Archive for August, 2011

2011 29 Aug

Again, the departure time was pretty much given due to the short daily opening time of the airport.

The flight itself was very short at approx 35min. Since the fuel uplift from Megara has to get us through Milos and Santorini to Rhodos (only there is Avgas available again), a more economic cruise setting was used. Also, because of traffic at Santorini, there was no way to climb above 2000ft. We had to do an orbit once west of the field due to traffic, but didn’t really mind as it was the perfect spot to get a first impression of Santorini from the air ;-)

Then we checked in at the hotel “Irida” in Imerovigli, which is a true gem. Could not have chosen better :-)

Statistics
Planned Distance: 54.3 NM (without sightseeing)
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 71.3 NM
Top Ground Speed: 189.8 kts
Average Ground Speed: 120 kts
True Flight Time: 00:35
Block Time: 00:39

2011 29 Aug

Milos is a small volcanic island in the Western Aegean sea, slightly west of well-known Santorini (Thira).

The island is interesting for its many beaches, very moderate touristic development (majority of inhabitants still work in mining/natural resources) and laid back atmosphere.

Due to a runway extension project, the airport is currently open for just 2hrs a day, to accomodate the single Olympic Dash 8-100 flight to/from Athens.

We could notice an increased workload on the tower, when after completing a sightseeing tour of the island, our approach fell almost together with the single Olympic inbound ;-)

Again, runway 08, shortish and this time with a x-wind component of 23kts gusting 28kt. Definitely the harshest winds that our RV has experienced so far. Smooth landing with the wing-low technique working splendidly.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 104.8 NM (without sightseeing)
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 135.6 NM
Top Ground Speed: 177 kts
Average Ground Speed: 136.4 kts
True Flight Time: 01:00
Block Time: 01:13

2011 29 Aug

Final destination for the day was Milos Island. But due to the fact, that there is only a very short list of airports that carry anything else than Jet Fuel in Greece, we had to make another tech stop.

Basically, you can only get Avgas in the Athens region (Megara and Athens), on the eastern edge of the Aegan (Kos and Rhodos) and in the South (Crete airports). For all the islands in between you have to carry enough fuel for the way in, the way out and obviously alternate and final reserves.
Since Athens is prohibitively expensive, this leaves Megara as the only (and what turned out to be excellent) choice. Megara is originally and still is a Greek Air Force (helicopter) base that has become the prime Greek GA airport. Other than requiring another special permission days ahead of the first visit, this was a great, efficient (30min), low-cost (no landing fees, no compulsory handling, comparably cheap Avgas) fuel stop. Quite the opposite of Foggia.

For once, the trickiest part was the actual piloting. There was a strong northerly wind, which produced severe turbulence along the coast and delivered a crosswind component of 20kts+ on the active runway 08R. But the RV-7A handled it really well, would not suggest flying to Greece to taildraggers, though ;-)

Statistics
Planned Distance: 194 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 199 NM
Top Ground Speed: 173.6 kts
Average Ground Speed: 138.9 kts
True Flight Time: 01:26
Block Time: 01:36

2011 29 Aug

The third and final leg of the day was crossing the Adriatic sea to Kerkira, Corfu, Greece. For this we mounted comfortable lifevests that we got just before the trip. Since it was already later in the day and we “lost” one hour due to time zone offset, the sun was perfect for some nice evening pictures.

Kerkira is heavily used by GA as entry/exit point into Greece, naturally due to its location in the northwestern corner of the country. Therefore the airport is quite used to hosting transient small airplanes. Nonetheless, a handling agent is required. We can highly recommend Swissport with the AOPA contract. Things went really smooth and considering the circumstances and effort, the 24€+tax are a very good value. As mentioned before, flying VFR in Greece requires a bit of advance planning, establishing contact by phone/fax/email etc… beforehand. But once that’s done, everything runs remarkably smooth and with few hassles and chicanes. If they could only get rid of these last few paperwork-nags it would be even better…

Picked a great hotel, “Arcadion”, in the center of Corfu Town, quite close to the airport and within walking distance of shops and restaurants. There we spent two days exploring Kerkira and taking a rest from the 5+ hours of flying on the first day.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 232 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 244.4 NM
Top Ground Speed: 187.6 kts
Average Ground Speed: 146.4 kts
True Flight Time: 01:40
Block Time: 01:49

2011 29 Aug

Foggia was selected as fuel stop for its location and reputation. There are very few airfields in southern Italy which have Avgas, offer customs and are close enough to the final destination of the day, Kerkira.
The lack of proper (fuel available) alternates for Kerkira, practically require the fuel stop to be close enough to allow for a return to the departure airfield even when over the final destination.
Unfortunately, Foggia did not live up to its good GA reputation (eddh.de, other sources). We lost more than an hour on fueling expensive at 3€/l (approx 16$/gal!!!) Avgas and watching an airport rep taking forever to print a paper slip to enable us to pay the landing fees of another twentyish Euros. To top it off, despite emails and phone calls ahead of time, customs was not organized as it should have been. We were lucky that this didn’t delay us any further.

While Greece took a lot of effort for flight planning and then the actual operation turned out to be very easy, Italy was quite the opposite. At first sight, Italy is pretty easy flight planning wise, but then turns out to be quite a pain for operation. Controllers tend to have a VFR-averse attitude and airspace structure is set to mainly keep you below 2000ft AGL. Despite this, I managed to get a decent economic cruising level of FL115 for the better part of the flight, but it required hints and suggestive communication all the time.
Also, the scenery along the Italian Adriatic coast is quite boring.

So based on our experience and the excellent reports out of Croatia (which we will fly through on the way back) I would advise against taking the Italian route unless necessary for weather or other reasons.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 404 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 424 NM
Top Ground Speed: 182 kts
Average Ground Speed: 153.5 kts
True Flight Time: 02:46
Block Time: 02:57

2011 29 Aug

Sunday morning, we left Birrfeld on a short flight to Lugano, a short (and efficient) tech stop to fill the tanks with (relatively speaking) cheap AVGAS in Switzerland and comply with the required customs bureaucracy/regulations.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 101.8 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 101.5 NM
Top Ground Speed: 182 kts
Average Ground Speed: 145.5 kts
True Flight Time: 00:42
Block Time: 00:50