Sunday, 25 September 2011

BHX in the fog

Some pics taken last December at BHX on a foggy day!
EK39 appears out of the gloom complete with impressive contrails!

An EI A320

G-FBEG, an Embraer 195 and previously my ride to Belfast

An RAF C-17 Globemaster (which didn't taxi round to E1, but in fact took off from here!)

EK40 heading back home

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BHX-PGF-BHX Trip Report (2010)

Last Summer, we decided to fly with Flybe from Birmingham to Perpignan instead of our normal East Mids/Stansted to Carcassonne route. Flights were nearly the same price but car hire in Perpignan was more expensive. This was my first flight on the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, the workhorse of Flybe's fleet.

Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) to Perpignan-Rivesaltes (PGF/LFMP)
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 G-JECU
No self-service check-in as we had bags, we did it the 'old-fashioned' way at a check-in desk. It was quick though as we were early and we flew through security into the Terminal 2 departure lounge. G-JECU was waiting at Gate 16, built in 2006 and delivered new to Flybe (G-JECU is now ZS-YBT and is flying for South African Express as of August 2011). BE1729 was my 34th flight and 1st on the DH4, and at approximately 7am we lifted off Runway 33 enroute to Perpignan! See the vid below:
 It was a nice, calm flight apart from the last 8000 feet or so where there were some gusty winds! After 2 hours 20 minutes (perhaps too long for the Dash, although they aren't used on routes much longer than this), we landed in 30 degrees and blazing sun. Be warned: row 11 is windowless, as I found to my horror! Luckily the rows infront were not. I loved the 3 different coastlines that you see on this flight - 2 on the channel and then the med... what a contrast!

Perpignan-Rivesaltes (PGF/LFMP)  to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB)
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 G-JEDO

 Skip forward 2 weeks, and it was time for my 35th flight, 2nd on the Dash, and BE1730 back home! There's no video for this one as I didn't film the take-off and the batteries died while filming the approach... anyway, Perpignan airport is small but functional, my criticism is that the glass in the departure lounge is frosted and there are no views of the airfield! The Dash once again was a delight, although the length of flight with those seats is maybe too long. G-JEDO, our ride back, looked tiny sat on the apron next to an Air France Airbus A319! Crossing northern France on the way back, we flew through a very active cold front which was producing thunderstorms at the time, and this inevitably caused a few bumps! The turbulence was moderate-heavy (drinking from a cup was difficult without getting wet), and shortly after entering it, we descended slighty, I can assume because the pilots requested a lower level from ATC to get to more stable air. (Not because its a safety issue, but simply because passengers don't like it!)
  It was on this flight, on the ILS for RWY33, that I took the photos of Kenilworth from the air.
A distinctly unimpressed Mum and G-JEDO back at BHX!

So that concludes my BHX-PGF-BHX trip report. Flybe discontinued this route after only a year, odd, because both my flights were full! Which is a shame, because there are many other regional France flights offered from BHX by Flybe, but for the Southwest, it has to be Ryanair for the time being.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A trip to BHX

Just some pics taken at Birmingham on the 4th September:

bmi Airbus A320 G-MIDS outbound to Frankfurt, flying for Lufthansa (possibly why the BHX based aircraft is in Star Alliance colours?)

Flybe's "low cost, but not at any cost" Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, which promotes the eco-friendliness (is that a word?) of the type.

Another Dash, this one belonging to Austrian Arrows (Tyrolean Airways) and operating for Brussels Airlines. The two airlines are both in the Lufthansa group.  Brussels Airlines also send a bmi Regional Embraer 145 to BHX on Saturday mornings, I wonder, is this due to a lack of aircraft or are they using aircraft smaller than their own Avro RJ's due to low loads?

A KLM Boeing 737-800 on short final. 

Finally, a Bombardier Challenger...
For considerably better pics of this movement go to

Friday, 2 September 2011

French firefighters

I'm back from France! Where we stay in the Languedoc is fairly quiet in aviation terms, with the nearest airport being the tiny Carcassonne Salvaza which sees 3 or 4 movements a day (all Ryanair) at best. The only interesting things flying about in this part of the world are the firefighters!

The Sécurité Civile operate 12 Canadair CL-415's, most (if not all) are based in the South of France, and they are used in forest-fire fighting. These 'bush fires' break out incredibly often in the Summer months, and every time we go to France, we hear the airborne Sapeurs-Pompiers 2 or 3 times. This time, however, we saw them dumping water on a fire up in the Black Mountains, and I managed to get 2 pics:
They're not the best quality, the camera was on full zoom and the air was hazy (it was 34 degrees at the time, so its not suprising these fires break out).
The flying skill demonstrated by these pilots is remarkable, as they perform steep turns and very steep climbs, whilst dumping water (that sudden decrease in weight must make things interesting) and flying in mountainous terrain.

Aswell as these CL-415 'Superscoops',   the Sécurité Civile operate 2 ex-SAS converted Dash 8-Q400's which can be used for fire-fighting, and 9 Conair Turbo Firecats, along with around 40 helicopters all over France in various roles.

 It was nice surprise and not something we have (or have a need for, really) in the UK!