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!

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