flying the north sea

flying the north sea

Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The lakes, the mountains and in particular the Northern Lights (find more information at all attract travellers from around the world to visit Norway. But the Norwegian coast is also an attraction. It is made up of plenty of islands and that is why it is so beautiful.

Those islands were almost isolated long time ago, but now even the ferry ships are being changed by undersea tunnels.

That is what has happened with Aalesund airport, located at Vigra island. I didn´t expected go underwater that way !


Atle is a friend of Tom Are (Svalbard) and Peter (Germany). He was a fighter pilot and flew F5.
He was trained in the US AirForce and was a mate then of ex US President George Bush.


As F5 pilot, he narrated me many stories about his flights, and all I can say is that Atle is not only a pilot, he is an aviator, a real one!

It was fascinating imagining him flying a close formation at the bottom of a narrow fiord, and going down over a car parking area, to deliver a map to one of his friends. The map was held by the impressive F5 belly air brake. Unfortunately, the map was converted into small pieces, but that is another story.

Atle was gifted a Kitfox Vixen kit by his wife and was flying airlines at the time Peter parked his aircraft in the same apron. Atle wrote a paper with his contact data and sticked it on the Peter´s aircraft. It was the beginning of a new friendship, the reason why I met Atle and Tom.

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All my stay at Aalaesund, I was hosted by Atle, his wife and his family. I was staying at his home and I can say that very few people have hosted me at their home. I would have stayed there for longer because I didn´t feel healthy and it was very nice the be there, but time was rushing and I wanted to reach Friedrichshafen on time.

Weather was not improving and even getting worse. Flying direct to Germany was not an option.

Norway was covered by clouds, and also the Atlantic. Those clouds were perfect for icing and I was not prone to convert myself in a ¨jabugo¨ ice-cream, so after much talking with Atle, it was decided to leave and fly overwater, following the coast line.

My dear Windity weather program showed me that I would have to fly really low, underneath 1000 ft.

Just a narrow ¨road¨ was available, or not?

Another problem was related to a weather front entering Germany from west to east. I should fly fast and go ahead of those clouds if I wanted to reach Wurzburg. The expected headwinds were not going to help either !

So EDXW was set as destination. In fact I could have flown direct to Wurzburg, but I preferred to refuel somewhere just to feel more comfortable.

Sylt airport is a nice place to fly in, a good place for tourists. It is located in almost an island, so even with low ceilings, I could keep VMC conditions away from any icing.

A nice breakfast prepared by Atle followed a short night. Soon later, we were at the airport and the aircraft was readied. As expected, weather was not nice but still a Go condition for me.

It was nice to share with you that wonderful time, Atle 🙂 !

I flew south west enjoying the beautiful coast of Norway. Plenty of fish farms were scattered all around. Colorful homes, small villages, small boats, empty roads, some people.

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Left of my course were the mountains. Right, the sky was closed. Not even a mosquito could fly inside. It was closed in front of me. Many thunderstorms were around, black water walls, and just some light, or just let us say, some grey.

I twisted my dear RV around, trying to find the small openings and never flying into a cloud, because many of the rock islands were hiding there.

Wind was blowing even harder and ground speed went low, even to 96 kts when I was keeping 160 kts true airspeed.

The isolated homes soon started not being so. The small cities started to become bigger. Factories bloomed like spring flowers and magic started to disappear. I was sad and I was happy.


I had to go down to 500 ft. Sea was enraged. Not nice to go down and parachute myself would the engine fail. Not nice because it is not wise to jump at 500 ft because no time would be available to have the chute fully deployed and at high speed, water is stone.

Not nice even, to ditch the plane there, so the best solution was to give a big kiss to my airplane and keep going.

Crossing the North Sea open waters, with those black huge waves was not the best nor enjoying matter, but I tracking south.

Then, looking around, I told myself: ¨if I land at Sylt, may be they don´t allow me to take off again under a VFR flight Plan, soooooo…..¨

Sooo I decided to request a new destination, more into the south, more into the east.

EDXM (St Michaelisdonn) was the new one, and it was a wise decision (I think).

I was surprised to see Wind generators plants installed inside the sea and I liked the idea. There, they are not so ugly for the scenery !

Weather improved immediately. I was feeling much better.

When I approached St Michel ( sorry, St Michael…) I positioned myself for a right base leg.

Speaking english with the ¨not controlling Controller¨ should be right for the airplanes around, but there was the ugly duck who didn´t care about that EC XLL on right base.

That ugly duck, a huge motorglider positioned himself into a left base, and forgot about the rest of the world.

I found him right in my nose, and about to hit him. I violently roll left and pitched up my RV to avoid crashing into it, and then, I sent him (not via VHF) all kind of not so kind words!

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Avoiding turn to avoid the motor glider

Finally, I landed and taxied next to him.

He was not even kind to return my ¨guten morgen¨!

So I decided to let it be and started to remove my water survival suit.


A Police car arrived fast and two German Policemen together with a Policewoman, unloaded the car and went direct into me.


Guten morgen, how are you doing?

Nice weather here!

May be they didn´t expect that, so they relaxed a little bit.

-You couldn´t have landed here, the bigger Zoll Policeman told me. You should have landed at an entry airport !

Well….I am coming from Norway, and Norway is Europe, so I didn´t need to land at an entry airport!

-Yes, you should when coming from Norway. Norway is Europe, but under a special status. You should have gone to Hamburg or any other airport.

The fact is that I was so surprised, that they relaxed even more. Their english was not very good and my German was nil, so it was not easy to communicate.

But they were nice, open minded people. They understood the mistake, and they turned very friendly.

-Soooo, you are lucky: you will save more than 70 euros here comparing to a landing at Hamburg!

They cleared me the customs and then, after refuelling, we had a nice time having a coffee together.

As you can imagine, the US Customs supervisor came into my mind. What a different behavior !

Uwe was the guy who helped me at St Michael. Everything was easy with him. Even he was sorry that the Police came ! In fact, those policemen are quite busy and use to check ships going to Sylt. I think that there are some suspicious transports from south to north…

Weather was on its way to change. I didn´t want to stay more time, so I said good bye to the nice policemen and to Uwe. Sure it is a nice place for a stopover , but be careful with the cray motorglider pilot !

Flight into Wurzburg was short. Landscape was different. Homes also. Their roofs, their look, the countryside. It doesn´t matter where you fly, always there is a reason to have the nose glued to the canopy, and let the mind to do the rest.


Small forests, open fields, hills and valleys were speeding under my wings. Soon, the Main river showed me the last tracks to follow. I imagined where the airfield was, so I went low, for a surprise attack. The controller was on frequency. His voice was familiar. Strange ! That Controller speaks english the same way that Peter does ….mmmmm?

Of course he was Peter, he wanted to welcome me !

The airplane was already on top of the trees, at some 270 kms/h. There they were !

Pull up and turn, not good for the plane, but ok at that speed.

Engine at idle, RPM full forward, mixture full rich, fuel pump on, 80 kts, flaps 10 degrees, flaps 20 degrees, turn into final, speed 75 kts, full flaps.

I know, I know, everyone is looking for my landing…I would try to do it fine, just to avoid them laughing on me !

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