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GA to the Lofoten islands ...and then some!

This two-week family vacation in Norway, Denmark and Germany was our most epic GA trip of the year…a far cry from a lot of other amazing stories told of herein, like those from @Dan, @Niner_Mike , @Terbang and others , yes @Peter too, (I should have avoided names entirely since I am sure I have omitted some big names, apologies! ) , but nonetheless a big adventure for us.
We flew from our homebase in Mallorca to the Lofoten islands in Norway, 120NM North of the Arctic Circle and spent there a week in a fjord seashore house. Having then improvised a mini-EuroGA meet-up in Trondheim on the way back South, we flew on to Denmark where we intertwined some business with family for a few days. This was followed by a couple of days in Germany with some friends on the way back home.
The story was overdue since almost one month ago as I had given some hints at EuroGA but I never came around to writing it. I decided to get started on a modular basis (aka episodes) or else it would never happen!

In round numbers:
-A combination of high (up to FL230) and low-level (down to 500ft for sightseeing) flying
-4000NM, about 600NM VFR, the rest IFR . In context, this N-S return trip is equivalent distance as flying from our Mediterranean homebase W-wards to Minneapolis or E-wards as far as Katmandu (but not return).
- 24 flight hours
- 400USG 100LL

Our usual 1978 Cessna P210N, without ice protection other than propeller antiice and probe heaters. It is pressurized and cruises best in the high teens at 180-195KTAS at 60-70% pwr LOP with 14.5-16GPH FF depending on temp.

Unavoidably in a long GA trip, weather played a role as we had to dodge the multiple sequential W-Europe Atlantic fronts driven by the stubborn British Isles Low Pressures, some arctic summer fog, the worst summer storms in Norway in a couple of decades, as well as Alpine storms in Switzerland…just to keep me busy!

We had previously done US transcontinental, transatlantic and polar flights but all of those had been crew-only. This trip was thus not intended as our most challenging and awesome flying trip per-se. The real and big difference, motivation and difficulty was to make it an enjoyable experience for the family while taking advantage of our GA capabilities. Spoiler alert: it was an incredible success, so no doubt Our Beloved Lady stayed our wingman for the whole trip.

The seed had been planted back in 2008: we had at that time flown from Mallorca to King’s Bay in Spitzbergen, at 80N. We had used our trusty C177RG to commemorate Umberto Nobile’s 1928 fatal polar flight with the Italia airship that caused the biggest ever international arctic rescue mission . We had been also inspired by Tim Nathan’s polar flight in the late G-LIZZ and the watching of the 1970’s movie “The Red Tent” starring Sean Connery and Claudia Cardinale. Due credit must be given to Tim’s great assistance at the time. As we overflew the Lofoten Islands on that trip, and not knowing much about them, we had encountered some snowstorms and diverted to Bodo. One of the crew had suggested we do a stopover on the Islands since he had read a lot of interesting stories about them, but it was not to be: weather and mission focus eventually led us to Tromso and on to Longyearbyen and King’s Bay instead. It did leave a thing (or perhaps two) in the back of our mind about coming back to the Lofotens one day…
Life goes on, family grew, 177 was replaced by 210, and for fifteen years it was not to be.
Then some business and family matters were scheduled to occur in August 2023 in Denmark. We needed some flexibility on dates and the cost of airline tickets in high season immediately provided an excuse to fly our capable Cessna 210 Maria Centurion (did we really need an excuse?). Oh, well since now the plan was that the airplane was going to be up in Denmark …one thing led to another and then perhaps we could fly somewhere in the area for some vacation? Of course, when I said “in the area” I (but only I) knew I meant “within reasonable range” or around 4 hrs’ flight time (POB endurance) which put the Lofotens in sight…maybe we had a plan?

It was started a couple of months ahead. Key things to manage were:
-Family and business plans. From the start it was clear that two of our kids and I would fly GA but mum would find her own airlines way there.
-GND lodging (a cancellable AirBnB home in the Lofotens near Svolvaer for one week). Cancellability is essential for GA planning since we need wx-driven flexibility
-GND transport (a cancellable getaround car with pickup at Svolvaer airport)
-FLT routing and timing (more on that later but the main thing was we decided to do the Denmark business post-Lofotens…)
-AVGAS availability (rather scarce up North, and I did not want any special arrangements like ad-hoc shipping of barrels that we had done for Longyearbyen) . Importantly, you not only need AVGAS but also a means to pay: this can be a challenge since most places do not accept credit cards nor cash. We ended up finding out that either a Shell or BP Card are a must in Norway.
-WX. other than having your ADL140 ready, not much you can do far in advance. One of the worrysome matters was summer seafog: fortunately some of the airports along Norway are inland and, even with no Avgas, landing and waiting it out would always be an option. Ended up being a non-issue
-Budget. Norway tends to be expensive but with our ELCheapo car , AirBnB and significant picnicking and homecooking the main cause for budget deviations would be Avgas…more on that later.
And last but not least
-Aircraft readiness: we do oil changes every 25 hrs and a 50hrs check was due anyway just prior to our trip and immediately after the Elba EuroGA meetup : the Norway trip would eat-up all of our oil change interval so a fresh oil change was required regardless.

Once the date had been set for the Lofotens stay, we had to figure a flight plan to get there with minimal hassle. Since none of the Lofoten airports had any avgas, we decided ENBO Bodo was close enough to ensure we had full tanks then fly on to our nearby base at ENSH Svolvaer for one week so once ready we could depart back with reasonably full tanks. Mallorca to Bodo is 1700NM and our 210 will fly around 1300NM zero wind and zero fuel left so at least one stop was required. I did not want to risk more than one stop and that meant a stop in N-Germany or Denmark (around 1000NM) then on to Bodo for another 800NM. Zero wind the former would be stretching our personal range a bit at 5+ hrs but the latter was reasonable at around 4hrs and something…

Upon the question of where to plan our stop, we figured fuel was cheaper in Germany than Denmark and then Kiel EDHK showed up on the radar as a reasonably straightforward place even if customs were required to be advised for our extra-EU flight (long story here ) . FPL Mallorca-Kiel would be around 1000NM and we would need about 100USG Avgas upon landing. Fuel price was relevant and EuroGA came to the rescue (thx @Boscomantico !) with a suggestion of Rendsburg EDXR near Kiel with lowest fuel prices in the area at 2.24€/lt incl tax. Rendsburg was however in the middle of nowhere and since this would be a nightstop (noway I was putting the family through the two long legs in a day) we would then fly on the additional 20NM EDXR-EDHK and overnight there. Even with the extra miles the 180€ fuel savings would more than offset the short flight and the extra landing fees, and then pay for our dinner…
Then there was the issue of the 5+ hrs flight time. It was 1 hr longer than we had ever done with pax, but we really wanted to avoid another enroute stop and minimize leg length for the flight to Bodo. We could plan hydration, games and catering to make it easier on us, and we needed to make sure there was no headwind…

Then @Dan also suggested a stop at ENRS Rost the SW-most Lofoten island may be in order…perhaps he was thinking the famous Maelstrom that did away with Capt Nemo’s Nautilus could also take good care of another pesky forumite but he forgot this only affected sea-going craft…So ENRS was added to the planning with no firm schedule, maybe before or after ENSH…we would see. It clearly seemed yet another worthwhile place to visit in the area.

So the outbound plan was set kind of like this:


Warning: this was a long and busy flight so the story and the planning are longer than usual.

First, which day was it to be? Our Lofoten AirBnB booking was set to start on a Monday but we thought we would depart a couple of days early, leaving some margin for wx. A few days ahead, the wx outlook for the the Kiel-Bodo leg on the day of our planned arrival was rather grim:

We always avoid a long climb through potential icing conditions and even ice-free, a long climb through TCU like the plague. Departing Kiel like this was a no no: hence we had to be in Bodo before this spell of departure bad wx and if so, subsequent wx in the Bodo-Lofotens area was bound to be good. The prior day looked better for a long trip up North, at least for the climb out of Kiel, but we would probably have to contend with some enroute wx.

We thus figured we would overnight first at Kiel, then at Bodo then on to Svolvaer.
For the route to Kiel, the GRAMET outlook showed arrival wx was very dependant on exact timing.

For example this is departing 0710Z

And this is departing 1010Z

A quick look at the SIgWx over the few days before departure showed front after trough after front was sweeping N-France, Benelux and NW Germany and our best chance was timing our arrival between fronts. We would have to wait closer to the date to figure it out precisely. Climb from Mallorca would nonetheless be VMC, as we like it, but it seemed no matter how we timed ourselves we would have to cross one or two fronts enroute to Kiel. I don’t mind that as long as OAT is <-15C lowering chances of icing or even better if I can fly VMC on top: we might be VMC if we climbed to FL220 or higher. We don’t normally fly so high due to cabin alt being higher and performance being worse, but we can do it if required. At least wind looked favourable so it was doable in around 5 hrs. Delaying our departure from Mallorca was not an option since we had to be at Bodo one day early to avoid wx on departure from Kiel and conditions on the first leg would not improve much anyway. Changing Kiel for another overnight location reasonably enroute would not improve wx either.

When the day came, wx for our flight to Kiel looked like if we timed arrival shortly after 1200Z we should be OK after the passage of a warm front and a trough, and before the arrival of the cold front:

We would have to cross the remnants of another cold front and stay ahead of the following trough. Staying above FL200 and watching for any embedded CB’s visually and with the aid of the ADL should make it doable:

The descent to Rendsburg may be bumpy but should be ice-free.

And in case things got ugly, there were many enroute diversion options.

We were also particularly sensitive to wind on this long flight: we had filled tanks to the brim (118.4 USG) but a 10KT headwind on such a long flight would mean we would eat up a big chunk of our reserves. Our Z FPL made us do a couple zig-zags which, on departure would give us some headwind. The rest of the routing meant mostly a LH crosswind but some tailwind component in the last 300NM which should offset the initial headwind. See GRAMET above.

W&B-wise we had plenty of room to spare. Incl the two teenagers, the pilot, 2-wks’ worth of luggage for us plus our airlines-travelling companion (yes, we carried her luggage plus some gifts for our hosts plus some stuff for our Danish business), extra oil and IPA, just in case, our usual emergency stuff, some tooling and even a transfer pump and an empty 5USG plastic jerry can, we had a comfy 250lbs remaining to MTOW, which would later prove useful for some extra performance.

On the day of departure everything started off as expected…this is to say with a hefty delay. You could not be blamed for thinking this was courtesy of French ATC as usual when trying to fly IFR through France in Summer…but we only got a 5 mins CTOT this time, so not their fault this once…
Why the delay you wonder? Well, I tried to prepare everything in advance (including all of the kids’ stuff) but even then had this silly feeling I was leaving something important behind…only as we were loading the aircraft I realized I had left home my laptop including chargers for ipads, datacards for pictures and the likes…off to a good start! Back home to pick it up!
Fortunately weather seemed to be also a bit delayed so our between-fronts arrival timing was not badly messed up.

About 1hr later than planned we left our home island initially E-bound

with two moaning teenagers (why did we have to wake up so early if we ended up being late anyway… and that sort of thing…) smile not lost on the younger one though

And then via the island’s NE-most tip Cap de Formentor, a hint of whose lighthouse you can see in the pic

Initially we were only cleared 4000ft for 7 long minutes as I was mindful of burning too much precious fuel in the wrong heading and at the wrong altitude underneath the very busy flow of Palma-incoming jets, but a couple of queries and offering to accept vectors got us a clearance FL180 and on track. We did a high-IAS cruise climb to cater for the headwind, established ourselves in cruise about 27 mins later and immediately leaned to 15GPH (65%) at ISA+16. A quick check vs the PLOG showed the high-IAS climb had put us on target on fuel, so no need to get anxious…Our GS was not good at 165-170 KTAS but that was more or less per plan.

The ADL picture looked like should be able to fly east of the worst (read highest) part of our first wx-encounter.

Out of the window the solid cloud between the Camargue and Lyon did look slightly higher than us so we requested and got FL220 which should put us VMC.

Although this was close to 24000ft density altitude, we were not too heavy, performance was good and there was no trouble developing 80% power in the climb. Our modest pressurization system was also good and this gave us less than 11000ft in the cabin. O2 checked and available but pilots O2 saturation remained nice and healthy. The aircraft is designed for the FAR-91 limit of 12500ft cabin alt at its max cruise altitude of FL230 but as the outflow valve regulates we usually get a bit better than that. Some P210’s out there have trouble reaching max delta-P but not out case. I did give thought again to the emergency descent scenario but decided that with the wx underneath, we’d rather use onboard O2 for a few mins before descending if we lost cabin pressure. Worst-case, we may have to descend through icing but the freezing level was high enough at 12000ft with MSA, terrain and quite a few French airports being well under that.

Perhaps naively (still a long way to go) , and despite fuel used in the climb I was no longer worried about fuel state since the LH quartering tailwind was a bit better than forecast and thus KTAS/GS was easily topping 190/200KTAS at 65%, making our target look reachable again with 2hrs reserve predicted on landing.

A couple of minor heading changes to keep VMC worked until after passing Lyon it was clear we had to climb FL230 to remain VMC. ATC was not happy about our climb due to traffic which BTW we could not see on our ADS-B (perhaps military?) . This caused us to briefly enter IMC and pick up a smidge of ice (maybe 1 mm) but soon enough we were cleared and in a couple of minutes were established FL230 in VMC. No more icing was to be seen for the rest of this flight and OAT was now -17C so not too worried. ADL also showed we were now past the worst of the wx in S-France and we were not concerned if we did have to descend: that should also put us VMC.

Past Dijon and after about 30 mins it was VMC underneath and we descended back FL200 before reaching Luxembourg, while ATC inquired about the severity of the icing conditions we had encountered (as if we intended to stay there to find out…) We reported light.

Looking back


and forward

So first spell of wx had been successfully cleared and the GRAMET had been surprisingly accurate in all counts: top of clouds, winds and temps.

ADL showed wx ahead as planned and we knew we would have to work that one too, but for the time being we were happily cruising along at FL200 under some higher overcast . Being comfier with fuel state we increased FF for 70% pwr which with the now lighter weight gave us a very healthy cruise slightly under 200KTAS.

In the meantime, and importantly, catering was being distributed for an inflight-replenishment.

Our FPL routing would take us through the trough in the wx N of Luxembourg leaving the worse of the precip to the W and E of our routing. With less than 2hrs flight time remaining, we were not too worried about climbing again if required to remain in colder temps out of icing.

Wx out of the window did indeed see worse cloud left and right of our routing, and ATC was happy to let us climb again FL220 and pick our best heading in between clouds, which kept us mostly VMC and totally ice-free.

However, again wx under us did not seem too menacing as we entered our country of destination while turning NE-wards and taking advantage of the quartering tailwind.

So after about 20 mins, the undercast thinned as forecast and we went back to our preferred FL200…we had cleared the trough!

Soon it became time to descend while the ADL picture confirmed wx at Hamburg and Kiel

to be very reasonable having changed from the earlier frontal picture of

METAR EDDH 290750Z AUTO 21004KT 180V240 9000 SHRA FEW011 BKN037 FEW///CB 19/18 Q1005 TEMPO 22010KT 4000 BKN012CB=

to the much better

METAR EDDH 291150Z AUTO 24011KT 190V270 9999 SCT030 23/16 Q1004 NOSIG=

Just as forecast. Soon enough it became time to descend as we were cleared direct to destination passing overhead Bremen , then cancelling IFR and crossing the river Elbe

near the nuclear powerplant at Brokdorf

and soon finding ourselves cruising over the German countryside at low altitude

looking for the Kiel Canal which we followed all the way to our destination.

After receiving the field’s info, we entered a LH downwind

followed by an easy final and landing with 30USG remaining or enough for 1.4 hrs cruise plus 45 mins holding. Despite suboptimal planning and successive climbs and descents

we had flown a total of 960 air NM’s (less than he FPL’d 1010 NM) in 5.3 hrs at an average 182KTAS and using 88USG for almost 11NMPG…that quartering tailwind in the final part must have helped!

First things first we taxied straight to the pumps and immediately set off to replenish to the brims with the low-priced precious 100LL.

After that we had to taxi through some long and soft grass to park out of the pumps, since it was past 2:30 pm, we were starving, and we were not going to leave before replenishing our other reservoirs!

The Rendsburg “terminal” building

The view from the “tower”

Some brochures (mostly AOPA) inside the terminal. Shame on me for not remembering to bring EuroGA leaflets!

The nice cafeteria at Rendsburg offered an interesting menu and soon enough we ordered our late lunches


While we awaited our order, a couple of Zoll agents started pondering on our aircraft in the background. Sure enough after a few minutes they queried at the cafeteria about the crew. After some kind intros they started asking seemingly innocent questions but soon enough they got to their point: was the aircraft imported into the EU? Had it paid VAT upon import? Where? Did we have any evidence?
Bear in mind this is a place where no customs service is reported as provided, and our flight was intra-Schengen and intra-EU. We had reported to Kiel customs our intended flight to Norway for the following day, but both the prior and subsequent flight to Rendsburg were Schengen..Maybe they picked on the Kiel notice and found our incoming FPL to EDXR and decided to visit here rather than Kiel?
Anyway luckily we did have the required evidence in the form of an SAD document produced by Spanish customs several years prior as the aircraft was imported into the EU. They were satisfied and soon left with a grin without being interested in the contents of the aircraft or the id of its pax…
It could have got really ugly had I not been able to produce the required docs.


After our lunch we set off on our quick flight to Kiel, without a FPL, and we covered the 20NM (26Nm flown) in 12 minutes with Kiel in the distance

Ant then overflying the Kiel Kanal

as we entered LH downwind 26

with a view of Laboe and the Baltic in the distance

After confirming with ATC our FPL and customs notice was OK for tomorrow’s departure, and having used 4USG, we parked Maria Centurion next to its more modern cousin: a PA-46

Kiddos were obviously happy to have reached our destination for the day.

Then we took some light luggage with us leaving the rest in the airplane and walked about 30 mins to the ferry terminal at Friedrichsorter Brücke.

We missed the ferry by 2 minutes and had to wait 30 more mins for the next one to Laboe.

It was a short ferry ride with an intermediate stop and we noticed the bad weather coming from the west.

Everybody seemed joyful and happy enjoying the beautiful evening at Laboe.

We walked 20 mins to the beautifully restored U995 submarine

We enjoyed some creppes then headed back to the harbour for a ferry to Kiel, where we had planned to overnight at a youth hostel, having found most hotels either fully booked or unjustifiedly expensive.

As we sailed past the shipyards we could not avoid thinking of the hundreds of warships made here during the Great War and the thousands of people who died fighting them and in them.

The hostel was surprisingly nice and we had an ample room to ourselves, toiled included!

Once settled, it was time for some bedtime sharing of the tales of the day and some flightplanning…but more on that on the next episode!!

Last Edited by Antonio at 10 Sep 23:15
LESB, Spain

Glad Rendsburg worked out for you. A very relaxed place, where I get much of my Avgas. The customs appearance is interesting. But yes, with unknown N-regs it can happen. Always a bit unpleasant. Supposedly, some countries’ customs authorities maintain a record of aircraft previously checked over, so possibly, you are now good for Germany for a long time.

Also glad Kiel worked out for you. The city isn’t excatly beautiful, and the airport a little bit expensive, but still scenic enough. German Youth Hostels (DJH) are indeed good value for money.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Super report @Antonio, thanks for taking us along!
Very much looking forward to the next ones

ain't the Destination, but the Journey
LSZF, Switzerland

Eager to read more @Antonio ! Lofoten is very high on my wish list, too :-)


Well that’s just ruined my morning’s work!

Great write up and looking forward to the next instalment! Thank you for writing it up!

EIWT Weston, Ireland

Thx a lot for the EDXR tip @Bosco !
We did find Laboe beach beautiful in the summer evening sunlight and several bars, restaurant and hotel options as well as the U995! . We chose not to overnight here since morning transport back to the airport at EDHK would not work, but it would be possible.
Kiel itself was OK but obviously very few historic buildings…we just went there to sleep. I did not know DJH but it did work out very reasonable. Also good for the kids to know there are options beyond 4-star hotels and AirBnB’s.

Thx @Dan, @UdoR and @dublinpilot, I’ll take that as encouragement to work on episode 2 as soon as I have a chance.

I noticed a couple of typos above: wrong use of KTAS (vs KTS for GS) and “air miles” when I actually meant “track miles” . Also sorry about the quality of pics, I did not manage to encourage the kids to become photographers and I had my hands rather full most of the time, plus did not spend the time editing them be4 posting. I am glad you enjoyed it nonetheless: I kind of tried to bring you along through the trip and at least partially succeeded!

One important aspect for pax is that us pilots tend to focus on fuel, icing, airports and so on…what pax really consider a good flight experience is smoothness (aka lack of turbulence) , nice views and something to do in flight. You can’t always have all of them, but flying above weather does help them feel comfy. Of course the responsibility coming with flying pax means we can’t forget about the former!

Another important tip for comfort is hydration and toilet use. Lots written on it. THis is of course especially important for long flights, more so if departing AM. My summary is: repeated toilet visits be4 flight, no drinking from wake-up to take-off+1 hr, drink normally thereafter. This seems to work great on normal healthy bodies keeping hydrated without any untimely physiological needs. Absolutely hassle-free for us and mostly transparent. The frequent drinking in flight eliminates the feeling of fatigue.

Last Edited by Antonio at 11 Sep 11:48
LESB, Spain

I absolutely LOVE this inspiring story! Looking forward to the next chapters!!!
Thank you for taking the time writing it!!

EHLE LIMB, Netherlands

Thank you for posting such a great report on such a great flight, Antonio

I have planned to visit Norway, specifically the Tronheim area, many times, partly to visit a customer. I never found a wx gap long enough (say 4 days) and the guy has now retired Your plane has a lot more capability than mine, altitude-wise.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Another thanks from my part.
I got close to a heart attack when I saw your fuel bill. But not wierd when you think of it.

The ‘909’ ship is a MEKO A200 EN-type frigate named ENS Al Qadeer (third of its class) on trials before delivery to the Egyptian Navy.

Waiting the following parts.

LFOU, France

Thank you all for taking the time to read it.

I don’t blame you @Peter, vikings are used to dealing with Thor’s bolts, the rest of us mortals not so much! More on Trondheim and Norwegian weather in next episodes.

I actually found the fuel bill quite reasonable. Let’s put aside that the cost of flying is beyond fuel. Definitely fuel is the biggest part for this kind of trip.

So we are talking 740EUR and about 330lt fuel for a 1000nm trip at 200KTS. To put it in context we carried 3 POB but it could easily have been 4 avg adults instead (we did carry surplus luggage!) . Divide that over 3 or 4, depending on which criteria you want to use and the cost is 200-250 EUR pp for a 2000km trip: it is not that bad.
In fact very reasonable as airline summer rates go. We also saved mum 100EUR in luggage fees plus priceless avoiding carrying 40kg luggage through airport terminals.
If you try to do it by road it is 2200km which including only fuel, ferry and tolls will cost you around 350€, and that is before you factor any additional meals or acomodations for the 24-driving-hr trip. And then you still have a long way to go to the Lofotens!
Factoring only car road-going costs at a measly €33c/km, you get the same as the airplane’s fuel cost.

If you compare that with other SEP’s (other than @Dan’s and @IO390’s RV’s) it is not that bad either. Most long-distance travellers will be either two seaters or use a lot more fuel or need at least one stop, all of which bring the cost up.

Does that mean it makes economical sense to own a SEP in Europe for travelling? I do not think so.
Does that mean it makes sense to own a SEP in Europe for travelling? Oh yes!

Last Edited by Antonio at 12 Sep 15:58
LESB, Spain
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