above text, written by your "always spying webmaster",
could be seen for several days on the powerglidertaifun.de website
early May 2009, but after reading a bit more on Helgoland and
a bit of talking to Henk your webmaster's curiousity was raised
about this short trip.
Since we know many of our website's vistors like reading and watching
pictures of these kind of trips too, we decided to write this
article about the Helgoland flight.
Helgoland (eng: Heligoland) is located 70 km off the German coastline
and actually consists of two islands: the populated triangular
1 km² main island (Hauptinsel) to the west and the Düne
("dune," Heligolandic: de Halem) to the east. While
the former is what the place name "Heligoland" normally
is used to refer to, the latter is somewhat smaller (0.7 km²),
lower, surrounded by sand beaches and not permanently inhabited.
and Manfred have visited many islands in the German coastal region
(Juist, Borkum, Langeroog, Spiekeroog etc.) but never have been
to Helgoland before. Since now is the start of the season and
weather is quite fine, they decided to fly to Osnabrück-Atterheide
airfield (EDWO) in northern Germany and meet one another over
there. Osnabrück is some 200 NM west of Oehna (Manfred's
home base) and some 110 NM northeast of Geilenkirchen (Henk's
home base) so an ideal location for meeting eachother and fly
to Helgoland together. D-KFDI departed from Geilenkirchen NATO
airbase (ETNG) at about 12.15 local time, D-KKGG departed from
Oehna (EDBO) at the same time. D-KKGG flew from Oehne via Magdeburg,
Salzgitter, Porta Westfalica towards
Osnabrück-Atterheide geflogen, anda landed at about 14.30
h (local time). Weather was quite fine at that time: views of
well over 10 Km, clouds scattered during partrly very strong thermals,
ceiling about 2500 feet, headwinds (WSW) reaching 20-25 knots.
After enjoying dinner they learned that Helgoland airfield was
closing earlier than expected (19.00 local time), so they decided
to file a flightplan at Osnabrück right away, put on their
rescue suits for over sea and departed at Osnabrück for the
final 114 NM towards Helgoland at about 16.00 local.
Düne EDXH, approach for Runway 33
17.05 local time, little over one hour later, after enjoying fairly
strong tailwinds enabling an average speed of well above 110 knots,
both Taifuns landed as webmaster Leo noticed later that evening
when watching the webcam archives of Helgoland airfield. During
the flight from Osnabrück to Helgoland weather deteriorated
quickly: closed cloud deck after passing Bremen (SW of the German
coastal line), ceilings coming as low as 1000-1200 feet, view
(some brief moments excepted) from 8 - 10 km.
As Henk informed us later they landed on EDXH at runway 33 (480x30
metres) with cross winds reaching 20 knots and only the last 5
minutes above the island the sky was remarkably clear, this in
sharp contrast to some minutes before when both Taifuns had to
fly at very low altitudes because of very low ceilings (300 feet)
approaching Helgoland EDXH (chart source : http://www.flughafen-helgoland.de)
history of the small airfield goes back to WWII, when a first
(military) airfield on Düne was constructed on the fortified
island Helgoland (Eng: Heligoland). In 1962, the airport was rebuilt
into the form it still has today. From
2005 to 2006, the main runway (direction 15/33) was extended from
400 m to 480 m for compliance with EU regulations on commercial
air traffic. Because of the difficult local circumstances a pilot
in command is required to have at least 100 hrs of flight experience
in order to be allowed to land at Helgoland airfield.
both islands are not connected via road or bridge in any way,
there's a ferry that during daytime is shuttling from Düne
to main island and back again at 20 minute intervals. The situation
has not always been this way. Until 1720 the two islands were
connected, but that year their natural connection was destroyed
by a storm flood.
As you can see on the webcam animation above it took Manfred and
Henk almost 50 minutes to safely park and anchor both motorgliders,
so about 18.05 local time they were ready to take the shuttle
ferry to the main island.
at Helgoland harbour on the main island, seen from the shuttle
arriving at main island our two Taifun pilots with a little help
from a local pilot managed to find a nice hotel to stay the night
and decided to go "downtown" and watch the football
match Werder Bremen - HSV in a local pub.
May 8th 2009
Next morning (Friday, May 8th) the plan was to fly to Denmark,
but since weather circumstances over there didn't guarantee a
swift flight back on Saturday, Manfred and Henk decided to stay
at Helgoland and have a sightseeing tour on the island.
Cliffs on the edge of the Oberland
main island can be divided into three very recognisable parts;
the Unterland ("Lower Land," Heligolandic: deät
Deelerlun) at sea level (where a.o. the harbour is), the Oberland
("Upper Land," Heligolandic: deät Boperlun) consisting
of a plateau and the Mittelland ("Middle Land") between
them on one side of the island.
The main island also features small beaches in the north and the
south and drops to the sea 50 metres (about 160 feet) in the north,
west and southwest. In the latter, the ground continues to drop
underwater to a depth of 56 metres below sea level. With 61.3
metres above sea level the Pinneberg is the highest (natural)
point on the island, only to be topped by several manmade constructions
the 113 metres high "Richtfunkturm Helgoland" that was
constructed in 2000 by communications company Deutsche Telekom
Anna, Helgolands touristic landmark |
Northwest of the island proper Heligoland's famous landmark
is found: The Lange Anna ("Long Anna" or "Tall
Anna") which is a free standing rock column (or stack),
47 metres high and weighing about 25,000 tons. Like the
rest of the cliffs near it Tall Anna is made of red Early
Triassic, also known as Buntsandstein or Scythian.
The complete column is standing on a base area of only 18
m², can be watched from the nearby Oberland-cliffs
and like the cliffs is inhabited by hundreds of Herring
Gulls and Northern Gannets.
In a certain amount of time Tall Anna will be destroyed
because of strong tidal wave forces during the many storm
floods the island is suffering.
From 1904 untill 1906 a 5 metres thick mole called the "Preußenwall"
was erected to protect Tall Anna from the incoming waves,
but nowadays this wall is already suffering severe erosion
Gannets, Common Guilemots and Seagulls on the "Lummenfelsen"
near Tall Anna
sightseeing walk across the island Henk and Manfred a.o. visited
the cliffs near Tall Anna where several birdwatchers with large
tele lenses where making pictures and videos of many Northern
Gannets, breeding on Helgoland. Lots of birds were plunging into
the ocean at high speed, searching for small fish which gather
in groups near the surface. The Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus,
formerly Sula bassana) is the largest member of the gannet family,
Sulidae, adults sometimes reaching 110 cm in length and 180 cm
wingspan. The birds have beautiful colours; light bluish bill,
white plumage with black wing tips, light blue eyes surrounded
by bare black skin and during breeding time head and neck are
coloured in a delicate yellow. Their breeding range is the North
Atlantic, where they normally nest in large colonies, on cliffs
overlooking the ocean or on small rocky islands. Helgoland absolutely
suits these conditions, but yet it is only since 1991 that the
Northern Gannet can be found breeding on the island. The largest
colony of this bird, with over 60,000 of them, is found on Bonaventure
Island, Quebec, but 68% of the world population breeds around
the coasts of Great Britain, with the largest colonies on the
Bass Rock (hence the species' Latin name) and Boreray, St Kilda.
During winter all birds head southward in the Atlantic, some have
even been spotted near the equator.
Since 1991 the Northern Gannet can be found breeding
well known animal to be found on Helgoland, is the Grey Seal.
This reamarkable animal is frequently visited by tourist groups
and can mainly be seen on the smaller Düne island. Of course
our two Taifun pilots also visited the seals on Düne and
were deeply impressed by the sights.
Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus, meaning "hooked-nosed sea
pig") is found on both shores of the North Atlantic Ocean.
After the Common Seal the Grey Seal is the second largest population
of seals to be found on the shores of Germany, from a physical
point of view it's the country's largest predator (up to 300 kg).
Main differences between both species are the greater weight of
the Grey Seal and the pointier head.
Momentarily there are three large colonies were young grey seals
are being born: one near the Dutch Wadden Sea island of Terschelling,
one near the German Wadden Sea island of Amrum and the third one
(since 2001) near Helgoland/Düne.
Nowadays Grey Seals are far less spotted in the Wadden Sea than
Common Seals, while archeological finds have proven that during
the middle ages both populations were 50/50 in appearance. Because
of human hunting the percentage of Grey Seals has diminuished
during the last centuries.
Warning sign at Düne beach.
after being born the young cups have a weight of merely 10 kilograms.
During their first week they are constantly being guarded by there
mothers on the beach. But after a while they will be left alone
for several hours. It may look as if they have been abandoned
by their mothers, but this is definitely not the case. Hence the
warning signs on Düne beach not to come close to the animals
and certainly not closer than 30 meters to young animals or in
between of mother and cups even though it may appear they have
been left alone helplessly.
After 4 weeks the mammalian period comes to an end when underneath
their skin there's a thick layer of fat so they can survive their
first swim into the sea on their own.
Another animal that can be seen often on the Oberland
plateau: the long haired Heligoland sheep
two days most of the 1.7
km² of both Helgoland main island and Düne had been
examined by Henk and Manfred so on the evening of May 8th they
decided the time had come to fly back home next morning.
D-KFDI and D-KKGG still standing firmly on Helgoland ground after
9th 2009, 8.45 local time
Lleolama's wife get's a phonecall from Henk, they're on the boat
to Helgoland Düne, will make a flight plan and depart from
the island this morning.
And yes indeed, several minutes later first activities commence
at both motorgliders still standing firmly on the ground at EDXH.
At 9.55 finally your webmaster got Henk on the phone, saying they
will depart within several minutes, fly to Flugplatz
Wangerooge (EDWG), make a short fuel-stop en after that they
will fly to Nordhorn-Lingen
(EDWN) and split up for Berlin resp. Geilenkirchen.
the winds had changed direction, we later learned they had to
take off from runway 21, which with its 371 x 20 meter is a bit
shorter and smaller than runway 33 (480 x 30 m).
just before take-off
the moment there was a large cruiseship near Helgoland, and much
much traffic going on, because of the yearly Helgoland marathon
that was taking place right that Saturday.
As you can see below Henk managed to take a picture of the cruiseship
while flying overhead.
Schiff", the cruiseship in front of the Helgoland coast as
pictured by Henk
Galaxy in its original state in 1996
The rebuilt Mein Schiff during baptise May 2009
images source wikipedia o.s.)
Mein Schiff, formerly known as Celebrity Galaxy, has been
built in 1995 to make short cruises near Florida and the
Carribean, but also made several European cruises in 2001.
In April 2008 the owning company "Royal Carribean ruise
Line", announced the ship would end its career in March
2009 and would be handed over to TUI Cruises (a joint venture
of TUI and Royal Carribean Cruise Line).
In only 38 days, costing some 50 million Euros, the Celebrity
Galaxy was redesigned and partly reconstructed into Mein
Schiff (German meaning "My ship") while laying
in Lloyd's docks in Bremerhaven. Because of this short period
of time, the ship had already partly been deconstructed
during the crossing of the Atlantic from Puerto Rico to
The newly named ship made its maiden voyage on May 8th to
Helgoland and has been baptised one week later in Hamburg
Overall length: 263,9 meter
Width: 32,2 meter
Draught: 8,5 meter
Speed: 21,5 knots
Power: 31.500 kilowatts
Number of cabins: 962
Number of passengers: 1924
Number of personnel: about 780
circling the ship and taking some pictures, D-KFDI and D-KKGG
said farewell to Helgoland and set course for Wangerooge and after
reaching German mainland they split up and set course for their
home bases resp. being ETNG Geilenkirchen NATO airbase (D-KFDI)
and Berlin Oehna-Zellendorf EDBO (D-KKGG).
Last farewell to Düne
Last farewell to Helgoland main island
Taifun pilots were very pleased having made this short trip to
Helgoland, gaining special experience while landing on such a
difficult and short landing strip and having much fun during two
days on this small island.
Manfred and Henk both think it's very worthwile paying a visit.
More on this beautiful island can be found on the following page
(English, German and Danish):
Pilot info (unfortunately only available in German): www.flughafen-helgoland.de