We followed Harry's advise to have a look at the Diamond DA40 at Wings over Holland. August 2007 we had our first demo flight in the PH-TDG at Lelystad Airport. We liked it immediately. Even with our limited experience in the Scheibe it felt pretty natural from the start. Of course the origin of Diamond lies in TMG so perhaps a lot of basic characteristics are similar. Nose wheel in stead of tail wheel was not really a problem. Basic flying with the Garmin 1000 is also quite intuitive although at first we might automatically have looked at the analogue primary flight instruments on the top of the dashboard. Of course it takes time to learn all the possibilities of the G1000 in combination with the autopilot, but it is not necessary to know everything upfront.
Timing was perfect, since we left our jobs in the same period, so now we had the chance to focus a lot on our flight training (still a long way to go to the left seat at KLM :-)).
October 2007 Wings' Luuk and Patrick accompanied us to Wiener Neustadt for the factory delivery of our first airplane at Diamonds' Headquarter. First to Vienna with SkyEurope and then we would fly the airplane back ourselves via Tempelhof and Aarhus where final delivery took place.
After departure we got into clouds almost right away and it did not take long for the first ice build up. The most difficult thing for Marijke and me was the complete lack of reference. Is this just a little ice or already a lot? How much can the aircraft take? What can we do if the speed keeps on dropping? How long do you try to go further up and is it still possible then to make a safe return descent? Not a very relaxed atmosphere for someone with my fear-of-flying background.
After climbing to about 9000ft Patrick was just about to decide to return as we saw the first glimpse of the sun. At 10.000ft we were completely above the clouds and the ice starts disappearing gradually from that point. Further on we had to climb a little bit more to stay on top, but once you are on top the whole experience changes 500%. Where the airliners keep on climbing to levels far above the clouds, I really love it to be just above them. Both during the day where the sun is lighting up the clouds, but especially in the evening where the colors are getting indescribably beautiful.
Again IMC but a lot less scary this time, and just before we reached our destination all clouds disappeared all over sudden. Aarhus has two long parallel runways, and just when we were about to turn final the tower kindly ask us if we had a problem to take the smaller one. After landing we see why: a commercial airliner lands on the other runway and in the opposite direction.
The flight back during twilight with both the sun and the moon present is still one of the most beautiful legs we flew. Of course everything was very new to us, but see for yourselves. An impressive moment to me is when the plane gradually descents into the clouds again, especially with the magnificent light effects.
The approach looked quite complicated, we had to fly a procedure turn in IMC towards Pampus followed by an NDB approach. Next time we would use the LLS waypoint on the OBS and arm the approach on the autopilot for an automatic intercept. Sorry we couldn't film the actual landing in the dark at Lelystad, I ran out of batteries after everything we had to record all day.