2011 10 Oct

Since the weather forecast was stable and also quite nice, we decided to extend our stay at Klagenfurt by another day :-) On Sunday, when we were going to leave, the forecast had a deteriorating trend however… So we chose to depart just after checking out of the hotel around noon. Weather held up nicely and only late in the evening, the cold front approached from the west. Got to say hello to my buddies from work on the way home, crossing through the LSZH TMA, high above our apartment, in a continous descent towards Birrfeld.

What an awesome trip. And a great performance by the plane, solid numbers at even the edges of the weight and balance envelope and no technical issues to write home about :-)

Statistics
Planned Distance: 271.2 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 279.4 NM
Top Ground Speed: 180.2 kts
Average Ground Speed: 140 kts
True Flight Time: 01:52
Block Time: 02:00

2011 10 Oct

Losinj airport was very easy going, although not cheap. Had to do customs/border stuff since we left Croatia (not yet E.U.) to Austria (E.U.) which all went very smoothly. For the first time, weather really was a factor during the flight. First had to dodge some low clouds /hazy conditions and then, when crossing the alps, there were quite a few broken cumulus in the way. Hence the route wasn’t the usual straight line.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 130.6 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 180 NM
Top Ground Speed: 188 kts
Average Ground Speed: 144.2 kts
True Flight Time: 01:15
Block Time: 01:21

2011 10 Oct

The flight from Dubrovnik to Losinj went all at low altitude along the published VFR-Adria routes. Waypoints/routes needs to be prepared but other than that no problem. The routes are somewhat problematic though, in that there was quite a bit of opposite traffic and at the same altitudes in very hazy conditions. FIC was a great help and prevented quite a few potentially nasty encounters. One of the only aha-moments regarding the planning was when 20min before landing, the controller told us that Losinj was going to close in like 28minutes… Ooops. We had expected (and verified) opening times until sunset during planning about a month before the trip. Answer was in a cryptic trigger NOTAM for some AIC that was not apparent as such. Also, Jeppesen had not had the opportunity to publish the new times yet. Not a very user friendly way to publish opening times. The Greek way of doing it in cleartext in the NOTAM is much more convenient and useful.

Since we only spent one night in Losinj, we barely caught a glimpse of what the island has to offer. The “Mare Mare Suites” Hotel was very nice and we ate some great fish at restaurant “Barracuda”.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 215 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 217.4 NM
Top Ground Speed: 162.9 kts
Average Ground Speed: 139.3 kts
True Flight Time: 01:33
Block Time: 01:35

2011 10 Oct

After another nice stay at the Arkadion Hotel in downtown Kerkira, we left Greece for Dubrovnik, Croatia. This leg was quite interesting in the planning phase as there is little documentation to be found, e.g. on Airspace and Procedures in Albania, which is a “black hole” what General Aviation is concerned. Also, several FIR’s were involved.
Again, flying the leg turned out to be much easier than expected. Controllers were very professional with good English, even in Albania and we were able to cruise at FL85 on what turned out to be almost a direct to destination track. Apparently, the biggest problems in that area are to be expected from flightplan submissions going wrong (i think it has to do with systems unable to detect all FIR’s crossed if you don’t file the right waypoints) and then the flight being rejected.

Fortunately, our submission through homebriefing worked fine and in no time we were on approach to Dubrovnik. The airport is situated on a small elevation above the sea, with the runway being of the curved hilltop type. This made for a firmer than usual landing, not bad, and the visual impression of the uphill slope just feels very weird.

Dubrovnik itself was excellent, nice old town and good food, as in Greece. However, in comparison, price levels are significantly higher except for maybe Santorini. Stayed at a great and new hotel “Adria” situated above the new port, but only recommended if you have a car available.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 207 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 197.5 NM
Top Ground Speed: 174.2 kts
Average Ground Speed: 147.3 kts
True Flight Time: 01:20
Block Time: 01:23

2011 8 Sep

Megara was again a pleasure. Quick turnaround, easy fueling, and efficient ATC. About the only thing missing was a cold coke machine ;-) Now, if it also could be used directly from Croatia, it would be perfect.

Easy flight to Kerkira, IFR feeling in VMC conditions. Great ATC all the way. Listening to some Swiss music only broken by radio chatter on FL85…

Kerkira was very busy at arrival. But we knew things from the first time and handling just got us out for the evening. All the paperwork was done the next day before departure.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 194 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 198.4 NM
Top Ground Speed: 180.1 kts
Average Ground Speed: 150.15 kts
True Flight Time: 01:20
Block Time: 01:30

2011 8 Sep

Fueling went pretty smoothly, until the Olympic DH8A serving Sitia arrived ;-) Well we already had the fuel, but felt like paying, so we waited *G*. Apparently this isn’t granted in Greece… A cashier in a department store joked when we bought an item that wasn’t theft protected: “Why didn’t you just take it? *G*” Oh well…

Takeoff in cross-windy Sitia was again quite the challenge, even more so than the landing. The ground handling and weathervaning of the tail being quite a hand / feet full. Glad the RV takes off so quickly and the RWY itself was plenty big as well.

Sitia was also one of these AFIS fields that tried to play ATC. So he held us on ground for about 12minutes before he let us go, applying some kind of procedural IFR separation or whatever. We could have been airborne in the first minute and since it was VFR/AFIS technically there should have been no restriction. Fortunately the 30kt wind was helping keep temperatures down with the engine already running.

The flight itself was smooth, got a great clearance from Heraklion to climb to FL85 and we flew back economically and with less headwind over Santorini/Milos heading to Megara. The next downfall literally was another procedural (and probably non-ATC) FIC operator, which apparently couldn’t think 2 minutes ahead… Anyway, she ended up requiring us to descend from FL85 to 2500ft in about 15NM! Very uncomfortable experience with ears popping and a large temperature change. Based on the way she acted previously, i was already expecting a smooth letdown through the Athens TMA.

The approach into Megara was easy, with only about 7kts westerly winds. 

Statistics
Planned Distance: 227.7 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 221.2 NM
Top Ground Speed: 169.4 kts
Average Ground Speed: 136.1 kts
True Flight Time: 01:38
Block Time: 01:55

2011 8 Sep

Since all our places of interest in Karpathos were very close to the airport, we were able to get some nice pictures with a wide rigth turn departure.

Handling went great again with the same friendly staff from Swissport Karpathos as on the arrival. Also, things went remarkably smoothly in Greek terms, meaning we could fill all papers and pay all fees in the same office :-)

Also, Karpathos proved our simple yet efficient gust lock designs… They held up to the strongest winds and gusts of at least 40kts during our stay without causing any scratches, damages, falling apart or whatever nasty thing could happen.

It was only a short flight to the local fuel station, Sitia.
The wind situation there however was quite extreme. With 300° at 30kts for RWY 23.
You can see the extreme crab angle in some of the pics. GPS puck to spinner tip is the reference aircraft centerline. And yes, it was a smooth landing and yes, it was even a very well established approach. Wing low decrab in the flare works brilliantly with the RV, much better than with some other planes i’ve flown.
And yes, I am glad we built the -A version, and no, I wouldn’t want to do it in a taildragger.
The ground handling after the landing was trickier than the landing itself.

Statistics
Planned Distance: 53.3 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 58.7 NM
Top Ground Speed: 156.9 kts
Average Ground Speed: 119.3 kts
True Flight Time: 00:30
Block Time: 00:42

2011 8 Sep

Before leaving for Karpathos, took our local friend Vangelis on a tour around the island, it seems he liked it ;-).

One thing that got me literally upset at Rhodes was an extremely rude and unfriendly HCAA representative. In fact, he was so rude that i will try to file a report against this individual. Simply to help all the other employees at the airport who complain about him for ages but cannot speak up and to help future GA pilots. It’s one thing to discuss about whether having to pay a 12€ passenger charge for my flight attendant without crew ID or not, that’s about a 50/50 hit or miss on the airports i know for a 2-seater small plane ;-) I figure, hey you can always ask. But the aggressivenes and rudeness of this individual was simply unbelievable, one of the “wrong movie” type experiences.

The reason we were visiting Karpathos is that a couple, who is close friends of ours, was on holidays there – windsurfing. Karpathos is known to be very windy, pretty much all the time. That’s why surfers love it. And therefore i had anticipated a challenging approach… Anyway, I was ready, waiting for the wind, but nothing special until touchdown… The usual 15kts in RWY direction, but that was it.
We took extra care tying down, though. Again, awesome handling by very friendly Swissport staff.

The days on Karpathos were spent hanging out with great friends, chilling at the pool, eating good food and simply enjoying vacation. And of course we were able to celebrate my fiancée’s birthday in style.

Statistics (Local Flight)
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 99.3 NM
Top Ground Speed: 168.7 kts
Average Ground Speed: 136.3 kts
True Flight Time: 00:44
Block Time: 00:48

Statistics (LGRP – LGKP)
Planned Distance: 82.3 NM
Actually Flown Distance (TO to LDG): 71.3 NM
Top Ground Speed: 172.8 kts
Average Ground Speed: 144.4 kts
True Flight Time: 00:33
Block Time: 00:37

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.

Statistics
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

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