Thursday, 18 July 2019

The Ugly Duckling

This post is not about the fairy tale story of the ugly duckling that grows up to a beautiful swan. I have chosen the title because on the 29th of June I was, after a couple of years, finally able to fly with my pilot friend again - and his nickname for the tiny aircraft we used is the Ugly Duckling.

You can find previous posts about flights with this friend here and here.

Saturday, the 29th of June, was forecast to be a hot, dry summer's day in our area. We had arranged for flying together only the day before, rather spontaneously, and were lucky to have an aircraft available - often, they are fully booked by other club members.

Here it is, the Ugly Duckling - still without the motor cover at first:

While we (i.e. the pilot) were getting everything ready for take-off, the rescue helicopter I so often hear and see flying across town (mostly between the motorway and hospital) was also preparing for a flight:

 And then we were up in the air!

Not for very long, though; less than half an hour later, we landed at Schwäbisch Hall to refuel.

Afterwards, more beautiful views from the - for now perfectly still - air:

The next two pictures are of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a town famous for its historical (medieval) old centre and surrounding walls: (sorry for my reflection in the second picture, I couldn't avoid that)

This is Bamberg:

Some lakes:

You best click to enlarge this and the next picture, as it shows beautiful Coburg Castle:

Coburg aerodrome is just behind the castle on top of the hill. You can see the castle at the far end of the landing strip:

We went to the tower (visible in the picture, too) to let them know we were leaving the aircraft there for a few hours and to pay the required fee. 
Then we walked across to the castle and, after coffee and cake (it was actually lunch time, but neither of us felt like a heavy meal) at the café just outside the main gate, we had a good look round the really beautiful and impressive castle. I will show you those pictures in an extra post.

Next, we walked the 2,5 km or so down the hill into the town centre, where we had another drink on the market square in the shade. Coburg really is a place worth visiting.

To get back to the Ugly Duckling, we had a taxi take us up the hill - it really was a hot day (around 30 Celsius), and we definitely did not want to arrive up there all sweaty and exhausted - the pilot needed to be able to concentrate for the flight home.

This time, it was a straight hour flying without stopping to refuel. 

I think this structure in the middle of the woods is a tree-climbing path, a bit like the one O.K. and I visited last September in the Bavarian Forest:

Vineyards - I liked the pattern:

Coming up to Ludwigsburg from the north, we flew across Lake Monrepos (you have often seen that on my blog):

The fields were O.K. and I regularly go for a run or a walk:

Ludwigsburg - my house is not really visible, but I know where it is:

Minutes before landing, the office buildings of one of my clients were clearly visible:

It had been a great day, not just because I had really enjoyed the flights, but also because of the visit to the castle, and of course also because it is always good to see a friend I do not meet all that often, and the day gave us the opportunity for a good catch-up.

The Ugly Duckling (which, in my opinion, is not all that ugly!) served us well!


  1. The Ugly Duckling is really a swan, in my opinion. What a wonderful day for you, and for me, reading about it, what wonderful memories. I remember going to Schwäbisch Hall on summer evenings to see outdoor plays on the steps of some important building. I wonder if this still happens...My sil who considers himself Bavarian comes from a family which really comes from Coburg. My brother in law's retreat house was in Kronach and from there we went to visit Ingmar's grandmother in Coburg. How wonderful to see all you saw from the air. Such a special day!

    1. As far as I know, the plays on the steps are still taking place in Schwäbisch Hall. Many years ago, I was invited to see one, too; it was very atmospherical and an unforgettable evening!
      On the map, Coburg is in Bavaria. But strictly speaking, it is in that part of Bavaria which is called Franken - and the Frankish people are rather particular about the distinction ;-)
      It was indeed a special day, and I am sure you will remember even more when you'll see the pictures I took of Coburg castle and the town centre.

  2. Oh what a wonderful experience. Although I am a nervous flyer, I am very envious!

    1. It was wonderful, JayCee!
      Funnily enough, I am nervous on big planes, but never on the small ones where I sit next to the pilot and can see what he does and what's going on.

  3. Great Photos. I enjoyed looking at the field patterns. Thank you.

    1. Thank you, Rachel, for popping over and commenting! Field patterns are fascinating, aren't they.

  4. I love small planes such as this from which you can actually see the beautiful countryside and take great photos. It was certainly a clear day and the fields look so amazing. Seeing the area where you live is always such fun isn't it. We live quite close to the airport here so often when taking off or coming in to land we are just about about able to our neighborhood on the clear, bright day.

    Glad you caught up with a good friend - always a plus to have one with a pilot's license!!!!

    1. Stuttgart Airport is not too far from where I live, either, but when I fly to or from there, it is often not the right direction to see my town, or it is dark (as it was on the last flight back from Berlin in May).

  5. Wonderful day out. Wish I had a friend like that.

    1. It really was wonderful, we could not have wished for better weather.

  6. What a great day out! I am seething with envy. I guess that Coburg may have given its name to the "Saxe-Coburg" British royal family to which Queen Victoria's husband belonged. The coat of arms of Coburg has a very odd design doesn't it?

    By the way, I am relieved that you know where your house is! This knowledge makes getting home each evening much more straightforward!

    1. Yes, Coburg's coat of arms is odd. But the explanation is rather simple: The city's patron saint, Maurice, was originally from Egypt. He was not black, but his ethnicity was what back then was called a Moor. Medieval painters usually depicted all Moors as black, whether they were dark-skinned or not.

    2. It is indeed a good thing that I know where my house is. What with working at up to four different places on the five work days of the week, I could easily get confused as to where to go after work.

  7. What a wonderful day for you. Your post, which I read this morning and have just read again, brings back lots of memories for me. Not just of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (which I loved - as I've said before on a previous post - and which is probably a lot more touristy now than it was even then) and Bamberg but also of flying in small planes which I so loved and did a lot of. I also flew in small helicopters which give one the same sort of unrestricted view of one's surroundings. If I were very wealthy that's the way I'd travel.

    I look forward to the tour of the Castle.

    1. Rothenburg was especially interesting to me, as I know its layout by heart - it was the first page in my school atlas when I started "big school"! The page had a photo taken from the air next to a drawn map, and I loved it.
      So far, I've not been on a helicopter, but would really like to.
      Yes, if I were very wealthy, I'd definitely not travel by train anymore - too many delays, too dirty, too many annoying people on them :-)