It started in March. I always wanted to go to the DFL show, and what better way to fly there in a DC-3? I booked a flight with the Dutch Dakota Association (DDA) The big day was finally here, and after regularly checking the weather at CBG I was convinced we'd be going. Unfortunately we would not be landing at QFO but at CBG. As the story goes, the QFO fire department was downgraded to Cat 3 by British Authorities, and our plane would be a Cat 4. We'd be flying to CBG and take a bus instead.
On 11 july I arrived pretty early at the KLM Jet Center at Schiphol Oost (AMS) to ensure I got a window seat when checking in. I got assigned seat 1K. (First row, right window seat. 2-2 seating) Just behind engine number two. The DDA would be sending two birds to CBG, the PH-PBA and the PH-DDZ. I flew on the latter one. After everyone arrived, we got on the bus and were driven to the aircraft.
Photo © Ruud Brinks
3rd time on this aircraft.
A little history on the PH-DDZ "Doornroosje" (Sleeping Beauty)
Originally build as a C-47A in 1943, the PH-DDZ spent her first years in the USAF, training flight crews with operations such as glider-towing. After that she went to Africa, and flew oil workers across Egypt with "Pyramid Airlines" Her name back then was "Khephren" After she was acquired by the DDA, she was prepared at Malta for the trip to The Netherlands. She spent years in restoration and is now flying in classic MP (Martin's Air Charter) colors. She's a regular guest at European air shows.
I boarded the aircraft and took my seat. The flight was operated by two pilots, two flight attendants, and a technician for ground support. Most of whom are employed by KL in their daily lives, and volunteer at the DDA. My seat was located on the first row. I had plenty of legroom and a great view outside. The flight would be around one and a half hour. Flying not higher then 2000ft over sea, and around 1600ft over land. To clarify, cockpit visits, as well as filming during take-off or landing are allowed.
Ready to board!
The PH-PBA getting ready to go
After everyone got seated it was time to go. Startup of the number two engine:
After the startup we began taxiing to Schiphol's smallest runway, the 22. Before we could take off the engines had to be run up. The pilot parked the nose into the wind and did the run up checks, which basically consists of testing the magneto's, and feathering mechanisms as well as getting the engine warm.
The PBA was ahead of us and after she was airborne, we had to wait for some conflicting traffic and then we were also cleared for take-off. You can see the PBA climbing out next to the control tower in this take-off video:
Very soon we crossed the coast line and flew over the North Sea. We didn't fly higher then 2000ft at any time. The PBA was flying some 4 minutes ahead of us.
The on board service started. We got sandwiches, coffee/tea, a candy bar, yogurt and a croissant. Which tasted pretty good. After that some more sandwiches were passed out and we were free to visit the cockpit. (That's still possible on these flights) Engine noise is real loud on take-off, thats why my video's sound quality is so poor. But with cruising power it isn't that loud. We had no turbulence at all on this flight.
Me in the cabin:
The cabin, 24 seats all filled:
Seen from the navigators position:
The flight deck:
The engine gauges, flying with only 27 inches manifold pressure:
Progress on the GPS, nearing the English coast:
Over England the weather started to deteriorate:
Seatbelt light turned on, approaching CBG!
Landing video, after coming to a stop we had to backtrack to the nearest exit.
The PBA was already unloading passengers when we arrived at the stand:
After disembarking, control locks in place:
Duxford diversion, this beautiful dove:
Cambridge TWR and a Swedish Herc:
The Cambridge Terminal:
After clearing immigrations we waited outside for the bus to transport us to Duxford. We got on board and got to Duxford pretty fast, only encountering some heavy traffic near the museum. When arriving at the airfield the weather wasn't very good. Visibility was okay but low ceiling and drizzle. I got some pounds at an ATM and decided to purchase a flight-line walk ticket. It was worth it, I'll post a small selection of my pictures as I took many.
The main reason for my Duxford visit, the B-17G Pink Lady:
Not one, but three beautiful B-25s!
Sarinah (Netherlands Based)
Nice collection of Spitfires!
UK Based B-17, Sally B, unfortunately she destroyed an engine and would not fly today, she is said to take to the skies within a month:
After walking past the aircraft I decided to visit the American section of the museum. A great collection housed here includes a B-17, B-29, even a B-52 and so much more! It was rather busy inside so I should probably visit Duxford again on a no-airshow date when I have all the time to see everything. I visited the other hangars and the planes outside. (VC-10, Trident, Britannia) and moved on to Hangar 1. I always though the NASM in Washington was the best museum I've seen, but after visiting Duxford I'm not so sure. Almost every British plane with a significant history is shown in Hangar one!
After that I still had some time to kill before the show would start (at 1400) and I came across a "Classic Wings" stand which offered sightseeing flights for a reasonable price. I didn't hesitate and booked a flight on a DH-89 "Dragon Rapide"
I had to wait for about half an hour, watching Tiger Moths and 2 DH-89's flying in and out with loads of passengers. Me and 7 other pax got a safety briefing on the ground. I think its the first aircraft I flew which has emergency exits in the roof!
Photo © Simon Thomas
Duxford Round trip
DH-89 Dragon Rapide
Seat 2B (1-1 seating)
As the passengers of the previous flight were disembarking, we were told to line up alongside the wing of the plane, which allowed me to see that the wing was little more then wood and linen! It was the first time I'd fly on a biplane so I was pretty excited.
Getting in the aircraft was quite a challenge as it was real small inside. When I finally got to my seat it was surprisingly comfortable!
The cockpit, I could see a big TURN AND SLIP Indicator which is featured on a lot of classic British planes!
The engines started and we taxied to the runway, and soon took off:
Banking to the right I could see CBG in the distance:
Its small inside:
Time flies, and we made a steep turn and descent into duxford, lovely "squeek" as the wheels touched, I could see the runway trough the pilots windows!
After that it was time for the show, and it was fantastic! I found myself a spot near the Land warfare hall. Where else do you see a spitfire chase a Messerschmidt, backed up by a Focke-Wulf?
Messerschmidt and Focke-Wulf:
The Horsemen team, worlds only aerobatics team with P51s! They were amazing, howling engine sounds trough the entire display!
Three B-25's and a P-40, it doesn't get much better!
Two Skyraiders and a SeaFire
Okay, so it does get better!
What a sound! Roaring engines, it was everything I ever hoped it would be! (As you may have figured I'm a pretty big B-17 fan, but I had never seen one fly)
Another very interesting display by this Bleriot, this type crossed the Canal for the first time. It was said this particular plane is going to attempt to cross the Canal again to celebrate the 100th anniversary on the 26th of july.
Amazing show by the D-AQUI, Junkers-52!
Very pretty Gloster Gladiator!
Hawker Hurricane trio
Another unique sight, two tri-planes and a biplane!
Dakota Norway, and a Beech Staggerwing:
French Morane 406
The show was over way to soon, but the closing act was amazing!
All passengers met back at the bus and drove back to CBG. After clearing security (busy day for the CBG staff) we got on board the aircraft again!
Flight time: about 1.30 hours.
Doornroosje waiting to go, VLM in the background
PBA ready to go
After everyone got seated, engines were started, runup, and cleared for take-off, my camera battery went dead as soon as take-off power was selected. Along the flight it turned on long enough to make some pictures:
In flight over England
Again the FA's served us food, sandwiches and potato salad. Beverages included Beer, Wine, Juice and Coke. It was pretty good, but when you realize your eating aboard a DC-3 it makes it all the more special!
I made my way to the cockpit, and the technician summoned me to take a seat on a small ledge and I talked with him about classic aviation. The pilot had his window open, floating gently at 2000ft with the Dutch coast coming closer, sun setting, the rumble of the engines outside... Flying just doesn't get better then that!
Progress on the GPS
Window open in flight.
As seen from the cockpit
Dutch coastline up ahead
The pilot switched the seatbelt sign so I headed back to my seat.
Again my camera was on critical fuel so I could not film the landing. But after a day like that, I didn't let something that small ruin it!
Taxiing to the Kilo ramp
The PBA, once more ahead of us:
The DDZ, see you next time!
It was an amazing day. I saw so much aircraft I always wanted to see, got to fly on two classics and truly experienced the best of flying on the CBG AMS trip when I was seated up front. If you ever get the chance to fly on a DC-3, grab it with both hands and don't let go until that door closes behind you. I'm a huge aviation fan, but the noise, vibrations and smell that come with classic aviation are the best of all!
I would like to sent my personal thanks to all the dedicated people at the DDA, as well as all the people who made Duxford Flying Legends 2009 possible! If you made it this far, thank you for reading!
[Edited 2009-07-13 13:30:37]