It was a lovely Sunday with almost Spring in the air. We planned to fly to Spa in the Belgian Ardennes (EBSP), but there was a weak cold front lingering over our wet country sending puffy cumulus clouds around. These clouds got stuck in the Ardennes, blocking visibility over Spa. So Spa was exchanged by Antwerp (EBAW), a short hop from Kortrijk (EBKT).
Dr. Feelgood came to pick me up in his Rolls Royce, and we set out to Kortrijk airport. The metal gate shielding the lovely Lady Piper OO-VHB from the brutal outside world was stuck. It turned out that the motor running on the gate was missing, probably as it was under repair. We had to call the fire brigade to open the gate.
I took the left seat on teh flight from Kortrijk to Antwerp. We flew a leasurly EBKT-NIK-EBAW at about 130 KIAS on 24″ / 2400 RPM, maintaining 2300 ft under the cumulus clouds form the cold front, and under the Brussels TMA. Abeam NIK, a call to Antwerp Tower and we were cleared to KONTI, followed by a downwind & base to runway 29 at Antwerp, almost completely into the wind. Gear down, flaps 10, RPM & mixture high, fuel pump on, and a kissed landing. Flight was pleasant now that the intercom system is fully working and we can have the headsets on for the flight. The Doctor enjoyed that.
We had to park in the grass passed a new hangar containing some lovely old aircraft. More about that later.
We entered via the classic empty baggage handling and terminal. This time, however, there was another feel to Antwerp terminal ! It seemed that they had upgraded the Terminal and its facilities! Very nice! Good to see that it is not all doom and gloom with Belgium’s small airports …
At the counter (‘C’) we had to re-register aircraft and owner as they had changed the computer system … The landing charge surprised both the Doctor and myself: only 22 EUR. We thought it would be higher then the 29 EUR of Ostend. Oh well … this is still high, don’t you think.
We had a coffee and a pancake in the (yes) renewed cafetaria (they have their priorities right). and after about an hour, were ready to take the flight back home. Of course, we needed to pass the whole stupid security check again and I was awarded by a male body-searching me. The life of a amateur pilot can be fantastic 😉
Quite a lot of VLM Fokkers on the tarmas in Antwerp. They were either not busy, or it was an off day !?
Passing along the large blue sprayed doors, we were summoned in by what appeared some war veterans. The hangar, which belongs to the local Stampe & Vertongen Museum, is full of old Stampe biplanes, and one T-6 Harvard. Beautiful airplanes in various states of restoration, of which a fair number in flyable conditions. As you might know, the Stampe & Vertongen biplanes are a Belgian design.
The two venerable gentlemen were delighted to show us around and opened the hangar doors so I could pictures with ample light. They were particularly proud of the privately owned Harvard T-6 in flying condition. It is of South-African descent and was used there as a trainer. Belgian Airforces used to train on Harvards too.
The radial engine demanded immediate attention. Even if it is not turning, you can hear its roar !
In the engine, an American coin has been added in between the cylinders. If anybody knows the significance of that, please let me know !
Back outside, the flightline was slightly changed. I was happy to see that the Robin OO-TOY from my flying club in Kortrijk, the ZAC, had joined. It has been a while that I flew this 2+2 seater with a stick.
Also I saw a nice new Socata Trinidad GT, from what turned out a PPL/IR acquaintance who also runs an aviation website. In a reply to an email I wrote him, he told me he had had some trouble on the way in. Maybe icing ? I find such a Trinidad one of the most beautiful GA aircraft about. Would like to own one like that 😉
On the way back, Doctor took control of his Piper while I took care of the radio and some flight monitoring.
Lovely flight back home. Smashing landing in Kortrijk !