(by David Kromka)
It was a little different design for the EMPOA Annual Club trip in 2016: instead of five we only ventured off for four days and instead of two destinations we had a single homebase this time. Flying and the fun associated with our Mooneys did not fall short nevertheless as weathergod Peter did once again favor us this year.
Some Mooneys arrived at Graz and Fuerstenfeld as an early commando already on Wednesday in order to celebrate the birthday of our former president Rainer Hutz. The party at Lannach was quite a success and a sampling of Styrian wines gave us a first impression of this very special grape juice.
„High time“ started at Thursday around noon on the 700-meter-runway of the local flying club at Fuerstenfeld: sometimes with only a minute in between 20 Mooneys landed from all over Europe. Despite challenging weather conditions overhead Germany and north of the Alps all registered planes made it safely to Styria. The longest distance was covered by crews from the Greater London area, the Southwest of France and Denmark. Sunny skies over Fuerstenfeld greeted crews after long flights in and in between the clouds as well as a cool beer.
Due to the large number of participants the crews were lodged in three different places and the EMPOA crewshuttle was busy bringing them to their rooms. In the evening we met at Fasch Inn for the hearty Styrian specialty of baked chicken. The meals were that big that absolutely no one had to go to bed hungry. Furthermore we had the traditional shirt sale from Stefan Schlenk's Mooney Classic collection that featured a particularly nice long-sleeved polo.
20 Mooneys had to be airborne within one hour on Friday morning as participants took to the skies headed for Portoroz, the day trip's destination. As winds were quite cross and constantly changing this was quite a challenge for the pilots who had to show their precise flying. But it was the last aircraft taking off with Werner Wohlfahrt and David Kromka that experienced problems with the turbocharger and had to divert to Graz airport. According to reports from the participants the visit to Portoroz was nice even without David's guidance and the day on the Slovenian Adriatic was beautiful. Only the European meet of Harley Davidson bikers was responsible for heightened noise levels in Piran and Portoroz.
In the evening one was able to witness the return of the speedmachines to Fuerstenfeld airfield. The local tower crew was talking quite respectful about the professional flying skills of our pilots. The evening was at everyone's leisure: some went to the local brass music festival while others checked out Fuerstenfeld's restaurants and bars.
After a hearty breakfast on Saturday morning our minibus convoi headed off to Riegersburg castle: this oldest and strongest fortress in Styria sits atop a large rock and has never been conquered. During a guided tour we learned everything from the castle's history to the wars against the Turks and the witch trials.
Directly thereafter we went to a nearby Buschenschank, the Styrian variant of a beer garden. Under a sunny sky we enjoyed huge plates with local delicatessen and fine wines. The afternoon went by pretty quickly and some Mooniacs had the chance for a small and private tasting.
After a short siesta in Fuerstenfeld we went by minibus to Kapfenstein castle where we were welcomed by the owner family Winkler-Hermaden. Before we could indulge into a tasty dinner, EMPOA members had to do some work at the Annual General Meeting. On the AGM we discussed the past year and made plans for the new one (see the separate report of spokesperson Birgit Hutz). The delicacies from the castle's kitchen quickened the appetite for more but shortly after 11:00 p.m. all Mooniacs had to return back to Fuerstenfeld.
The departures on Sunday morning were all on time and despite rainy and cool weather north of the Alps all aircraft arrived well at their homebases. According to reports everyone liked the trip and Mooniacs are already looking forward to next year's EMPOA club trip from 22 to 26 June 2017.