2011 8 Sep

After a few awesome days in Santorini, we continued our trip to Rhodes. First of all because Rhodes has Avgas available but I also had spent a great vacation there previously, some years ago.
When we departed Santorini, it was in the middle of one of their “busy days”. Unfortunately these are nowhere published, so you can not actively plan around them. Despite all of that, we got again great and relatively quick handling by Swissport.

The flight itself was uneventful, with great service by Greek ATC, first Santorini TWR letting us do sightseeing over Imerovigli, opposite to where we were going, and then Rhodes TWR for taking us in without delay, even with traffic. In a lot of other cases i could “feel” the Greek ATC being rather cautious and unexperienced with our RV, greatly underestimating mainly the departure performance and little time required. So they let us hold on the ground a few times even though there would have been plenty of time for a quick early turn VFR departure. But generally, ATC has been great, with good and understandable English (LGKR, LGMG, LGSR, LGRP and some enroute TMA’s.). This doesn’t apply so much to the AFIS operators, however (LGML, LGKP, LGST and FIC, which possibly are controllers though). They are not allowed and trained to do ATC service (but somewhat tried and acted as if nonetheless), their English and radio proficiency we found quite poor and as soon as there was more than one aircraft at the same time, they got extremely nervous and heated up on the radio.

Another interesting nuance was the FIC giving you instructions like “report when in contact with Santorini APP”. Now, for a single radio airplane, this is simply not doable without leaving the frequency unannounced to get in touch with the other station. And even for a dual com like us, the range of the second antenna in our case is not up to par with the first. Anyway, we did it the “Greek way” and did fine ;-) but it was one of a few interesting catch 22’s we’ve seen.

Of all the Swissport stations we used for handling, Rhodes was the most chaotic and unprepared. Overall it was still ok service though.

The island itself is very busy, traffic on the roads in the major centers was quite a pain compared to elsewhere and I thought the island got even more touristy in the negative sense since the last visit (loud groups of el cheapo package tourists being bussed in etc…) We still found some nice spots, though. But we definitely didn’t dig Rhodes town as much as expected because of this and our choice of hotel near the city center was a disappointment compared to all the other hotels we enjoyed.

Since we only spent three days, there was no point in changing our plans, but in retrospect, we’d better spent the days in Santorini and used Rhodes or Kos just for fuel.

Highlights was a dinner with local Greek friends (from the previous visit) in a good restaurant off the beaten track. And a great tour of the island with a nice VW Polo rental car, which was a cut above the standard rentals that you normally get when booking economy.

Planned Distance: 149 NM (without sightseeing)
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 142 NM
Top Ground Speed: 178.4 kts
Average Ground Speed: 150.7 kts
True Flight Time: 00:57
Block Time: 01:04

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