Sunday, 23 February 2014

Winter trip from Slovenia to Bulgaria

At Sofia Airport
It is a long time since my last post. It looked like that I stopped flying. Luckily I am still flying and actually I have now also the instrument rating (IR/SE) for more than one year. In December 2011 I have started with the theory at GTS in Bournemouth, UK and in April 2012 I have passed all 7 exams at UK CAA at Gatwick airport. Then 50 hours of flying and in October 2012 I passed also the practical exam.
So now I have more options available although my Mooney is not equipped with any kind of device for deicing. Therefore I have to be very careful about any icing conditions. This means that I have more options regarding takeoffs and landings in non VFR conditions. In last year and few months I had done several true IFR arrivals and approaches. All these flights were not possible if I would be licensed only for VFR flying. Or saying in another words, these flights should be postponed and done in a different way.

But let us start with the latest flight from Slovenia to Bulgaria in winter conditions. I was invited to participate in an event in Sofia taking place on February 21st. Due to cyclonic weather in the area of Mediterranean Sea the weather over Balkan area was very unstable with frequent rainy periods. The temperatures were surprisingly high for the winter period. When flying to Bulgaria the freezing level over Bosnia and further to the east was at FL 100 what one can expect during the spring or early summer. When I have landed in Bulgaria the temperature was 21 degrees of Celsius, what  is quite unusual. The satellite images video for February 19th 2014 can be found here.
 Icing forecast for return flight
So any kind of weather planning was almost impossible as all forecasts were changing daily so it was hard to decide what time period would be the best for flying. Actually I have made the final decision just few hours before flying when I was sure that the return flight is also doable.
I have departed on February 19th 2014 from my home airport Divača (LJDI) to Portorož (LJPZ) in order to refuel and exit from Schengen area because Bulgaria is in EU but is not in Schengen area.
The flight plan from LJPZ to LBSF was the following:

ABLAT1R ABLAT P28 PUL/N0132F080 L614 PALEZ/N0131F090 L614 SONIK/N0130F100 L614 NISVA

The weather south of Portoroz airport was not so bad, however embedded CBs were forecasted. This was the reason why I asked for visual departure towards ABLAT and then asked for direct route to PALEZ intersection which was according to the latest satellite image at the edge of the relatively bad weather. It turned out that the clouds base was at 5000 FT, so I have asked for postponed climb and the permission was granted. Weather was quite windy already in Portoroz where wind was from 120 degrees gusting from 14 to 25KT. Therefore at 5000FT it was quite turbulent but it can be easily spotted that the weather in the direction of the flight (heading 110M)  is much better then on the south of airport.
After passing Serbian border

The freezing level was between 7000 and 8000 feet and I was lucky that although I had to climb to FL100 there was actually no ice in the clouds. The clouds were actually broken to overcast until I have reached clear weather over Bosnia (see the flight path picture).

At about 1/4th of the route over Bosnia I have encountered extremely strong downdrafts. Full throttle and 2700 RPM was not enough to maintain FL100 and in few minutes I was down at FL97 although I was flying with speed for maximum vertical climb. ATC asked me to maintain FL100 but my answer was "Unable to comply due to strong downdrafts". So in few minutes I was back on FL100 and then I had strong updrafts which boosted the speed of Mooney to 160 Kt and more. The average speed for the whole flight was 128KT. These down- and updrafts  occurred in clear weather.
The rest of the flight to Sofia was uneventful. Approach in Sofia was with vectoring for ILS on RWY 09. There was no marshaller so I had to find stand 35 on the map and taxi there. The flight time was 3h42m.

At FL150
This was my second landing at Sofia airport. It turned out that they have actually reduced the handling fees. Overall landing and handling fees with 3 day parking were about 110 EUR. The price of AVGAS was few cents less than 3 EUR per litter.

Flight back was on Friday February 21st. The significant weather forecast for the Balkan area  from FL100 to FL400 was predicting large area with turbulence and icing from below FL100 to FL150. Most of the airports on my route back home like LYNI, LYBE, LDOS, LDZA had low clouds and poor visibility. The IR satellite picture was showing tops of clouds at FL200 or more, but the clouds layer was pushed to the north and the weather situation was improving.

Weather in Sofia was great with some clouds at 8000 FT and departing towards GODEK point was completely in VFR conditions.
The flight plan from Sofia (LBSF) to Ljublajana (LJLJ) was the following:

At FL150

After passing Serbian border I was soon cleared direct to TUVAR point which is on the border with Croatia. Close to Croatian border I had to climb to FL120 as I was on top of the clouds layer with the outside temperature of -2 Celsius. I have climbed to FL130 and further on to FL140 and finally to FL150 exactly in the area where the ice was forecasted (see the ice forecast picture).  I have put on the cannula for oxygen supply soon after passing Bulgarian border in order to be ready when climb to levels higher the FL100 would be required. I am using the Portable-Pulse Demand Oxygen Controller.

The weather was actually better then forecast and there was a piece of clear sky above Ljubljana airport. Due to quite intensive traffic in the time of my arrival to Ljubljana I was vectored for sequencing and luckily I was flying in different directions just above the clouds layer. During the final descend  I found that there was actually no ice in those clouds. The satellite images video can be found here.
The overall flying time back to Ljubljana was 3h43m.

Flight Path - Yellow is the return flight



Sunday, 2 October 2011

Flying over Golden Gate in San Francisco

Flying Over Golden Gate at OOW2011

This year I am again presenting at Oracle Open World 2011 which is taking place as usual in San Francisco, California.
I decided to rent an airplane. Because my pilot license is not valid in USA without some paper work I also hired an instructor to fly with me what was probably the easiest and also the safest thing to do.
I was trying to get a Mooney but unfortunately it was already booked so I rented Cessna 172. I had my basic training on C172 so it was not a big deal to fly it although the last time I was flying it was more then 3 years ago.
My instructor was Greg West from West Valley Flying club based at Palo Alto airport. After preflight inspection and some becoming familiar with very complicated airspace in the bay area we took off and headed towards Half Moon Bay airport at the Pacific coast. The weather was excellent although with some clouds at 4000 feet so we had to do a little bit of diversion to stay outside class "B" airspace and later on we were bale to overfly the clouds and do a touch and go at Half Moon Bay airport. Then we headed to the north towards Golden Gate bridge. We were flying at 1400 feet and overflew the bridge and passed Alcatraz and then we flew to the south near the San Francisco downtown and further on to the south. We asked for permission to pass through San Francisco International airport control zone and we got the permission. I am quite sure that something like this is not possible in EU. Then we passed San Carlos airfield and landed at Palo Alto. The whole trip was 1h20, Greg was doing the communication, I was flying.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Few years ago I had done some work in Macedonia (FYROM) and one of my customers urgently called me and wanted me on-site for some diagnosis and troubleshooting with their Oracle RAC system.
In recent months my schedule is very tight so the only viable solution was to add Saturday to the schedule. During winter months it was not a lot of opportunities for flying with exception of local flights and one skiing trip to Zell am See (LOWZ). So this request came just in right time as the weather was excellent. Due to some obligations in late afternoon on Thursday I decided to depart from Ljubljana (LJLJ) on Friday morning at 6:00, March 11th 2011. A day before I had flown the aircraft from my home airport Divača (LJDI) to Ljubljana airport.
Due to freezing temperatures there was some tiny ice on the wings so we had to clean the wings before we were ready for departure. The weather was clear but we had the same problem with the ice as any outside parked car with the ice on the windshield.
The route to Macedonia was quite simple due to VFR flying rules:
LJLJ - S3 (CTR exit point) - NEMEK (border point with Croatia) - NIVES (Bosnian border point) - IDASI - GAC - PERAN (Montenegro border point) - NIK - POD - RETRA (Albanian border point) - MAVAR (Macedonian border point) - SKJ - LWSK
The flight took 3:09 what is an excellent time for such distance. The average cruising speed at FL110 was 143 KT.
This was the first long distance flight with the new JPI EDM-700 instrument installed. I bought the version with fuel flow. Monitoring engine parameters like CHT (Cylinder Head Temperature) and EGT (Exhaust Gases Temperature) for all 4 cylinders is a very nice feature. On my previous airplane I have installed just fuel scan JPI FS-450 and found that for long distance flying such an instrument is really a "must". With EDM-700 with fuel flow one can really precisely lean the mixture. My Mooney has GAMI injectors installed so I can fly lean-of-peak (LOP) and thus reduce the fuel consumption even more what gives me a greater autonomy.
The flight was without any problems as the sky was clear without any clouds throughout the whole Balkans. After clearing Ljubljana CTR and until flying below Terminal Ljubljana we were flying 1000 FT AGL. Only after leaving terminal we climbed to 7000 FT inbound to border point NEMEK. Before we were handled to Zagreb Approach and later on to Zagreb Radar we started climbing to 10,000 FT. Before reaching Bosnia were instructed to climb to FL110 in order to stay in the controlled airspace over Bosnia. Before Montenegro border we were passed to Podgorica Approach and got immediately direct RETRA. Before this point we were passed to Tirana Radar and then to Skopje Radar before we reached MAVAR point. When we were closer to Skopje we were passed to Skopje Approach and got direct SKJ VOR which is only few hundred meters away from RWY 34 threshold at LWSK.
Immediately after arrival to Skopje airport I was instructed to call Macedonian CAA. They told me that since February 16th there is a new procedure in place in their AIP which requests that one should make a prior announcement of the flight to Macedonian CAA. Until this amendment only a flight plan was enough. Obviously the reason for this amendment is 20,00 EUR fee which has to be paid in advance to CAA what looks like a new source of money for them since they are now on their own and have to earn money. At the same time Macedonians say that they are approaching EU Community, however with such behavior for VFR flighst they are practically the only exemption in EU. Currently I know only that Bulgaria and Romania request a prior announcement, but they do not charge one for that.
Fortunately my friends, Macedonian pilots, helped me with solving the problem and Nikola Davidov paid the fee for me on next working day.
After clearing this problem we left for Skopje's sport airfield Stenkovec where my friends were already waiting for me to arrive for the first time with Mooney. Stenkovec is only about 10 minutes flight away from LWSK. They have a grass runway of a very good quality and therefore landing there with retractable gear was no problem.
Immediately my Mooney got new nick name in the style of Macedonian language - Munjot.
I had to work until late evening and only after 21:00 we were able to gather together again in one restaurant. It was a great time to chat with my Macedonian colleagues and drink excellent Macedonian wine "T'GA ZA JUG".
Next morning I had to work until approximately 12 hours and then I returned to hotel where my friend Jernej Bizjak, also a pilot, was already waiting for me. We went to Stenkovec and after having a real black (Turkish) coffee we departed to LWSK for border control and refueling. The landing fee at LWSK was quite expensive - 45 EUR. Before TAV took the LWSK airport it was only about 25 EUR. The price of the AVGAS was 1,95 EUR/liter.
The flight plan for returning home was slightly different. Instead of flying over Bosnia we stayed at the cost of Adriatic Sea and crossed Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar and the turned inbound to DOL. The last 7 minutes of flight were in night conditions and this was my first night landing with Mooney at Ljubljana airport (LJLJ). The flight back took 3:28. A strong "jugo" - a south west wind was expected to blow along Adriatic coast but unfortunately the forecast was wrong and we had a head wind.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Flying Mooney M20E from Sturgate(EGCS) to Divača(LJDI)

The agreed pickup time was 22.5.2010. Day before I arrived from Tallin in Estonia to London Stansted and next morning I took train to the nearest station to Sturgate (EGCS) where I met with the previous owner. I had a training flight to become familiar with the airplane. The plan was to arrive home the same day. After full refueling I started the engine and after initial checks found that my GPS496 has problems due to interference with one of stations in the aircraft. At that moment I didn't want to make extensive checks so I decided to use just GNS430 and VOR receivers. After my first solo takeoff I headed towards Oostende (EBOS) in Belgium. I had to enter the Schengen area again and at the same time I wanted to refuel. The planned time was 1:30 so just enough to figure out if the fuel consumption is within the expected range.
The flight plan was quite easy: EGCS VEGUS AMVEL SUMUM DD EBOS and when preparing it I wanted to avoid all ATZs. After crossing coastline I had to descend due to A class airspace. The weather was all the time clear sky and therefore the only challenge I had was the aircraft. It took me some time to figure out how I must trim it.
Landing in EBOS with quite a strong crosswind was the first challenge. Before the landing I repeated in my mind: 120 MPH gear down, 100 MPH lower flaps, approach speed 80 MPH. Stable approach and keeping the right speed is the key to success. The runway in Oostende is long enough for some extra knots but this is a bad habit. The landing was far from perfect but still without any problems.
It took more than one hour for refueling and my slot for the flight to Locarno (LSZL) was well over and the tower didn't let me depart. So I had to park again, wait for marshaler to give me the ride to ARO. At ARO I had to phone to the ATC and they agreed I can depart immediately and the promised to fix the plan and send it to EBOS tower. After I was already in the airplane again the tower still didn't have my flight plan so I had to repeat the whole procedure. Finally I got the clearance for taxing to the holding point. Then tower called me that Switzerland notified them that Locarno airport will be closed when I will arrive there so the asked me for further instructions. I gave alternate airport St. Gallen - Altenrhein which was still opened. While waiting for response the controller declared that no VFR flights are permitted due to IFR conditions. I was waiting in prefect sunshine and really on the other side of the terminal area there were some low clouds. They asked me if I accept IFR clearance which of course I rejected as I am not IR certified.
The onl ypossibility was to go back to parking position. After parking I visited meteo office and they told me there is no possibility for weather improvement that day. So I asked ARO to help me find a hotel. Unfortunately all hotels were 100% booked and the airport inspector gratefully helped me with the offer to stay in the room for persons who are rejected due to invalid documents. After a small late lunch in a fast food restaurant I was checking the weather. Despite the official forecast the weather was again CAVOK at 21:00 local time, but this didn't help me a lot. I filed the flight plan for 5:00 AM local time. During the night the weather stayed CAVOK all the time so I was able to depart 5:25AM local time inbound to Locarno.
The filed flight plan was: EBOS LEQ REM CAV RLP FRI LSZL. After departure I was cleared to LEQ and after leaving Lille TMA they instructed me to contact Paris Info. At the same time they told me that due to early Sunday morning probably nobody is working and I will get no response from Paris Info. Of course they were right. I was flying at 9500 feet inbound to REM followed by CAV and RLP and avoided some restricted zones as I had no information if they are active or not and no contact with ATC. Finally I got contact with Reims Info. When close to Swiss border I asked to climb to FL120 and later on to FL140 to clear the Swiss Alps. I was impressed by the performance of my new toy: 500 feet/minute in average from FL120 to FL140. after clearing the summits I stared my descend towards Locarno where I landed after 3 hours and 25 minutes.
Quick refueling, fixing departure time in the flight plan and I was back in the air on the last leg to home airport Divača (LJDI). The route was my favorite one from Locarno following the south edge of Alps to Vicenza VOR and then to Ronchi VOR, crossing Slovenian border at RIFEN point and finally my home airport. Nothing special occurred during this flight and I safely landed for the first time in Divača. My wife was already waiting for me there and we immediately departed to Island of Lošinj (LDLO) to join other pilots who had a fly-in there that Sunday.
Allover time required to fly from EGCS to LJDI was 6:18, not bad!

Upgrade to a faster airplane - Mooney M20E

My old Piper PA-28-140B Cherokee was a great airplane, an excellent starting solution for getting flying experience. She was equipped for long tours, the only problem was that the cruise speed was between 105-110 knots and with a 20 knots of a head wind the cruise speed dropped down to 90 knots. At the time when I was buying my Piper I was also checking a possibility to buy one Mooney. It was back in 2007 when the aircraft prices were not so low as now days due to financial crisis. Unfortunately the lowest prices for Mooneys at that time were between 60.000 and 70.000 EUR and I couldn't afford it. Especially I was looking for one aircraft in Germany M20F with turbo-normalizer with the price of 66.000 EUR. Then I bought my Cherokee D-EHFK. After about 2 years I started to think about the possibility to start training for instrument rating (IR) and immediately it was clear that IR rating means nothing if I will not practice it in my flying. Unfortunately Cherokee was just VFR certified and upgrade to IFR would cost me quite a lot of money.
The cheapest solution would be to find an IFR certified airplane which would be also faster. So I started again with regular checking of PlaneCheck website. I was checking Cessnas, Pipers and Mooneys. The German Mooney was still unsold after two years and now the price was only 45.000 EUR. I started a discussion with the owner and got the documents from the latest annual check. Then in January 2010 I found a very nice Mooney M20F in Austria at Wiener Neustadt. The airplane was in great condition, IFR certified, German register, but not capable for commercial usage as the engine was over 12 years. The price was 58.000 EUR and if the owner would reduce it to 50.000 EUR I would probably buy it.
I decided to inspect Mooney in Germany with the turbo-normalizer. Due to some projects at that time it was hard to find the right time for inspection as it was still winter weather. So finally I drove to the north of Germany. There was a fresh snow on the runway and the owner didn't want to make a test flight what was a big disappointment for me. During the inspection I found corrosion on several places and it was obvious that the airplane was somehow neglected during last years and was maintained only as much it was necessary to keep it airworthy. They were trying to sell the airplane already for 3 years but with no luck. When I came they reduced the price to 35.000 EUR for quick sale. The airplane was registered just for VFR and would need immediate investment of about 12.000 EUR to make it ready for IFR certification. They told me that there is also another potential buyer interested for the airplane. Immediately after return to home I had to go to Macedonia for one week and then I got the email from the owner that the second buyer paid the deposit and they sold the aircraft to him. I felt somehow deceived but at the same time I was happy as the required investment was not so small.
Then one day I found Mooney M20E, production year 1966, located in United Kingdom, call sign G-ATOU (see the album). The price was 31.900 EUR, engine overhauled in 2001 with 1200 hours to go, propeller overhauled before 3 years, so still 3 years to go. Avionics was IFR - Garmin GNS430, Garmin GTX330 S-mode transponder, Narco DME890, Narco 810 TSO as second COM, Narco 825 TSO as second NAV, Narco MBT-12 marker receiver and Honywell ADF-T-12C ADF receiver. Finally full IFR avionics! I have immediately contacted the seller and after some negotiation he guaranteed me number one buyer position and we agreed that I come next weekend for inspection.

So I used my Miles&More award miles for a free ticket to Manchester and also reserved a rental car with GPS as I had to go to Sturgate airfield (EGCS) where Mooney was located. Driving on the left side of the road for the first time in my life was a night mare.
I was very happy with the results of the inspection and we signed the agreement and I had to pay a deposit within 3 working days. After return to my home I performed some more checks with the mechanics and then decided to pay the deposit, and after some days the whole price.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Krakow, Riga, Warsaw, Svidnik and Dubrovnik

The Oracle Univesity organized a two day seminar in Riga, Latvija at the end of August 2009. This was a nice opportunity to make a stop in Krakow in Poland. As we had quite short vacations in July we used also this opportunity to spent additional five days on Island of Mljet near Dubrovnik in Croatia.

Interactive GPS track - click here to enlarge the map

The plan was to make a refueling stop in Vyškov near Brno in Czech Republic and then proceed to Krakow. Later on I found that on Pobiednik Wielki airfield there is a gas station just outside the airfield fence only about 30 meters away from the main apron.
The planned and actually flown route was:
LJDI - TREBNJE (VFR reporting point) - RADLY - STO - MIKOV - LKVY

We started on August 24th in the morning and the flight to Vyškov was a routine VFR flight in excellent weather conditions. I have visited Vyškov already once this year when we were flying back from Finland. I phoned them a day before and and we were immediately warmly welcomed for refueling.

The next leg was from Vyškov (LKVY) to Pobiednik Wielki (EPKP) near Krakow in Poland. The planned and actually flown route was:

The weather was still excellent but we got broken clouds near Krakow so we had to postpone the descend a little bit in order to find a suitable hole in the clouds.

After securing the aircraft at EPKP we called taxi and drove to the center of Krakow where we had a reservation in a just refurbished hotel which was re-opened just two days before.
After a quick lunch with original Polish dishes we headed to the main square in Krakow and had short sightseeing of surrounding churches. Next morning we took a guided 4 hours visit of Krakow castle and Krakow Ghetto.

Photo album of visiting Krakow City

In the afternoon we took taxi to Pobiednik Wielki and headed towards Adaži near Riga in Latvia.
The planned route was: EPKP - JED - LIN - SIE - BOKSU - GUNTA - VISTA - EVAD.
I checked the Polish Airspace Use Plan (AUP) for the current day before filing the flight plan by phone. The weather was excellent all way to the north and we landed at Adaži (EVAD) short before the sunset. EVAD is a former agriculture airfield now privately owned and mostly used for training for ULA and GA airplanes. It is located about 40 minutes drive north east of Riga. They provided me MOGAS which they buy at the nearby gas station.

Riga is for sue one of the most beautiful towns we ever visited and we enjoyed our stay there really very much.

Visiting Riga Town

On Friday, August 28th in the afternoon, immediately after I have finished my class, we took a taxi back to Adaži and headed to Warsaw - Babice (EPBC) where I planned a night landing. The planned route was:
EVAD - VISTA - GUNTA - BOKSU - SUW - ULPAR - JULLIET (VFR point for Babice) - LIMA (VFR point for Babice) - EPBC.
As I was never before at Babice it was a little bit of challenge to make first landing there at night. Babice is located in the middle of Warsaw city and it was hard to spot the airfield as we were vlying very low due to the airspace above us.
Next morning we planned to continue our trip to Svidnik in Slovak Republic. The Babice airfield opens at 6:00 AM local time and we came there at about that time. Shortly after arrival we were already airborn and were heading towards LZSK.
The planned route was:

A cold front was coming from the west and we had to be on time in Svidnik for refueling and continuation to Dubrovnik in order to escape before the bad weather.
On Saturday, August 29th they had annual gathering at Svidnik(LZSK) airfield and it was quite a lot of people already there. It was nice to meet Tomáš and Emil Sluk again. This time we also met Koka, a good friend of late Robert Tupta, for the first time and we became good friends. After refueling and a short chat with these nice people we had to leave. Again this time we really enjoyed a short stay at Svidnik.

See photo album of visiting Svidnik

The cold front was rapidly traveling to the east and therefore headed to Košice (LZKZ) where we landed just to exit the Schengen area. The route was LZSK - RUSKOV (VFR entyr pint to Košice CTR)- LZKZ. The border control was very efficient and they came to the GA office to check our documents, so we could continue our journey to Dubrovnik (LDDU) pretty soon. The route was:

While we were flying across Hungary we could see the on our right side the cold front. As we were on time we actually had no problems with the weather and were flying in clear sky. After entering Bosnia and Herzegovina at SIVLA point we found some tower cumulus buildups so we climbed to FL120 and remained at this level almost all the way across Bosnia and Herzegovina. We crossed the Croatian border at FL100 at MADOS point which is almost at the Dubrovnik airport. Although VFR we were vectored for ILS approach for RWY 12 which of course I have accepted with great pleasure.

We stayed for few days at Restaurant Ogigija and enjoyed their hospitality again.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Birthday Trip To Split (LDSP)

On December 28th 2009 I was celebrating my 55th birthday and for this occasion I invited my wife Lili for a one day trip to Split in Croatia where I have never been before.
As Croatia is not part of Schengen area we had to fly first to Portorož (LJPZ) to exit Schengen area and then to Split airport (LDSP) - Kaštela, located about 35 minutes drive away from Split town. The airport is located in a wonderful surrounding. I used this opportunity to do some training and I asked for a simulated ILS approach to RWY 05 which was immediately approved. The planned route from Portorož to Split was: LJPZ - PS1 - CRE - LOS- SAL - DVN - LDSP. Unfortunately I had to divert due to parachute activity over Lošinj airport (LDLO) and the actually flown route was over Zadar airport (LDZD) direct to DVN NDB which is entry point (final approach fix - FAF) for ILS approach. The weather was excellent although there were some cloudy areas in Kvarner golf with base at 3000 feet. So I asked for 5500 feet which was our cruising altitude all the way to DVN where I had to descend to 2800 feet in order to be at the right altitude for simulated ILS approach.

After landing we had refueled with AVGAS 100L. As usually the price of gasoline was low - 1,20 EUR per liter. Although I'm using MOGAS most of the time I have to purchase some AVGAS from time to time according to the instructions in STC for mogas. The landing fee was 26 EUR.

We took a regular local bus from airport to Split town and we enjoyed very much the scenery with many lemon, orange and mandarin trees full of mature fruits.
In Split we passed the old historical part of the town and had some coffee and cakes at the fabulous seashore, called "Riva" where we very surprised to see so many people. Obviously they came to Split for the new year holidays.

The route back was LDSP - ZDA - CRE - PS1 - LJPZ. The weather changed a lot and we were flying at 3000 feet below the cloud layer with the base at approximately 5000 feet which was occasionally going down to 3500 feet. As in the morning when we had a good tail wind also on the return we had a good tail wind and the average cruising speed was between 115 and 120 KT.

Here is the photo album of the journey.

GPS Track Of The Trip To Split

Sunday, 27 December 2009

New aviation weather portal for Slovenia

Recently Environmental Agency Of The Republic Of Slovenia published a new portal for aviation which is part of the weather portal for Slovenia. The aviation weather information, which includes also SIGMET and AIRMET, is available at The portal now includes also a detailed wind forecast for Slovenia for FL025, FL050, FL100 and FL140 for time +6h +12h +18h and +24h. This kind of information will be very useful for all who plan flying across Slovenia. Unfortunately the portal is currently available only in Slovenian language but one can figure out what kind of information he will get when clicking on the menu as most of the menu items are well known English words.

One can also get the output of Slovenian ALADIN model weather forecast which includes also neighbor countries from part of France on the west to part of Bulgaria on the east, part of Germany on the north and part of Greece on the south. According to my experience in past two years the ALADIN model forecast is pretty reliable and extremely useful for planning. I am always using it when flying to Italy, Switzerland, France, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Poland, Bulgaria or Romania.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Preparing for Flight in Foreign Countries

On December 20th, 2009, I had a presentation for my fellow pilots and students of my former flying school "Janez let", where my Piper is still hangared. I had this presentation at the occasion of the new year gathering of all former and current students of this flying school which is some kind of a tradition in this school. This year there was another presentation about flying to Scotland what I really appreciated. Sharing this kind of experience is very valuable and important, especially for those young ones who are still in struggling to get PPL.

Here is the link to my presentation in English language and the other one in Slovenian language.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Robert Tupta - In Memoriam

Robert Tupta, a pilot and instructor, died on 16 of July 2009, a day after the air crash with Viper SD4 airplane at Raznany airport.

Robert was "
great pilot and fantastic smily person. We loved him! We can not stop crying." wrote Koka, his friend, in mail to me, when she informed me about this sad event.

Unfortunately I had never the opportunity to meet Robert in person, I just knew him by exchanging mails with him and few phone conversations. He helped me organizing my refueling stop in Svidnik in Slovakia and at the time of my visit he was in Sanct Petersburg in Russia. I contacted him again when I was preparing my trip to Riga and then I got a reply from Koka with sad news.

I was deeply impressed how friendly he was and willing to help. He asked his friends to help me at that time. After my trip he was interested to know the details of my flying from Slovenia to Bulgaria, Finland and back home.

When I visited Svidnik for the first time I saw his AN-2 airplane parked there. Here is a photo of his airplane taken at Svidnik airfield with his friends.

As I am a religious person I prayed for his soul and I truly believe he is awarded in heaven for his kindness and help because Jesus says:
Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.” (Mt 25, 40)

Robert's grave is at Humenné, little town on east part of Slovakia. His friends have built a marble slab for memories at Svidnik airfield to light candles for him and remember him in regular monthly gatherings. They are now preparing a book about his life as well.