Two Norse Explorers Doing 10 Flights in 5 Days

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  1. Merlin
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    1st flight: Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL) – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS)
    Our ride to AMS this Sunday morning was with one of the old SAS Boeing 737-500. The departure was sharp on time as usual for most airlines at OSL. I can’t say I remember much from the flight to Amsterdam due to an intense study of the inside of my eyelids for a large part of the flight. But hey, I did get my morning coffee before departure and so did the other Norse explorer.

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    Early Sunday morning at OSL

    We landed from the south at Aalsmeerbaan (runway 36R) and docked at pier D 10 minutes earlier than schedule. It didn’t take long to get off the plane and as usual at AMS we had to make a stop at Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar to get our regular “een broodje haring, een oude jenever en een ijzige Heineken” as a late breakfast before running off to the baggage claim. It was still many hours to our next flight. Our bags had therefore to find a temporary home the next hours in one of the lockers at Schiphol. It was now time to explore the airport facilities.

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    Retired KLM cityhopper Fokker 100 on display on the roof terrace

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    More UK bound aircraft at the H (loco) pier

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    The Q400 bound for Exeter
     
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  2. Merlin
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    2nd flight: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) – Exeter Airport (EXT)
    The segment to Exeter was the first of three with flybe’s Q400 during this round trip and on all flybe flight we have pre-ordered the seats 1A and 2D. On this first flight I was the lucky one in 1A. My fellow Norse had the duty to look after the emergency exit on this flight. As normal for flybe, their Q400 was late in and even later on departure – and the long taxi to Polderbaan for departure added more to the injury. We finally in the air and heading for the British Isles. It was now gadget time for me. The iPod was loaded with new music, the new iPad was used to check some photos taken at AMS and the S100 had to do what it was supposed to do during the flight.

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    Gatwick Airport from 25,000 feet

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    Exeter Airport

    We had arrived at Exeter. A small airport has its benefits; very short queue for border control, almost no time to wait for baggage and only a few steps to get the rental car outlet. A bit less than 15 minutes after having sat our feet on the British soil we were off in our rental car for almost two hour long drive to the small Cornish village Hayle and a hotel for the night.

    A surprise on the morning of day two – the windshield was iced over. After a short delay we departed to St. Just Land’s End Airport with clear windshield. We drove through Penzance, then out in the Cornish countryside and after 22 minute we had parked the car outside the terminal.

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    St. Just Land's End Airport
     
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  3. Merlin
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    3rd flight: St. Just Land’s End Airport (LEQ) – St. Marys Airport (ISC)
    Travelling on an empty stomach is bad. The boxed continental breakfast the hotel could offer wasn’t an option for us. Lucky enough the local café at St. Just served breakfast and we both went for a full Cornish.

    The check-in was easy since we were flying out to St. Marys and returning a bit over an hour later; no need to bring any luggage. There was a twist to the check-in though; every passenger had to be weighed. Since both of us Norse are among the sturdy part of the population, we had to be “loaded” close to the centre of gravity of the Skybus Islander i.e. right behind the pilot. 15 minutes before scheduled departure were all passengers summoned to the briefing room were we saw a safety video and after that we were boarded.

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    Our pilot is about to start the engines

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    On final for St. Marys runway 32

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    Two Skybus Twin Otters just arrived from airport further away than Land's End

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    Ready for boarding
     
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  4. Merlin
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    4th flight: St. Marys Airport (ISC) – St. Just Land’s End Airport (LEQ)
    After a cup tea we were ready for the return to the mainland again. Check-in and briefing done the same way as at Land’s End, the only difference was the reusable boarding card we got. Again I ended up right behind the pilot – same pilot and same Islander as last time. As the pilot turned around to brief the passengers, he first asked us “Didn’t I fly you two earlier today? Are you of those?” and the Norse choir answered “Indeed we are.”

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    We are back in the air

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    Longships Lighthouse on Carn Bras off Land's End

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    About to land at Land's End

    The next flight was in the afternoon. Time for some sightseeing: First a quick drive to St. Ives and then Land’s End. After having finished a rather disappointing lunch at Land’s End (they said it was a restaurant, but no way it wasn’t) we set off to the Pirates and Penzance.
     
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  5. Merlin
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    5th and 6th flight: Penzance Heliport (PZE) – Tresco Heliport (TSO) – Penzance Heliport (PZE)
    I have always wanted to fly the Sikorsky S-61N. My first helicopter flight was in 1981 with a Norwegian Army Bell UH-1 "Huey". That time it was a tactical flight in tree top level up in Northern Norway. This time it was a more peaceful Norse mission - a return flight with British International to Tresco, the second-biggest island of the Isles of Scilly (Isles of Scilly was called Syllingar by the Norse).

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    The Sikorsky S-61N just landed from St. Marys

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    A view in to the cockpit in flight

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    St. Marys

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    Cabin view

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    The terminal at Tresco
     
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  6. Merlin
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    5th and 6th flight: Penzance Heliport (PZE) – Tresco Heliport (TSO) – Penzance Heliport (PZE) continued

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    Cromwell's Castle built 1651-1652

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    Ynys Kelgh

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    Penlee quary near Newlyn, Mounts Bay Cornwall

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    Battery Rocks and the Penzance Jubilee Pool

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    Back on the ground at Penzance

    The Brintal S-61N had one more return flight to Tresco and we had a couple of hours on the road back to Exeter and The St George & Dragon.

    After an early breakfast we were ready for departure. Also this morning the windshield was ice over, but it didn’t last long until we were on the road again with destination Bournemouth. Our rental car had to be returned to the AVIS outlet in town, and therefore the last bit out to the airport hade to be with taxi.
     
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  7. Merlin
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    7th flight: Bournemouth Airport (BOH) – Jersey Airport (JER)
    To check in for this short flight to Jersey with Blue Islands was done in no time. With time to spare we went out again and walked over the viewing area. This area wasn’t of the usual MAG standard with no mound to let viewers look over the fence. Back again, through security check and we were met with the usual perfume maze – this was at least MAG standard.

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    It didn’t last long until we were called to board the Blue Island Jetstream 31 and with reserved seating I ended up with an older lady in the neighbouring seat.

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    To take photos from this J31 was very difficult since it had very heavily blue tinted windows, but the flight didn’t last that long. Down on the ground again and we had almost 8 hours to our flight back to England.
    What do you do with that? You rent a car. Find a restaurant and have a good lunch. Inspect the harbour and take some pictures. Find a place where they had a decent espresso. Drive some more. Find some sort of museum and have a long chat with one of the veterans. And then you drive back to the airport. Return the car. Check in for our next flight included a longer chat with a very friendly chap behind the check-in desk. Go through security. Enjoy a very good clunk of Laphroaig. Check out the viewing area upstairs. That’s what we did.
     
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  8. Merlin
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    Photos from Jersey

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    St. Aubin
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    Mont Orgueil Castle

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    Welcome in four great languages ;)
     
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  9. Merlin
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    8th Flight: Jersey Airport (JER) – Southampton Airport (SOU)
    To Southampton it was again with a flybe Q400, and this time I was the gate keeper in seat 2D. The flight was uneventful and almost on times both the departure and the arrival. After having received out bags, the designated driver paid AVIS a visit while I enjoyed the rain in the smokers shed. Half a fag later it was time to focus in on the Focus. The walk around was done in no time with no errors to status sheet. Since it was raining heavily the TomTom struggled to collect the necessary number of satellites, but half way in to town it lit up with the correct directions to the White Star Tavern. The White Star Line was a Liverpool based shipping company, but much of their Atlantic crossings started at Southampton. At the time we arrived it was only a few days missing from being exactly 100 years since Titanic hit the iceberg on her fatal virgin voyage across the Atlanctic. What more suitable than me getting the room named Olympic at the White Star Tavern. The Olympic was the only of the three Olympic class ships that both was profitable and survived until it was retired (934 after 23 years in service).

    Since we had been early out every morning since we arrived to the British Isles, we decided for a more lazy start this fourth day. Our first point on today’s agenda was to visit the Solent Sky Museum only a few blocks from the hotel and they opened at 10.

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    Supermarine S.6A

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    Sunderland in Ansett Flying Boats colours

    The Solent Sky Museum was a bit disappointing. The first picture above shows the bits of the Supermarine S.6A (the aircraft that won the 1929 Schneider Trophy). They were about to rebuilt the display, and in the mean time she looked like shown above. Sadly the planned move to a new location and new building down at the harbor has been rejected by the local authorities. Even the funding from Hampshire County Council of the museum has been slashed from £15,000 for 2011-12 to £10,000 for 2012-13, £5,000 for 2013-14 and nothing after that. Look like to be a bleak future for this museum.

    We continued to the next point on our agenda – a visit to West Sussex and the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum. My agenda was to get to know more about what happened to the 132 Wing and the two Norwegian RAF squadrons 331 and 332 around D-Day. I found out a lot about their efforts and that they were stationed at the Bognor ALG, but this isn’t the place to talk about that. What about the Tangmere museum? It’s one of the best military aviation museums on the British Isles. I can highly recommend a visit.

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    Hunter on display

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    Another Norwegian connection

    After having finished our museum visit it was time for a late lunch. We did find a pub just up the road, The Bader Arms. They served honest pub food, not delicacies, but it did work. Let’s look at the name of the pub. Yes, it is named after Douglas Bader – a fighter ace during Battle of Britain and later Wing Commander at Tangmere (1941).

    It was now time to drive back to Southampton Airport and our third flybe flight on this trip.
     
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  10. Merlin
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    Flight 9: Southampton Airport (SOU) – Manchester Airport (MAN)
    Again I was back in seat 1A of the Q400. The departure was over 40 minutes late, but I didn’t mind. I knew a very good bed was waiting on me at the top floor of the Radisson BLU at Manchester Airport. The flight was like almost all flybe Q400 flights – a smooth flight and very firm landing. With such a late arrival we both skipped the evening dinner and only picked up something to eat to bring with us at the airport. After a short walk through the blue glass tubes we were at the hotel lobby. Check-in went like a breeze and just over one hour after having touched down I was counting happy sheep.

    The last day of this trip started with a big hearty breakfast at Phileas Fogg – the Radisson BLU restaurant. After breakfast it was time to check out of the hotel, make the brief walk over to Terminal 1 and check in at SAS.

    Flight 10: Manchester Airport (MAN) – Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (OSL)
    With no queue at SAS and we having checked in online the day before, only the usual three questions had to be answered before we got our boarding passes. The security check at MAN is unique, the not that unique part is the long queue in to the sorting point. At this point you the assigned gate to go to. At this point you get a humongous sized tray to fill with carry-on luggage, iPad, transparent plastic bag for liquids, your jacket and your belt. You yourself go in to a cubical for a light scan and there you either are let out to the normal passengers or you are selected as a guinea pig for a full in depth x-ray body scan. I didn’t end up among the laboratory animals, but my tray was side lined. With only one officer at the receiving end I had to wait over 10 minutes for it to be processed, and up on his screen came the message for this side lining: software error! The tray went through the X-ray machine again, and came out on the approved side this time. Total time through the security was close to 25 minutes. It was no problem for me since I had more than enough time until my departure, but this wasn’t a single case. Three weeks later my travel companion was a subject to the same delay. At my home airport (OSL) it usually doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to get through the security, 25 minutes is unheard of. Why MAN fail so emphatically at this point I can’t answer.

    Next test was the perfume maze. I failed the test and ended up not buying anything. After a quick non-alcoholic drink at Épernay I headed up the stairs to the upper floor for a second maze – the walk through the corridors to find the airside smoking area. From this area you can enjoy the view over pier C, Terminal 2 and the cargo area. It was easy to find our SAS 737-700 – LN-RPK was park at gate 22. Time to board and to find the gate you have to take a tour of the basement and up again on the side of the glass corridor for arriving passengers. Push back on time and no queue to taxi through on the Delta bottle neck. It didn’t take many minutes to get in to the air.

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    The SAS aircraft at gate 22

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    This concrete structure is the lower part of what will be the new tower at MAN

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    5 April and North Yorkshire - snow on the ground

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    Gate 49 at Oslo Airport

    We are back on home soil. A normal Non-Schengen arrival with passport check, baggage claim, arrival tax free shopping and then on green out to the Norse.

    Conclusions:
    Six new UK airports/heliports, three new museums, two new airlines, two more counties and one new aircraft type to log. Some of these new destinations I will clearly revisit, but the next time I will spend more time at these places. Even as a co-driver over 500 miles on the road in addition to these ten flights can be too much for five days. Next time reduce one the elements a bit (as we did three weeks later – only five flights in five days, but still over 500 miles on the road).

    At the end of this trip I had flown to or from 42 UK airports. It is now only 25 more airports left to get a complete UK collection.
     
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  11. LN-FHU
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    Fantastic Merlin. Unusual TR's is really appreciated :)
     
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  12. Merlin
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    Glad you liked it. This season is my 11th with this type of air jumps just for fun. Unlike many of you I'm not collecting point or miles, but rather collecting airlines, aircraft types, airports and aviation museums. Maybe more reports will appear here over time? The 43rd UK airport has already been logged, together with a revisit to an island with a Norse connection and one of the aircraft during this latest trip threw me back to the first flight I had with Norving in the mid 1980s.

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