ireland you will know that the majority of the smaller airfields are very welcoming.  And yes the Guinness in Ireland is an order of magnitude better than anywhere else!

One of our ports of call was Dublin Weston airport http://westonairport.ie/ in County Kildare, not far from the main Dublin Airport.  It has a hard runway and a large, new looking hangar complex.  For anyone that is interested they have a preserved Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B on display in Desert Storm (sandy pink) colours and tucked away in the hangar was an airworthy Grumman Goose JRF-5.

After viewing what was on offer in the hangars we were escorted down the taxiway in the coach to the fire dump compound.  I can imagine the groans coming from you all when amongst the forlorn looking Cessnas, Cherokees and two ex Wycombe Duchess’s we saw the sorry remains of Erco Ercoupe 415-C EI-CGG.

EI-CGG is construction number 3147, it started life as NC2522H, then to N2522H.  It was sold as EI-CGG 10th September 1992, the only owner I can find for it was the ‘Irish Ercoupe Group’.  The aircraft was cancelled from the Irish register 6th November 2012. 

It is sat at the fire dump and its previous identity N2522H is visible under the paint work, it looks to me that the Irish registration was applied as a sticker so I’d hazard a guess that it didn’t see a paint brush at all during its time in Ireland.  I know that it is possible to restore an absolute basket case to airworthy condition, but it looks to me that this airplane needs masses of TLC and someone with very deep pockets to rescue it. (Mike: I think I know someone who needs new project - Derek???)

Regards, Paul Rushton, Air-Britain Bournemouth

G-ERCO restoration

Eric Girardey writes: Hi Mike, I hope all is fine with you and G-HARY.

News just in. TG Aviation has offered me the chance to restore G-ERCO after their chief engineer resigned. I am going to Manston tomorrow to see the aircraft (or rather the fuselage), and all being well become the new keeper, or custodian, of a piece of history in bits. Some work has already been done, the engine is off and ready to ship to whoever will do the shock-load inspection. I do not know if the engine mount is still on, but all will be revealed soon. I am also planning to meet Rodney and Mary, they want to show me pictures of their time with the aircraft. I would ideally like to return it to flying status before its 70th birthday, sometime in 2016, and that shall be my goal. Hopefully it will be sooner than that, but with an airframe of this age some surprises are always expected. Wish me luck!

Just an update on G-ERCO

Last Monday I went to Manston , met Mary and Rodney, and saw the fuselage of G-ERCO, and some of the many bits of the puzzle. The damage is more extensive than I had thought, but there has been work done so it balances out. I am taking the project on. As you said, Rodney and Mary are lovely people, and we had a pleasant chat. I am planning to go back to fetch the fuselage on Friday, 14th, and take it back to Slinfold. I'll make another trip for the wings and numerous bits at a later date. I have arranged for the engine to be taken away for shock-load testing and rebuilding.

Taking on this project has been a welcome change for me, it's helped me stop fretting about the 40% loss of my future pension , and the 30% pay cut agreed to with the restructuring! However I've got to be careful of the pennies as I don't want to have to sell HC to finance the rebuild. My world was different back in the summer. I'll try to take a few pictures and write an account of Friday's fuselage transport.

Mary & Rodney Tapp write: We are delighted to report that the "wreck" of our beloved plane is now at Slinfold air strip nr Horsham, where our daughter lives, so we can follow the rebuild! The engine is being restored by Richard Eisenburg at Southend.

Thank you so much Mike for putting us in touch with Eric Girardey, who is taking on the restoration-what a charming man.  He hopes to have it flying before it's 70th Birthday - 2016 sometime, so we are thrilled.

We are sad to have to give up flying, but I have had 40 years of fun, learning at Lympne, then Lydd with Cinque Ports flying Club, then with T.G. Aviation (Thanet Flying Club) at Manston, then Maypole, when we acquired G ERCO in 1993.  Latterly it has been based at Manston and Eric was most impressed with its condition.

We are sad Manston is closed, but maybe it will re-open one day?!  We would like to keep in touch, so if you have EMU's at Rochester, Headcorn or Lydd please let us know.  We have enjoyed meeting you all, and wish you happy & safe flying days! We hope you are both well
With our regards to you all.

Sincerely Mary & Rodney Tapp

Foxtrot Uniform

Dave Williams writes: I'm an ex Brit Pat, living and flying my Ercoupe in British Columbia Canada. My Ercoupe is a 1948 'E' model with the C85 engine and elevator cut-out. It was the first 'E' model registered in Canada I believe and was the 'demonstrator' for the Western Canada Ercoupe dealer, one 'Doc' Hess also known as 'crasher' Hess! More about that later. When he wasn't demonstrating it he leased it to his local flying club based in Calgary, Alberta. It has accrued quite high airframe hours (for an Ercoupe) even though it is of '48 vintage, due to its early roles and currently has around 3500 hrs. on it.

Myregistration is C-FGFU, the last two letters uttered in acknowledgment to a transmission received, raises a chuckle from time to time... :-)

Best regards,

Dave Williams

Ercoupe in Asia

Karl Kuehner writes: I have been living the last five years in the Philippines (business). Because of technical quality issues, I decided not to fly private planes.

Nevertheless, I found this Ercoupe in the Angeles City Flying Club .

The owner started some time ago rehabilitation, for some unknown reasons it has been stopped. Attached are a few pictures. Access was very difficult, I have no detailed information about the Coupe.

Back in Switzerland, I’m happy flying Ercoupe HB-ERB again.

Kind regards, Karl

 

 

 

 

 

Trip reports

North Norfolk with G-HARY and Mike

Ulrich Hertig writes: Dear fellow Ercoupers, after being interested in Ercoupes for many years and quite a few hours of experience in California, last year Heiko Binder invited me to become a partner in his Ercoupe D-ENUC, a 415-D which I gladly accepted.  Now I own half an airplane, I just don't know which half.  So far I have flown about 20 hours all across Germany and to Antwerp and I loved every minute of it.

In July I had a 3 day business trip to London with most afternoons off. Mike Willis kindly invited me to Cambridge for a trip in his Alon A2 G-HARY.  Unfortunately, I had to cancel the appointment due to a work schedule change at short notice.  Later it turned out that the British weather didn't care about the “mostly sunny, partly cloudy” Met Office forecast.  It was windy and rainy, mostly below VFR minima, in short: not flyable.  So the day was not wasted.

The next day was much better, although at 11am a low stratus layer still extended from the east to a north/south line right over the centre of London.  Cambridge was still under low clouds, but they had lifted when I arrived there at 2 pm.

 We departed in sunshine and flew north-northeast bound past Ely with its famous cathedral, and Little Snoring (yes, the place really exists!) to reach the North Norfolk coast near Burnham.  To our excitement we flew over some scattered low clouds near the coast but could see though them.  

We continued around Scolt Head where we spotted seals on one beach and people bathing on several others.  Southwest bound we passed the Wash National Nature Reserve on the right and King's Lynn on the left.

As we needed a break we decided to land in Fenland, a nice little grass strip.  The friendly lady on the radio returned our initial call with the typical “G-HARY pass your message!“ - very British indeed!  For the first time I saw a “standard overhead join” in real life, a procedure to join the traffic pattern from the non pattern side which is virtually unknown in Germany and thus would lead to confusion or be even dangerous.  But if it is a standard procedure as in the UK it is a fine instrument to check the windsock and the traffic in the pattern before joining it.

To my amazement Mike flew his Alon A2 at under 70mph on short final, did a short round out and touched right away with only a little landing roll.  How different compared to my landings in my model D with almost 90 mph due to the 9 degrees elevator restriction!  We had a cup of tea (of course, we're in England) and after booking out (another UK peculiarity) we left again for Bourn.

On our right we passed a strange landscape feature: basically a square piece of forest about a quarter of a mile long, on the inside at first a clearing, then a large circle of trees, a circular moat and grassland on the “island” on the inside.  Does anyone know what it was made for?

20 minutes later we were back at Bourn, and after an excellent dinner together with Mike's lovely wife Loraine at the “Indian Ocean”, one of the best Indian restaurants I ever dined at, I headed back to London on one of the fast trains which take only 45 minutes to King's Cross station, platform 9¾.

Dear Mike, many thanks for a grand day out. I learned a lot about flying in other countries and I enjoyed the marvellous views and your company. So, if you ever happen to be in the Frankfurt area, give me a call. I'd be only too happy to give you a ride in my D-ENUC.  And yes, I hope there is a chance to fly my Ercoupe to the UK myself, perhaps with a stop in Ostende to visit Robert first, and then … Does anyone know where I can buy life vests?

Ulrich

Panshanger Independence Day Fly-In

Mike writes: Sadly this was the last fly-in at Panshanger that I managed to get to in G-HARY, although I did drive in to the magnificent Revival Day held there, when it was unfortunately too gusty for me to fly.

For many years Panshanger was owned by a aviation enthusiast who leased the beautiful facility the the North Herts Flying Club. Haim and Sue built this into a thriving club and social scene. Unfortunately the children who have inherited have no interest and want to sell it for housing. After the loss of Manston earlier in the year it was almost too much to bear.

So now Panshanger is gone, the lease not renewed. The owners don't even have planning permission and can't apply for a couple of years, so the place will just deteriate when it could have continued to be used.

Haim is well known for his love of Ercoupes, and we will miss his novel shelving in the club house. I understand the two Ercoupes that were stored at the airfield awaiting restoration have gone to Greece.

 

LAA Rally August 29-31/2014 at Sywell-Northampton UK

Robert Rombouts writes: A few days before the depart to Sywell I followed the weather forecast on any possible App on my iPad, the weather was moving from fair to dubious to dangerous. But this didn’t stop me to fill the official “GAR form” needed and obliged to send before you depart from Belgium to the UK customs. The route to Sywell was easy, because I took a copy of the previous flight to that unbelievable LAA Rally at Sywell.

The day before, Thursday 28 August, the weather forecast for Sywell mentioned a “storm warning” was at Cambridge. The Friday morning, day of departure from Ostend (EBOS), it was still that “storm warning”. I send a mail to Mike expressing my concern, because he and his wife Loraine invited me to stay at their home during two days, and my routing was until Bourn (EGSN). Mike replied me immediately with his video app FaceTime on his iPad to show me outside his office a blue sky with nice white clouds, and that I better look to a more accurate weather App!

With Mike’s definitely reassuring proof, I filled a Flight-plan to depart at 16:00 in Ostend, expecting arriving at Bourn around 17:00 UK time. But a gusting 25 kts 270° headwind is not a fact to ignore, I had to expect a long journey.

Very nice sunny weather, but soon when I flew over the Channel straight to Clacton, via RP Vabic (mid Channel), my ground speed was only 53 MPH at 2500 ft., I crossed the UK border at Clacton 25 minutes later as normally. It was a remarkable crossing, even the boats were quicker, but I don’t complain because I had a marvellous view with beautiful white clouds, a full tank, and a remarkable Ercoupe.

Arriving at Bourn (EGSN) on runway 24 with a 40 minutes delay, Mike welcomed me on the Bourn radio with all the details concerning runway to use and wind velocity and direction, thanks Mike, the poor condition of the runway is in great contrast with the good service. After a nice beer and some chat in the local Histon pub, we had a delicious meal together with Loraine, Mike’s wife, at the Histon Indian restaurant.

Next day, Saturday 29th, we had both a slot for 09:58 and 10:00 at Sywell. Mike with his G-HARY and I with OO-PUS we took-off as we expected for a 36 minutes trip. It was not a perfect weather but we flew in extended formation until the Pitsford holding pattern. Until then all went smooth, joining the circuit as described in the Aeronautical Information Circular Y 58/2014. Then I realize I was not alone, and I am convinced they didn’t read that circular. One plane passed me 200ft below, another cutting all the corners, a third one coming from nowhere. I was trying to follow Mike that I lost in the meantime, and had to save my old bones and the OO-PUS. With all the attention for the outside, and preparing the landing, I could turn in final for Runway 21 grass. Yes, we had a nearly 80° crosswind of 15kts gusting 20kts, in great concentration with multiple attention, double was not enough, I headed the rudderless pedal PUS in the wind until touchdown. It was a good landing, specially that you are landing on a runway full of spotters judging your skills, and imagine all the cameras clicking as automatic fire guns. They hope to make “THE” shot of their live, not this time guys. Afterwards Mike told me he did exactly the same crab landing but showed off by side-slipping too.

All the arrangements were made in advance so that the G-HARY and OO-PUS had front parking together, thanks to Phil Kemp, he is fantastic. During my shutdown I was happily surprised to see Sven-Eric Pira standing on my wing. Unbelievable, he came from the North of Sweden with his Thorp, congratulations to him, he is really our Lindbergh of the European Ercoupe Owners.

I don’t have to explain the diversity of planes and flying machines you can admire at the Sywell LAA, but that’s enormous and amazing, a delight for pilots and spotters. As last year, Derek and his family came with their camper, sadly it was not with his N-99495 Ercoupe, but he give us hope for next year, don’t give up Derek. We have always a lot of fun when we are together, keep the spirit and the perseveration high.

Together, Mike and myself, we left the Swell LAA Rally around 16:00, for a return flight to Bourn, which was a quickie when you have a tailwind. I hope for tomorrow on my return to Ostend to have the same wind condition.

A very nice evening we had again together with Mike and Loraine, this time we enjoyed a delicious meal at the Histon Chinese. Happy and relaxed I prepare my flight back to Ostend, and already my Flight plan for a take-off Sunday 31st around 11:00 from Bourn (EGSN).
As hoped, the weather could not be better, open blue sky and the still the remarkable tailwind. As a rocket, compared with the flight from Ostend on Friday, I noticed a groundspeed of 112 MPH, which will be a short trip home. The visibility was perfect the all way until 35 Miles from Ostend, the low clouds obliged me to descend until 1500ft. But the standard procedure, as Ostend Approach communicate me is a 2000ft when you arrive over the Channel, that I could not keep, and he was not happy with my 1500ft, so I suggest to join immediately the coastline and continue at 1500ft, which was also not ideal too concerning the visibility, but manageable. Then the Approach give me a right-hand downwind for runway 26, which was not logic when I was nearly left-hand, I proposed a left-hand and received it, but had to make three 360 on the end of downwind, reason, an airliner was in very long final. If I could land when I arrived in the circuit, then my flying time was 1hr20 from Bourn instead on Friday who was 2hr25. If I waited one hour longer in Bourn I had not that bad weather on arrival. After pushing the OO-PUS in the hangar and passing the customs, it was then beautiful sunshine in Ostend, my return was too quick.

It was an excellent flying weekend, even with that gusting wind, a perfect experience.
I thank very much Mike and Loraine for the very kind hospitality. The Sywell LAA Rally 2014 was again a fantastic Meeting you cannot miss, and I intend to fly again in 2015, thanks to everyone who give me this wonderful weekend.

Robert & OO-PUS

 

EPKG   KOLOBRZEG-BAGICZ 

Hartmut Beil writes: Airports are being closed all over. This is a hurtful reality throughout the aviation world.

New airports being opened is almost never heard of, shifting new upcoming aviation to the Ultralight front. I am looking forward to see new and great stuff happening there.

But there are exceptions. I recently scoured Google maps for places to land at the Baltic coastline, searching for airstrips that are close to the beach. My ideal is to leave the crowded city, hop into the plane and after an hour or so, land at the ocean beach, take my towel and while everyone else is sitting in some sort of the traffic jam, I’m already laying at the beach.

So find me an airport directly at the beach…. And I found one … in Poland. It has been recently opened and is so new; it is not even showing up on all maps. 

EPKG   KOLOBRZEG-BAGICZ  is a privately operated field that used to be home for Nazi Germanys bombers, then Russian Migs until the Russians left during the nineties when the field was closed.
It was reopened by a few enthusiasts just in 2012 and it seems to get support from the local authorities.
But for now, it is just an airfield that you can land on.

An airfield that you are supposed to call in before landing; it is listed as PPR after all. Telephone numbers are published.  But don’t bother calling – unless you speak Polish.

I don’t, so I didn’t and my plan was to announce my desire to land in advance and get my approval that way. But things ain’t that easy in real life.

My trip started with a friend early morning in Berlin. Our route was simple and straight forward. When avoiding any class C and D airspace during my flight, a flight plan is not even needed.
But first we passed Berlin airspace. It is always a pleasure to cross Tegel International, leaving that airport in my own ship.

The flight to Poland’s coast line was uneventful. We passed Szczecin on our right, and soon had Kołobrzeg in sight.

Thankfully, Poland’s Aviation authority do publish VFR approach maps on the Internet, so I was good equipped with printed maps of the adjacent area, dialed in the frequency of the airport and ten Miles out, I announced my desire to land.

Nothing. No answer. I tried again. Not a beep. I kept trying, also to warn potential other aircraft in the area about my arrival.

Then suddenly a voice … hard to understand ... “don’t speak English”… Ok. That is NO problem. I don’t speak Polish either I said and kept announcing my positions. I informed the folks on the radio about our desire to land. And they then finally announced a runway indication – in English. We were all setup.

Landed with ease. The runway threshold is now located way into the runway, shorten it by almost half, but since the runway was originally built for jets, we found no issues with the shorter sport version.

After landing we received some welcoming messages in a mix of Polish and English, instructions where to park and we jumped out to fast secure the plane – no tie down, so the parking brake would do – and grabbed our towels asking ourselves through to the beach.

We had to walk all the way back to the beginning of the original runway, where we found a path to the beach that was also heavily frequented by the locals. This airport and the adjacent area had been under military control for over 50 years, cutting the access to the beach for the local public. What a frustrating situation.  Luckily the new “airport” is not so restrictive, barely fenced in and basically open for anyone who wants to walk there.

We followed the locals and then there we were: a fine beach filled with white sand. Lovely. We spent all afternoon dosing under the sun.

If not all these airplanes would keep disturbing the idyll. The Polish pilots had their own style on approaching the airport. They would skim along the coast line a few feet over the water at high speed, then suddenly pop up at the end of the runway, make a hammerhead turn and then land as if this would be nothing.

It’s certainly flying Wild West out here my passenger and I agreed.

Nope, he ain’t landing here - just passing by

The evening came closer and we went back to the airport, not without a walk on the beach, discovering the area. The folks there offered us the airports “Terminal” for overnighting for a mere 10 bucks each, but I pointed out that we’ve got our tents and sleeping bags and they let us sleep under the wing of our plane - if our plane would have been a Cessna. We Ercoupe Pilots nobly choose to sleep beside the aircraft.

The airport is closed after six officially, but our local pilots kept us busy with their performances until dusk. And don’t think that the local fleet is a collection of cheap, battered airplanes, no no. We had brand new Cirrus there and the higher class of the Cessna and Pipers. An impressive collection. And because of that and because of the missing fence I guess, the airport is being watched day and night. We greeted the nightshift and realized that we were running out of water.

So I asked for a faucet to fill my empty bottles. Well, there was no faucet. No water connection to the city. Oops I thought, now we are in trouble. Do we have to walk into the city now and? … not so. The guys were prepared. In bad English the night shift guided me to a former Jet bunker. It turned out to be the airport storage, and yes they had bottled water. With or without bubbles he asked in Polish, without I replied in English, pointing at the bigger bottles and he gave me the smaller ones with bubbles. So much for the efficiency of our communication. But as they say in German: A bestowed horse you don’t check the teeth. And I did not complain.

No night landings were interrupting our sleep and we prepared an early breakfast (mainly coffee for me) and went to the beach again. The water was a bit cold, but the sun grilled us and as the day went by we could again watch the folks fly low over the beach. In Germany they would report you to the police, but here it seems the folks did not even notice. The Wild West works only when all play along.


Early afternoon we decided to go back, we needed to pay our dues, wanted some more of our self-made coffee and we also had 90 minutes of flight to our home base to do.

Luckily, our Home field in Schönhagen closes in summer at 20:30 local. This is a blessing, when you compare this to the strict policies of other airports.  But we needed to sort out the money thing first. Poland is not Euro Land and we had no opportunities to exchange money.

When they offered me the tab in Zloty, which was a humongous number for one landing fee, I kindly ask for being able to pay in Euro. Yes that was possible. The airport manager called in for the latest exchange rate and announced over 50 Euros in fees! What? Fifty Euros for one landing I tried to say in Polengish. He smiled and added: plus one Take-off, and 4 bottles of precious water. There I got it, I am being scammed I told myself, desperately looking out for help. There was none. The guys kept smiling at me and explained that they don’t make the prices and that I can talk to the manger if I wish. Since this discussion would have to be held in Polish anyway, I gave up but not without explaining the folks that this is the most expensive airport I have ever been to with the least possible service and if they want customers and business, they should change a bit the weights here. Some money for some service would be fine. They reminded me of the water, they sold me. Yes I agreed, with €5 the liter slightly overpriced.

Now, since this was out of the way, we decided to leave soon, before the evening pilots appear and do their stunt flying again. That would scare us a bit.

So, off we went.

The flight back was uneventful as the flight to the beach. We made it over some industrial Polish countryside and then crossed Tegel, Berlin again and a few minutes later we landed in Schönhagen.


The trip was nice. The Beach as I dreamed it up. I just have to get used to the Polish business practices I guess.

Hartmut

 

 

 

 

 

 


Links

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