Updated: 2 days ago
May 11, 2021
Resumed my flight today after time off to do some some sightseeing around Europe. Did my longest and highest leg today, covering over 1,000 miles at FL310. The thin air allowed me to achieve my highest speed yet, showing one of the strengths of the TBM 930. Cabin pressurization couldn't keep up, however. Had to use oxygen masks for over an hour.
Mar 23, 2021
Wales - a beautiful, quiet, green, rainy country. Here's a look at my flight planning program showing the route I planned for today:
After entering the data into this program, I load it directly into my Garmin 3000 navigation computer onboard my plane. Then I can let the autopilot follow the route while I'm sightseeing out the window or from my drone. Or I can take the stick and refer to the moving map display in my instrument panel (scroll down to day 1 to see what that looks like) to keep me from getting lost. When I choose to file a flight plan with the authorities, I can do so directly from the Garmin as well! I flew down to Cardiff (the capital of Wales) first:
From Cardiff I turned north, first to the Caernarfon Castle - a huge 11th century medieval fortress:
...and from there on to the famed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, another World Heritage Site. This 200 year-old waterway was to be part of a Welsh canal system that would service long, thin boats. It's the longest aqueduct in Great Britain.
From here I turned to the northwest to end my day at the top of England - my next exploration. This part of my day's flight was almost always obscured by heavy clouds with occasional breaks to give me glimpses of the countryside.
I mistakenly crossed the border back into Scotland rather than landing near Manchester where I had intended, landing at a small airfield in the town of Duns. Ready for England!
Mar 17, 2021
Ireland on St. Patrick's Day! What an incredibly beautiful country. This was my longest over-land flight, spending almost 3 hours crossing back and forth over the luscious green countryside. I took off from the Isle of Man this morning, crossing the Irish Sea to explore the coast of Northern Ireland first.
Then I turned south to see the capitals of the two Irelands: Belfast in Northern Ireland and Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. In Belfast, I buzzed the Shipyards where the Titanic was built, having some fun with the massive Krupp-built Samson & Goliath cranes:
On the way south to Dublin, I passed over Newgrange, another of the World Heritage Sites on my itinerary. It's a Stone Age temple in the Boyne Valley, built over 5,000 years ago!
Then over the sprawling city of Dublin and a low-level fly-by of Dublin Castle:
Now I turned inland from the Irish Sea and explored the diverse central part of the country, seeing farms, more castles and mountains:
At the Atlantic coast, I turned east once again to explore the southern part of the country before crossing St. George's Channel to my destination airport in Wales. Here are two of the many sights I saw in this final leg of today's flight:
That's the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge, named after JFK's mother. It's the longest bridge in Ireland. It crosses the River Barrow, and was just constructed in 2020! Next stop: Wales!
Mar 15, 2021
Ten days on the ground in frigid Kirkwall, Scotland while I rested up and waited for snow storms to abate. Today I explored a snow-covered Scottish landscape. Although the whole country is only 274 miles from north to south, I logged 653 miles zig-zagging all over. First down the North Sea Coast past the Hoy Cliffs, south to Edinburgh, then west to Glasgow (where I flew up the River Clyde at 200 mph, 100 feet above the water), way up north again to the beautiful Isle of Skye, and then south again, passing over the quaint village of Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, and finally leaving Scotland to land on the Isle of Man - the British dependency that's not part of any country. Humans have lived there for over 8,000 years. It was the first government on the planet to give women the right to vote!
Mar 5, 2021
I filled the tanks to the brim this morning in anticipation of a lot of flying today. Then I headed northwest through the Rhineland, passing over Cologne on my way to Belgium.
As I neared the city center, I launched my drone cam and took this short video:
I passed over the famous Cologne Cathedral whose construction began 800 years ago! It's a World Heritage Site and the most-visited landmark in Germany. I took a shot from the cockpit and another from my drone.
Into Belgium where I did a low pass over Brussels, snapping this shot of the Atomium - a giant walk-through representation of an iron atom. The parking lot was pretty empty, I guess due to the Covid-19 virus.
I kept winging north, into The Netherlands. As I passed over the beautiful old portion of Amsterdam, I sent my drone way up to capture a large portion of this amazing canal-ringed city. Here's a challenge for you: See if you can find my plane in this photo, flying just above roof-top level (hint: easier on a big screen). Send me a comment if you can find it!
At last it was time to depart the European Continent (for now), and a long flight over the North Sea to Scotland - my first stop in the UK! Here's a shot of the Dutch coastline as I said goodbye to Northern Holland:
Mar 1, 2021
Today was my last day over Germany, crossing from east to west along the mountainous southern border with Austria. My first destination was the famous Hohensalzburg Fortress overlooking the city of Salzburg, Austria. I'm planning to really examine Austria in a few weeks, but the 1,000 year-old Fortress is only 5 miles over the German border, and I was in the neighborhood!
Next it was time to start climbing to reach Hitler's famous Eagle's Nest overlooking Berchtesgarden. The refuge was built by the Nazi's in 1937 on a 6,000 foot peak. Hitler didn't really like it because he was afraid of heights. Many of you may have seen it in the final episode of Band of Brothers depicting its capture by the soldiers of E Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Army in 1945. Here's some of the real E Company relaxing there near the end of the war:
And my overflight of the mountain-top aerie today:
I spent the rest of the day flying above the peaks of the Bavarian Alps on my way to my last stop in Germany - the Ramstein US Air Force Base. On the way I passed over the storybook 19th Century Neuschwanstein Castle. My picture from the air is followed here by a pic taken from below at exactly the same instant by the Castle's groundskeeper. You can see me passing overhead.
Feb 27, 2021
Another amazing day over Deutschland. I flew from Berlin in the north to Munich in the south. In between I passed over millions of acres of beautiful farmland and quaint small villages. Not a bomb crater to be seen.
After landing in Munich, I hangered the TBM for some minor maintenance and rented a pretty little Pipistrel for my most important overflight in Germany. My mother's family came from Munich where they built a home over 100 years ago, and then watched it confiscated by the Nazis before they fled to Switzerland, then to France, then Cuba and finally stopped in America. The house is still there! Armed with it's latitude and longitude I let the Pipistrel's GPS guide me there just before sunset, descended to 500 feet and took this picture. It's the house you see directly beneath the aircraft. I'm also posting a drawing of the house made by my mother when she was a little girl; before her world came crashing down.
Feb 25, 2021
I can feel that Germany is going to be an emotional part of my journey. This morning I flew up the Unter den Linden where my grandmother and mother both told me they had once strolled. My wife and I even planted a Linden tree in front of our house in honor of them. I flew east over the famous boulevard to the Brandenburg Gate, called Checkpoint Charlie during the Cold War, into former-Soviet East Berlin. My route was one that Hitler loved for parades. Here's a shot of the Feuhrer and the Gate taken during the 1936 Olympics, followed by a short clip from my flight today.
Finally, I flew over Germany's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The 2,711 concrete columns below me are intended to provide a somber place to walk through, remember and think.
I ended the day on a happier note flying towards a beautiful rising full moon.
Feb 24, 2021
I flew less than an hour today, departing Hamburg in the north and landing at Berlin's Flughafen Brandenburg in the east. Crossing the countryside, there were no big cities; just hundreds of tiny farm villages, fertile fields, windmills and aqueducts. With my aircraft's unusual paintjob, I couldn't help but imagining Allied bombers 75 years ago crossing this same landscape to drop bombs on the Third Reich. The area would have been covered with anti-aircraft guns, bombers going down in flames, and brave young airmen parachuting into these fields to die or go to prison camps.
Feb 23, 2021
Did some low level flying around Hamburg today seeing the sights. Here's a pic of me passing the 900 foot Heinrich Hertz Radio Tower at 300 feet. And check out this video shot as I buzzed along part of the waterfront at 100 feet!
Feb 22, 2021
After 23 hours and almost 6,000 miles, tonight I landed in Germany; the first person in my direct lineage to return to a homeland that my parents and grandparents fled 83 years ago. Before this part of my journey is done, I hope to grab a photo of their home in Munich, which was confiscated by the Nazis in 1938. Passing over Denmark flying south to Deutschland this afternoon, it was wonderful to see all the windmills that dotted the landscape everywhere!
Feb 20, 2021
Just a short flight today to the north of Denmark. I got my second Covid-19 vaccine yesterday at a clinic in Copenhagen, so I wanted to take it easy today. I flew over Copenhagen for a little while and then headed for Elsinore! This is the castle where Shakespeare's Hamlet took place. In the picture below you can see the coast of Sweden and the town of Helsingborg in the distance. I landed after less than an hour in the small town of Aalborg.
Feb 17, 2021
A beautiful day crossing the southern part of Sweden. I took off from Stockholm this morning under VFR. Keeping to low altitudes for my sightseeing, my first destination was the home of the Swedish royal family - Drottningholm Palace on Lovo Island in Lake Malaren. The palace grounds were snow-covered.
Next I overflew Gamla Stan, which is Stockholm's Old City. The houses are packed together, completely occupying this small island in the Riddarfjarden - one of the many fjords that permeate Stockholm.
Still in Stockholm, I took a turn over the Ericsson Globe, an enormous indoor sports and concert venue.
Departing the Stockholm airspace, I headed southeast over the Baltic Sea bound for Gotland Island. This is the biggest island in Sweden. It's famous for the medieval town of Visby with it's ruins and museum.
My last point of interest on Sweden's east coast was Kalmar Castle. This is a beautiful Renaissance castle occupying all of it's own island in the Kalmar Strait.
Now it was time to fly west to Sweden's border with Denmark - my next destination. During this flight i actually ran out of fuel due to sloppy pre-flight work. There were so many open fields that I was easily able to put the TBM down with no damage (thanks to reverse thrust). A local farmer helped me get fuel from a nearby small airport. I took off from the field and resumed my journey to Copenhagen.
Feb 16, 2021
A quick flight from Oslo, Norway to Stockholm, Sweden. I'll be doing a lot of exploration on my next leg, so I made this direct GPS night flight so I could rest up back in the passenger cabin tonight. At FL100, there was nothing to see in the blackness but billions of stars. I did the ILS 1L approach at my destination, and saw the lights of Stockholm for the first time as I broke through the clouds. It was my best landing yet.
Feb 13, 2021
This morning I flew south down most of the length of Norway's coastline, admiring the hundreds of fjords. I decided I'd only fly the full length of one - the Geiranger Fjord - because it is a World Heritage Site. Below you can see a video of the last 50 seconds of my low-level flight up that fjord. After that I flew inland to land at Oslo Lufthaven where ground control directed me to park next to one of the big boys (heavies). [Editor's note: because of today's bad weather forecast in Norway, I turned off the real weather and, in doing so, mistakenly turned off the snow cover on the ground.]
Feb 12, 2021
Just a short hop down the northwest coast of Norway today, sightseeing over the fjords and small villages. Here's a couple of shots - one just after takeoff and another shortly after landing:
Feb 10, 2021
Whew! After 4,000 miles of flying, I feel like I've just reached the starting point. I'm in Norway as I write this - my first European stop. It was a long, cold flight across the Norwegian Sea from Iceland. It was either dark or I was in the clouds for most of the flight, except for this one lovely moment just before sunset as I broke clear for a little while:
Feb 9, 2021
Started the day taking off from Iceland before dawn with icy wings and a snow-covered runway. ATC assigned me to 31,000 feet - the ceiling of my TBM. At that level I was enshrouded in dark clouds for the first half hour of the flight. Then, just as I was breaking out into the blue, an emergency light flashed indicating an unsafe drop in cabin pressure. I had to descend quickly and return to Iceland. I'll try to reach Norway again tomorrow.
Feb 8, 2021
Crossed Iceland from west to east today over a desolate but beautiful landscape. One site that stood out from my assigned flight level of 13,000 feet was pristine Lake Askja, 700 feet deep, in the maw of a dormant volcano. Next stop Norway!
Feb 6, 2021
Just a short VFR hop across the bay to Reykjavik today. I needed a part that wasn't available in Keflavik
Feb 5, 2021
My last flight without much scenery. I crossed the North Atlantic from Greenland to Iceland - my gateway to Europe! With no headwinds for the first time, I averaged a ground speed of 296 mph - best so far. Also, ATC assigned me the highest altitude I've flown so far - 8,000 ft. Tomorrow I'll explore Iceland!
Feb 4, 2021
Still haven't departed Greenland. I met this aircraft painter who agreed to repaint the TBM for me (again) in exchange for hitching a free ride to Iceland with me tomorrow for him and his SO. What do you think of my new livery?
Feb 2, 2021
I took off early this morning because the days are short this far north and my destination airport in Greenland didn't have an instrument approach. It took me over three hours to cross the empty Labrador Sea in an almost straight line, so I used my autopilot for most of the flight, following the flight plan I filed, and flying at the level assigned to me by ATC. Good thing my de-icing equipment worked since every cloud I went through encrusted me with ice! Next stop is Iceland where the explorations really begin!
Feb 1, 2021
Today's leg ended in disaster but was a huge success. How can that be? Well, I made my first "cold and dark" start, first topping of the TBM's fuel tanks at Deer Lake, Newfoundland, and then actually doing a real startup of my complex turbine-powered aircraft using all the pre-flight check lists. Before this I had let the software startup the aircraft.
Then I did my navaid and weather checks and filed my flight plan to Greenland.
I also learned to use reverse thrust for the first time, in order to back away from the fuel pumps, and taxied to the runway where I made my fatal mistake. I taxied onto the runway at it's center. Anxious to get going after all my time on the ground, I decided to take off using only half the runway. But this was my first take-off with all the extra weight of a full fuel load. I almost cleared the tree tops at the end of the runway when I died trying.
But I had a lot of fun learning lots of new stuff today!
Jan 31, 2021
My first IFR flight! And my first ILS approach and landing. After taking off from Prince Edward Island, it was a mostly over-water flight and I was assigned a level of 9,000 ft., well above a solid cloud layer so I left the flight to the autopilot.
The sun set behind me and I did the landing in Newfoundland in total darkness.
Jan 30, 2021
I left the US for the last time, departing Maine for Prince Edward Island at sunset.
Jan 23 - 28, 2021
I'm making this combined first entry because it was a learning time for me. All the flying was VFR and I left a lot of the work to my autopilot for this 336 mile flight from my home airport in Old Bridge, NJ to my final stop in the US in Portland, ME. Here's my beautiful $4 million Daher TBM 930, made in France and delivered to me in military spec gray. I had to repaint it later due to some software issues.
My home for the next year or so, the TBM's incredible cockpit:
And here I am banking over our house, having just taken off from Old Bridge Airport in NJ:
Let the journey begin!