Esta es una pequeña entrada futbolera para compartir la gráfica de debajo tras la consecución de la decimocuarta Copa de Europa de fútbol por el Real Madrid.
La gráfica presenta la evolución de las Copas de Europa conseguidas por el Real Madrid y todos aquellos clubes que en algún momento de la historia han sido el segundo equipo con más copas. Por orden: Benfica (Lisboa), Internazionale (Milan), Milan AC, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich, Liverpool y de nuevo Milan AC.
Algunas curiosidades que se observan en la gráfica:
Es ahora, en 2022, cuando con 7 la distancia, medida en Copas de Europa, entre el Real Madrid y el segundo club con más títulos es más grande.
Históricamente la distancia media ha estado en 3,0 copas.
La moda, es decir la distancia más veces repetida entre el Madrid y el segundo, ha sido de 3 copas. Esa fue la distancia en 24 años, el 36% de estos 67 años de Copa de Europa (ver histograma debajo).
La distancia mínima se dio entre 1994 y 1998, tras ganar el Milan AC su quinta Copa de Europa en Atenas y hasta la consecución de La Séptima por el Real Madrid en 1998 en Ámsterdam.
A partir de esas curiosidades, me surgieron después otras tres ideas muy visuales y rápidas de ejecutar y que incluyo más abajo:
Un histograma con el número de años que se ha dado cada distancia en Copas de Europa.
Una tabla donde se muestra en cada momento qué clubes eran los segundos en el palmarés.
Otra tabla donde se muestra cuántos años ha sido cada uno de esos el segundo en el palmarés.
Last Sunday, February 20th, together with my friend Juan and my brother Jaime, I took part in the Sevilla marathon, with over 10,000 runners registered.
Following two years of not having taken part in any marathon due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the three of us subscribed to the marathon following our series of marathons abroad (to combine tourism with long distance running) that has taken us to run together in Roma, Athens, Rotterdam, New York, Sevilla, Madrid, Millau, Lisboa, Vienna, Krakow, Porto and now Sevilla, again.
To prepare for this marathon I followed the same 16-week training plan I had used in the past. I arrived to Sevilla with more mileage (629km) in the legs than in the case of the last few marathons. I trained quite well in November, December and the first week of January. Then, I caught Covid-19 and had to stop running for about 10 days. During the last two weeks of the plan, with workload and work-related travel, I found it difficult to train, but most of the training was already done. In those 16 weeks I averaged over 41km per week, completed 5 long runs (of over 21km, twice 23km, 27km and 30km) and a few sessions of series, though not enough of them to get a bit faster. The negative note was that in the last long run over 21km (just two weeks before the race) I finished very weak and with bad feelings for the race in terms of targeting a pace at or below 4 hours, but still with the confidence of being able to finish it even if the final time was uncertain.
The profile in Sevilla is rather flat. The organization changed the circuit in comparison to the previous times we had taken part in the race. It did not start and finish at the athletics stadium in La Cartuja, but close to the Parque Maria Luisa.
The temperature was fresh in the morning, the sky was clear and it would be a bit hot towards the end of the race, though the temperature did not exceed 19°C. My strategy was to start with a pace just below 6min per km, so that I could target a time slightly below or around 4h15′, with no pacers for that time.
Despite the 10,000 runners taking part in the race, we could easily run from the start at the targeted pace. For the first 16-17 kilometres we ran the three of us together, then my brother Jaime went ahead and Juan and I kept running together until about the half marathon, which we crossed in 2h04’59” net time (at a pace of 5’55” per km). Then, Juan softened his pace and stayed behind. I increased my pace in the second half, finding my brother again at around the km 28 and, after exchanging a few words about how we were doing at that moment, I went forward.
In the second half of the race I found myself quite at ease with the pace and averaged 5’41” per km to achieve a negative split; completing the second half of the marathon in just few seconds below 2 hours.
In the end, I clocked a net time of 4h04’56”, a time better than what I expected (~4h15′). Sevilla 2022 was my 22nd marathon completed, easy to say today but not so on April 30th 2000 when I completed my first one in Madrid.
With those 4h04’56”, I was again above the 4-hour mark and finished in the 5664th real place (or 5721st official place, in the bottom half, though the percentile is not yet clear as the results are temporary), while I overtook over 1,200 runners in the second half of the race. That time makes it my 8th worst marathon, though with a better time than the last two marathons and with a very positive finish, thus, I am already thinking on getting again under 4 hours in the next marathon, possibly next autumn.
This marathon left me some memorable moments:
seeing my cousin Marileo and her kids while we passed in front of her house,
running several kilometres with Juan and Jaime,
the good feelings of the second half marathon.
The organization of the race was great. There were supply posts of water and isotonic drinks very often, thus we did not need to carry bottles at any moment. They provided a very handy and light cap to protect us from the sun. And there were plenty of music stations to cheer us up in the second half of the race.
The marathon in itself was also a success as the winner Asrar Abderehman set a new race record with 2:04:43 (making Sevilla the 13th world fastest marathon) and the Spanish Ayad Lamdassem set a new national record with 2:06:25.
Time to look back and reflect on how the year which is about to end developed. Brief recap of my 2021. (*)
If I had to pick a couple of personal and positive memories from this 2021 they would be:
Flight excursion to Norway, when three general aviation planes went together from Toulouse to the North Cape in Norway. That was a great experience in which in we flew for over 46 hours in 7 flying days, with a maximum over 9 hours the last day. We completed 15 flights.
Family trip to Paris during the autumn school break, when we took the opportunity to visit with the kids the Eiffel tower, Disneyland park for a second time and the Parc Asterix for the first time. We had plenty of fun with the kids in those days.
Family: Andrea is now 8 years old and David, 5. Andrea has been learning piano for most of the year, she enjoyed very much climbing, reading, singing in the school choir or doing handcraft. David learned this year to ride his bike, he’s becoming confident with English language, and started to write, read and do some math. This year we couldn’t go skiing together to the Alps (as stations were mostly closed in France), so we just went skiing one day in the Pyrenees. On the other hand, since September we started taking golf lessons altogether, though what the kids enjoyed the most was the swimming season during the summer, even if this year the weather wasn’t the best for that purpose.
Reconnecting: in our experience 2021 has been a more relaxed year than 2020 was, even if not back to normal. We did not travel far but we made some trips and excursions, we met everyone of our closer family (we visited them and received visits at our place), started to reconnect with some cousins and several friends that we hadn’t seen in two or more years. It felt great.
Flying: Thanks to the aforementioned excursion to Norway this year I flew 30 flying hours, more than in any of the past 10 years. I also took part in another flight excursion to Biscarrosse flying for the first time with my colleague Thomas. During the excursion to Norway I flew for the first time with Jérémie and later with Andrea, the flight instructor with whom I renewed the license for two more years.
Running: even if I did not complete any single race in 2021 (even if I was registered in two) the year has been positive in this front. Following over a year of either not finding the motivation or not keeping the habit to run, since the end of May, the chatting about the sporting activities we had done the previous day(s) with a couple of work colleagues (Alex and Patrick) helped to build up the frequency of runs.
From then on, I exchanged with my brother on the idea of getting back into shape to start marathoning again in a not too distant future. With that I found myself with serious mileage cumulated from June to September (a bit less in end July and August due to different trips and visits). We then registered for the Sevilla marathon (taking place in February 2022) and started the 16-week training plan in November… in the end I have run over 1,300km in 2021, with less than 230km till the end of May and 920km in the second half of the year.
Travelling: After so many months of restrictions, in October 2021 I flew commercial for the first time in two years! I felt like a kid in a first flight. A month later, I flew again. Hopefully traveling becomes soon the norm again.
This year we visited some new and old places: Biscarrosse, Mazamet, Montpellier, Grignan, Lyon, Besançon, Colmar, Strasbourg, the Ligne Maginot at Schoenenbourg, Verdun, Hoge Kempen national park in Belgium (where we spent a few days with the family to celebrate the 50th anniversary of my in-laws), Maastricht (so many years ago since the last time!, where we met Luca’s friends for a wedding), Doncourt-lès-Conflans, Tønder (Denmark), Trondheim, Bodø and Alta (Norway), San Sebastián, Madrid (first beer in a terrace there in 2 years!), Chateauroux, Valençay, Paris (Disneyland again! and Parc Asterix), Orleans, Milano (18 years later!)…
Reading: I started 2021 reading at a good pace until summer holidays, then a couple of trips interrupted my rhythm and it took me months to recover it in the last two months. In the end I completed 20 books and read above 6,500 pages (about half of last year). For the detailed list of books, see the post I wrote about my 2021 reading list with a brief description of each book.
Blogging: This year in February was the 11th anniversary of the blog, but I didn’t manage to write much; only 8 blog posts in 2021. The blog received just above 22,000 visits in 2020 (the least since 2012) and over 450,000 since I started it in 2010.
Work: This year the commercial activity of the company started to pick up, so it became more interesting with more customer facing activities, including visiting them by both Luca and me, in our different roles (she switched jobs). And we even launched a new product, the A350F freighter aircraft.
Now it’s time to rest, celebrate with the family and hope for the best in 2022. This year again there will be no running the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid with tens of thousands of other runners in the evening of this December 31st (even if we subscribed to it), but a lonely ~10km run in our village. We have a couple of planned trips for 2022: to Sevilla for the marathon and another skiing week in Vars (hopefully this year is not cancelled!), let’s cross fingers so that we can accomplish those two plans and the many more that should follow.
Other than that, my wishes for 2022 are simple and basic: that the critically of the pandemic fades away in a short time and that the general public and economy can get to their normal lives.
In this post I wanted to share the list of books I read along the year (1) with a small comment for each one and links to some Twitter threads where I shared some passages that caught my attention while reading the books. I have also included a small rating from one to three “+” depending on how much I do recommend its reading.
“Le Comte de Monte-Cristo“, tome II (by Alexandre Dumas) (+++): Great book, a must read. In this second part we see how justice and vengeance are meticulously delivered by the almighty count of Monte-Cristo. “Wait and hope”. [Twitter thread].
“Un coeur simple“, (by Gustave Flaubert) (+): Short and sad story about Félicité, a poor and simple servant who sees how her circle gets narrowed down to the point of idolizing a dead parrot. [Twitter thread].
“Heart of Darkness“, (by Joseph Conrad) (+): Marlow’s search for Kurtz, the most successful ivory trader of the company at an station by the river Congo. Danger, savages, darkness, “horror!”. [Twitter thread].
“Poetics“, (by Aristotle) (+): A treatise on tragedy: argumentation, characters, plotting and sufferings, music, scenery, metric… Unfortunately, the second part of the treatise covering comedy hasn’t been conserved till our time. [Twitter thread].
“Un paseo por los espacios n-dimensionales“, (by Esteban Ferrer and Soledad Le Clainche) (++): This is a book from a collection of 40 short books on mathematics that my mother gifted me with in 2019. My idea is to read a few of those books per year. This book was written by two professors from my alma mater and it’s a brief review of Algebra with notes on its evolution and some of its applications. [Twitter thread].
“Rhetoric“, (by Aristotle) (++): Being rhetoric the art of persuasion, in this book Aristotle discusses the different types of speeches, emotional states, rhythms, structures, choices of words… to better achieve the purpose of the speech. [Twitter thread].
“Hombres buenos“, (by Arturo Pérez-Reverte) (+++): A great novel based on a real trip to Paris made in 1785 by two members of the Spanish (language) Academy to get hold of a copy of the Encyclopédie by D’Alembert and Didérot, which was at that time censored in Spain. The book offers many details on the research for the novel, discusses many other relevant books of that time and depicts the struggles that the protagonists suffered in that quest to bring some enlightenment to Spain. [Twitter thread].
“Series y sucesiones“, (by Ángel M. Núñez) (+): A book written by a couple of teachers from my alma mater on series, successions and limits and the evolution of them, describing the contributions by mathematicians such as Nicolas d’ Oresme, D’Alembert, Cauchy or von Neumann. [Twitter thread].
“The world of yesterday“, (by Stefan Zweig) (+++): This book makes for a great read, very well written and with a good taste. The description of Vienna before 1914, the cultural activities of that society, the acquaintances of the author, the freedom they enjoyed, etc., makes for a beautiful picture of the world of yesterday. Then history turns for the worse: first world war, the poision of nationalism, hyperinflation destroying German society, the rise of Hitler, persecution of Jews, living in exile… both a historical recount and warning. [Twitter thread].
“La traición progresista“, (by Alejo Schapire) (+++): A brief and straightforward book lamenting the path followed by the political left and liberals in many Western countries with the focus given to identities. The book is rich on examples and references. [Twitter thread].
“Divine Comedy“, (by Dante Alighieri) (+++): This is an impressive landmark of literature. The book describes Dante’s passage through the inferno, purgatorio and paradiso, with the guidance of the poet Virgil. The structure of the book with the description of the different levels is remarkable. The amount of detailed information of historic or mythical characters from Tuscany, Rome, Greece, etc., is overwhelming, with the only downside of having to interrupt the reading of poetry to frequently consult footnotes. [Twitter thread].
“El fin de la fiesta“, (by Rubén Amón) (++): The book discusses the current situation of bullfighting, the challenges it faces with lack of appreciation from part of the society, the attacks it receives, and also some clues for its defence, its strengths and virtues. I liked the book and the message, but the style and narrative were repetitive at times. [Twitter thread].
“The righteous mind“, (by Jonathan Haidt) (+++): This book offers a review of the evolution of moral psychology and what the author calls Moral foundations theory, showing as well moral differences between liberals and conservatives, helping to understand people with different intuitions and morals. A very valuable book. [Twitter thread].
“Prey. Immigration, Islam and the erosion of women’s rights“, (by Ayaan Hirsi Ali) (++): Necessary book on an uncomfortable subject. The thesis is that women’s rights are receding and society cannot turn a blind eye on that fact. The reading of the book is at times tough and disgusting due to the nature of the cases, the cover ups by different institutions in several European countries… [Twitter thread].
“Tony Ryan. Ireland’s aviator“, (by Richard Aldous) (++): A biography of the man behind Guinness Peat Aviation (a major leasing company in the 70s and 80s, and arguably one of the creators of the aircraft leasing business as such) and Ryanair. A remarkable life with continuous ups and downs. [Twitter thread].
“La conquista de México“, (by Hugh Thomas) (+++): Historical relation of the different Spanish expeditions to what now is Mexico, including that of Hernán Cortés (and other ones such as those of Grijalva or Narváez) until the conquest of Tenochtitlan, of which 500th anniversary took place this year. The book is very exhaustive covering different aspects of the times and events: the greatness and beauty of the city of Tenochtitlan, the traditions of the Aztec or Mexica empire (including human sacrifices and heavy taxation onto other cities, which contributed to their demise), the tension between different Mexican peoples but also the intrigues between different Spanish conquerors (Cortés, Narváez, Velázquez, the son of Columbus…) and the legal charges and proceedings they faced back in Spain, the navigation details of their trips, the different settlements, commercial exchanges, the relationships and alliances built with some peoples (varying with time), the infighting in various places across several years especially including the “sad night” when the Spanish had to flee the city and were on the brink of a total defeat to the recovery period at Tlaxcala and the final assault and devastation of Tenochtitlan. Very good read even if a long one in which I was stuck for some weeks at some points of the narrative. [Twitter thread].
“Camino Winds“, (by John Grisham) (++): In this novel the author goes back to Camino Island and its community of writers that were presented in a previous novel. This time one of the authors is murdered the night a hurricane hits the village. The plot includes professional killers and big corporations. Very entertaining. [Twitter thread].
“Fables“, (by Aesop) (++): Compilation of fables from the VII-VI century b.C, most of them between animals (wolves, foxes, rabits, oxen, ants…) which form the basis of a big part of European popular culture. The fables are short, one or two paragraphs, and the edition I read included a line with the moral of the fable explicitly. [Twitter thread].
“Metamorphoses“, (by Ovid) (++): Written in the first century, the book is an epic poem that covers from the creation to the time of Caesar, describing up to 250 myths and legends of Greek and Roman mythology, with the transformation of many characters into different beings, animals, trees, rocks or rivers. At times the story is difficult to follow as the organization within the different chapters is a bit unclear even if the author worked on the transitions. [Twitter thread].
“Más allá de la razón áurea“, (by Fernando Blasco) (++): Another book of the maths collection. This one discusses the golden ratio and its use in different fields as well as some other mathematical constants including pi and e. The book includes some hard math but as well a few tricks that can be used as magic. [Twitter thread].
I started 2021 reading at a good pace until summer holidays, then a couple of trips interrupted my rhythm and it took me months to recover it, as always, thanks to the rigorous approach following these two tips:
a blog post from Farnam Street blog “Just Twenty-Five Pages a Day“, which was published well after I had adopted such an approach to reading but captures it very well,
the Wikipedia article about the Pomodoro Technique, which enables you to efficiently use the last hours of the day.
Another question that I have got a couple of times is about the source of the list of some of the classics that I read. That one comes from yet another blog post from Farnam Street blog. That post mentioned theGreat Books curriculum for the bachelor in arts of Saint John’s College in Annapolis. You can get the list from the Wikipedia or directly from the college website. As I am not reading exclusively those books I advance at a pace of 5 to 8 books out of that curriculum per year, thus it will take me other 20 years to finish the program.
With the data of all-time men’s best 400m hurdles times I plotted the chart below with the best 3,720 times (times below 49 seconds) and their dates, highlighting the times by Edwin Moses (the legend champion from the 1970s and 1980s, when he won the gold medal in two Olympics and two World championships, set the world record twice, and went unbeaten for a whole decade between 1977 and 1987 winning 107 competitions and 122 races in a row), Kevin Young (who won the event in the Olympic Games of 1992 establishing a new world record and being the first person to run the distance below 47 seconds, a record that held until a month ago), Rai Benjamin and Karsten Warholm.
Of the fastest 102 times, those below 47.6″:
Edwin Moses achieved 20
Kevin Young achieved 5
Rai Benjamin achieved 10
Karsten Warholm achieved 14
Alison dos Santos (bronze in the Tokyo final) achieved 6
Kyron McMaster (4th in Tokyo) achieved 3
Abderrahmane Samba (5th in Tokyo) achieved 10
43 of those 102 were achieved by 5 of the 8 runners in the starting line in Tokyo.
It took nearly 9 years for Kevin Young to beat Edwin Moses’ record by 0.24″.
It took nearly 29 years for Karsten Warholm to beat Kevin Young’s record, which he did on July 1st 2021, about a month ago, by 0.08″ at a Diamond League event in Oslo.
It took just a month for Karsten Warholm to beat again his own world record by 0.76″.
Since 1992 nobody had run below 47″ until the summer of 2018. Between 2018 and 2020, Benjamin, Warholm and Samba did a combined four times between 46.87 and 46.98″. In the last month and a half Benjamin, Warholm and dos Santos have also run below 47″. The first in doing so was Benjamin at the US Olympic Trials on June 26th, when he ran in 46.83″, short of setting a world record. But just five days later at the Diamond League in Olso, Warholm beat the world record with 46.70″ (see that race here). With those times the expectation for the final last Tuesday was quite high, with the roster as in the picture below.
Instead of commenting the race I suggest to review it in Youtube. You can find many videos, for example the one below:
The result of the race: a new world record, 45.94″, first time below 46″ (remember that nobody had run below 47″ between 1992 and 2018). Rai Benjamin, silver medal, also ran below the previous world record. Alison dos Santos, bronze medal, ran in 46.72″ which would have been a world record just 5 weeks before. Both Benjamin and dos Santos set continental records. Other 3 runners in the final set their respective national records: McMaster, Copello (matching his previous best and national record) and Magi.
In other words, six of the eight runners run their best times and set either a national, continental or world record. That is why some have called this race the best Olympic race in history.
Following the unusual ending of the men’s high jump event in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 a few days ago, with images of an official explaining to Mutaz Essa Barshim and Gianmarco Tamberi the options they had to end the final, I was curious as to how both of them had arrived to the competition and what was their track record in the past. For that purpose I used the website “Track and Field all-time Performances” (maintained since years ago by Peter Larsson).
With the data of all-time men’s best high jumps I plotted the chart below with the best 2,224 jumps (jumps from 2.31m and above) and their dates, highlighting the jumps by Javier Sotomayor (who still holds the record), Barshim and Tamberi.
Sotomayor holds 189 of the 2224 jumps (8.5%) at 2.31m and above.
Barshim holds 128 of the 2224 jumps (5.8%) at 2.31m and above.
Tamberi holds 19 of the 2224 jumps (0.9%) at 2.31m and above.
Of those jumps of 2.38m and above:
Sotomayor holds 25 of the 105 jumps (23.8%) at 2.38m and above.
Barshim holds 24 of the 105 jumps (22.9%) at 2.38m and above.
Tamberi holds 1 of the 105 jumps (1.0%) at 2.38m and above.
At higher heights the dominance of Sotomayor and Barshim is more relevant.
Tamberi had previously won some Europan championships medals and a World Indoor Championship medal in 2016 which is also the year he jumped is best jump of 2.39 in Monaco. Ever since, he had jumped at or below 2.33m until last Sunday.
Barshim had previously won 3 medals in the World Outdoor Championships, including the gold medal in the last two, and had also won two Olympics Games medals, bronze and silver, at the previous two Games in London and Rio de Janeiro. He has the best ever jumps after Sotomayor. While in 2019 he had also jumped 2.37m the last time he had jumped above that height was in 2018, when he jumped 2.40 twice and 2.38m.
Looking at that background, I can imagine that, when asked by the official about what they intended to do, Barshim wanted to secure the gold medal that had escaped him in the previous two Olympic Games (the gold was won in London with 2.33m and in Rio de Janeiro with 2.38m; heights that Barshim in theory dominated). On the other hand, Tamberi must have thought that he had little chance against Barshim, even if they had both already missed three times attempts over 2.39m, looking at how each one had been jumping in the past years.
Two weeks ago, Jérémie and I took one of the aeroclub’s DR-400 airplanes (the 160hp F-GUYA) to make a flight excursion from Toulouse to the North Cape (Nordkapp, in Norway) as part of a “Fly out” organized by the Aviation Society of the Airbus Staff Council, together with 2 other aircraft, the F-BERB (with Norbert and Dominique, who organized the trip) and the F-PANI (with Anne and Nicolas).
At the beginning of the post I will focus on the different flights and share some pictures (taken either by me or Jérémie and Dominique, the ones with more quality) and at the bottom of the post I will leave some more technical details helpful for the preparation of such a trip.
We departed one day before the other airplanes to ensure that the engine hours of our airplane would not be consumed during a Saturday with good weather in Toulouse. However, North of Aurillac the weather was not so good so we waited until early in the afternoon to fly to Verdun. Even if not necessary we filed a flight plan and climbed to FL075 for most of the trip, to fly VFR on top of the clouds around the Massif Central and we just descended under the clouds some miles before the destination.
Once at Verdun we refueled the airplane, parked it for the night and booked a room at the Ibis budget hotel, which is however 5km from the aerodrome. A kind member of the local aeroclub gave us a lift to the hotel.
The morning after we did not have a transport to the aerodrome as apparently there were no taxis in the surroundings, so we had to walk to the airport; a hike that took us well over an hour with the bags and by some wheat fields.
We then made a short (~40′) flight to Doncourt, not without flying over some of the fields and memorial monuments of the WWI battle of Verdun. We then arrived to Doncourt, which has as A/A frenquency 123.500 and that was confusing as there are other aerodromes not too far using the same frequency, causing you to hear messages unrelated to the aerodrome you are about to land.
At Doncourt we refueled again and had a chat with a member of the local club. I went to pick some snacks from a local backery (less than 1km away) while we waited for the F-BERB. We then had a picnic at the aerodrome before departing for Tønder.
For the flight to Denmark we had to file a flight plan. We used a simple route based on the location of some VOR (DIK NOR BOT NDO). We were going to overfly Luxembourg and the whole of Germany. We climbed again to FL075 and were cleared (after the F-BERB) by the ATC (Langen radar) to fly through class C spaces around Cologne and Düsseldorf. Later, we listened in the radio that the F-BERB was descending to 3,000ft and below somewhere North of Bremen so we followed suit. From there and until nearly the border with Denmark the ceiling was at around 2,000ft, but since the ground is almost at sea level the flight was still comfortable. The West coastline of Schleswig-Holstein was wonderful.
When we arrived at Tønder the F-PANI was already on ground and the F-BERB landed shortly after. Our flight plan had not been properly communicated and we were not expected, nor could refuel as we did not have local currency (DKK). We booked rooms in hotels in the village which was at walking distance. We then gathered at the Cafe Arthur and enjoyed our first dinner together as members of the fly out. There Dominique offered us a bottle of Saumur red wine that he had brought to celebrate that first night.
We woke up early as we wanted to be ready at the aerodrome at 7am to refuel the airplanes and had a 25-minute walk before to get to the aerodrome. The person in charge of the fuel station arrived a bit later but we were ready for departure at around 8am. We had filed another flight plan to fly to Bergen in Norway.
Flying over Denmark, despite its flatness, was nice, with the coast to the West, small crop fields and villages, including the coastal city of Esbjerg where my brother spent 2 weeks of the summer of 2002. We flew by the coast up until the village of Hanstholm (close to Thisted aerodrome) and then took a North West heading towards Norway with a transit of just above 30 minutes over the North Sea.
Once in Norway we continued flying along the Southern coast, overflying the airports of Farsund Lista, Stavanger Sola and Karmøy until we reached Bergen. During that flight of over 4 hours we enjoyed the good weather and the views.
At the tarmac in Bergen we spent some time between refueling and then waiting for the police to check our EU Covid-19 passport so that we were cleared to enter the country. We then purchased online the week pass covering the landing fees in all Norwegian airports, filed another flight plan and off we went for our next destination: Trondheim.
In that second flight, the sky was covered with clouds but the ceiling was not very low so it allowed for a relatively comfortable flight enjoying the views of the different islands. Once arrived at Trondheim we refueled, parked the plane, were taken in a small bus to the general aviation exit of the airport and walked to our hotel (Radisson Blu at the airport). We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and studied the weather which started to degrade.
Day 4 (July 20th) – Trondheim Værnes (ENVA) – Brønnøy (ENBN) – Bodø (ENBO) – Alta (ENAT)
In the first flight of the day we tried to reach Brønnøy overflying some fjords in the interior and flying over Namsos but before reaching that point there was no visibility and the F-PANI and us had to take a U-turn back to the fjord of Trondheim and get to the coastline overflying Orland airport. In flight we learnt that a NOTAM had been published informing that there was no Avgas that day at Brønnøy. Despite of that we landed there, which wasn’t easy as just when arriving there were some showers, so we had to hold first at the South and then changed our plan and approached the airport from the North West. At the airport we studied again the weather to the next airport where we could refuel, Bodø, a flight of just over an hour.
During the flight to Bodø we had a lower ceiling (at around 1,200ft, flying at below 1,000ft) and showers here and there. Though just at the airport the weather was clear. We landed, refueled, quickly ate some bananas and got ready for the next flight to Alta.
For the flight to Alta we would have liked to enjoy the view of the Lofoten islands, but seeing the weather and winds, we rather flew towards Leknes and then by the Western coastline of those islands. We passed by the West of Andenes. At that point the weather conditions were not very good, the flying was not easy. We counted with the help of the ATC and the messages exchanged between our 3 airplanes. Once we passed the latitude 70°, North of Tromsø, we got encouraging messages from the F-PANI, but as we were approaching Alta the weather was still not getting better, with very strong winds entering the Stjernsundet fjord to get to Alta. The airport in Alta was at the end of another fjord and at that point the wind was calmer and we landed.
The airport was closing so we just had time to get some help to get a taxi, book a room at the Scandic hotel and had dinner at Du Verden. The study of the weather during that dinner was not very positive, but we still gave us until the next morning to decide what to do the following day.
Day 5 (July 21st) – Alta
Before breakfast at 7am we looked at the weather and decided not to attempt to reach the North Cape that day, as the conditions were not very good with winds, rain and clouds. We booked another night at the hotel and the group split in two: Dominique and Norbert went to the airport to refuel the 3 planes, while the rest of us went to the museum of Alta to visit the Rock carvings (see related post). On the way there there was some rain but later on the sky became clear and we continued walking around for a total of more than 12km that day.
Back at the centre of the village we got some food for the plane (so we could have something to eat in the stops), we took a closer look at the iconic Northern Lights Cathedral and later met the group for dinner at a pizza restaurant, where again we studied the weather for the following morning, when we would attempt to fly by the North Cape followed by a flight to Tromsø.
Day 6 (July 22nd) – Alta (ENAT) – Alta (ENAT) – Bodø (ENBO)
We woke up early again, took breakfast together at 7am and got ready to go to the airport and wait for the weather to become more favorable. After about an hour, the F-BERB departed first by the fjord and then flying over the terrain to reach Porsangerfjord at the East and reach the North Cape from the South. A bit later the F-PANI and us left following the fjords (flying by Hammerfest) and reaching the North Cape from the West, took some pictures of it and then took heading for the South West.
The F-PANI flies much faster and at some point they reached a situation without visibility so they took a U-turn and so we did and both airplanes flew back to Alta, where we refueled again and stayed for some more time waiting for a front of clouds and rain to pass.
We then departed again, this time reaching the coast directly through the fjords to then follow the Western coast of the Lofoten islands on the way to Brønnøy. That flight was a very complex one. Already getting out of the fjords was difficult with very low ceiling, flying at 500ft, some showers, low visibility… flying with the help of the GPS to ascertain where the other side of the fjord or the next island would appear.
After 1h30′ the sky became somewhat clearer and just when we were going to fly West of Andenes airport we received a message from the F-BERB informing that the weather by the interior of the Lofoten islands was better and we could see some light from afar at that point so we changed plans and took heading for Evenes airport. We then enjoyed an hour of very pleasant flight over the islands and turquoise waters.
We flew past Bodø and exchanged some messages with the other airplanes about plans in Trondheim after refueling at Brønnøy only to find that some 40nm South of Bodø visibility was very bad and the ceiling very low. The difference now was that the area is full of small rocky islands, so at that point we made another U-turn and flew back to Bodø. The visibility at the airport was very low as well so we waited holding flying in circles at some 600ft for a few minutes about 20nm South of the airport until the controller offered to guide us to the airport under Special VFR.
We landed, refueled, called the tower by phone to thank the ATC for his help, booked a hotel by the harbor (Radisson Blu) and had dinner at Bjørk. Back at the hotel we studied the weather again and decided to go early to the airport to see if we could depart the following morning.
Day 7 (July 23rd) – Bodø
We reached the airport earlier than 7am to see if we could leave, but hesitated as the weather conditions were still quite degraded and were not getting better. After a couple of hours at the airport we gave up, called our colleagues at Trondheim (who then pursued their trip) and went back to book another hotel (Zefyr) and took the opportunity to visit the Norwegian Aviation Museum (see related post).
In the afternoon I went to rest at the hotel, while Jérémie went visiting around the city. For dinner we went to Burgasm (with a very comprehensive variety and customization of burgers).
Day 8 (July 24th) – Bodø
This day the weather was still pretty bad, as another low pressure front was coming from the South West and expected to hit the coast. We went to visit the Salmon centre by the harbor and then to the airport to move the airplane and align it with the strong winds that would blow later in the evening (and hopefully clear the local weather so that we could depart the following morning). That evening we had dinner at En Kopp, with very good fish dishes.
We left the hotel at 6am to try to be ready to fly at 7am and so we did. That day the weather was finally good, with just some clouds at 3,000ft around Bodø but clearing further South. We continued flying along the coast down to Brønnøy while climbing first to 4,500ft and then to 6,500ft in order to fly to the interior of the country, East of Trondheim, flying over Røros and approaching the TMA of Oslo Gardermoen from the North, flying by the East of the CTR and finally landing at Kjeller aerodrome (the first aerodrome built in Norway in 1912), where the weather was completely different, blue sky and hot temperatures.
Funnily enough, at the fuel station of Kjeller we met a local who had been in Toulouse learning to fly aerobatics and knew some members of one of the aeroclubs in Toulouse Lasbordes. We had lunch there, studied the weather again ahead of the crossing of the sea and the flight over Denmark, where storms were announced.
Shortly after we took off again from Kjeller, overflew Rygge and continued our flight to the South very close to the separation between the Norwegian and the Swedish FIR, while having the Swedish coast in sight for most of the time until we could see from afar the thin peninsula of Skagen in Denmark. This time we flew closer to the East of Jutland to avoid the storms that seemed to be more to the West. We left Aalborg to the West, then Billund and the ATC of Skrydstrup helped us in flying through some local cumulonimbus and showers, until we were finally in sight of Tønder.
At Tønder we met some of the members of the local club and later came the person in charge of the refueling station (as Norbert had called him to make sure they were aware of our arrival). This time we were able to pay in euros, so we refueled that same afternoon, before we were offered a lift to the Motel at the centre. We then went again to Cafe Arthur.
The following day would be a long one and the weather forecast wasn’t very good for Denmark or Luxembourg, but seemed OK to cross Germany. Following the example of the F-BERB we decided to go very early to the aerodrome to take off as soon as we could.
We woke up at 4:30am and left at 5:10 for the aerodrome. While walking the sky was clear, but when the aircraft was ready mist was taking over. When we were about to align on the runway we could not see further than half of it, so we went back to the parking, switched off the engine and waited a few minutes.
A bit later, when the mist seemed to have cleared a little bit and we had good visibility of the whole runway we tried again to take off and this time we went to the air leaving the low level mist below us and we continued our flight on top to the South, immediately crossing to Germany.
We flew at 4,500ft until Nordholz and then climbed to FL065 to have better visibility of the cities ahead of us. Later, ahead of reaching the class C spaces around Düsseldorf and Cologne the ATC gave us clearance and asked us to climb to FL070 to stay in VMC conditions, as around Cologne the clouds became more numerous and were quite abundant by the time we overflew Luxembourg.
Once we had crossed to the French air space we looked for a hole among the clouds so we could get below by flying down in circles making a downward spiral, and so we did, until we were below the ceiling at just around 1,000ft above ground level. We then informed the ATC of Strasbourg that we diverted to Doncourt instead of flying to Verdun, in order to land sooner instead of flying longer at that low altitude.
We then called the BRIA of Bordeaux to close the flight plan, refueled the plane, ate a little and studied the weather in France, which didn’t seem very good around the Massif Central nor West of it. After some careful study we guessed that the safest approach would be to make a small detour and fly South towards Toulouse by Dijon, Lyon, Nîmes, Montpellier and Carcassonne, and so we did.
We only encountered some showers before reaching Dijon, but further South the weather was good and we only had to watch out for some glider activity at some points around Lyon. We made a refueling stop at Alès Cévennes before getting ready for the last flight of the excursion.
Flying to Toulouse through the corridor of Montpellier – Carcassonne is something I had done a few times, so we just focused on staying alert as the day was getting long and we were becoming tired.
We finally landed at Toulouse Lasbordes, where Dominique and Norbert (who had arrived two days earlier) were waiting for us. They brought a bottle of champagne which we drank by the airplane still on the tarmac. They then helped us getting the airplane in the hangar, we said good-bye, continued cleaning the plane, filled in the papers… and savored the moment of what we had just accomplished: flying VFR all the way to the North Cape and back.
Trip preparation and tips
We flew for over 46 hours, the other plane departing from Toulouse did 43 hours. On flying days the average flying time was almost 7 hours per day, with a maximum over 9 hours the last day. We completed 15 flights.
We were stranded 3 days without flying, the other airplanes only 1, but the F-BERB in a similar excursion years ago also lost some 3 days. We also had to delay our departure by 4-5 days due to heavy rain in the North of France, Belgium and South of Germany around the targeted departure date. Thus, it would be prudent to budget in your calendar at least 10 days for the trip.
The excursion was mainly about flying, preparing flights, refueling, studying the weather (at dinners, breakfasts and refueling pauses). We only had time to visit the places when we were stranded. Thus, it is trip for dedicated aviation enthusiasts.
We opened an account at the Norwegian Avinor site. It’s free of charge and it contains all the aerodrome charts, AIP, weather information and a tool to file flight plans. In that site you’ll be able to get a week pass to cover all the landing fees for about 94€ (in July 2021).
For the preparation of the flights and the navigation we relied on SkyDemon (I took 1 month subscription for 14€) from an iPad Mini (however I used an external GPS connected to the iPad, this proved tricky for the battery management in the flights over 4 hours). The good resolution of SkyDemon was very valuable to fly along the coast when visibility was low.
Special attention needs to be paid to where you can refuel. About half of the airports in Norway do not have Avgas 100LL. Most of the ones that do have Avgas do not accept cash or credit card payment, but are divided into those which accept the Air BP card (which we had) and the ones accepting the Shell card (which we didn’t have, those part of the AFSN network – there was an AIP from just a few months before informing about that). Therefore we were effectively restricted to about one fourth of the airports (that is an element when thinking about flight planning and potential diversions, whether they may occur at the end or beginning of a flight). The best would be to depart with both the BP and the Shell cards.
All of the airports we landed were of moderate size with long runways.
The Norwegian ATC was quite helpful all along the trip and accommodated to many of our requests. When flying low sometimes we did not appear in their radar and sometimes the radio reception was poor, but those instances did not last long.
There was not much VFR traffic in the North, most of the other aircraft in the frequency were commercial aircraft from mostly Widerøe, Norwegian and SAS.
We did not make any hotel reservation in advance, only when landing at each airport in the afternoon, as we were not sure of whether we would be able to make it to the intended destination (a couple of times we didn’t). Once landed we made the reservations via booking.com.
The overall budget (including the cost of the flight hours including fuel (the largest cost by far), landing fees, hotels, meals, etc) for our plane has been around 9,500€ (less than 5,000€ per person).
During our flight excursion to Norway we had to stop for a couple of days in Bodø and this gave us the opportunity to visit the Norwegian Aviation Museum (Norsk luftfartsmuseum) built on the site of the airport built by the Germans during World War II.
The museum is divided mainly in two sections, military and civil aviation, which are separated by a hall which leads to a control tower that enjoys a good view over the airport of the city. We spent over 2 hours visiting the museum (entry price was 175 NOK, around 17 euros) and found it quite interesting.
The exhibition is organized chronologically, starting with the use of balloons to gather intelligence over the enemy lines in battles, the first pioneers in aviation and military aviation in between the world wars, the aircraft acquired for the armed forces in Norway at the time, the first military aerodrome in Norway (Kjeller) which was also the site where military aircraft would be produced under license, exhibits about operations during the second world war (such as the first paradropping operation over Stavanger Sola), the training of the Norwegian armed forces in Canada in a camp called “Little Norway“, and then ending with more modern aircraft.
Some of the relevant aircraft they have in display are: Avro 504K DYAK (used during WWI), Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina (amphibian aircraft mainly used for reconnaissance patrol of German U-boats), De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth (which was one of the aircraft licensed to be built at Kjeller between the wars and then was stationed at military bases in Kjeller, Værnes and Bardufoss), De Havilland DH 98 Mosquito (these were imported from Britain and several were lost during WWII missions mainly armed reconnaissance along the Norwegian coast and attacks on German U-boats), Supermarine Spitfire (the most important British fighter during WWII equipped as well two Norwegian squadrons which operated over 500 Spitfires between 1942 and 1945), etc.
The civil aviation exhibition as well is organized chronologically, starting with the early pioneers who acquired some of the early models and studied aeronautical engineering in France, followed by the early development of aviation in Norway with emphasis on the role played by the former Norwegian Air Lines (DNL), Widerøe (regional airline connecting every corner of Norway and based in Bodø), Braathens and SAS.
The exhibition showcases as well some of the contributions of Norway to international aviation such as the development of navigational aids that enabled commercial traffic over polar regions (gyro compass, grid north and sky compass – read this interesting article on flying polar routes) thanks to the works of the navigator Einar Sverre Pedersen. The first polar route was operated by SAS in 1952 with a DC-6B, and then commercially from 1954 with Copenhagen to Los Angeles as the first route.
Another Norwegian breakthrough in commercial aviation consisted on Turi Widerøe (daughter of one of the founders of Widerøe airline) becoming the first female pilot in a major airline in the Western world in 1967, when she received her license; then she first operated seaplanes for Widerøe and later moved to SAS to fly Caravelles and DC-9s until her retirement in 1978.
Este fin de semana tiene lugar la feria de toros de Vic-Fezensac, una pequeña localidad en el departamento de Gers (Francia). La feria normalmente se celebra en torno a la fecha Pentecostés (este año fue el 23 de mayo), pero debido a las restricciones en aquellas fechas a causa de la pandemia, y tras suspenderse la feria en 2020, este año se ha celebrado en julio.
La corrida a la que fuimos hoy, como en años anteriores, era la corrida concurso, donde se torean 6 toros de 6 ganaderías diferentes para elegir al mejor toro. Para ello el jurado puntúa la presentación, el comportamiento en cada una de las picas, en las banderillas, en la muleta y si el toro va a más o a menos.
Dado que el foco de la corrida está en los toros, y siendo ésta una plaza pequeña y torista, los toreros que suelen venir no son grandes figuras. En esta ocasión eran Manuel Jesús Pérez Mota (Cádiz), Sergio Serrano (Albacete) y Adrien Salenc (Nîmes).
El día de hoy tampoco hubo mucha suerte con los toros. Los tres primeros toros no dejaron una gran impresión y las respectivas faenas fueron para olvidar.
Los tres últimos toros dejaron mejor impresión. Si acaso el mejor toro fue el 4⁰, Belugo, aun así el premio del concurso quedó desierto.
La mejor faena la hizo Salenc con el último toro, con el que arrancó unos aplausos, aunque también era el toro más pequeño y ágil de los 6.
Para acceder a la plaza todos los asistentes debíamos presentar nuestro pasaporte Covid (tras doble vacunación) o un resultado negativo de test de antígenos (para lo cual había una carpa haciendo tests a la entrada, además de en una farmacia a 400m).
Antes de comenzar y durante la corrida se hicieron varios homenajes a la víctimas de la pandemia, a los sanitarios voluntarios en la plaza y a cada uno de los ganaderos como muestra de apoyo.
Esperemos que en los próximos meses la situación de la pandemia mejore y con ello se multipliquen los espectáculos taurinos y se recupere la fiesta de este último año y medio de casi parón.
This weekend, with my work colleague Thomas and other 7 airplanes of our Aviation Society, we made a day-long flight excursion to Biscarrosse (~60km South West of Bordeaux), in order to visit its Seaplane museum (Musée de l’Hydraviation).
We took the opportunity of the excursion to overfly other interesting landmarks such as the water slope of Montech, the pont-canal of Moissac, the Dune of Pilat and Cap Ferret by the bay of Arcachon.
I will be short in words in this post, thus I will first show here below some of the beautiful pictures of the flight (most taken by Thomas), and at the bottom I will include a few paragraphs with the technical information of the flight in case anyone is interested in planning a similar trip, and then I will briefly comment the museum.
We made two flights. The first one from Toulouse Lasbordes (LFCL) to Biscarrosse Parentis (LFBS) lasted 2h05′ including the excursion to the seaside to overfly the Dune of Pilat and Cap Ferret, a detour of ~20′. The return trip took us 1h48′. Both trips could take somewhat less time if the routes were a bit more direct. We started both flights with the fuel tank full (in theory up to 109l of usable fuel) and after each flight we did refills of ~55 and 43 litres; that would mean a fuel consumption per trip of ~26.4l per hour and 23.9l per hour.
For the first flight we filed a flight plan (calling the BRIA of Bordeaux) even if not required in France (when not flying to the islands or abroad), but that eased the flying through different flight spaces, getting flight information service, traffic information, etc.
Flying around the Dune of Pilat and Arcachon bay was quite busy. We flew in the area at an altitude of ~2,500ft and below us, at around 1,000ft, we saw quite a few airplanes flying by, not all in the same radio frequency. Thus, in days of good weather that is something to watch out.
Biscarrosse-Parentis airport was also rather busy, with airplanes, ULMs, autogyros, helicopters and gliders… and seaplanes, some of them departing from the water but others from the paved runway, making use of small wheels installed in their floats. Luckily all the restricted airspace areas in the immediate surroundings of the airport were not active that day, otherwise it would have been trickier to approach the airport and be forced to fly at lower altitude.
The museum is at the other side of the village, not at walking distance. We were taken there by car by the director of the airport and his partner, thanks to their acquaintance with some of our society pilots; that helped a lot with the logistics, otherwise we would have taken taxis. There is a restaurant by the airport and another one by the museum, though we organized a picnic this time.
Musée de l’Hydraviation
At the beginning of the XX century Pierre-Georges Latécoère chose Biscarrosse to set up a seaplane assembly factory with parts coming from Toulouse. Latécoère seaplanes were among the largest French seaplanes produced (Latécoère 631) and from Biscarrosse Les Hourtiquets flying boat base departed air liners piloted by pioneers like Mermoz, Guillaumet or Saint-Exupery. Those were the days when Biscarrosse was destined to be one of the main hubs in aviation until the second world war came and aviation developed in a different path.
The museum takes less than 1h30′ to visit and it is mainly composed of models of the seaplanes of the early days (including the first attempts by Fabre and Curtis), the development and growth of Latécoère’s business, Boeing Clippers, the luxury of seaplane travel in those days, the role of seaplanes in the war, the dream that led to the single flight of the Hugues H-4 Hercules Spruce Goose, and today’s use of seaplanes in firefighting operations.