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Benelux Expedition

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Today we visit Luxembourg, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and some castles…


We depart from Luxembourg’s International Airport (ELLX). With an area of 2,586 square kilometers (998 sq mi), Luxembourg is Europe's seventh-smallest country. Luxembourg is the only surviving grand duchy in the world. Its capital and most populous city, Luxembourg, is one of the four institutional seats of the European Union (together with Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg) and the seat of several EU institutions, notably the Court of Justice of the European Union, the highest judicial authority. Luxembourg's culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its French and German neighbors; while Luxembourgish is the only national language of the Luxembourgish people and of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, French is the only language for legislation, and all three – Luxembourgish, French and German – are used for administrative matters in the country.

We overfly the city with its POI, the sports center [WP1], a museum [WP2], the casemate [WP3], and the Adolphe Bridge [WP4] before we cross into Belgium. Our first landing here is at the Florennes Airbase (EBFS). Until 2009, Florennes AB hosted the Tactical Leadership Programme, a joint training program for NATO members.

For our next landing, we cross the border to France and land at Maubeuge-Elesmes (LFQJ). We stay in France and, cross back into Belgium to overfly the city of Tournai with its Cathedral [WP5] and land at Lille (LFQQ), France.

Shortly after take-off, we are back in Belgium and visit the City of Ghent. Ghent is the third largest city in Belgium after Brussels and Antwerp. In the city is our next POI, Castle Gravensteen [WP7]. It is a medieval castle that dates from 1180 and was the residence of the Counts of Flanders until 1353. It was subsequently re-purposed as a court, prison, mint, and even a cotton factory. It was restored from 1893 to 1903 and is now a museum and a major landmark in the city.

Only about 5 miles southeast is the next POI, Kasteel van Laarne [WP8].  Established in the 11th or 12th century to guard the approaches to Ghent from the sea, it was comprehensively renovated in the 17th century. Since 1953 the castle has belonged to The Royal Association of Historic Residences and Gardens of Belgium, to whom it was given by the last private owner, the Comte de Ribaucourt (Count of Ribaucourt). It is a protected national monument and is used as a museum.

We continue southeast for the next castle, the Kasteel van Beersel [WP9]. It is a medieval castle,  originating in 1300 under the auspices of the Duchy of Brabant, the water castle's present configuration dates to 1357. It was twice sacked and was subject to significant restorations in 1491 and 1617. Its present condition owes much to a major restoration in 1928–39. Built largely of brick, a rare material for such buildings at the time, around a circular enceinte, its major feature is its three large towers. Today, it is open to the public and is considered one of Belgium's best-preserved castles.

Six miles further south we overfly the Butte Du Lion [WP10]. The Lion's Mound (French: Butte du Lion, lit. "Lion's Hillock/Knoll") is a large conical artificial hill. King William I of the Netherlands ordered its construction in 1820, and it was completed in 1826. It commemorates the spot on the battlefield of Waterloo where the king's elder son, the Prince of Orange, is presumed to have been wounded on 18 June 1815, as well as the Battle of Quatre Bras, which had been fought two days earlier. The hill offers a vista of the battlefield and is the anchor point of the associated museums and taverns in the surrounding Lion's Hamlet (French: Hameau du Lion). Visitors who pay a fee may climb up the mound's 226 steps, which lead to the statue and its surrounding overlook (where there are maps documenting the battle, along with observation telescopes).

We turn north, overfly the village of Waterloo, and visit two of Brussels's attractions, the Basilique Nationale Du Sacré Coeur [WP11] and the Atomium [WP12]. The construction is a tribute to scientific progress, as well as to symbolize Belgian engineering skills at the time. It was designed and built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair and is located where the exhibition took place. It is the city's most popular tourist attraction and serves as a museum, an art center, and a cultural destination. The Atomium stands 102 meters (335 ft) tall, making it one of the tallest structures in Belgium. Its nine 18-meter-diameter (59 ft) stainless steel-clad spheres are connected in the shape of a unit cell that could represent an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Steel tubes connecting the spheres enclose stairs, escalators, and an elevator (in the central, vertical tube) to allow access to the six visitable spheres, which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere includes a restaurant with a panoramic view of Brussels. The building was completely renovated between 2004 and 2006 by the companies Jacques Delens and BESIX.



Before we land at Brussels’s International Airport (EBBR), we overfly Arenberg Castle [WP 13]. Built on the site of a 12th-century medieval castle, the current château was started in the 16th century but still underwent many changes in the following centuries. In 1612, it passed into the hands of the Arenberg family, who occupied it until the First World War. The building is now owned by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven).

We head north and reach Belgium’s second-largest city, Antwerp. Flowing through Antwerp is the river Scheldt. Antwerp is linked to the North Sea by the river's Westerschelde estuary. It is about 40 km (25 mi) north of Brussels, and about 15 km (9 mi) south of the Dutch border. The Port of Antwerp is one of the biggest in the world, ranking second in Europe after Rotterdam and within the top 20 globally. The city is also known as the hub of the world's diamond trade. In 2020, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network rated Antwerp as a Gamma + (third level/top tier) Global City. Both economically and culturally, Antwerp is and has long been an important city in the Low Countries, especially before and during the Spanish Fury (1576) and throughout and after the subsequent Dutch Revolt. The Bourse of Antwerp, originally built in 1531 and re-built in 1872, was the world's first purpose-built commodity exchange. In 1920, the city hosted the Summer Olympics. The inhabitants of Antwerp are nicknamed Sinjoren ( after the Spanish honorific señor or French seigneur, "lord", referring to the Spanish noblemen who ruled the city in the 17th century. The city's population is very diverse, including about 180 nationalities; as of 2019, more than 50% of its population had a parent who was not a Belgian citizen at birth. A notable community is the Jewish one, as Antwerp is one of the only two cities in Europe (together with London and its Stamford Hill neighborhood) that is home to a considerable Haredi population in the 21st century.

We land at Deurne (EBAW), Antwerp’s airport. On our way north we overfly the Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral) [WP14], the Museum aan de Stroom [WP15], and the harbor before crossing the border into the Netherlands.

Our first landing there is at Rotterdam [EHRD].

If time permits, we change aircraft and select a helicopter for the remaining legs.

Rotterdam - "The Dam on the River Rotte" - is the second-largest city in the Netherlands after the national capital of Amsterdam. It is in the province of South Holland, part of the North Sea mouth of the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta, via the "New Meuse" inland shipping channel, dug to connect to the Meuse at first and now to the Rhine. Rotterdam's history goes back to 1270 when a dam was constructed in the Rotte. In 1340, Rotterdam was granted city rights by William IV, Count of Holland. The Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area, with a population of approximately 2.7 million, is the 10th-largest in the European Union and the most populous in the country. A major logistic and economic center, Rotterdam is Europe's largest seaport. In 2022, Rotterdam had a population of 655,468 and is home to over 180 different nationalities. Rotterdam is known for its university, riverside setting, lively cultural life, maritime heritage, and modern architecture. The near-complete destruction of the city center in the World War II Rotterdam Blitz has resulted in a varied architectural landscape. The Rhine, Meuse, and Scheldt give waterway access into the heart of Western Europe, including the highly industrialized Ruhr. The extensive distribution system including rail, roads, and waterways has earned Rotterdam the nicknames "Gateway to Europe" and "Gateway to the World".

Leaving Rotterdam we overfly the city of Den Haag [WP 21] and continue towards Amsterdam. The Hague is the country's administrative center and its seat of government, and while the official capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, The Hague has been described as the country's de facto capital. The Hague is the seat of the Cabinet, the States General, the Supreme Court, and the Council of State of the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander lives in the Huis ten Bosch and works at the Noordeinde Palace in The Hague, together with Queen Máxima. Most foreign embassies in the Netherlands are in the city. The Hague is also home to the headquarters of many Dutch and international companies. The Royal Library of the Netherlands is located there as well. The Hague is known as the home of international law and arbitration. The International Court of Justice, the main judicial arm of the United Nations, is in the city, as are the International Criminal Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Europol, and approximately 200 other international governmental organizations. The name "The Hague" is commonly used as a totum pro parte to refer to either of the international courts that reside in the city. Heading further north we reach Amsterdam. Along the way to our last landing, we can overfly the Johan Cruijf Arena [WP22), the Pythonbrug [WP23], the Main Railway station [WP24], the Oude Kirk [WP25], the Royal Palace [WP26], the Westkirk [WP27], and finally the Rijksmuseum [WP28]. We finish our flight at Schiphol (EHAM).

The flight plans can be found here.

The flight has 386 miles and six landings. We want to cruise at about 150 knots. I will be in the BlackSquare Analog Bonanza, please fly what you like.

There are some freeware add-ons available. They are not required but enhance the scenery. If you wish to see the castles you need the chateaux-belge-belgium-castle download.









There a several payware downloads available for Luxembourg, Lille, and Amsterdam.

Please set your simulator for a 1:30 PM departure. We try real weather.


  •           Date and time: Saturday, December 30, 19:00 UTC
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  • Like 1



Gunter Schneider

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