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A day trip to Midden-Zeeland EHMZ

I managed to get an aircraft booked for three days and was planning to visit friends in Berlin but unfortunately life got in the way of things so I had to narrow my flying days down to just one. With this very high pressure system lingering it was painful to let my multi-day trip go but I definitely didn’t want to waste the weather. Other ideas were thrown around including the museum at Speyer, meeting a friend in Antwerp (no aircraft available at his club though, so no flying for him!), and Coburg for the day but I finally settled on EHMZ. I wanted to see if this nightmarish Dutch/Belgian airspace is as bad as it looks on paper and the practice with flight plans etc would also be welcome. It had also been a while since I landed on grass. A quick look at the website and they have bikes for hire and a nice looking town was only half an hour away.

I filed my flight plan before leaving home aiming for a 1100L departure, with a routing of EDKB-DEPOK-KETIG-TINIK-EVOSA-SORAT-WDT-EHMZ at FL85. Flight time was estimated at 1:26. Actual route flown is below.

I had to delay my flight plan after reaching the airport due to traffic on the way and a queue for the fuel pumps once there. I had enough to get there and back but it only took another 30 litres or so to top it off so may as well fill it up rather than watch it like a hawk. Departure was at 1110L and I was on my way. I climbed up to FL85 but when checking in with Beek approach they said they could only accept me at FL65. No problem. I was then handed over to Belga Radar who cleared me in to their airspace then a few minutes later told me VFR flight in Belgium is prohibited above 4500ft. This was news to me (and apparently several other people in EHMZ). Must try harder with reading the AIP’s…

I was allowed to continue at FL65 for a while before being told to descend to 4500ft prior to passing through a small corner of the Brussels TMA. Back in to Holland and eventually a slow descent inbound destination. The weather was beautiful. By far the best day of flying I’ve had so far this year. The last QNH I can remember was 1032 but it may well have been higher. Not a single bump the whole way.

I joined overhead EHMZ from the south then in to a right downwind for runway 27. On base I put the carb heat to hot before pulling the throttle to lose some height but to my surprise the engine went very quiet. Instinctively I pushed the mixture to fully rich (as it should’ve been) but to my surprise my hand travelled several inches forward. I had inadvertently pulled the mixture instead of the carb heat. Needless to say this was an astonishingly idiotic mistake to make. I remember reading reports of a Dash 8 pilot on the UK raising the flaps instead of the gear straight after take off, so this fits into that human performance theme. At my height I think I would have made the runway and worst case scenario there were plenty of flat fields to land in (it is Holland after all) but regardless, I won’t be doing that again and very embarrassing.

I touched down on runway 27 and parked up (I see a lot of pilots round out high, float for a while, then drop a few feet on to the runway. I seem to have the opposite problem. My landings are usually smooth but they end up a little flat. Must flare more!). The grass is billiard table smooth, maybe even better than Texel.

I paid 24.50 euro for the landing up in the tower (which I find a great price for Holland, not so much by German standards, but no complaints from me) and paid 17.50 for an electric bike for the day. I thought getting an electric bike may have been a bit indulgent but with the headwind on the way in to Middelburg it was worth it. I had a panini before heading to the city. A huge panini and drink came to less than 9 euros, which I thought was also very good.

I’ll let the photos do the talking. A beautiful town and some nice scenery on the way there from the airport, which takes about 30 minutes.





After a walk around and heading to the supermarket for some Dutch goodness it was time to head back to the airport. Thank god for the electric bike…

I returned to an almost deserted restaurant for a cup of tea in the sun whilst filing my return flight plan, which I altered a little to try and simplify the routing with help from mrfacts.

The whole airport building is less than three years old.

Parking was on grass although the main apron is paved, with enough space for at least a couple of aircraft.

Time to take back to the skies. I took a bit of a detour for a nice view of the city before heading back east. Flight time planned at 1:15 thanks to tailwinds.


My route back

I climbed to 4500ft and spoke to Dutch Mil Info briefly before heading over to Brussels Information. I left the change a bit late and ended up orbiting overhead WDT twice because I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, so hadn’t received clearance to cut the corner of the Brussels TMA. Once I got through I was told to continue as requested. My route back was EHMZ-WDT-ERSUL-MILGI-KETIG-DEPOK-EDKB, this time at 4500ft (or FL45 in Belgium). Beautiful weather, crystal clear vis and not a single bump ensured the flight was relaxing and enjoyable. A change to Eindhoven Approach followed where I was cleared as requested, at which point I could already see the city of Cologne on the horizon, from my position south south west of Eindhoven. After Eindhoven Approach I was told to contact Beek Approach to request to transit a tiny portion of the Maastricht TMZ. The reply was very informal and basically told me to contact Langen Information, though before leaving I had to confirm I was cleared to cross the TMZ. Back in to German airspace after all of 90 seconds with Beek!

What follows next is something that has left me a bit confused. I asked Langen whether the Nörvenich CTA was active, which was answered in the affirmative. I tried to contact Nörvenich for a crossing of their CTA at 2000ft but got no reply. I transferred back to Langen and stayed at 4500ft, where they told me I could stay at at that altitude (entering and remaining in class C) all the way to destination as long as I stayed on his frequency. I was always taught that Information frequencies cannot issue clearences into controlled airspace, and in this case I always assumed I would have to contact Cologne Bonn Approach. I evidently still have a long way to go in understanding the curiosities of airspaces and who to talk to in order to gain access.

By this time the sun was almost setting, my favourite time to fly!

The Rhein looking south, with Bonn on the right hand side

Base for runway 29 in EDKB.

Contrary to my earlier rambling about landing flat, I rounded out a bit higher than usual and ended up floating and dropping it on with the stall warner blaring. I suppose it’s all or nothing!

A bucket of water and sponge later the aircraft is all put to bed, I can fill out the logbook and head home.

Two for the funny registrations thread!

Thanks for reading. It ended up being a little longer than I anticipated and perhaps more descriptive than the average. Any hints or tips for flying in southern Holland/Belgium would be appreciated.

Last Edited by NinerEchoPapa at 27 Sep 09:33
EDKB/EDLN/EDLF

Nice trip, nice report as well!

Looking forward to flying to Midden Zeeland next year in spring..

NinerEchoPapa wrote:

I was always taught that Information frequencies cannot issue clearences into controlled airspace, and in this case I always assumed I would have to contact Cologne Bonn Approach. I evidently still have a long way to go in understanding the curiosities of airspaces and who to talk to in order to gain access.

They can’t issue clearances but they can relay clearances. In this case, I assume the FIS specialist in Langen talked to the responsible sector controller on the phone and got the clearance for you implicitly… Though usually in these situations I find FIS will ask you whether you intend to stay on your current altitude, before making the effort.

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

NinerEchoPapa wrote:

I was then handed over to Belga Radar who cleared me in to their airspace then a few minutes later told me VFR flight in Belgium is prohibited above 4500ft.

I would be very surprised. I don’t think it is. Generally, above A045 is class C in Belgium, so you need a clearance. Except the “low flying area golf” zones when they are active; they are nominally for gliders, but they make higher G class for everybody. I have ~never been refused entry in the “general” class C (outside of TMAs).

ELLX

NinerEchoPapa wrote:

VFR flight in Belgium is prohibited above 4500ft.

That’s just not true. Above 4500ft it’s controlled airspace but why not fly VFR there? I’ve crossed Belgium several times VFR around FL100.
Ah – and thanks for the trip report – very nice

Last Edited by europaxs at 27 Sep 19:32
EDLE

Thanks for a great report NinerEchoPapa. You really made the best of the wonderful blue skies

Those two registrations do indeed belong to the funny regs thread and I put them there. I think they must be the worst examples of somebody creating regs which look funny but which are a bugger to say on the air!

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

lionel wrote:

I would be very surprised. I don’t think it is. Generally, above A045 is class C in Belgium, so you need a clearance. Except the “low flying area golf” zones when they are active; they are nominally for gliders, but they make higher G class for everybody. I have ~never been refused entry in the “general” class C (outside of TMAs).

europaxs wrote:

That’s just not true. Above 4500ft it’s controlled airspace but why not fly VFR there? I’ve crossed Belgium several times VFR around FL100.

I have also spoken to another member here who flies VFR regularly through Belgium at FL100 and nobody mentioned it on a thread about flying VFR in Belgium I posted a couple of months ago either. Shortly after I arrived in EHMZ an OO- registered AA5 landed and I asked the pilots what they thought. They also confirmed above 4500ft VFR in Belgium is prohibited. Can anybody find anything in their AIP about this? Because I’m looking and so far haven’t found anything about it.

Patrick wrote:

They can’t issue clearances but they can relay clearances. In this case, I assume the FIS specialist in Langen talked to the responsible sector controller on the phone and got the clearance for you implicitly… Though usually in these situations I find FIS will ask you whether you intend to stay on your current altitude, before making the effort.

Good to know, though he sounded fairly relaxed about the whole thing. Perhaps he was pro-active in my case and already had the clearance for me. It was just one of many cases on this trip where I was given access to controlled airspace without actually hearing “Cleared to enter XXX” or similar. I had to confirm a few times.

Last Edited by NinerEchoPapa at 28 Sep 09:49
EDKB/EDLN/EDLF

https://www.eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/content/documents/official-documents/reports/LSSIP2017_Belgium_Released.pdf Local Copy

Page 8 may serve as a first hint. Belgium doesn’t have any airspace A, which is the only airspace where VFR is prohibitet.

EDLE

europaxs wrote:

airspace A, which is the only airspace where VFR is prohibitet.

Theoretically, that’s true, in practice things are more nuanced:

  1. Frankfurt TMA is class D/C, but you will rarely get a clearance to enter it VFR for transit; similarly for many “big big airport” TMAs and CTRs
  2. A large part of France (all that are controlled by Paris) has class D up to FL195 outside of TMAs, but is NOTAMed as not accepting VFR above FL115
Last Edited by lionel at 28 Sep 11:50
ELLX

In 2004/2005 I used to fly right across Belgium VFR at FL085/095. It was a matter of arriving at KONAN (from the UK) at some similar level and then asking for a transit at that level.

What is very different is turning up at the Belgian border at 1000ft and asking them for a climb to FL085 or whatever. That creates all kinds of complications, almost everywhere (not just Belgium). There may be large airport traffic flows for example (at FL085 I used to get routed right over Brussels, speaking to EBBR Departure) which prevent a climb up there.

Much of flying in CAS is about presenting ATC with a fait accompli. They may not allow a climb but they virtually never force you down (well they do force you down to 500ft approaching Nice from the north ). Also flying at FL085 and just asking for a transit KOK-LNO or whatever makes you sound like you know what you are doing Then they are more likely to try to help you. But if you present them with something which is operationally difficult…

Frankfurt transit normally requires FL130+ IME.

The French FL120+ VFR ban is really bad. Someone told me many years ago they did it to block King Airs and such flying “VFR” at FL195 and avoiding IFR route charges.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Thanks for posting @ninerEchoMike. On your recommendation I made the trip from Shoreham this morning.

I hadn’t considered it as a destination before mostly because of the grass runway. The grass is smoother than Tarmac! They even have a sample of the surface in the Tower.

Seems like a really well organised airport a bit like Texel. 1 hour notice with Gendec from the UK. Car hire 30euro for a half day. All very relaxed and friendly. Only 1.05 flight time from Shoreham which included some vectoring and level changes from London Control.

I cancelled IFR approachig Costa (COA VOR) at FL70. They didn’t seem to be in a rush to decend me I asked for 4000ft. Dutch Mil did keep me on frequency until I was about 2min form the field for some reason despite me asking to change…

Thanks again for the write up!

Last Edited by Alex_ at 28 Sep 11:59
Alex
Shoreham (EGKA) White Waltham (EGLM)
35 Posts
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