Saturday, 30 May 2009

Competitive spirit

We've been flying every other day, and each flight has had a competitive element - either timed passes at checkpoints, spot landings or fuel estimates. I started off with the intention of not taking part, but somehow got caught up in the spirit of the thing. The third leg was to end any chance we had of finishing in the top three though. With 30 to 40kt headwinds we just couldn't meet the times needed and realised very quickly that the 'smarter' crews had declared significantly lower speeds before the event giving them more in hand. We did OK in the spot-landing competition coming home as first loser.

Where do you want to go?

If you have any desire to do a little long distance touring you'll soon find out that at the outer edges of Europe fuel becomes the limiting issue. Heading south Spain is OK, but Italy is a different matter. It's not that they don't have any avgas, they do, but rather that a quick turnaround can be measured in hours rather than minutes, and a slow one in days.

Even France can be challenged from time to time. Last summer many of the coastal airfields closest to the UK ran dry for a short period of time. Recently, all airfields on Corsica, apart from Figari, had ran out of fuel leading to long queues at the one remaining functioning avgas pump on the island. A day or so after that, the entire island was NOTAMED as out of fuel for the first half of June.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

North African landing

...and three hours after leaving Calvi we're on final for 19 at Tunis Carthage. I was a bit short on VFR maps so decided to go IFR, I got offered a shortcut if I could climb to FL110 which I accepted (we have portable O2). In the heat, with full tanks and loads of luggage, the 182 struggled to reach FL110 but made it in the end. We were met by the organisers, guided through Customs and taken to the hotel for lunch and a welcome dip in the pool before the evening's briefing. Lots more flying to come and lots more to say when there's a better internet connection. The local Tunisian beer tasted good, the coffee tasted outrageously bad.

Corsican rest

Well it took about six hours to fly from the strip to Calvi on the northern tip of Corsica with a stop in Clermont for fuel and Customs. Leaving Wiltshire in the morning and eating dinner under the Mediterranean sun still has some magic when you fly yourself there.

Calvi is a great little town with a bustling harbour, loads of restaurants and a km or two of sandy beaches. I'm not a huge fan of beach life, but have to admit that swimming in the warm Med while looking at the snow capped mountains to the south of Calvi was kind of nice.

We ate a couple of evening meals in Calvi but they were OK rather than great - I wish I'd done a bit more reseach before leaving. Something to bear in mind for the next time.