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A summer trip to the Baltic Rim

(This will be in several installments, as I am currently a bit short of time to write it all up in one go.)

Mid-July. Lübeck-Blankensee (EDHL), in the north of Germany. My plan is to go north and east. No fixed destinations, but a lot of places on the bucket list. The weather promises to be good. I have the aircraft (SR22) packed with some basic camping stuff, some food and drink, and some clothes.

My first planned stop is Visby (ESSV), on Gotland in Sweden. One, because I have never previously had the opportunity to see the old Hanseatic town of Visby and two, because it keeps many options open for me as my next stops (mainland Sweden, Finland, the Baltics…).

Departure – as always – early in the morning. Since there is not a lot of fuel in the tanks, I decide to fly to Rendsburg (EDXR) first, even though that is a little out of the way… but since their Avgas is the cheapest Germany, and I need quite a lot, I do it anyway. This 20-minute VFR will also get me into the mood for much more flying over the next 5 days.

Here is the cold cockpit.

Lübeck airport, on this sunny summer morning.

Passing reporting point “Whiskey”, heading northwest.

Bad Segeberg, a place that’s famous in Germany for their “Karl May Festival” (you can see the arena on the photo). I saw Pierre Brice acting as Winnetou there when I was a small kid.

Wahlstedt airfield (EDHW), just west of Bad Segeberg.

And a little further up, Neumünster airfield (EDHN).

Here I am at Rendsburg airfield.

A nice little place that I like to visit frequently, not only because of this:

Out of Rendsburg, I have an IFR flightplan on file, which is more or less a straight line, as usual in Scandinvia.

After takeoff, I climb to FL110. The Eckernförder Bucht.

The isle of Ærø, with its picturesque town of Ærøskøbing.

Since there is a good push from behind, I fly at low-power to save some gas (163KTAS @ 11.4GPH).

Femø.

Reaching Sweden, south of Malmö.

This is Vellinge-Söderslatts airfield (ESTT), near Trelleborg.

A little further on, and one is absolutely in the nowhwere of southern Sweden.

Hmm…

But shortly after, I reach the southeastern shores of the country, with Kalmar as a prominent point…

…and the isle of Öland just beyond that.


Öland has got a handful of small airfields, the most beautiful of which is simply called Ölanda (ESMZ), in the very north, and close to the most beautiful beaches of the island.

From the northern tip of Öland, it’s about 35 miles of open seas to the isle of Gotland, which is the second biggest island of the Baltic. Approaching Visby from the southwest.

A first look at the island’s capital, with the airport in the background.

The airport – a rather big international airport – is unique, in that to the south of the main runway, they have a (grass) crosswind runway. The local aeroclub, which nowadays “takes care” also of any small visting GA aircraft, is south of that runway. The Avgas pump is also there. That effectively creates a small airport on a big one, where GA can more or less do it pleases. A bit similar to Bergamo in Italy. A very very slick setup.

Given the westerly winds, I am offered and gladly accept the grass runway. Another, closer-up look at Visby old town.

On base leg for runway 27.

After landing, I taxy to the (Shell) fuel pump, which works with credit cards (no problems whatsoever getting it to run) and fuel up again. Sure, I don’t really need all too much fuel, but since I am considering going to Finland and possibly Estonia later (in these two countries, you have the most expensive Avgas of Europe, costing more than in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece), I take the opportunity to go back to full tanks where 100LL is still reasonably priced (a little over 2 Euros per litre).

However, after that, I need to taxy a short distance over to the vistors’ parking area and thus have to start the engine again. That’s where I notice a problem. I have the dreaded Continental “slipping” starter. I still manage to do the (hot) start, but it is appararent that the starter IS slipping. Bummer. Anyway, for the time, I taxy over and park up, next to a very very beautiful Beech Debonair.

I decide to go into town and to think about my options a bit later. One can just walk out of a gate next to the clubhouse, without “reporting” to anybody. Nice! I am lucky that the pilot of the Debonair (who landed just before me) has a car parked at the aeroclub, so he gives me a ride into town. Anyway, one can even walk the distance (20 minutes). I am sure a taxi wouldn’t cost much money either (not even in Sweden), since it’s so close.

Visby has a lot of history and a lot of sights. Beginning in the 12th century, it became the most important trade port of the Baltic Sea and reamined such for several centuries. Some photos.













As I am wondering around, taking pictures and having a hot-dog, I am considering my options with that starter adapter which clearly is on its last legs. I also call my mechanic to ask for advice. It is clear that this won’t cause me any immediate problems with cold starts, since when cold, my SR22 always starts on the first or second blade. Hot starts could become a problem though. This plan for this trip was to fly to some pretty remote strips in the nowhere of Sweden and Finland. I do not want to get unvoluntarily stranded there. I even briefly consider calling it all off and flying back home, before it gets worse. But then I say to myself that I don’t want to sacrifice this week of vacation, the gorgeous weather in the northeast of Europe and all that. My mechanic said that he has never heard about any Cirrus pilot getting completely stranded anywhere due to a slipping starter adapter. In the worst case, one would have to wait 4 hours or so until the engine and the fuel system were totally cold again.

I hence form the plan to modify my trip a bit and to only go to more or less “civilized” places, where I would be able to get help, and, if necessary, fly back home on a commercial flight. I also resolve to adjust my flying rhythm to only fly in the morning, then stay there, and then fly elsewhere only the next morning. Still, I am a bit down, since in my orignal plans, I was to visit a lot of small places and hop from one airfield to another on a whim. What a shame.

Also, since I WANT to know ASAP if the aircraft will start reasonably well after sitting for some hours, I decide to go back to the airport and to see how it goes. If it’s bad, I can still fly it back straight back home, or even directly all the way to where the shop is.

This time I take the walk back to the airfield, and on my way there, “plan” my next destination. Somehow, there is something in me that wants me to go to Finland as soon as possible. I definitely want to fly to Helsinki, and to its doomed GA airport, Malmi (EFHF). But I still also want to go some rural place in the countryside, with lakes, woods and little else. I mentally run through that bucket list that I prepared at home. I figure I could go to Räyskällä (EFRY). This place is only about 80 kilometres northwest of Helsinki, but still looks like it would be pretty rurual and scenic.

Back at the airport, I briefly sit down at the aeroclub to file the IFR flightplan.

Which isn’t so easy, with just the iphone. Also I do not want to fly for one and a half hours straight over the water. Flying a slight dogleg to the northwest would strongly reduce the distance out of glide distance, so I add a couple of fly-by waypoints:

Now, it’s time to start the engine. As expected, it starts on the second blade, with the starter adapter problem being barely noticeable. This gives me a lot of reassurance, so this is the final decision to continue. ATC again offers runway 27 and I take off towards the sea. A last look at Visby:

The coast, looking north.

Look back at that unique airport of Visby.

I climb to FL110 again, and again, I have the winds on my tail. One thing that I neglected a bit over all those short term decisions was the weather. Since the original plan wasn’t to fly to Finland at all on day 1, this was not in my focus previously. Firing up the ADL, I see some weather both enroute and at my destination, Räyskällä.

Here is an isolated thunderstorm just to the right of my track.

The ADL of course shows it, as well as the weather overhead my destination.

The typical skerry landscapes off the coast of the southwest Finland.

Still a bit of weather at the destination, but on its way out.

Abeam Turku.

Descending IFR in uncontrolled airspace.

A final look at the ADL. Very useful.

Welcome to Finland!


Joining the traffic circuit at Räyskällä.

Parked up near the “tower”, a first look around. It was early evening (UTC+3 in Finland in summer).


All fuels available, but as expected, Avgas at eye-watering prices.

A young friendly lady walks up to me and explains me all there was to know. She recommends I have some dinner now (since the airfield restaurant, which is at the base of the tower, would close) and only then walk go over to the motel, which is on the other side of the street, on a lakeshore. So I do that.

This is the motel. Very basic accomodation, but that is fine for me.

The motel also serves as a training centre, since Räykällä is the most important gliding centre of Finland. In the seventies, it hosted the gliding world championships. That is when the airfield was extended. Also, the place has got two very nice saunas, right by the lake.

This is the most important information for this place. Sauna really is an ever present subject.

I was nicely in time for the big sauna. Now THAT was just great. Some pics, to give you an idea beauty of the place.








Highly recommended!

Last Edited by boscomantico at 04 Sep 18:15
Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

Great trip @Boscomantico Finland looks very beautiful from the air.

I can empathise with your starter problems having just spent 48hours unplanned in Cannes on the way back from Tivat waiting for a new starter motor to arrive from Piper Germany! I absolutely dread hot starts.

Alex
Shoreham (EGKA) White Waltham (EGLM)

Nice report and great pictures. Keep it coming…

Could have run into you easily at EDHL as I also started my Scandinavia trip in early July from there (trip report further below in this section) and was back for a week of work in Lübeck and some local flying at the end of July. But then, I hardly ever fly early in the morning.

Essen-Mülheim (EDLE), Düsseldorf (EDDL), Paderborn (EDLP), Mönchengladbach (EDLN), Germany

Very good report and nice pictures. A tip for the Cont starter slippage, use a 28 volt power cart if the ships 24 volt allows it to slip. With 28 volts it will turn over and engage giving a few good starts. What kind of oil are you using?

KHTO, LHTL

W80 only.

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

Flyingwise, the second day was much shorter… just the short (but very scenic) flight from Räyskälla (EFRY) to Malmi (EFHF). I then stayed all day in Helsinki.

First thing in the morning is to get PPR for Malmi. Their online PPR is 100% just a formality thing, basically to get the flight into their computer. The confirmation comes back instantly. However, this can only be done on the day of the flight, not before. I packed my bag and walked the 400 metres to the aircraft and the airfield cafeteria, which opens at 8:00 and serves breakfast. On this partcular day, there is already a lot going on at the cafeteria, since there is a gliding competetion taking place. During breakfast, I chat a bit with an Australian pilot, who flies a Mooney when at home and who came over to Räyskälla to tow gliders (with Piper Pawnees) during the summer!

Although Räyskällä is in the middle of nowhere, for some reason, there is some anti-noise procedure, which bans motor aircraft take-offs and landings before 9pm and after 6pm. No problem for me though; I take my time with the preflight, while the glider pilots and tug pilots get ready for their competition.

I start the engine at 8:55. As expected, the engine starts right away, with the slipping starter being almost unnoticeable. The winds are almost calm. I taxy out to and take off from runway 30, since runways 26 is already somewhat “occupied” by all the gliders. After takeoff, this is the airfield from a righthand downwind position.

Here, on the bottom right, you can barely see the motel and the footbridge in front of the sauna.

And here, you can nicely see the airfield layout. As I said, it’s been extended in the early seventies.

This short, but beautiful VFR flight would take only about 20 minutes.

Just to the west of Helsinki, there was a 2000-foot high antenna just to the right of my track. Never seen one like that before in Europe, only in North America.

Coming in to the Helsinki area from the west…

The approach into Malmi, coming from the west is very scenic and takes you just south of the city. Great for photos!




Entering the RMZ of Malmi airport. By the way, in nice weather, the airport gets really busy, and surprisingly, many local pilots call their positions only in Finnish. Keep a good lookout!

Downwind for 18.


On base, one can see the airline airport in Vantaa (EFHK).

Final:




A beautiful airport it is. The only thing is that, just like all other “doomed” airports (e.g. Bromma, Essen), they have that atmosphere of decline…

I then take the regular bus to the city centre of Helsinki and use the day to explore this city where I previously haven’t been before. Since the weather is nice, I rent a bike, which is IMHO the very best way to explore big cities. A series of photos of Helsinki, without further comments.











I then take a ferry to the island “Suomenlinna”, just south of the city, which is a mixture of a park and a museum.




In the evening, I explore the outskirts of the Helsinki…



…before returning to the seafront just south of the city a second time.





In summary: I really enjoyed it. In terms of “layout” and general appearance, Helsinki is very similar to Stockholm. In terms of overall beauty and architectural richness, it doesn’t quite hold a candle though.

This was day 2 of the trip. Stay tuned.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 07 Sep 20:30
Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

That’s really an excellent trip and wonderful report.
As you spoke a little about weather anticipation thanks to ADL, could you tell us how you usually brief weather before departure ? I mean what sources and which weather charts do you pick up usually ?

Bosco,

Fantastic trip report. Thank you so much for taking the time to write them up. It is trip reports like these which give so much incentive to push on with flying and look/think further afield than a few hours from base.

Incidentally, my thanks go to all those who take the time to write up their trips, not just Bosco. I was inspired to post a reply here as I came back from Stockholm on Sunday via a cramped and tiring budget airline flight. Seeing Bosco’s flight past Stockholm here I have vowed to fly myself there next time!

S57
Farm Strip in Wales, United Kingdom

Your report is awesome !
You had an amazing weather too, is it usual in summer there (I have no idea).
Please send the rest of your trip ! You are moving the Baltic area up on my to-go list !

Boscomantico wrote:

Just to the west of Helsinki, there was a 2000-foot high antenna just to the right of my track.

According to my map the Espoo TV tower is only 1214 feet or 370 meters so better check your QNH. Great report, waiting for more!

PetitCessnaVoyageur wrote:

which weather charts do you pick up usually

I don’t know what Boscomantico scans but there is excellent http://ilmailusaa.fi for Baltics and Scandinavia also in English and of course the general http://windy.com for larger area trends.

Last Edited by AirV at 07 Sep 21:04
EFHF
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