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Jonathan & Philippe – France, Belgium & Back – July 2016

Goodwood – Calais Dunkirk – Knokke Heliport

PPL pilots Jonathan Deibel and Philippe Perreaux fly inside UK, French and Belgium airspace all in one day! Goodwood to Calais Dunkirk, then Calais Dunkirk to Knokke Heliport in Belgium.

Back in May the Phoenix convoy was set to depart Goodwood on a European trip to Knokke Heliport in Belgium. Unfortunately the unpredictable British weather had different plans, forcing the trip to be cancelled. It didn’t stop the Phoenix convoy from having some local fun with a helicopter pub crawl, but it wasn't quite the international trip planned.

Philippe and Jonathan were inspired by the initial convoy plan and decided to conduct the flight themselves in the week when the weather allowed. With the help of instructor Maxim Tebbitt, the crew planned to lift on Sunday for an overnight stop in Bruges.

For the second time Phoenix were denied their Belgium adventure as the weather Sunday afternoon just wasn’t good enough for the channel crossing! However third time lucky on the Monday the 3 man crew successfully headed out from Goodwood en-route to Calais Dunkirk airport in France.

The weather wasn’t perfect but was certainly safe for the crossing which made for some beautiful photos of the randomly arranged puffy clouds. Jonathan and Philippe were pleasantly surprised at how quiet Calais airport was, so quiet in fact that the ATC had gone home!

After the short stop in France, the boys then headed further north entering Belgium airspace. The completely flat landscape was certainly a contrast to the familiar British South Downs and was a great experience.

Once overhead the beautiful city of Bruges Belgium, the crew changed frequency to Knokke Heliport for landing information. Knokke Heliport conveniently just north of Bruges city and is perfectly sized for helicopter landings. Jonathan nailed the challenging landing with 18-20 knots worth of wind on the nose.

After a short tourist visit into Bruges city centre to enjoy some great Belgian cuisine the boys got the rotors in motion again ready for a direct flight back to Goodwood. Philippe was at the wheel this time and directed the ship south west towards France before crossing the English Channel Calais to Lydd.

The flight back was almost directly into a strong headwind but the pilot and passengers didn’t complain as the views with the evening sunset were absolutely stunning.

Congratulations to Jonathan and Philippe for an excellent use of your hours during this hour building phase. Keep up the great flying!