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Winding down 2007

2007 comes to an end and on December 29th, I took advantage of a last spell of fair weather to make a couple of last flights.
Family matters had us spend the years' last week in the Moenchengladbach (EDLN) area, so I called an old acquantance of mine to rent a virtually new PA28. On both flights, once again I was accompanied by Rolf Sawicki, which marked his 10th and 11th flight with yours truly.

Rather bumpy in the inversion layer

The weather proved to be surprisingly bumpy, at least so within the 2000' thick inversion layer. Above the inversion layer at 3000', it was smooth sailing all the way. Looking north, the murky brownish air pollution within the inversion layer was all too visible.
Even when Stadtlohn (EDLS) was closed, we used it as a waypoint and detour on our way to Dinslaken-Schwarzheide (EDLD). When we got nearer to EDLS, convection had created about 4/8th fuzzy Cumulus clouds that could not break out of the inversion layer. With us on top in dead still air, it was a sight to behold.

Wave-off at EDLD

After checking out EDLS from 3000', we turned SSE for our leg into Dinslaken-Schwarzheide. Meanwhile the convection had transported quite a bit of moisture into the inversion layer and this - combined with the sun now being in front of us and slightly to our right - deteriorated ground visibility dramatically. It was only during the last couple of miles that EDLD showed up in front of us.
During our descent to traffic circuit altitude it became clear that the rising ground temperature together with the convection had pushed the inversion layer up to 2200'. It also became clear that turbulence had increased further.
It was very difficult to maintain correct airspeeds while flying the traffic pattern. EDLD informed us about a crosswind 70° from the left, 13 knots gusting to 20. RWY 27 was in use. Although I had conquered 20 kts crosswind components before, the very bumpy conditions made this slightly lower crosswind component a completely different exercise. So different in fact that at appr. 60' AGL I decided to go around and give it another try.
Just like the first attempt, the second one was flown with the flaps on the first notch only. This time I managed to get a much more stable alignment with the runway centerline, so at around 30' AGL I decided to continue descent and put our bird on the ground. Below appr. 15-20' the turbulence was reduced markedly, so a standard low left wing crosswind landing ensued.

Return flight to Moenchengladbach (EDLN)

Taking off from Dinslaken-Schwarzheide and most of the return flight to Moenchengladbach was uneventful. The turbulence had an intensity like before, above 2200' the air remained calm.
EDLN ATIS informed us about RWY 13 being in use. Us coming from the north this meant that we had to enter the control zone at reporting point Tango (Tönnisvorst). Despite having flown most of my flights out of EDLN and despite visibility being quite good, initially I had a hard time finding Tango. After circling around and doing some mental back-tracking, I did find it though and was cleared into the control zone. Our landing was - like most landings on EDLN - a standard crosswind landing.

As to not directly finding Tango: in retrospect I could/should have done one of two things:
- either ask the EDLN controller for a fix or:
- use ALL the information on the approach chart and use the VOR/DME to locate Tango, just like I had done so numerous times in the past.

Note to myself: even if you think you know your way around a familiar place, it still pays to rehearse multiple ways to find a reporting point.... :)

Summing up 2007

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