Around the Schiphol CTR
After days of intense working from home and avoiding other people due to the coronavirus, it was time to take a little break. The weather was perfect on Tuesday, 25 March 2020, and we made a little flying trip at about lunch time around the Amsterdam Schiphol CTR. Albeit flying traffic had decreased significantly, we had not received permission to cross the Schiphol CTR from east to west.
General aviation flying is ideal to practice social distancing. All communication was via the radio, and we did not meet anybody on the ground before and after the flight. We took-off from Hilversum airfield runway 13 at 11:30am for the little flying trip.
Take-off from Hilversum airfield
We flew clockwise around the CTR to Zandvoort, where we had a view on the Zandvoort racing circuit that had been modernized to host the Dutch F1 grand-prix in May. It would have been the first time since 1985, but in the meantime the event has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
At Zandvoort we received permission to enter the Schiphol CTR in the west to make an orbit over Haarlem, staying clear of the approach area of runway 18R that was in use. Then we flew to IJmuiden where we left the CTR.
St.Bavo church in Haarlem
Anthony Fokker was a Dutch aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer. He is most famous for the fighter aircraft he produced in Germany during the First World War such as the Eindecker monoplanes, the Dr.1 triplane and the D.VII biplane.
In 1910, aged 20, Fokker was sent by his father to Germany to receive training as an automobile mechanic, but his interest was in flying. That same year Fokker built his first aircraft de Spin ("the Spider"). Fokker became a celebrity by flying around the tower of the Grote or St.-Bavokerk in Haarlem on 1 September 1911, with the third version of the Spin.
Fokker flies around the St.Bavo church in Haarlem on 1 September 1911
We overflew three forts of the Defense line of Amsterdam, a ring of fortifications around Amsterdam. The Defense line of Amsterdam has of 42 forts that are 10-15 km from the centre and lowlands, which can easily be flooded in time of war. The forts are nearby Fort Spijkerboor that we had visited last year.
North of Amsterdam is the city of Alkmaar, where we also made an orbit over the city. From Alkmaar we then flew via Midden-Beemster and Purmerend to Amsterdam.
Alkmaar is known as the city of cheese in Holland. On Friday mornings in season, cheeses are stacked on the main square. Porters carry the cheeses on wooden sledges to the old cheese scale. Built as a chapel in the 14th century, the Waaggebouw was pressed into service as a weigh house in the 16th century. Today it houses the Dutch Cheese Museum. Alkmaar's Grote Kerk is renowned for its organs. The most famous is the little 'Swallow Organ' (1511) in the north ambulatory. The 17th-century organ built by Jaco van Campen dominates the nave. Alkmaar's Stadhuis was built between 1509 and 1520 in Gothic style.
We received permission to enter the Schiphol CTR to overfly the Amsterdam city center in the north-east of the CTR. We made two orbits over Amsterdam, and noticed the quiet streets in this normally crowded city. The museum square with the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Municipal Musem was practically empty. Also around the Anne Frank house – normally packed with visitors from especially the US and Israel – the streets were empty.
When we had finished the two orbits we left the Schiphol CTR in the north-east, and then returned to Hilversum airfield.
Museum square in Amsterdam
Approaching Hilversum airfield