This one is from last Sunday. It was time for my first stop in France this year. I have been longing to fly to this particular place for a long time….
Laon is a town in the northeast of France, roughly between Reims and Lille. It’s built on top of a mesa and has a remarkable gothic cathedral. The internet also says that the old town is the largest contiguous area listed for monumental protection in all of France.
Like most of the French towns of between 10.000 and 50.000 inhabitants, Laon has an aeroclub-operated airfield of the type that I like: proper, decent sized runways but no ATS, no staff presence, no customs, no fences, no opening hours, no PPR and no faff. It’s located just 2 km north of town. Name: Laon-Chambry (LFAF).
From Mainz, it is about 180NM almost due west, so that’s a little over an hour in the old Bonanza.
Nothing special to report from the enroute part of the flight; Langen FIS nowadays has access to all VFR flightplan data, so the initial call to FIS is a mere “Langen Information, D-EAOP, airborne Mainz”. It was smooth sailing in the late morning at FL65, enjoying the yellow rape seed fields and a slight tailwind.
Luxembourg Radar allowed to cross the northern part of their TMA and Brussels Control cleared me into the very southern bits of their general class C (the clearance was relayed by Brussels Info). After that, I changed to Paris Info (125.7) and the guy was wonderful and super-chilled. He even closed the flightplan for me when I was 8 miles out from Laon and changed to the local frequency.
A word of caution here: the airfield shares its frequency with another nearby aerodrome, Lens-Benifontaine (LFQL). How crazy is that, particularly given that “Lens” and “Laon” sound exactly the same, save for the “s” in Lens! Therefore, to avoid confusion, always use the full airfield name (“Laon-Chambry”) in your A/A calls. I managed to create a bit of confusion at Lens (which is much busier than Laon) before figuring that out. At the very least, they warn pilots about the identical frequencies on the VAC. Still, utter nonsense to share a (discrete) frequency amongst these two airfields!
Here I am doing the overhead joining thing at 1500 feet. The windsock showed the wind from about 030 degrees, so I chose the somewhat shorter runway 05 for landing (rather than 35).
Wherever I go, I just have to take a photo of her…
In the foreground, the TOTAL fuel station (self serve/pay) and the club house. In the background, the outline of the town.
After a short chat with two local gyrocopter pilots, as usual, I took my little foldable bike and off I was. The town isn‘t far away at all.
Should you prefer a taxi, call +33675240810 (Cyntaxi). They are based really close to the airfield.
Here is the cathedral from down below.
Here it is from close by.
More pics of old town Laon, on a sleepy Sunday. Very pretty.
Nobody walking in the streets, everybody sitting at lunch. France, after all. “Do as the Romans do”, they say, do I did likewise.
Back at the airfield a couple of hours later, I had to take another photo.
After takeoff (from runway 35 this time, as the wind had turned due north), I circled the town once.
I didn’t do the return flight all in one go. Instead, I made a short stop at Charleville-Mézières airfield (LFQV), located at the southern end of the Ardennes and close to the Belgian border.
This short 40-mile hop was flown low-level, of course, but there was not so much to see. Looked more like August in places…
After another overhead join, I landed on the long tarmac runway of LFQV. But actually, I didn’t do much there. I merely reviewed my flightplanning for my flight back to Mainz, particularly as a few showers had developed in the meantime. A short lock at the (old) buildings at LFQV, and off we go.
Here is Charleville-Mézières.
Further on, in fact there was a tiny bit of weather here and there, but no problem. It merely added to the scenery on this relaxed flight.
A last one of the Bo, after giving her a good wash.
Anyway, Laon comes highly recommended for a short day visit!
Lovely report & visit,
Wherever I go, I just have to take a photo of her
That Bonnie sits well on the grass !
Looks like a brilliant trip!
Thanks for the write up.
Nice! Love these posts, thanks.
Definitely looks like it’s worth a visit
I remember a trip around 2002 when my dad took us there in a club TB20. I remember the cathedral and especially walking back to the airfield.
The return flight was sketchy with TS everywhere around the destination, it was so dark at 6pm in August.
Thanks for making me think of this souvenir :)
Laon is like France’s Bismarck, North Dakota. 75% of the french don’t know it exists, even less where it is It is our middle-of-nowhere, flyover country capital.
There used to be (maybe still is?) a funicular linking the hilltop part of the town with the flat bit, and in particular the railway station. Not that I’ve even been there. But I do have a lot of books about trains.