As I ate my bread roll and jelly I saw the symbol of Holland - windmills - dotted over an intricate patchwork landscape. I made my from my seat at the very back of the plane to the cockpit and said to the crew.
"So this is the Netherlands eh?".
The copilot looked at me bemusedly and said:
"No.... this is Denmark!"
As an Aussie and sometime history buff I had certainly read about the geographical compactness of Western Europe but it was going to take some time to adjust to the reality of it. Denmark for example - you can cross the country by train in 3 hours.
To cross Australia by train takes 3 days!
Anyway back to the cockpit - this was a buzz... sitting strapped in like a fighter jock with 2 lap straps, a groin strap and 2 shoulder straps going into a circular quick release buckle I had the best seat in the house.
We had contacts on the radar - yes there was a radar-like a display which would be familiar to all jet combat sim fans. It looked like something out of an F-22 or Eurofighter with symbols for contacts displaying target's altitude and their rate of ascent or descent. The information was gleaned from the transponders on board what turned out to be 3 hot air balloons way below us and a Cessna landing to the right, 90 degrees off boresight.
The landing was awesome! It was fast, and with the million dollar view my adrenaline levels were peaking by the time we braked to a halt.
On this occasion I saw that VFR (Visual Flight Rules) can mean steering between towering mountains of cloud thousands of metres high.