It’s 7am and I can hear the alarm going off. But there is also another sound. I’m listening more carefully: Sh*** – it’s raindrops on the roof. Well, not the best weather to start a trip North. But the long term forecast for Scandinavia is still fantastic, so a bit of rain around Frankfurt shouldn’t stop us from starting a great adventure. Everything is nicely prepared, AVGAS fields noted down, VFR Guide Norway studied and the ICAO charts are in the flight bag.
By the time of the first cup of coffee the rain has already stopped and the clouds look less grey. The METAR and TAF for Hamburg, the first stop of the trip, are also very good and so is the mood. More than 2000 nm of flying adventure are ahead of us, Frankfurt – Trondheim and back. In the end the following route provided us with many wonderful impressions: EDFE-EDDH-ENCN-ENFY-ENBR-ENSG-ENSD-ENML-ENVA-ENCN-EDAZ-EDFE.
After the coffee it’s time to pick up the passengers joining to Hamburg to meet the friend who’ll fly all the way to Trondheim with our small DA40-180.
Off to Egelsbach airport (EDFE) through the morning traffic. Loading the luggage and doing the pre-flight of the plane. Weather isn’t exactly enjoyable VFR, so the first leg will be an IFR flight – the slots for Hamburg were organized as a pre caution which now comes in handy.
The closer to Hamburg (EDDH) we come the better the weather gets, but also the wind increases. Landing runway in EDDH is 15 and the runway used for take-off is 05. The controller starts routing us west of Hamburg to the North when we are asked if we could accept a visual approach to 05. What a nice shortcut – but the wind is getting gustier and I get worried about the passengers, but they seem to be just fine. They actually seem to enjoy the roller coaster ride, which is a first.
On the ground everything is professional, we get a marshaller and parking right next to the AVGAS, which will be precious in Norway. Unfortunately, the next message we get is that our friend from Trondheim is delayed, so it will just be a short meet and greet prior to continuing to Norway.
After a very short meet and greet it’s time for the next leg to Norway. The destination is Kristiansand (ENCN) at the very far southern tip. But first we have to go through customs. While Norway is not an EU member state they luckily joined the Schengen agreement, which makes traveling quite easy.
Most of the flight will be over Denmark, so plenty of radio communication required for the busy airspaces. And we have to get the DA40 high up into the skies for the crossing of the northern sea. Considering the water temperature, the life jackets are more a decoration I guess.
The approach into Kristiansand is just beautiful. Lots of small green islands. Directly after landing we again taxi to the fuel farm to get the AVGAS, since our final destination for tonight, Fyresdal (ENFY), does not have any fuel available. A large twin is fueling ahead of us and talking with the crew they tell us that they flew here from Stavanger to get AVGAS, because the pump in Stavanger was empty. And then a small moment of shock – there is no more fuel coming from the pump here as well. What? Should the trip be over already? But after a minute or so the pump suddenly continued providing AVGAS. And we also got our share after the twin was refuelled. And then of course customs, which was simply to walk through an empty terminal building. Kristiansand is an Avinor airport. There is a weekly landing card available which pays for all landings on Avinor airport except Oslo. One can also park for free for the first two hours, so no administrative work required.
Minutes later we are airborne again on our way to Fyresdal, where we want to spend the night at the lake. The local flying club had been so kind to give us the combination to their club house so that we can stay there for the night. The land below already looks pretty deserted, but it’s a beautiful last leg for the day. The airport is easy to find, since it’s at the end of a valley and the windsock also indicated a clear landing direction, although the evening winds are already very calm. The local flying club also had provided us with a briefing about critical wind directions, but we are lucky tonight and have favourable conditions.
After a short walk along the river we meet Ulav from the flying club there and have a short chat. Unfortunately the field does not get a lot of support and they would love to promote it better. Well, I’d like to do exactly this. It’s beautifully located and the nearby lake has a nice beach, where we actually decided to have our dinner at. And since the night was so beautiful we also had a little campfire. The lake wasn’t too cold and because of a sand bank you could actually go for a rather long walk “in” the lake.
The next day we filed the flight plan to Bergen, which will be the next stop with AVGAS prior to going into the mountains. About 30 minutes prior I get the call if I really had the intention to fly to Bergen Heliport – Avinor was concerned about the available landing distance. ARGH!! I had actually filed the flight plan to the wrong airport. Thank god someone had made a sanity check on the other side. Always good that you can trust your local AIS centre.
On the way to Bergen lies famous Trolltunga, which is one of the major landmarks of Norway and was probably on the cover of many Norway travel guides. And we found it! On the photos one can actually see someone lying on the edge and looking down towards the lake.
The flight to Bergen is demonstrating the size of the Fjords. Tight turns are not really required. For the landing in Bergen we get many reporting points, but they are not on my chart. Well, nothing a little bit of radio work can’t solve and after getting a beautiful view on the outskirts of Bergen we are again on the ground and on the way to the AVGAS reservoir.
Bergen’s nature is spectacular. After an hour of walking one is the middle of a wonderful landscape high above the city. While we are lucky with the weather and can enjoy Bergen without a single cloud in the sky the hiking trail gives a hint that there is a fair bit of rain here at other times. It’s definitively recommended to wear hiking boots. However, the hike guarantees for a good nights sleep and the next morning we are all bright eyed and bushy tailed. Well, almost…
The flight today will be a short one, but towards a spectacular airport and along Norway’s longest Fjord, Sognefjorden. But prior to the highlight of landing there we get a beautiful departure over Bergen downtown (meanwhile we had been able to find the proper VFR chart – so the waypoints were no problems anymore). Sogndal airport (ENSG) is and uncontrolled field and only flight information service is available. Prior to our arrival a commercial Widerøe flight departs and we are trying to locate the Dash-8 in the fjord, but by the time we see the traffic they are much higher already. An impressive climb rate. The landing in Sogndal is spectacular.
After some phone calls we also get our rental car. Due to the timing they had assumed we were on the Widerøe flight and were a no-show, but it all worked out fine. After some shopping for the night and a beautiful hike to a mountain top to enjoy wonderful Fjord views it’s time to find a camping spot for the night, which turns out to be quite difficult thanks to the steep walls of the fjords.
But after a while we are successful. After delicious burgers it’s time to fall asleep to the sound of waterfalls, which are surrounding our campsite.
The next day we have to hurry a bit, since it is Saturday and the airport closes early. Due to limited accommodation and transportation in Sandane the final destination for today will be Molde, which also has AVGAS again, but of course a highlight as Sandane cannot be skipped, so a landing there is a must.
But prior to this aviation highlight the spectacular nature of Jotunheimen National Park will be enjoyed from a bird’s eye view.
After having enjoyed the icy views of the Norwegian Alps and some glaciers the plane takes us down into the fjords again for the landing in Sandane (ENSD).
Well, not as easy as expected, so we need an additional loop between the walls of the fjords to lose some altitude, but then also this beautiful airport gets some prints from the wheels of our DA40.
Continuing to Molde gives a good example why it might be useful to stay in radio contact with Norway Control whenever possible: The controller warns us of a paragliding competition right on our course to Molde. That one didn’t show up in the electronic flight bag. After some vectors we can continue our approach into Molde, where some clouds make the scenery even more beautiful.
From Molde one can apparently see more than 222 snow covered peaks and the city hosts a world known company for building ship thrusters. But most importantly we get AVGAS again. But only after quite a wait, since about 5 minutes after our arrival a Norwegian 737 arrives also needing fuel. Which leaves us with the problem of getting into town, since the buses for the Norwegian flight already left. Asking a local brings the solution: he drove us straight into the hotel. Accommodation is Dubai style in the Scandic Seilet (the Sail), which offers free bicycles to explore the surroundings. And it also offers a nice breakfast with wonderful views.
Further North we go the next day, Trondheim will be the most northern point of this trip. Again, severe CAVOK is forecasted, so first we’ll take a detour along the spectacular Atlantic Road. But for this we need a clear windshield.
And then of course Trondheim – the current hometown of the co-pilot. Arrival is from the West via Bymarka and the approach controller grants us a 360 for a photo session of Trondheim.
The reporting point into the Trondheim CTR is via Hommelvik, the former sea plane port Trondheim, where on the 1st of March 1941 the Ju52 D-AQUB “Hans Berr” had a deadly landing accident. Just prior to the flight the co-pilot had actually visited the wreck in its cold grave.
We do not intend to follow D-AQUB’s fate and continue to Trondheim Værnes Airport, which seems to be busy today.
The centre line of the runway is the most furthest point for us this year – 63°27’27.8″N – still a long way up to the most northerly regions of Norway, but there can always be a next time.
As usual the first thing after landing is to feed the hungry IO-360M1A with more AVGAS, which is plentiful in Trondheim. The Værnes Expressen bus takes us straight into Trondheim Downtown.
In Trondheim friends are waiting and the crew can enjoy some well-deserved beers in the sunshine, which actually shines till late in the night.
The next day the DA40 will be modified to a cargo plane to already assist in moving back to Germany. As usual the staff at the airport is extremely helpful and supportive in getting the stuff towards the plane.
Unfortunately, the forecasted weather isn’t very favourable anymore, so an IFR flight plan seems advisable. For a 2.5 hours flight there was ONE other plane below FL100 and already 35 nm ahead of the traffic I got the information that the other plane was there with future updated to be expected. Funnily enough both planes pretty much exactly crossed paths, however, on different altitudes. For the arrival in Kristiansand the IFR flight plan pays off. Low clouds hanging around the mountain tops would’ve made a VFR flight a stressful activity.
The pilot got his first circle to land procedure due to the changing wind conditions caused by the nearby thunderstorm. After AVGAS fuelling and customs, the start up clearance was (luckily) denied with the information that the thunderstorm would be over the field in two minutes. And so it was. Luckily it didn’t last very long, but long enough to find out that the plane had a leak. After the passing of the storm the next 3.5 hours to Berlin Schönhagen were a rather uneventful and pleasant cruise. And the customs also had decided not to send anybody – with a 2 hour pre-notice EDAZ can arrange for customs.
The final leg back to Egelsbach had to take place in the morning to avoid the heavy thunderstorm forecasted for the afternoon and evening. Staying VFR allowed to avoid some build-ups, which had already formed earlier than expected.
N943PA is back home again – and the crew has collected unforgettable memories.
Fyresdal Airfield: http://www.fyresdalflyplass.no/
Avinor Landing Card and GA Parking: https://avinor.no/en/corporate/services/takeoff-charge-and-plane-parking/
Avinor Internet Pilot Planning Center: https://www.ippc.no