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Tuesday 2nd December

Tom and I arrived in Wroclaw in the afternoon – a little tired and weary but very excited! Quite literally as we were stepping off our Ryanair flight from Stansted we spotted these two small, incredibly good looking aircraft taxiing across the apron at Wroclaw International airport. The registrations were G-TGUN and G-SRUM…and a glimpse of Chris’s aviators shining in the Polish sunlight in the cockpit of G-TGUN (surprise surprise!) confirmed that our transport back home to Old Sarum had arrived, safe and sound after its flight from the factory in Mielec. We couldn’t wait!

Wednesday 3rd December

After a good nights sleep, we set off early(ish!) on the Wednesday morning, and left Wroclaw in sunny skies, routing almost due west towards the German border. The Polish landscape was fairly flat but incredibly interesting, and with Trevor (the AT-3 UK dealer) and Tom leading the way with navigating the route in G-SRUM, Chris and I flew in G-TGUN. We flew in formation on their port side and approximately 15 metres away which was amazing fun, and a great experience.

Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated over Germany and we arrived in Dresden in the late morning, but unable to continue any further. Whilst it was frustrating, it did allow us to explore Dresden during that afternoon which was really interesting. We visited a huge church that had been bombed by the allies during World War II, and then rebuilt in the aftermath. They had used some of the old brick work to complete the rebuild – and the end result was quite impressive.

Thursday 4th December

On the Thursday we rose early to de-ice the planes and try to get out of Dresden to make more progress west. The original plan was to land in Paderborn, which is in Central-Western Germany. However, after taking off we encountered some interesting weather – snow had been falling thick and fast in the prior days, and the cloud base was lowering as we tracked west. With the weather getting dangerously close to IMC, we turned back and diverted to our alternate destination, a place called Erfurt.

Once again, despite being frustrated at the lack of progress, we sampled the city’s culture and different sites. Erfurt was a very picturesque place, with a river running through the spine, and an amazing Christmas market with a huge Ferris wheel in the centre. The Germans seemed to encourage the spirit of Christmas more than us Brits! And of course, we made sure we sampled the local German lager too.

Friday 5th December

On Friday, we rose early and with an improvement in the weather, we departed Erfurt in the direction of Monchengladbach, which was an interesting flight with picturesque views. The odd batch of cloud and high terrain forced us to occasionally go off-track, but we were soon passed the hills and as we entered the Rhine valley we came into sight of ‘the big smoke’ of Dusseldorf. We tracked along the autobahn onto Monchengladbach, and once again we were greeted with a pristine runway and immaculate facilities – something that we had come to expect in Germany. The best thing was; we seemed to be the only ones making use of them!

Saturday 6th December

It was the final day of the journey, and we all wanted to make it back to Old Sarum. The plan was to fly from Monchengladbach over the rest of Germany, across the Southern tip of Holland and into Belgium. Then the intention was to depart the coastline at Ostend, cross the English Channel and arrive at Lydd in Kent, back on home soil. Our plans were scuppered straight away because Monchengladbach was covered in cloud with a base of 200ft. We proceeded to sit around in the ‘ghost’ airport and wait…

…..Eventually, there was enough of a break to take off, fully kitted out in our life-jackets and ready for the channel crossing.

As we flew away from cloudy Monchengladbach, the last leg became great flight in brilliant conditions, with only the occasional shower to avoid. As planned, we routed across the last part of Germany, Southern Holland and then on into Belgium. The weather ahead was superb, and the Channel soon came into view as we crossed Belgium towards the coast. Despite being a little conscious of the fact we were flying over water and not land, crossing the Channel was great fun and over too quickly! After only about 20 minutes the white cliffs came into view, we were home!……..………..almost!

Tracking east along the coast of Kent led us to Lydd aerodrome, where we stopped in true ‘splash and dash’ style – (both in a refuelling and toilet sense)! With sunsetjust over an hour away we put the burners on during the final leg home to Old Sarum, and a with a tail wind helping us on our way, (giving us ground speed of 130 knots at times), we touched down (just) ahead of sunset.

It felt good to be back, but I think we were all a little sad that the adventure was over. The experience for Tom and I was unforgettable, and something we will always look back on with pride as we train for our PPLs.

Pictures will be uploaded soon…