Deja Vu – A Plane Spotting Challenge by John Madden
9-11 June 2022
Spotting along the “Riviera of the North”
Hamburg – Nordholz – Billund – Stauning – Sonderborg – Hamburg – Amsterdam
by John Madden
It has been a while
It certainly was not my intention to leave so long between trip reports, but my best efforts to continue with this challenge were thwarted not only by a fractured ankle but also a prolonged saga of flight cancellations. Firstly, my wife fractured her ankle just weeks before our holiday to Barbados last December, and secondly, this spotting trip to Northern Germany/ Southern Denmark was postponed on 3 occasions during the last 4 months due to repeated British Airways flight cancellations. Indeed, the final iteration of the trip included an 11th hour change that brought me home via Amsterdam with KLM, not that you or I would necessarily complain about an “bonus” flight.
So here we are, 7 months later and finally about to board British Airways Airbus A319 G-DBCG to Hamburg. Day 1 of this 3-day spotting trip commences in Hamburg, crisscrosses the river Elba via car ferry and concludes with a 3-hour dash to Denmark along a coast line that the Germans refer to as “The Riviera of the North”. Day 2 navigates around Southern Denmark where I expect to spot a number of regional airliner types and airlines not so commonly seen at airports today. Not only am I excited about what I may be spot at these “off the beaten track” locations, but I am also very much looking forward to staying 2 nights in a former fisherman’s lodge just a couple of minutes walk from the Baltic coast. Day 3 is largely consumed with my return journey to Hamburg from Sonderborg, but I have allowed for several hours spotting on the airport’s fine viewing terraces before departing to Heathrow via Amsterdam.
Postman John & TW19
Before we jet off on this 1,200-kilometer spotting extravaganza, I would like to share something rather special from a “spotting” perspective that happened between trip reports. With the holiday to Barbados postponed and the chance to spot the Skyjet Cargo Douglas DC-8-73 at Bridgetown curtailed for another 12 months, I took a seasonal job with the Royal Mail and spent the run up to Christmas delivering parcels in the Stanwell and Wraysbury area! This was a spotter’s dream come true and Santa had most certainly looked favorably upon me. I do hope no one from the Royal Mail is reading this article, but effectively I was paid to plane spot for a month. Many of the road names in Stanwell were aviation related too, including such memorable ones as Viscount Road, Argosy Lane and Anson Court. Although the overall number of movements at Heathrow remained well below pre COVID levels, I did manage to spot more aircraft in 4 weeks than the previous 4 years combined. Now that is what you call job satisfaction.
However exciting last December turned out to be, I did not spot any new aircraft types required as part of this challenge, confirming just how homogenous plane spotting has become at the major hubs. My wife does not believe me when I say the following, but the reality is that more carefully planned trips abroad like this one will become the norm if I am to whittle down the list of outstanding aircraft types. With regards to overflights during this period, I did manage to spot several new aircraft types including Italian Air force C-27 Spartan MM62223 enroute from Reykjavik to Pisa, and Rockwell Commander G-LEGZ just 500 feet above my garden on its way to Fairoaks airport.
This spotting trip to Northern Germany/Southern Denmark is one that I have wanted to undertake from the very moment I dreamt up this spotting challenge two years ago whilst having a drink with my good friend Mount Gay. I am confident that the three-day trip will not only deliver a fair number of aircraft types required for the challenge, but also at least one type that I have never seen before. An added bonus is that the itinerary takes me along the North Sea and Baltic coastlines and throws in the added thrill of a wind-swept journey across the river Elba aboard a car ferry.
On the subject of excitement, I noted 4 aircraft lined up on approach to 27R as I approached Heathrow, a sure sign that things are close to returning to normal again? Not expecting to spot any new aircraft types during my short stay at Heathrow, Titan Airbus A321 (PTF) G-NIKO was parked in full view opposite T5 and was a welcome sight to kick start the spotting trip. This aircraft appears to be operating European cargo schedules on behalf of Virgin Atlantic who had started using their wide-body types on such services during the height of the Pandemic.
Thursday 9th June 2022 – Primus Memorial Park Hamburg
It was September 2000 when I last transited through Hamburg airport, although this this too was an unplanned last-minute change to the flight itinerary. My wife had completed the Berlin Marathon that day, and we discovered at check-in that our direct flight to Heathrow was full and that we would be transiting home via Hamburg. This was probably the only time in my entire “spotting life” that a “bonus” flight was not welcome, so begrudgingly we boarded a Lufthansa A321 to Hamburg. We shared our tale of woe with the British Midland staff at Hamburg who very kindly upgraded us to Business Class on their Boeing 737-300 flight to Heathrow, so not only did my wife enjoy some additional leg room for her weary legs, we both benefited from the bottle of bubbly presented to us for her achievement that day.
Thankfully today’s flight to Hamburg didn’t involve such drama and upon arrival in Germany my main objective was to be first to the car rental desk, collect the car and hit the road as quickly as possible for Finkenwerder. I had planned four or more hours on the final day for spotting at Hamburg, so I put my head down and sped off across town to the eastern side of the river Elba. Here I could spot the former Airbus Aero Spacelines Super Guppy F-GDSG which had been retired in 1997 for permanent display at the Airbus facility. During the 1980s I had a close friend who lived in Cheshire and we would frequently go out of our way to spot this marvelous aircraft on its many visits to the Airbus factory at Hawarden.
For spotting this fabulous aircraft, I selected the Primus Memorial Park which is situated directly across the river Elba from the Airbus facility. This is a small peaceful part of the river bank dedicated to the paddle steamer SS Primus which sank with the loss of 103 lives just off this point in 1902.
Be aware that many of the approach roads to the river bank are in the process of a major structural over haul, so my advice would be to park on Elbchausee near the Hotel C. Jacob and use the public walkway to descend to the river bank. Despite being located on the outskirts of a major industrial city and opposite a sprawling manufacturing facility, this neighbourhood has managed to preserve its natural beauty and is clearly a highly desirable domain amongst the Hamburg wealthy. Primus Memorial Park makes for a superb alternative spotting location for Finkenwerder, with views not only of the aircraft on permanent display but also of the eastern end of the facility’s runway for inbound or outbound Airbus aircraft.
You may be thinking why did I not use the dedicated spotting area available on the western edge of the Finkenwerder facility? Whilst indisputably a fantastic spotting location, I would not have been able to see the Guppy and I could not afford the time required to take one of the factory tours available through Airbus. As my next spotting location was Nordholz, it also made sense to take the FRS car ferry (https://www.frs-elbfaehre.de/) just 50 minutes drive north of the Memorial Park. Although the total journey time to Nordholz via this ferry service would take approximately the same time as the alternative much longer drive south around Hamburg, it does save a considerable number of kilometers and is undisputedly a far more interesting journey.
The Finkenwerder Guppy was not my original choice of aircraft for this challenge; I had originally made plans to spot this type on one of my visits to the in-laws in Lincolnshire but the “Butcher of Bruntingthorpe” put paid to that idea. All clouds have a silver lining though and mine was to experience a truly beautiful and most unusual spotting location. I would highly recommend anyone visiting Finkenwerder to include some “spotting time” at the Primus Memorial Park. Apart from the obvious attraction of Finkenwerder, the view up river of passing merchant ships is truly stunning and there is a delightful café opposite the memorial, what more could one wish for? It was also most fitting to spot the HFB Hansa Jet and C-160 Transall preserved at the airport where both aircraft types made their maiden flights in 1964.
Nordholz Aeronauticum & Nordholz Naval Air Station
The primary reason for including Nordholz on this spotting trip was to visit the Aeronauticum museum which has former German West German Air force VFW 614 17+12 and a pair of Dornier 28 Skyservants on display. I must confess though that there was another reason for adding this huge dog leg to my travels as you will be aware that I had seen a VFW614 earlier in the day at Finkenwerder. Admittedly Nordholz would offer superb close up photographic opportunities for the VFW614 and Dornier Skymasters, but the lure of seeing some of the Naval Air Station’s “Canadian visitors” was irresistible.
The museum is located adjacent to the main entrance to the Naval Air Station which has one of the most impressive gate guardians I have seen for quite some time, Breguet Atlantic 61+06. This particular aircraft served with the Station’s “Graf Zeppelin” squadron and adorns a mural in honour of Ferdinand von Zeppelin who had such an influence on the naval base during the early part of the 20th century. Should you visit the museum please make sure you don’t miss the entrance sign for the Museum as yours truly did! After a moment of extreme embarrassment, I was back on public roads and parking up at the museum. The Station’s security team handled my unfortunate misdemeanor with the upmost professionalism and humility, chapeau.
The Naval Air Station was constructed in 1914 and at that time became the primary location for Imperial German Navy airship activity, including the only double hull air ship hangar in the world capable of rotating 360 degrees. The rotating hanger can be seen in the top left-hand corner of the photograph, it surely must have been a marvel in its day? Today the museum has an impressive collection of airship memorabilia and includes many original artifacts that survived the destruction of the airfield and its facilities following the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the first World War. Please note that admittance is by cash only.
Non airship exhibits are located outside the main building and this includes 18 aircraft, all historical types operated by the West and East German Navies before re-unification. The recently restored Percival Pembroke 54+08 looks magnificent, as do the pair of Dornier Skymasters and VFW 614 D-AXDB. I was keen to see the VFW 614 close up as I had followed the development and subsequent demise of this airliner with considerable interest as a young spotter. Although the VFW 614 has the shortest overall length of any Western designed passenger jet, it has a deceptively large appearance and certainly looks the “proper” airliner. It is difficult to believe that the VFW 614 first flew in 1971, it most certainly would not look out of place parked in front of any airport terminal today. Despite only 19 aircraft being delivered, I have managed to spot 2 examples in a single day. This particular aircraft was the penultimate VFW 614 delivered and one of 3 examples to see service with the West German Air force.
Having spent most of an hour admiring the 18 aircraft exhibits and clambering unhindered around the inside of a former East German Navy Mil-8, it was time to leave Germany and move on to Denmark. The lure of those Canadian visitors still nagged me and although not part of my challenge, I could not let go the possibility of spotting an A4 Skyhawk. I had learnt that despite the majority of the Naval Air Station perimeter being surrounded by woodland, there were several vantage points that afforded good spotting opportunities. Mindful of my itinerary and the four hours travel that lay ahead to my bed in Denmark for the night, I threw all caution to the wind and decided to go looking for this iconic fighter jet. There was an added bonus on offer too as I wished to see BN Islander D-IOLO of Ostfriesischer Flugdienst which had flown in from the island of Heliogoland just a few hours earlier.
My short detour did not disappoint and in addition to spotting the BN Islander, I was rewarded with a line up of four Skyhawks belonging to Top Aces situated at what is referred to as Nordholz/Cuxhaven Airport. Despite a couple of these aircraft having seen service in the Vietnam War 50 years ago, they appear to be truly fantastic condition. Although the BN Islander was partly hidden by airport infrastructure it is pleasing to see this veteran aircraft flying passengers in the very domain it’s name suggests. When heading back to the main road (Loc 1) I could hear the distant heavy drone of Allison engines and was fortunate enough to stumble across a pair of German Navy Lockheed Orion aircraft waiting for take off clearance. The aircraft were parked a good distance away from the road and you will need a long lens at this vantage point for best photographic results.
Faced with the prospect of having to track south to take the car ferry back across the Elba, I had no regrets to having added this five hour “dog leg” to my trip. The Norticum had few visitors that day and the photographic opportunities were superb for all the well spaced out aircraft exhibits, especially the VFW 614 and Skyservant that I needed as part of my challenge. With the sun shining and a spectacularly clear blue sky, I did appreciate why the Germans refer to this part of the world as the “Riviera of the North”. The coastline is truly magnificent and I am led to believe I didn’t even witness the best places. The 20-minute car ferry journey across the Elba went smoothly and having taken photographs of the crossing earlier in the day, I didn’t have my camera at hand on the return crossing when a German Navy Lynx flew low over our vessel.
Friday 10th June 2022: Denmark
Having consumed a wonderful breakfast at my B&B accommodation, I was back on the road and heading to the first of three spotting venues of the day, Billund airport. I had visited Billund airport only once before, that was in 2005 on a business trip for a meeting with window manufacturer VELUX. I recall very little of the airport that day other than I travelled with two colleagues from and to Amsterdam on a Maersk Air Boeing 737-300 and spotting would not have been an option. I am very much looking forward to this return visit and as for the challenge, I expect to remove an MD-83, Dornier 328 Jet and a Hawker 4000 from the list during my visit.
It is hard to escape the impact LEGOLAND has on this “spotter friendly” airport. In 1964 the LEGO company built an 800m runway adjacent to their factory, and in 1964 handed it over to local interests for public use after which it evolved in to the important regional airport it is today. From hotels located on the northern perimeter to LEGOLAND exclusive parking facilities on the southern perimeter, the landscape is covered with excited families walking to and from the theme park and the airport. The photograph above was taken from my car whilst waiting for a good number of families to cross the southern perimeter road from one of the large LEGOLAND car parks. Back home I live just a stone’s throw away from LEGOLAND UK and I do everything possible not to be on the local roads during certain times of the day, but today I have no choice and the masses are clearly oblivious to my challenge!
I initially parked up at location 1 on the map below, a small but slightly elevated public parking area that provides a superb view across the Terminal apron. If I interpreted the parking sign correctly, you are only allowed to visit this car park once per day, so I am assuming CCTV must be in operation? The two former Great Dane Airlines Embraer 195 aircraft were shot using a 25-55mm lens and illustrate just how close one is to aircraft parked in front of the Terminal. Despite both aircraft sporting engine covers, for the time being at least they appear not to be destined for the “storage” ramp located on the southern side of the airfield.
A row of hangars obscures the freight terminal located to the south of the airfield, but one can stop at the western end of the perimeter road and look across the freight ramp un hindered. Not only did I spot a much-wanted Dornier 328 Jet, but I also managed to see the aircraft depart to Kristianstad. The sun was directly in line of sight when the aircraft rotated and the photographs are too poor to share. Having said that, it was a delight to see the Sun Air Dornier 328 Jet OY-JJB in flight and just how sprightly the type is too. Comparing this relatively small 32 seat airliner with the much larger looking VFW 614, it is difficult to believe that the Dornier 328 is in fact 2 feet longer in length!
Having enjoyed my short stay at location 1, I moved to the southern perimeter in search of executive jets and to photograph the collection of aircraft parked on what looked like an area of the airfield designated for storage purposes. Whilst surveying the airport earlier I could not see any biz-jets despite knowing that two Sun Air Hawker 4000 aircraft and a number of other types in the fleet were on the ground. I soon learned that the Sun Air fleet was parked in side various company owned hangers on the appropriately named Cumulusvej and whilst not suitable for photography, I did manage to spot what I needed to by looking through the hanger windows accessed from location 2.
Whilst peering through the numerous hanger windows, I noticed a several vehicles arrive and park next to my rental in the Sun Air VIP car park. One of the group of people was long distance driver Mikkel Pedersen, who with his Porsche support team were due to take a Sun Air 328 Jet to Le Mans later that morning. Having not received an invitation to join the group on their flight to Le Mans, I returned to my car and moved on to location 3 to survey the group of stored aircraft. Joking apart, I do wish this young Danish driver all the very best and let us hope that any success he enjoys will keep the Sun Air fleet of Dornier 328 Jets busy for the foreseeable future.
I parked my car at location 3 on the map and walked along the perimeter fence to admire the collection of stored aircraft at location 4, including the rather forlorn looking former Danish Air Transport MD-83. Registered I-SMEN and one of the last of its type to fly in Scandinavia, the aircraft wears a watered down Meridiana colour scheme and no association to its last owners. My last flight on an MD-80 series aircraft was in 2003 and appropriately aboard an SAS service from Oslo to Copenhagen. Former Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-300 UR-GDB was part of the collection and whilst in very good condition it was clearly prepared for long term storage..
In no way wishing to appear political or newsy, the Ukrainian aircraft provides the perfect opportunity for me to mention the Antonov Airlines AN-225. We are all too aware what happened to this unique aircraft on or about the night of the 27th February 2022, but there is a tangible connection between this aircraft and my spotting trip to Billund airport. When planning this trip earlier in the year I spent one evening investigating which airlines and aircraft used this busy cargo hub. Browsing through Flightradar24 on the evening of Feb 5th, I noticed that the Antonov was on the ground and shortly due to depart for Kyiv. I captured this moment as part of my trip research not knowing that this would in fact be the aircraft’s final flight. Finding myself here several months later and in front of the very cargo ramp where the aircraft would have been parked that February evening in preparation for the flight to Kyiv, I felt shivers run through my spine.
Denmark Aviation Museum, Stauning Airport
Should you find yourself travelling along the Danish North Sea coastline and you need a reason to have half a day away from the beautiful beaches, then this museum is a must place to visit. It is very obvious that those responsible for the Museum take the upkeep of their aircraft most seriously; I do hope my photographs do them justice? The 70 resident aircraft are amongst the most pristine display items I have every witnessed in an aviation museum, many of which remain airworthy and participate at flying displays held at the adjacent Stauning airport.
Top of my spotting list at the Museum was the former Sterling Airways Aerospatiale SN.601 Corvette OY-SBR, number 23 of just 40 aircraft manufactured. I never managed to spot a Corvette at a British airport despite Airbus using a fleet of five aircraft for internal transport duties between 1981 and 2009. I did however, manage to spot several Air Alsace and TAT aircraft during my annual visits to Paris Orly during the 1970s. The interior of this 9-seat aircraft remains in immaculate condition and is every bit an airliner, including lavatory and baggage stowage area. You can just see the author making a cameo appearance in the mirror located at the rear of the aircraft!
The museum also has the beautifully presented 1956 vintage Cimber Air DH Dove OY-DHZ, along with the nose and front cabin section of former SAS Douglas DC-7 OY-KND. Pride of the Museum collection though is the SAI KA IV OY-DIV, a Danish designed type delivered to the Danish Air Ambulance service in 1944. I had never spotted this type before and the DH Gipsy Moth powered aircraft reminded me very much of the Avro Anson. Danish Air force Douglas C-47 Dakota K687 is on display in the “military hanger”, complete with snow skis. From a notoriety point of view, this aircraft appeared in the 1977 film “A bridge too far”.
Even though I had a fairly good idea what I may see at Stauning airport, I nevertheless found myself having one of those “excitable spotting moments” we have all have experienced when approaching a new airport. Denmark as we know is a very flat country, in fact the highest point is only 150m above sea level as I was reliably informed by my wonderful B&B host. Hoping that Benair still had a Shorts SD 360 or two resident at the airport, I found myself fist pumping with joy as the airport came into view and I could make out the unmistakable outline of no less than four “Sheds” parked in front of the company facilities. What a result, a much-needed type for this challenge and well worth the hour drive from Billund.
In addition to the Belfast quartette, I could see LET-410 OY- PBI of Benair, a type that I was most keen to spot too. Whilst I was denied access to the ramp, this didn’t really hinder the moment as the Benair fleet is parked very close to the public areas surrounding the airport terminal. Apart from Peurto Rico and perhaps Alaska, there cannot be too many opportunities today to spot four of these Shorts built aircraft at a single location? It was difficult to determine if the four aircraft remain in active use or are for sale, but grouped together facing me they had a “Mount Rushmore look” about them. Broussard OY-SLV was airborne during my visit conducting multiple touch and goes and I was fortunate to catch the aircraft on land before I departed. The roar from its single Pratt and Whitney engine is still ringing my ears today.
During the 1980s and early 1990s I was fortunate to fly on a number of Shorts SD 360 aircraft, sadly though none of the four parked at Stauning. As much as I adore this aircraft, crossing the Irish sea at 8,000 feet in an unpressurised aircraft during the winter months must have been a daunting experience for those with a fear of flying. My first flight on this type was in 1987 with British Midland on a service between two major British airports that no longer enjoy a scheduled direct air link. At short notice I was told to attend the CEBIT trade fair in Hanover, and as this event was very popular there were no direct flights available. The company travel department came back to me very apologetically and explained that I would have fly to Hanover via Birmingham and Dusseldorf. Please don’t apologise I said, as the flight included a British Midland Shorts 360 from Heathrow to Birmingham, followed by a British Airways BAC 1-11 500 from Birmingham to Hanover with a brief stop in Dusseldorf. To cap an eventful visit to the CEBIT, British Airways substituted the scheduled BAC 1-11 500 direct return flight to Heathrow with a Lockheed Tristar-200.
As I was night stopping on the Baltic Island of Als, it made perfect sense to drop into Sonderborg airport on my return that evening. In fact, the decision had already been made before leaving England as the resident airline Alsie Express would provide the opportunity for me to spot a new airline and one not likely to be seen too frequently back home. I am especially looking forward to seeing the matt black finish adorning the entire aircraft, a colour scheme that clearly lives up to the airlines’ stated desire to be different from the pack.
The airport would also appear to have similar ambitions, what a delightful airport it is . With just a handful of scheduled services a day to Copenhagen one would expect the airport to have a relaxed atmosphere, but it truly is so laid back. As I drove up to the terminal building, I noticed something I have never seen at an airport, robot lawn mowers performing their duties upon beautifully manicured grassed areas. I parked my car in the short-term parking area just meters from the terminal and was astounded to discover that there were no payment machines, parking is free for up to 24 hours. Here is an airport that actually encourages the public to fly, no drop off fees and free parking for a day’s business any where in Europe! Not only did I spot the last Alsie Express flight of the day to Copenhagen, but two Air Serbia ATRs and former Trans Asia ATR-72 B22807 parked in front of the Skyways Technics’ maintenance facility.
This year’s Stage 3 of the Tour de France ended in Sonderborg on Sunday 3rd and the airport certainly did witness a flurry of post-race aircraft movements transporting riders and their support teams to the next Stage in Dunkirk. Alsie Express had two rotations to Calais and 1 to Lille, Enter Airlines flew a Boeing 737-800 to Lille and Danish Air Taxi had three CRJ flights also to Lille. I don’t know what the riders thought of this extraordinary small airport, but I do hope the tour organisers awarded the “green jersey” for the best kept airport of the three-week race?
Saturday 11th June 2022
Regrettably I must leave this idyllic part of the world and head south to Hamburg to catch my homeward flight(s) to Heathrow. It is also goodbye to Malena and her family who were outstanding hosts during my two nights stay in Brunsea on the island of Als. Spotting or not, you must go out of your way to stay here. Whilst I stayed in the main building with the family, there is an adjacent summer house that larger groups can rent.
I had plenty of time on my two-hour drive to Hamburg airport to contemplate what I might see during the four hours I had allowed for spotting. My expectation gauge fluctuated between the very optimistic and the not so optimistic but I was confident at least of spotting a couple of Condor Boeing 757-300 aircraft. The Boeing 757-300 had evaded me thus far on my challenge and I wasn’t to be let down with no less than four aircraft spotted at Hamburg. I had the pleasure of flying aboard a Thomas Cook Boeing 757-300 from Gatwick to Dalaman in 2012, and whilst this may appear a rather obvious, I was astonished by the length of the cabin for a single aisle aircraft. On the outbound flight we had seats at the very rear of the aircraft and each time we passed through a galley area it felt as if we had just entered another aircraft.
For the record, the Douglas DC-8-61/63 holds the accolade of having the longest narrow body passenger jet fuselage. Weighing in at 9 feet longer that that of the Boeing 757-300, it is just a mere three seat rows longer than the Boeing twin! The shear length of this aircraft certainly stands out on the ground and leant itself perfectly for photography from the public viewing terraces available at Hamburg Airport. I suspect that there will be many a suitor wishing to place these fine aircraft through their P2F conversion programmes when they are finally retired from passenger duties.
Most certainly I wasn’t let down by my visit to Hamburg, with three aircraft in particular worthy of mention. Firstly, parked on the opposite side of the airport was HS-TYT, a Royal Thai Air Force Airbus A320 CJ Prestige. Unfortunately, the aircraft was parked facing away from the viewing terrace but hopefully you can make it out in the composite photograph below which also includes the tail of Royal Saudi Flight Airbus A340-200 HZ-124.
Finally, as I was waiting at the gate to board my KLM Embraer 175 aircraft for Amsterdam, Amapola Flyg Fokker 50 SE-MFZ arrived from East Midlands airport enroute to Stockholm and un expectedly taxied directly in front of where I was seated. Had British Airways not cancelled my preferred return flight from Hamburg to Heathrow earlier in the afternoon, I would never have seen the Amapola aircraft. Thank you, British Airways, you made my day.
Having declared my obvious affection for the Boeing 757-300, I cannot resist sharing the photograph of D-ABOI. This shot was taken as I walked to the transfer bus to take us to the awaiting KLM Embraer 175 for Amsterdam, the colour scheme reminds me so much of a “Twister” ice cream. I am compelled to remind you that other brands of ice cream are available, but none I suspect in the shape of a Boeing 757-300.
Hamburg to Heathrow via Amsterdam
The flight from Hamburg to Amsterdam was uneventful, other than we were entertained by a rather excitable “hen party” through out the 55 minute flight. Industrial action by bus drivers at Schiphol meant that we could not disembark for quite some time, leaving little opportunity for any serious spotting between flights. With much rubber necking and to the amusement of those seated close to me, I did manage to spot the pair of Private Wings Dornier 328 aircraft D-CREW & D-CSUE which were parked on the opposite side of the airport to my parked Embraer. This was a real bonus as I didn’t expect to spot both propulsion variants of the Dornier 328 on this spotting trip.
As for the final part of my journey home to Heathrow, KLM served up a new aircraft type for me to fly on, Embraer 195 E2 PH-EXL. Something I had not noticed before when spotting the second generation of this popular aircraft is that they do not sport the winglets that grace the first-generation aircraft as photographed on my flight from Hamburg to Amsterdam.
The miracle of aircraft spotting
It would be an understatement to say that my three-day spotting trip exceeded all my expectations. It yielded more than 10 aircraft that could be removed from the ever-shortening list of aircraft types required as part of this challenge, and delivered an eclectic mix of airliner types, most of which had a European heritage and have long disappeared from today’s airports. I was also privileged to visit a beautiful part of the world that had escaped me thus far and met some lovely people too. I have learnt since returning from this trip that my wife has entered the Hamburg Triathlon in 2023, I am so looking forward to joining her and revisiting some of these priceless spotting venues.
For those of you familiar with my last spotting report “Meet the Fokkers”, you may be surprised to learn that the once popular Murphy’s Bar at Schiphol airport remains closed. I am reliably informed this is not due to a lack of passengers, but due to a lack of staff. Now where have I heard that recently?