Earlier in the week, the weather forecast for Wednesday was such that we could make a flight to Lower Saxony. But the night before, the weather forecasts were less hopeful after all, with expected possible thunderstorms, showers and hail to the north-east. So in the morning we changed our plan and went 180 degrees in the other direction to visit Middelburg.
PROB30 TEMPO 0106/0108 SHRA BKN030TCU
BECMG 0107/0110 25009KT
TEMPO 0112/0118 27014KT SHRA SCT030CB
PROB30 TEMPO 0113/0117 29015G25KT 4000 TSRA BKN025CB [..]
BECMG 0106/0109 26010KT
PROB30 TEMPO 0106/0117 26015G30KT 4500 TSRA BKN025CB [..]
We called off three fields in Niedersachsen that we wanted to visit first and for which we had arranged PPR, and called the Midden-Zeeland airfield to ask for bicycles to be made available so that we could cycle to Middelburg from the airport. It was actually the first time we had done that, although we had visited Midden-Zeeland many times before, and it turned out to be a successful visit, which is definitely recommended.
From Hilversum to Midden-Zeeland
At the aifield, we refueled first, and then set off for Midden-Zeeland. We went almost straight to the destination through the CTR of Rotterdam. It always remains a magnificent sight to fly over Rotterdam.
Veleda and René ready to go
Rotterdam Central Station
We left the CTR at Spijkenisse. We deviated only slightly from our direct course over Schouwen-Duiveland to fly past Schuddebeurs and Zierikzee. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, regents from Zierikzee built country houses at Schuddebeurs.
Leaving the Rotterdam CTR at Spijkenisse
Over Zierikzee, the Sint-Lievensmonstertoren, also called 'The Thick Tower', immediately stands out. In 1454, construction began on the tower, which was built freestanding next to the accompanying Gothic church, which burned down in 1832. The tower should have reached a height of about 130 metres, but construction was stopped after the town suffered setbacks.
After crossing the Oosterschelde and Noord-Beveland, we landed on runway 27 at Midden-Zeeland.
Final runway 27 Midden-Zeeland
After landing, we parked the plane and walked to the reporting office. We paid the landing fee and the rent for the two bicycles we had reserved, and left on our bikes for Middelburg. On the way there, we had the wind against us on the bike, but it was otherwise fine. We parked our bicycles at the bridge on the south side of centre, and continued to explore the city centre on foot.
Veleda at the reporting office
Bicycles from Midden-Zeeland airfield
Travelling from Midden-Zeeland airfield to Middelburg
Midden-Zeeland Airfield has bicycles that can be rented for €6.50 per day. Electric bicycles can be rented for €17.50 per day. The maritime city of Vlissingen, Middelburg – the capital of the province of Zeeland – and Veere are within easy reach. It is also possible to rent a car. The rental price of a Ford Fiesta is €40.00 for half a day and €50.00 for a day, including VAT. The fuel is not included (all 2022 prices).
The middlemost burgh
Middelburg owes its name to the fact that it was once the middlemost 'burg' – or stronghold – on the island of Walcheren. In the 9th century, when the Vikings invaded, ramparts were constructed along the island's coast. Middelburg was the middlemost of these and so acquired its name. Once the danger subsided in the Middle Ages, the town developed into a trading centre and in 1217 it was granted a municipal charter.
When the Dutch East India Company (VOC) was in its pomp, Middelburg became one of the most important cities in the Netherlands. In the space of 200 years, the shipyards here turned out no fewer than 300 seagoing vessels. These ships sailed to Asia to ply trade in spices, textiles and porcelain. There are still many buildings in Middelburg today to remind us of this Golden Age.
Second only to Amsterdam, Middelburg once had the largest number of historic buildings. Even today, there are still over 1100 listed structures in the old town. During the Second World War, Middelburg suffered much war damage. The city fire of Middelburg (shelling and bombing) in 1940 reduced a large part of the historic inner city to ashes. After the war, the city was rebuilt along traditional lines.
Sights of Middelburg
Slave trading Walcheren
The island of Walcheren was the largest Dutch slaving center in the eighteenth century. It is estimated that around 1770 about a tenth of the income earned by inhabitants of Middelburg was connected to the trade in enslaved Africans. For the more specialized and smaller city of Flushing (Vlissingen), this figure was likely closer to a third of all income. From 1732-1807, the Middelburgse Commercie Compagnie (MCC) bought 31.095 enslaved African people, with the intention of selling them in the West Indies.
MCC slave shipping vessels
In Africa, the MCC traded goods for enslaved people. These people were then transported across the Atlantic Ocean and sold to merchants and plantation owners. With the proceeds in coins, sugar, tobacco or cocoa, the ships would sail back to Zeeland. This form of trade in enslaved people is called Trans-Atlantic slave trade or triangular trade. Except for the Compagnie, illegal slave traders were also operating from Zeeland. The archive of the MCC is kept by the Zeeland Archives and is included on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
From Midden-Zeeland to Hilversum
It had been a fun visit to Middelburg. Our bicycles were still where we had left them. We had the wind behind us on the way back to the airfield. At the airfield we first drank a beer (alcohol-free for the pilot) and then went to the plane to fly back to Hilversum.
First we flew an orbit over Middelburg to take some pictures, and then we set course for Hilversum, this time along the eastern side of the CTR of Rotterdam. We flew over the island of Tiengemeten in the Haringvliet. The island was originally used entirely for arable farming. In the 1990s, all farmers were bought out, enabling them to start a new arable farm elsewhere in the Netherlands, and a start was made on converting the 700 hectares of arable land into nature reserve.
We past the village of Rijsoord. On 15 May 1940, the capitulation of the Dutch Armed Forces to the Germans took place here. The formality took place in a school building in Rijsoord, now a museum. The commander-in-chief of the Dutch army, General Winkelman, signed the capitulation of the Netherlands in the Johannes Post school.
Near Bergambacht, we were surprised to see a Socata TB-9 stunting back and forth over the polders and houses at high speed of a few metres above the ground.
West of Utrecht we saw the Hamtoren. The Hamtoren in Vleuten is the last remnant of the medieval castle Den Ham. The monument from the year 1260 has been restored by Bas Kennis, the guitarist and keyboardist of the Dutch band Bløf, who bought the tower in 2016.
Johannes Post school, Rijsoord
Hamtoren in Vleuten
At the end of the flight we made the landing on runway 25, just before the new runway in use became runway 31. As usual, we cleaned the plane and filled in the journal. Then we had dinner in restaurant De Paddestoel in the woods near Hollandsche Rading before we went home.
Landing runway 25 Hilversum airfield
René finishing the paperwork