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Leg 70 - Brussels Intl (EBBR) - London City (EGLC)


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Ever since this section was announced, I wanted this leg. After all, how many times do you get to fly a large aircraft into London City?

 

Anyway, on to the story!

 

The plan was simple. Train to Heuston, bus to the airport, flight to East Midlands, bus to Nottingham, train to London St. Pancras, Eurostar to Brussels and finally another train to the airport. Simple? To me, yes. When I got word that Joe had landed at Brussels, I set off on my extended journey. Of course, flying Aer Lingus to Brussels would save about 2 days, but where is the fun? And anyway, I had to find an aircraft.

 

Luckily, somewhere around the middle of the Channel Tunnel, I got talking to a BA flight crew (off duty, off course). As part of a massive publicity stunt, they were taking an aircraft from Brussels to London City, rather than Heathrow. They started asking questions such as, "Do you think we should put fuel in the centre tank?" and "How much in the mains?". This naturally interested me, as Mikael's brief said a 300,000lb MTOW. What on earth could they be flying?

 

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Ah. An old, battered 747-236. During the trip I was able to get a ticket to ride and, if the captain or co-pilot didn't want to fly, I said I would. The co-pilot immediately questioned why I wanted to go on this dangerous flight. A quick flash of the baton, followed by admiring eyes, ensured my spot in the left hand seat, no less. No pressure then!

 

Some of the more normal aircraft on the ramp at Brussels

 

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The co-pilot handled the radios. Turns out, as far as Brussels is concerned, we are flying to Heathrow. Once we get into NATS airspace, the plan changes to City. Pushback followed the clearance and engine start was made

 

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Onto the runway, the rather light weight for the 747 would soon be shown

 

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80....100....120....140 V1....150....150...Rotate

 

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All tucked up now and well established into the climb. There was one worrying aspect of the climb, when I forgot to turn on the autopilot properly!

 

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All the automation is control - the INS guiding us towards London City

 

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Heading ever upwards

 

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Now into the cruise, however short!

 

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Good old Blighty ahead. The baton hasn't got far to go now!

 

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Going down!

 

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Another aircraft flies over us at a more normal height

 

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Turning over south England

 

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Heathrow ahead

 

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Gear down

 

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Now for the scary part. Time to land!

 

Full flaps, going down slowly

 

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The airport is now in sight

 

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Threading through the buildings

 

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Down and just before the spoilers deploy

 

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And we stop!

 

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Congratulations all round from the airport and the other crew members. Unfortunately, the aircraft went onto the grass at the end, whilst turning around

 

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A most unusual view

 

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And finally all shut down, dwarfing the Dornier 328 Prop in the foreground

 

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Normally, I would one meet one person then head home. However, it is time to bring the baton home. Meet you all in the bar (or on the DLR)

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Nice one Kieran. Quite an honour bring the batton back to jolly old blighty! Rather you than me landing that monster at London City. I guess it must have been like a carrier landing without the arrester wires!

One last leg to fly and then we are done. Roll on ATWC 6, five has been a blast!

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