Saturday, 15 November 2008

First flying experiences in 2006 and 2007

click on title to see video on DailyMotion

Before Pancake Airlines was even started, we got our first flying lessons at Dwarf Powered Gliders at Hilversum Airport (EHHV), only 5 minutes from our home. Hilversum is a local grass airfield with 3 runways and a lot of glider activities. We had been there several times to see 3 generations of Wellens active as glider pilot. Harry sr has been flying there for over 50 years and was followed by his son and 3 grandsons.

I have added a picture of EHHV, most runways are about 700m. The field is pre-dominantly used by smaller aircraft, from Tipsy Nippers to a turboprop Piper Malibu. Depending on weather and runway in use it can get a bit tight for a DA40, especially if runway 07 is in use (shorter and firm trees as obstacle). You feel always very welcome at Hilversum airport, and there is a restaurant with terrace on the border of the field present.

For me, the comforting idea of having an engine and still being able to fly quite a while even without the engine helped a lot to step into the plane. Dwarf has a substantial fleet of Scheibe Touring Motor Gliders. The basic design of the plane, the low cost and the unstoppable urge to fly of Dwarfs' owner Cees Quist are the ideal ingredients to learn how to fly. I can warmly recommend contacting Dwarf for an orientation to anybody who is even remotely thinking of flying (http://www.dwarf.nl/).

Marijke chose to finish her PPL on the Scheibe before converting to SEP which only takes a couple of hours, I decided to do the combined PPL/SE exam on the Diamond DA40. You can take along only 10% of the TMG hours for the PPL/SE minima, so basically you start from scratch.

In 2007 Dwarf also bought a Dynamic Ultralight with more than enough power compared to its weight as you can clearly see when it takes off. The Dynamic is also used for instruction. Dwarf regularly organizes joint trips abroad (D, UK, CZ, B). The Scheibes can virtually land everywhere, so you are very flexible as long as the weather is OK and you have plenty of time.

Hilversum is a great field for young glider pilots. At very young age both Sander and his nephews Marten and Bart started their flying career here in the summer camps organized by GOZC. All of them want to be a KLM captain, like Harry. Sofar it's looking good for all of them; it must be wonderful to have the basic feeling of flying already in your genes.

After Marijke got her license we used the Scheibe to collect experience in both flying itself and basic navigation. With no useful navigational instrument aboard planning and timing of waypoints becomes rather important in areas where everything looks alike. Holland has a number of airfields that are fun destinations for a day-trip. Apart from Hilversum and Lelystad we visited Seppe, Teuge, Midden-Zeeland, Budel, Hoogeveen, Ameland and of course Texel for coffee and apple pie.

The picture to the right shows my sister with one of the Dwarf instructors on the way back of a joint flight over the dutch Wadden islands.

The attached video also includes images from the national trips with the Scheibe after Marijke got her RPL in 2007. Contaminated with the virus of flying we then started orientating on a change of focus. At first we went on on the track of touring motor gliders, and found the Stemme aircraft manufacturer near Berlin Germany on a fair in Friedrichshafen. At that time Stemme was launching it's S6 and S8 prototypes, TMG's with a large emphasis on touring. Both design and performance data (speed, range and glide angle) were very impressive. As the magnificant Stemme S10 the new types used a lot of high tech mechanical features.

Finally join us to Berlin for a test flight with a Stemme S10 in may 2007. We flew with a test pilot from Stemme and is was really wonderful to fly (be flown) in this machine. To fly this aircraft ourselves seemed a very big step related to our limited level of experience. The S6 and S8 models promised to be easier to fly, but we never found out in the end. Significant delays in certification and delivery schedule gave us the time to look at alternatives.

Harry jr. tipped us to have a look at the Diamond DA40 at Wings over Holland in Lelystad. He flew the conventional DA40 with analoge cockpit and was already impressed by its possibilities and ease of use. In the meantime Diamond offered a diesel version of the DA40 with a Garmin 1000 glass cockpit. This would be the basis of Pancake Airlines, more about that in the following pages


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

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