PHOTO-REPORT: FLYING COLOGNE, BONN & THE RHINE – On board of a microlight aircraft

It is not defamatory, if I would grab for the small plastic bag, placed on the inside of the door next to me, says pilot Jürgen Hollstein. A sunny and warm evening. We both sit on board of a small microlight aircraft. The airfield of Bonn-Hangelar just in front of us. The last checks. Weather is fine. No clouds.

“Nevertheless we maybe get some thermal lifts,” the well-experienced pilot warns me. Some air turbulences included. The plastic bag next to me.

In the meantime Jürgen Hollstein works himself through the checklist. Bound together as a ring-binder. First outside the small, blue and white aeroplane called D-MEPO – located at the airfield near the former German capital Bonn. Hollstein wanders around the aircraft and checks the tires, the gas tank, as well as the elevators.

A few seconds later. We are on board. Seatbelts fastened tightly, we are wearing headphones for radio contact and inner communication. The pilot checks the breaks by accelerating the propeller. Everything okay. We are next in the line of starting and landing aircraft. The tower sends us his okay. We start to move.

At 95 kilometers per hour the front tire lifts up. We are heading east bound. With a weight of only four hundred kilogramm – the two passengers included.

The digital map on board shows where we are going. On the right side Bonn. On the left side Cologne. I enjoy a 360 degrees view. Something you would not experience on a normal flight.

The pilot asks how I feel. “Everything’s fine,” I reply. Which is understatment. It is just impressive. Dimensions and distances change.

Jürgen Hollstein now adresses Cologne airport with radio control. They have to give permission for what we plan: flying towards Cologne – an area which is part of the airport controlled zone. And so left to us a commercial aircraft approaches the airport – while we get permission. Cologne Cathedral just ahead. The river Rhine below us. Bridges, houses, streets and traffic.

After two large leaps around Cologne we head back to Bonn. Not without passing one of the landing strips of Cologne airport. Another great opportunity and unusual experience. The pilot enjoys it, too. Almost landing and then, just a few meters above the strip, we go around again…

Back to Bonn. The tower of the United Nations on the right side. Still the river Rhine below us. And a red house in front. An important landmark, as Jürgen Hollstein explains. Every pilot who wants to land at Hangelar, uses the school building for orientation.

Back on the ground I instantly start missing the great 360 degrees view – and then find myself cleaning up the aircraft from little insects. The wings and the front. The little plastic bag still untouched.

Back in the car I realize the similar size of the internal space. The view out of the window is entirely different though.

Our transatlantic diablog report from Bonn-Hangelar airfield. For more information visit the website of Luftsportgemeinschaft Siebengebirge.

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