Kölne. 1 Kompagnie Flieger Bataillon 3 (The German military flying school at Kölne) Snow lay thick on the ground as Officier Stellvertreter Axel Liedenbrock prepared to take off. He was well wrapped up and the air was still and fairly clear, with only clumps of white cloud here and there.
His kit was in the front seat of his Aviatik BI in place of an observer. Liedenbrock climbed into the rear cockpit and checked his controls.
At 08:20 the Aviatik swept into the sky. Liedenbrock liked the power of the 100hp Mecedes engine. It was so much better than the training machines could give him. He didn't like the tail heaviness of the BI. He had to keep forward pressure on the wheel at all times. He climbed to an approximate height of 1000 metres and estimated his speed as varying between 80 and 100kmh depending on the wind. It was about 290 kilometres along his planned route, so Axel expected it to take 3 hours. His tank was full, which he hoped meant that he had four hours or better.
The first waypoint was the city of Kölne itself. The aerodrome was SE of it, so Liedenbrock headed toward the smoke of morning stoves. He crossed the mighty Rhine over the southern suburbs of the city. He smiled as he thought of the people looking up in amazement from below.
From here, Liedenbrock's planned route was to head west by compass until Flanders, find Lille and follow the rail lines south west from Lille to his new base at Phalempin.
There were rail lines here to the west of Koln, but for now Liedenbrock relied on his compass.
At 09:11, Liedenbrok overflew a town that he believed to be Aachen. At 09:52 he passed the town he knew to be Tienen. At 10:00 the lone Aviatik was passing Brussels. The Belgian capital was to the north and between Liedenbrock and that place was a giant forest. Axel skirted the south edge of this in case he lost engine power and had to land.
The first evidence of war was found soon after Brussels slipped behind. At Etterbeck, there was an aerodrome with one of the great hangars used to store airships. Leidenbrock overflew this at 10:23, waving to the people below.
At 11:00, Liedenbrock reached the Scheldte river, which marks the eastern border of Flanders. Crossing it at Kluisbergen (due east of Kartrijk) he entered the war zone proper. Kartrijk was too far north for Liedenbrock. He established that he was north-east of his intended route and changed course appropriately. Soon, the built up areas of Roubaix and then Lille approached over the horizon.
The Aviatik was over Lille at 11:28 where Liedenbrock looked for the rail line and road that headed south-west in parallel. These he knew would guide him to Phalempin.
So they did. Phalempin was spotted at 11:30 near a balloon site. He circled to land, noting with dismay many fences in the fields around. The Aviatik touched down and taxied in 3 hours and 20 minutes after leaving the Flying School grounds.
Now Leidenborn had to report to... he checked his orders. Hauptman Steinborn.