Saturday, 22 November 2008

2008/10 Sonderborg (DK) and Sylt (D)

click on the title to see the video on DailyMotion

What do you do when it is going to be another grey day in Holland? Well if a Diamond DA40 is waiting on you and the sun is shining elsewhere, why not just go there. Harry and I went for lunch in Denmark, destination Sonderborg (EKSB).

As you can see in the video poor visibility and low clouds in Holland, but the forecasts promised no clouds below 1200ft that day so it should be possible to return VFR all the way. The route to Sonderborg leads directly over Eelde so another chance for a practise approach. In the mean time I did found out that almost every time you will encounter new situations or elements that help me build up more and more references. So I try to take every opportunity, as my IFR exam was scheduled for Friday October 10th.

Recently I had an experience like that with Eelco during IFR training. When training on Friday on De Kooy because the Eelde ILS is out of service during my IFR exam we sometimes pick up Sander at Eelde afterwards.
This time we got a straight in for 05 over VZ. Then ATC asks us what our maximum speed and rate of descent is in the approach. A commercial airliner was approaching the airport as well and ATC was checking whether we would still fit in in between. We had not reached the normal approach altitude yet but if you keep the same descend angle it is easy to do your altitude checks from a higher altitude. With the DA40's CDI on the VOR it is easy to follow the right radial and you just fly down the approach path a bit faster than normal. No flaps selected (max speed for approach flaps is 108kts).
Could you please exit the runway via the exit to runway 01? Additional challenge, but we are able to do that as well. When arrive at the apron the jet behind us is already taking his parking position.

With Harry it is just a touch and go and we continue in the direction of the German Wadden islands. There always are a couple of other planes active in that area as the islands are a popular destination. We see 2 planes land on Wangeroog, we have never been there before but it seems to be a long asphalt runway with a village nearby. Perhaps for a next occasion.

We fly not far from the coast straight to Sonderborg. There are a couple of nice little white clouds at 2000ft, we fly on top of them with enough land in sight all the way. The approach at Sonderborg will provide another lesson. The normal procedures are all on the east side of the airport. There is a holding on that side as well on kind of an irregular position. We are approaching from the southwest and there are 2 other planes active, one in the holding. The standard pattern is complicated enough, with an IAF very close to the runway followed by a procedure turn.
Then the tower asks us if we want to pick up the ILS right away. That's OK for us but now I make a mistake in judging where we are going to intercept the glidescope. In my mind we were much further out, and because I had not prepared well enough I thought the final approach altitude would be 2000ft (it is 1500ft). Both not necessary because both the MFD and the GS indicator on the PFD give more than enough information to tell me otherwise.

Of course Harry first lets me make my mistakes before asking me a check question. I was monitoring the glidescope indicator but if you think you have a clear situational awareness in your mind it is very easy to interpret this info according to the picture in your mind. There was time to correct the rate of descend significantly to be able to make a normal landing at Sonderborg. Again good to realise yourself that this can happen, before you mess it up in more challenging situations.

Sonderborg is situated beautifully right next to the water. There are all kind of islands and peninsulas around there with a lot of nice harbours. The airport itself is OK but apart from that there is nothing, and not even a open restaurant. From the air we had not seen anything at walking distance from the airport so we decide to relocate our lunch plans to Sylt, just on the other end of this neck where the German/Danish border is.
Harry has been here in Sonderborg before with a boat, so we ask the tower if it is allowed to do some sight seeing over the area before heading west again. No problem.

At Sylt we also get a straight in. Sylt/Westerlund (EDXW) has 2 large runways. As Marijke and I have been here before we know the shortcut route to the town, only 15 minutes by foot.

From Sylt we take a route between the coast and Helgoland, but still you are out of gliding range from land for some time. Even Harry is not used to this in a single engine plane, but we did not encounter any signal of unreliability or hesitation in our DA40's Thielert engine yet. Most of the problems around these engines in their current state are of an economic nature now Thielert is not keeping its promises regarding the maintenance program.

From a distance Helgoland seems to be all covered in gold, as the sun is already setting a bit. Approaching the Wadden again, we have to choose to either stay on top or circle down to fly under the overcast cloud cover. We decide to descend, again a poor choice afterwards but still based on a forecast that promised no clouds under 1200ft. In the direction of Lelystad the clouds get lower and lower until we are at 500ft around Emmeloord. Dutch Mill ensures us the sky at Lelystad is all blue, so if we would have flown on top you wouldn't even have noticed the different situation below.

We ask Dutch Mill for assistance as we can't continue VFR in the direction we want, even as it's very close. They promote us to IFR for a short while, climbing to 2000ft again with very beautiful images around us of the sun trying to peek through the clouds here and there. Over the Flevopolder there actually is a big gap just in time to cancel IFR again and finish another fine day of flying.

Pancake Airlines Crew is trained by Dwarf Powered Gliders ( and Wings over Holland ( Information on the PH-PCA Diamond DA40 can be found on You can click on the title link to see the HD video on DailyMotion.

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