Karl Drage's 2012 blogGAR Entries

JUN 18 2012
blogGAR: Amsterdam-Schipol in the Fog - Part 2

Finally, a brief period of respite after putting Issue 9 of Global Aviation Magazine to bed! It’s no coincidence that it’s been more than two months since my last blogGAR entry; there literally just has not been the time.

While I dearly love everything about - and am immensely proud of – GAR, I honestly don’t think many of you would believe the amount of time it takes to make everything happen – much of it behind the scenes. I’m not looking for sympathy – I have squarely been the creator of my (our) own destiny with everything we’ve done to date, but I have come to realise in recent times that there is only so much that you can do, and as such, my plan in the medium term is to hand over the editorial reins of the main GAR website to Gareth. It’s just something that has to happen, and I have absolutely no doubt that Gareth will do a fine job.

I think if we’re all honest, we’ve perhaps been a tad too ambitious with everything we’ve tried to do. Certain aspects, like theHangar.tv, simply haven’t received the attention they need in order to flourish. As with any community, it needs nurturing, and our focus has often been taken elsewhere, to the detriment of theHangar. Among the other changes afoot, we’ll be looking to appoint a number of ‘community managers’, whose role will be to inject some life into the place. One of the huge benefits I see it has over, for instance, Facebook, is that your images do not get all of the goodness compressed out of them! As such, I genuinely think that some of these dedicated groups that have popped up on FB would benefit massively from using theHangar instead, but of course, it’s something of a chicken and egg situation.

Anyway……the last time I blogged was the first part of a trip to Amsterdam-Schipol that I did with Marcus and John Jellyman, primarily in search of KLM heavies.

As you may recall, the weather for day one was pretty grim. Unfortunately, day two would not start any better. In fact, it was unquestionably worse!! The plan to get a taxi to some different locations around Schipol’s many runways was soon put on the back burner and, having just about survived the night in our tiny hotel room (Marcus having to resort to sticking his iPod on to drown out your author’s snoring) we found ourselves on the bus back to the terminal. It would be another day spent on the roof, looking down on the action.

It was dank, drizzly, not especially warm and showed very little sign of improving. It was such a shame because there was some nice stuff on the ground and moving around – particularly on the cargo front. You just knew that, blogging it aside, these were pictures that were otherwise never going to see the light of day again….

Not long after we’d consumed our once again excellent lunch (I seem to recall it was also breakfast) from the rooftop restaurant, visibility actually did start to pick up. Aircraft on the far side started to appear out of the clag and, by mid-afternoon, I even popped the 400mm f5.6 on for a bit to capture departures rotating off the farthest runway from us. Sadly that just emphasised what we’d been missing out on – albeit I’m told the light would have been wrong if the sun had been present (I never really did get to grips with which way we looking from the balcony, such were the conditions!)….

One aircraft I was particularly pleased to snap was the Surinam Airways A340 that had spent all of the previous day parked up. It was certainly the first time I’d photographed anything painted in that company’s colours, and indeed it’s the only long-haul aircraft on the carrier’s books.

A brief moment of excitement was provided by the appearance of a film crew (presumably some Dutch soap or other?!) on the terrace, but other than that there was an overriding feeling that we were doing little more than killing time….

With the closure of the viewing deck at 1700, as per the previous day, we headed downstairs and indulged in a Burger King, before grabbing a few bits and pieces in the airport shops. There was still quite some time to go ahead of our flight back to Stansted and, as we sat in a lounge looking out on to what should have been the apron, it was abundantly clear that low-visibility conditions had returned once more. Aside from the occasional strobing of lights on unidentifiable aircraft passing by the windows, there really was very little other indication that there was even anything there.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, we were allocated a gate on the departure board and made our way through security. This was the first time I’d used one of the full-body scanners that a number of airports are now installing as a means of countering potential terror threats and, while probably taking a handful of seconds longer than the more traditional metal-detector ‘archways’, it was a painless process.

The inevitable scrum at the gate ensued and we were herded on to the waiting A319. Doors closed, engines started, safety briefs done, we pushed back and made the lengthy journey to the active runway with very few visual cues as to where we were to be picked out of the murk on the way.

The beauty about flying AMS-STN is that no sooner are you at the top of the climb, it seems you commence the descent. Little more than 40 minutes after the wheels left the ground in Amsterdam, we touched down back at Stansted.

It’d been good to get away with some great company for a couple of days but it was difficult not to feel disappointed by the weather that had accompanied us for the duration of the trip.

Clearly, there will HAVE to be a return journey at some point – ideally before the MD-11s have all gone!

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2012-06-18 - Dunk
Nice blog Karl, had noticed you had been quiet! Viewing deck quite big there? Or a limited area?

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