Foggy Bottom

An interesting day, for me at least. At 1 O’clock, I burst through the fog layer at 2,000 feet above Dover, climbed to 3,500 feet and pointed my nose towards where Calais should be.

I had decided to go for lunch at Ostende. Why Ostende you may ask and the answer is that I haven’t been there before and it’s only an hour away.

It started getting quite misty again over Calais, so I followed the coastline until Ostende approach directed me into the circuit to land.

Ostende is a big jet airport and the light aircraft, like my Cessna are parked some distance from the terminal but there was a crew car waiting for me and I wandered into the terminal to find some lunch. Maybe it was a Bank Holiday, because everything was closed - no duty free - apart from the busy restaurant where I had steak and chips before returning to the aircraft.

I had asked for the fuel bowser but it didn’t arrive and I finally went looking for it. The tanker was parked-up behind the scruffy, abandoned Nigerian 707 filling-up a German twin turbo-prop. I had a 16:30 flight plan filed but the other aircraft took so long to fill that it was 16:50 before I was back on the runway, nervously looking at the fog billowing in from the West, my way home.

Fortunately, I managed to get up and around the Fog and back up to 3,500 feet into a glaring low afternoon Sun, feeling my way back into French airspace, past Calais and then across the channel on instruments, above what looked like a sea of rippling milk.

Descending past Dover, I did rather wonder if I was going to have to divert as the fog was hanging in the valleys but with a little help from my GPS and another pilot on the runway at Maypole, looking for my lights, I managed to find the runway again.

So is Ostende worth the visit? The airport is big and that’s about it, so I suspect the town is a great deal more interesting if one has the time to look around. Otherwise, Le Touquet is a much easier destination but then, everyone goes there.

I wonder what Dieppe is like?


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