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  • digits
    replied
    Landing fees (uit het hoofd, kan wat marge opzitten):
    Cassel: 17 eur
    Vodochody: 15 eur
    Brno: 110 eur
    Budapest: 140 eur
    Arad: 63 eur
    Sibiu: "wat ge wilt geven"
    Oradea: 46 eur
    Tokol: 15 eur + 100 eur customs
    Nurnberg: 56 eur + achteraf 16 eur navigation charges, oplichters.

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  • Immortal
    replied
    Mooi avontuur!

    Wat heeft dit nu voor je aan vlieguren opgeleverd en hoeveel was je kwijt aan kosten als ik vragen mag? Dus de kosten voor het vliegen en landen en overnachten etc?

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  • digits
    replied
    Nurnberg


    Cochem hills

    Alternate airport

    WE'RE BACK !


    THE END

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  • digits
    replied
    Tökol (Budapest)
    When we jumped out off the airplane, the customs officer was standing ready to grant us access to his country. He looked at our IDs for exactly 5 seconds, charged us with 100 euros and left. Our airplane was offered a spot in the hangar of the local flying club once again. A taxi was called, and we headed into the city. After one failed attempt we found a hotel willing to accommodate these travelers for a night. The Fawlty Towers Basil-like “I hate Italians”-receptionist gave us a 4 persons room and the much needed internet access.

    Deciding that we weren’t going to waste these beautiful hours of sunlight worrying about weather reports that would change every minute, we walked to the center of Buda and Pest. The beautiful river, nice buildings, some citadel like structure, arrogant Dutch teenagers (yes, they really are everywhere), … all part of the game. The extremely hot temperatures we had to endure the past days were starting to cool down just a tiny bit, which made us confident enough to climb the local hill by foot. By the time we reached the top, it turned out it wasn’t as cool as we’d wished.

    The day passed by and ended it by going to a typical local restaurant. After convincing the waiter I was over 18 years old, we could enjoy our meal. Back in the hotel, and after a good night sleep, the weather forecast for Austria (originally our next stop) was, once again, a borderline case. Since we already used our spare day and didn’t want to be stuck in Salzburg, the plan was changed to fly directly home, with a pit stop half way in Germany: Nürnberg. With only a 1 hour margin to arrive in EBGB before sunset, we rushed through our breakfast and headed to the plane. The plane was already refueled the day before, and while we were waiting for our flight plan to be accepted, we visited the Hungarian Pilot shop and bought the long desired “Remove before flight” key chain.

    With the souvenir in my pocket, and the time ticking, the plane was taxied to the runway and we took off, headed for Nürnberg. It was the longest flight of this trip (approximately 4 hours) and took us over the hills at the foot of the Austrian alps. Hoping to fly over the real alps one day, we left Austria behind us and headed in to Germany. Germany is a neighbor of Belgium, so we’re almost home, no ?

    Nürnberg: to fly or not to fly
    Nürnberg was a typical rather big German airfield. A few seconds after we landed, the fuel truck was standing by and with the same efficiency we were transported to the briefing room. This was the last time we would check the weather on our trip. Good weather at our departing point and marginal weather at our destination, with a 30% chance on really bad weather at our destination. It was at this time we had our first heated pilots-discussion whether to fly or not to fly. We called some airports along our route to verify they would still be open in the evening so we could use them as alternate airports. There were still a lot of other divert-options along our route, so we decided to take the chance and set course for home. 70% chance that we would sleep home that night, 30% chance we would enjoy the German hospitality once more.

    To Belgium !
    The take-off was sunny into a blue sky. After an hour, the first few clouds appeared at the horizon. We were passing Frankfurt airspace, which forced us to make a small detour. We lost 15 minutes and were hoping this wouldn’t put is in the bad 30% part. Half an hour later these few clouds turned into bigger clouds, but the sun still managed to let the blue sky shine through it. It was during this time we were overhead another airfield, and asked them for an update of the Belgian weather. A cloudy and rainy front with poor visibility was approaching from the west. The situation in Brussels (close to Grimbergen, our destination) was still good enough, but visibility was going down and the wind was increasing. Making a mental note of this airfield as the most suitable alternate airport soo far, we continued over the Belgian border. The blue sky was gone now, and dark rainy clouds started to form. A descend was necessary, and after 20 minutes of rain, a faint sun appeared. Still cloudy, but a little bit more optimistic, we continued to Grimbergen.

    15 minutes before the end of the trip, a wall of fog appeared between Antwerp and Brussels. Thanks to the cooperation of the friendly Brussels controller, we could cut a corner and avoid the fog. The visibility in Grimbergen was deteriorating quickly, which explained why we heard “I suggest you make a straight in approach, because the weather is getting worse every minute now” on the frequency. A very rare occasion to hear this thing in the strictly ruled Grimbergen airspace.

    Very poor visibility, approaching from an angle we were not used to in an area very close to Brussels airport (read: area to avoid!) we had our first technical problem of the trip: the GPS failed. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but in these conditions it made us a little nervous for the last time. A few minutes later runway 19 was right in front of us.

    OO-AWT is coming home
    The last landing was a smooth one and while we were taxiing to the hanger, we saw that the airport was closing right behind us. The engine was shut down. We were back. We got out of the airplane to push it back, only to feel the rain pouring down. It was only now, in comparison with the other perfectly clean airplanes, that the “damage” of the mud was visible: the bottom of the wings, the bottom of the fuselage, all covered with a muddy brownish color.

    The next day would be spent washing the airplane an restoring it to its clean former glory. And that’s when the dreaming starts again: where to fly to next? Capetown sounds cool. Or what about the North Pole ? Endless possibilities…

    Fueling of the aircraft

    Hungarian hangar

    Budapest scenery



    Through Germany

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  • digits
    replied
    Enjoying FL100




    Oradea airport


    To Tokol



    Taxiing in Tokol

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  • digits
    replied
    Circling in the vicinity of Sibiu


    Beautiful clouds




    FL100 *finally*

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  • digits
    replied
    The next morning the weather looked a bit similar as the day before. There was one big difference though: this time, the forecast for Oradea was very good. We decided to go for it, take-off and make some circling climbs through some holes in the cloud base until we were clear of the clouds and high enough to cross the mountains safely. With this plan in mind, we set course to Sibiu Magura airport.

    Magura take-off

    We repeated our routing from the previous day: checking the airplane and inspecting the runway. The airplane was in good condition. A little bit dirty, but that was to be expected if you’re stationed in a swamp for 4 days. The runway was a bit more of a problem. The right side was very muddy with a lot of puddles. The left side was better, but the good part was rather small. To fix this problem, the operator moved the runway markings to the left, so the runway was suddenly 25 meters wider. Unsure about how the plane would perform on a grass runway in such conditions, we decided to abort take-off if we weren’t airborne after the 5th marking (there were 9 markers in total).

    The fuel arrived and using high tech jerry cans and funnel, we managed to top off the tanks. In the mean time, the guy from the car company returned to collect the car. The plane was being towed to the runway manually, to avoid crashing the propeller in the mud. Once we smashed some mosquitoes, we were ready to attempt the take-off. The Magura operator gave us some last minute advice “contact Sibiu Tower right away, we can’t do anything for you anyway”. A last look to the sky made us realize we had to hurry. The multiple blue holes were shrinking, and there was only one left.

    We were very happy to see the airplane started without problems. Sibiu Tower was informed about our plan to circle overhead the airport through the blue hole and accepted our flight plan which was filed an hour earlier by the Magura operator. Sibiu Tower cleared us for the most scary take-off of our flying careers. Full throttle and the plane started to move very slowly. The first marker passed. The plane started moving through the mud and reached some firmer ground. The second marker was passed. The airspeed indicator came alive, 40 kts. Third marker was passed. 50 kts. 55…60 … Fourth marker passed. The acceleration stopped because of another smile puddle of water. The fifth marker was approaching. I pulled the stick back and the nose wheel lifted off the ground. A few second later the main wheels lifted off as well. Passed the fifth marker. Apparently the runway was sloping downwards a bit around the fifth marker because the airplane touched down with the main wheels again. The end of the runway was approaching very quickly now. “Continue!”. At the sixth marker, the airplane had enough speed to lift off again and stay in the air. It was only around the eight marker we also had enough speed to start climbing. Wet grass, maximum take-off mass, humid weather, 35 degrees. They really do increase your take-off distance. For comparison: on a concrete runway we would have been airborne between the second and third marker.

    We were enjoying our little victory and it felt as if we personally took off with a B747 from a dessert airport. The next obstacle was approaching: looking for the hole in the cloud base. It looked easy from the ground, but the clouds were moving and clogging together. The hole was spotted a few hundred meters next of the airport. Around 1800 ft we entered the bottom of the hole and continued our climb. Once at 2500 ft we were completely in the hole and the visibility was decreasing since could only see the ground right below us and the blue sky above us. In front and next to us were only clouds. Focus on the artificial horizon. This continued until we reached 4000 ft. Then the hole closed a few moments. White everywhere. Our lights were switched of, because we didn’t want a vertigo attack at this moment. A few seconds later it opened up again. We were at 5000 ft. At 5500 ft it closed again. We were now penetrating the last layer of clouds. Around 6000 ft we broke free of the clouds. The view was magnificent! A whole area of white clouds, with the sun shining on them and making them even more beautiful. It took us 20 minutes and around 10 circles to reach it, but it was totally worth it.

    Turned out we still had our most beautiful flight ever. At first we wanted to climb to FL100 (+- 10000 ft), but the plane had troubles climbing that high, so we stayed at FL080 for a while. Until the clouds started to reach higher and we were forced to climb to FL100 after all. Due to the mountains beneath the clouds, the cloud top was not flat as you would expect, but was flowing like ocean waves, which made it tricky to navigate and keep the airplane straight and level.

    An hour later, we contacted Oradea. The weather was still very good over there. Due to the mountains and the controllers wishes we had to stay quite high until we were almost overhead the airport. We made a very fast descend and landed on a sunny concrete runway. At last, we managed to escape from Sibiu. Later, we found out that Sibiu was overcast with clouds frequently, because it was located very close to a ridge of mountains. All clouds were collected there, before they managed to flow over the mountains. Makes sense of course, but then again, everything makes sense afterwards.

    Oradea
    Oradea was –surprise- a very quiet airport. The people were very friendly and opened up the local bar to give us something to drink and a snack to eat. Next to the concrete runway, there was a small grass one for general aviation airplanes. Since we needed customs because we were about to enter the Schengen zone again, and leaving Romania, we couldn’t make use of this cheap option.
    A quick turn-around later and with a stamp of “Transylvania Handling” in our logbook, we switched seats and headed for Tökol (Budapest) airport. When we crossed the Romanian/Hungarian border, a little flashback of the past few days occurred. Romania is a very beautiful place to fly, with some minor administrative hassles, but still, and adventure worth all the trouble (if you can call it ‘trouble’). Very friendly people in this undiscovered country. Let’s hope that them joining the Schengen zone will convince more people to pay a visit to this country “far far away”.

    The flight to Tökol was again very uneventful. Hungary was still as dull and flat as a few days ago. The weather forecast predicted some possible thunderstorms in the late afternoon, so we were a bit in a hurry, but should have enough time to safely arrive at our destination. We heard some helicopter heading for Sibiu. Professional pilots as we were (and basically just looking for something to do), we told him about the weather there and received no response. Asshole. A while later we heard a military fighter jet receiving radar instructions to the airport. Given the cloudless and windless weather conditions, we found this a bit odd. But who are we to judge the Hungarian military ?
    We could see some possible thunderstorms approaching Budapest from the North. Luckily, we didn’t have to be there, and made a smooth landing in Tökol. This exciting flight came to an end once we found the correct taxi way to the hangar.

    To be continued ...

    [SIZE="2"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]

    -------------------------

    Fuelling in progress...




    Parking stand


    Blue sky!


    Bye bye Sibiu

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  • digits
    replied
    Top Gear dam. It was a sunny day, except in the vicinity of the lake

    Road trip back to Sibiu

    Sibiu Magura entry road sign :)

    Airplane and runway inspection. Weather check => flight cancelled :(


    "Bridge of Lies" in Sibiu

    Sibiu main square by night

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  • digits
    replied
    The next morning, we looked out of the window and saw a beautiful blue sky. It would be a hot day with good weather, so we thought. Our optimism made room for doubt and frustration when we checked the weather forecast. In the afternoon, there would be temporary showers and thunderstorms. The original plan was to fly to Bucharest Baneasa airport, and enjoy the sight of the beautiful mountains in which the Bran castle was located. Due to the fact that we would be flying an hour over mountains, with little or no room to divert to other airports, the decision was made it would be too risky to fly that day. Instead, we rented the car a few more days, and would drive to Bucharest by car in the afternoon. During breakfast that day, we got a call from Tokol Airport. This was an airport we were going to fly to while returning to Belgium. They just called to check if we would still be coming. It was a very nice gesture, since we were a little unsure if they understood our intentions when we made our first call a few weeks earlier. The guy at the telephone spoke very bad English. With mixed emotions, we finished our breakfast and prepared for some touristic activities: we were going to visit the castle. At last!

    The castle itself was quite spectacular. It was beautifully renovated, and made a typical Romanian impression. It was located in Bran, one of the most touristic little villages in Romania. There were a lot of tourists and a lot of locals trying to sell their wide variety of products. I picked up some 5 Euro sunglasses to regain my cool pilot look. It was a very hot day. Luckily, the entrance to the castle was a little bit shaded. The tour of the castle itself was nice, with all the typical elements you’d expect from a castle. It was funny to see though how they are basically absolutely certain that count Vladimir (who was in fact ‘Dracula’) never lived in that castle. Nonetheless, they wrote everywhere that there was of course a remote possibility that he did live there, but nobody can be sure. Their PR-skills are top notch!

    Around noon, we enjoyed a local lemonade, bought a road map and started driving towards Bucharest. Fortunately, the air-conditioning in our car did work. We didn’t care about the power steering, extremely difficult coupling pedal or lack of GPS: the airco was working, and that’s what mattered!

    Bucharest invasion
    On the road map, we could clearly see that there was only possible road to drive from Bran to Bucharest. A road covered with a huge traffic jam. Instead of the average 40 km/hour, our top speed was now 5 km/hour. We were happy to see a hitchhiker next to the road, as we thought this would provide us with a free guide to give some explanations off the scenery. Unfortunately, she didn’t speak English. Two hours of silence was what happened next. Only the occasional bump in the road provided us with some 10 second conversation. When she started waving her arms fanatically, it was time to let her out of the car.
    The traffic jam was now behind us, and our average speed was increasing to 60 km/hour. Fast! After another hour, the road started to look like a highway. There were 3 or 4 lanes in each direction, with people selling blue and orange berries everywhere. That was one thing you wouldn’t expect next to such a giant road. Another thing you wouldn’t expect are cyclists crossing the giant road and maneuvering between the cars who were driving a normal highway speed. And the last thing you’d expect was an old man with a cane crossing the road by foot, thus forcing all the cars in some avoid-maneuver. And when that man just keeps crossing, even when there is a fire truck approaching, things really become surreal.

    Meanwhile, the afternoon had arrived, and we were looking out for the showers and thunderstorms that were predicted and spoiled what was supposed to be our most beautiful flight of the trip. The sky was completely blue. We drove by Bucharest Baneasa airport –where we would have landed- and headed into the city of Bucharest. There were still a few hours to kill before meeting up with our friends aka “local guides”. The sky was still as blue as a blue sky could possibly be. Romanian weather forecasts are rubbish. We cancelled our flight for nothing. The small depressing moment passed quickly, once we realized we did fly to Romania and we were in bloody Bucharest!

    Parking your car in a city like Brussels or Ghent is difficult. Parking your car in a city like Bucharest is borderline impossible. We found a parking spot and were immediately welcomed by the local parking guy who looked like someone who’s face would be the last one you ever saw when entering a dark alley by night. Werner’s negotiating skills made it possible for us to pay the “we’ll protect your car”-fee once we returned and if the car was still there unharmed. After running around for about an hour, and looking for the National Museum, where we were supposed to meet our friends, our “is our car secure”-doubts got the better of us and we returned to collect the car and started the Hunt for a Parking Spot part II. This time, it would be the safest of all parking spots, the best of the best: we parked in front of an embassy and asked the local military guard to look out for our car. He agreed to do so. Our own personal soldier. Jay!
    One search of half an hour later we managed to find the museum building which, in the end, was not that difficult to spot: it was the biggest building we had seen so far. One Dracula exposition later, it was time to meet the guides. They showed us around Bucharest, introduced us to some local cuisine in an excellent restaurant. In an attempt to fight the depressing heat, the restaurant was equipped with small sprinklers, providing some cool water for the overheated guests.

    The night was spent with a very friendly guide who had a double function as hostess. The air-conditioning was turned on and we enjoyed a good night sleep. The next morning we visited the impressive Romanian “Peoples House”. After that, we visited the ruins of the “real” castle of Dracula, situated in a much less touristic area of the mountains. It took a couple of hours to drive there, but it was definitely worth it. The last stop of this touristic day was at a dam which was once featured in the famous “Top Gear” series.

    Because we changed our plans due to the incorrect forecast from the day before, we were going to fly back to Oradea –which doesn’t had fuel- instead of Bucharest –which had fuel-. We phoned the friendly owner of Magura and asked him to get us some fuel from another nearby airfield. Before going to sleep, we checked the weather forecast for the next day. The forecast for Sibiu was not that good, but remembering the incorrect forecast of the day before, we didn’t worry too much. Due to our change of plans, we needed to modify our VFR approval. We phoned them on a Sunday, emailed the details, and it was almost immediately fixed again. We have to admit: we were impressed!
    The next sunny morning, it was time to say goodbye to some old friends (we already said goodbye to some new friends and some other old friends the day before). Our friendly hostess drove in front of our car so we could find our way out of the giant maze which was Bucharest. We enjoyed the big communist-like giant 6 lane roads for one last time. We managed to get to Bucharest, had a wonderful time there, but now we needed to get back home.

    And then there was Sibiu

    While driving back to Sibiu, we paid close attention to the weather. It was sunny with only a few clouds until 20 minutes before our arrival in Sibiu: very cloudy, low clouds, and the mountain tops were disappearing in the clouds. Not willing to give up just yet, we drove to the airport and checked the weather, only to confirm our suspicions it was too bad to fly. Also the weather at our destination (Oradea) was too risky (predicted thunderstorms and low clouds). While we were there, we checked our plane once, only to discover it sunk 5 centimeters in the mud. The runway was muddy as well, but had some firm spots. A mental note to check the runway again the next day was made.
    To take full advantage of our time in Romania, we decided to visit the old part of the city of Sibiu. It had a bit of a medieval atmosphere and was nicely renovated because it was the cultural capital or Europe a few years earlier. After a quick drink with another Romanian friend, we went to bed in our 2 floor suite in the local hotel.

    To be continued...

    ---------------------------

    On the road to Bran


    Bran's Castle (touristic Dracula castle)



    Ruin of "the real" castle of Dracula

    Impressive "Peoples House" / Romanian parliament in Bucharest
    Last edited by digits; 08-01-2011, 23:17.

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  • digits
    replied
    Originally posted by Sierra Mike Delta View Post
    Leuke trip, dat doet niet iedereen zomaar even naar Roemenië.

    Zelf was ik een paar maanden terug op Vodochody. Leuk veld vond ik zelf. Ik ben er een weekje geweest en vond de handling uitstekend qua tanken, hangarage etc.

    Wat ik me afvraag is of jullie ook een soort nabespreking / debriefing doen van jullie avontuur. Als ik het zo lees zijn er best een aantal zaken geweest (weather, atc, terrain waar je lager zit dan gewenst, slechte grasbaan door nat weer) die anders uitkwamen dan verwacht. Het leuke van zo'n uitgebreid verslag is overigens ook dat als je het over een paar jaar weer leest, je tegen sommige zaken waarschijnlijk heel anders aan kijkt dan nu.

    Ik ben al benieuwd naar de volgende vlucht.. mooie verhalen!
    Ze waren erg vriendelijk op Vodochody, maar hangar of iets dergelijks heb ik niet gezien. Er kwam wel een taxi aan voor mensen die Praag wouden bezoeken. Wij wouden gewoon eventjes buiten de luchthaven gaan om iets te eten te zoeken, en dat was "too complicated". Aangezien we daar al toegekomen waren zonder PPR wouden we daar nu ook niet te veel eisen stellen.
    De fuel werd wel snel afgehandeld. Ook uitgebreide briefing room aanwezig in de container, en flight plan ingediend via de telefoon (voor alles een eerste keer :) )

    We hebben alles wel eens onderweg en 's avonds in het restaurant besproken, maar of je dat nu echt een debriefing kan noemen... Uiteindelijk: het was pas achteraf dat je zou kunnen gedacht hebben "is dat grasveld nu wel in goeie staat". Ik denk eigenlijk dat we, moest deze situatie zich opnieuw voordoen, en we over dezelfde informatie beschikken, net hetzelfde zouden gedaan hebben. Het vliegveld was open, het weer was ok (al kon het wel beter), en het zag er een deftige graspiste uit: landen dus.

    Het 'probleem' met de ATC, ik denk dat we daar wat rapper zouden gezegd hebben dat wat ze vroeg niet mogelijk was ipv "nog eventjes wachten, ze zal ons zo meteen wel in de juiste richting sturen".

    Leave a comment:


  • Sierra Mike Delta
    replied
    Leuke trip, dat doet niet iedereen zomaar even naar Roemenië.

    Zelf was ik een paar maanden terug op Vodochody. Leuk veld vond ik zelf. Ik ben er een weekje geweest en vond de handling uitstekend qua tanken, hangarage etc.

    Wat ik me afvraag is of jullie ook een soort nabespreking / debriefing doen van jullie avontuur. Als ik het zo lees zijn er best een aantal zaken geweest (weather, atc, terrain waar je lager zit dan gewenst, slechte grasbaan door nat weer) die anders uitkwamen dan verwacht. Het leuke van zo'n uitgebreid verslag is overigens ook dat als je het over een paar jaar weer leest, je tegen sommige zaken waarschijnlijk heel anders aan kijkt dan nu.

    Ik ben al benieuwd naar de volgende vlucht.. mooie verhalen!

    Leave a comment:


  • digits
    replied





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  • digits
    replied
    There was no hangar where we could put our airplane, so we were looking for a place to tie it securely down. The airport crew fixed this for us by knocking some metal rods in the ground, which allowed us to tie the plane down. The owner –probably aware of the stereotypical image the West-Europeans have about Romania- assured us there would be around the clock security. In the mean time, I used some tape to fill up some tiny holes in the border of the window since we already knew from previous trips that this airplane has some tiny leaks when flying through rain. After the plane was secure, the airport crew informed the car company that we arrived.

    A few minutes later, our rental car arrived on the airfield. The driver informed us that it was the last car they had available. It was the “company car”. We just had to pay attention to the steering wheel, because sometimes the power steering works, and sometimes it doesn’t. We felt safe already! Oh yes, and the GPS we ordered to find our way to Dracula’s Castle wasn’t available either. And of course there is no map in the car. Fun! After some advice (“there’s only one road to Brasov, and then follow direction of Bran”) the estimated distance was +- 160 km and the locals expected it would be a 3 hour drive. Double fun!

    Transylvanian Road Trip
    During the weeks before our departure, we heard all kind of horror stories about Romania and the Romanian roads. We were about to find out if those were true. After 10 minutes of rally riding through the small hilly roads around the airport, we entered the “main road” which we needed to follow for 140 kilometers. Apparently, farmers can take up the whole road with their cattle, so maneuvering between cows is a skill you better master before you decide to drive on the Romanian roads. We also passed some other farmers driving an old-fashioned horse (mule?) and cart. Every now and then we had to avoid the occasional giant hole in the road. The car itself made some funny noises every now and then but as long as it was still moving, we were happy.

    Since we were running a bit late, it would be a good idea to contact a possible hotel in advance and let them know we would be arriving around midnight. We did bring some addresses, but unfortunately, there were no phone numbers. Oops. Luckily, the people at home were still fully awake (one of the benefits of travelling with someone who just had a baby ), and managed to make some reservation in advance. One less thing to worry about.

    After a few hours driving, we started to get hungry and were looking for some decent looking restaurant. We already disapproved four restaurants, so we got a little less picky, when suddenly, in the middle of nowhere this nice looking restaurant appeared. The combination of us not speaking any Romanian at all, and the waitress only knowing a few words English made it a little complex to fully understand the menu. We ended up with some chicken and a messy dish of rice, spiced with the occasional mosquito. Food and drinks for 2 people: 10 Euros in total. Welcome to Romania!

    Our belly (at least partially) filled, our trip continued. We were approaching the big city (Brasov) were we had to take a right turn and continue to Bran. We tried recognizing some road on our VFR flying maps, but that didn’t work out very well. The GPS we brought should have contained maps of Romania, but apparently, it didn’t after all. We used our GPS as a compass, which allowed us to navigate using the flying maps. Driving roughly in the good direction –and being very nervous when the road made a curve-, we saw the first signs of “Bran”. A few kilometers later, those signs disappeared. A few lucky guesses and some friendly advice from some Romanians later, we finally saw our destination: Dracula’s Castle in Bran. Our hotel should have been “a 5 minute walk away from the castle”, and after a 10 minute drive we finally reached it.

    We checked in to our luxury suite, and checked the weather forecasts. Some chance for thunderstorms. It was going to be a difficult decision we would have to make the next morning.

    To be continued ...

    [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]

    -------------------------

    Pictures of the weather a few moments we landed & the parking space. As you can see, the weather improved again after our landing. In the background, the mountains we flew over are vaguely visible.




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  • digits
    replied
    Sibiu
    Five minutes before our approved flight plan time, we started the engine and taxied to the holding point of the opposite runway we landed on. No vibration of the nose wheel this time. We climbed to 3000 ft and started our trip under the few clouds, between the hills. In the beginning, we could just fly over every hill, but as our trip progressed, we started to navigate the valleys, so we could keep our altitude and stay clear of the scattered clouds. After an hour flight, our radio transmissions were getting a little difficult to understand, due to interference of the terrain. Switching frequencies a few times only helped so much. Fifteen minutes later we finally managed to contact Sibiu Tower, just as we were about to enter their airspace. Upon first contact the controller told us the one thing we didn’t want to hear: “For your information, there are heavy showers overhead the airfield and gusty winds”. No thunderstorms yet though. One quick discussion later, we decided to proceed and were hoping for the weather to improve.

    The closer we got to Sibiu airport –which was the controlled airport that was situated next to Magura airport, our actual destination-, the lower the clouds and the higher the terrain got. The controller seemed a bit anxious that we were in her airspace, and approaching from the west. This put us right into the extended centerline of the active runway. Still 10 NM out, and at 1000ft above ground level, that shouldn’t pose much of a problem we thought. One 360 –due to departing traffic- later, she gave us a heading directly south. Pretty soon, it turned out this was a problem at our current altitude. Flying at 3500 ft when you’re heading into 4000 ft mountains isn’t very healthy. “OO-ABC, request to climb due to terrain” was responded to with a “Negative, OO-ABC”. Strange. The mountains were getting really close now. With clouds at 4500 ft, terrain at 3500 ft and we somewhere at 4000 ft, the situation was getting worse every second and the heavy showers started to pour down now, which severly reduced our visibility. The mountains ahead of us were practically invisible now. Time to get in control of the situation and fly to our destination, which was behind the mountain ridge we were flying over. “OO-ABC, at 4000 ft, unable to climb higher due to clouds, heading directly towards Magura due to terrain. Descending to 3000 ft”. A little irritated and frightened, she replied “But then you’ll be on the same level as the IFR traffic !”. We found it hard to believe there would be IFR traffic at our current altitude south of the airport, especially since in the last half an hour we only heard one other traffic that had left to the north. Not having left a lot of options, our reply consisted of the one word that aviators all around the world just love to say. It gets you out any situation, while in the meantime indicating in a very polite yet decisive way that the discussion is over. “Roger”.

    We flew through the heavy showers for 5 minutes, when they suddenly stopped. The weather was calm. Clouds were around 2000 ft above ground level. We did not see or hear any other IFR traffic. Nor would we the rest of our flight. Time to find our destination. A small grass strip in an area covered with fields. It reminded me of my first international navigation during my PPL training, but the situation was different now. This time, we had a GPS on board. Due to the lack of navigation aids, and the terrain without any distinct features, this came in handy. The GPS didn’t know our destination airport, so we had to enter it manually. When we didn’t see the airport when we were only 2 NM out, we started to wonder. Did we enter the correct coordinates? Where the coordinates we received actually correct ? The plan was to follow the GPS just a little longer and see where we’d end up, keeping in mind that the international expensive airport of Sibiu was always a viable option to divert to. Suddenly, the silent radio started to speak again. In Dutch.

    “Dag Digits” //Translation: “Hello Digits”
    - “Hello Magura, we zijn aan jullie aan het zoeken” //Translation: “Hello Magura, we’re looking for you
    “Ge vliegt eigenlijk net boven ons” //Translation: “You’re actually flying right above us”
    - “Ah, oke, bedankt” //Translation: “Ah, okay, thanks!”
    […quick look around, high bank angles do come in handy sometimes…]
    - “Ja, we zien jullie. Break break. Sibiu Tower, OO-ABC has Magura airfield in sight, request to leave your frequency”
    *”OO-ABC cleared to leave the frequency, bye”


    This helpful voice was one of the owners of the Magura airfield, who helped us with the paperwork and the car rental in Romania. He was a Belgian guy who moved to Romania 20 years ago, and was very happy we paid his airfield a visit.

    The runway was 600 meter long and 18 meter wide, so we didn’t really worry about the landing. Until we joined the circuit for landing.

    “OO-ABC, middle of righthand downwind 33”
    - Magura dispatch: “Roger, we advise you to touch down between the threshold and the first white/red block, because there is a lot of water on the second half of the runway. Also, use the right half of the runway, the other half is in bad shape“
    “OO-ABC, euhm, roger”
    [few minutes later]
    - Magura dispatch: “Just to confirm: use the right half of the runway and touch before the white and red block due to water“
    “OO-ABC, we’ll land to the right and touchdown before the first red block”
    - Magura dispatch: “Thanks“
    [few minutes later]
    “OO-ABC, final 33”
    - Magura dispatch: “Cleared to land, wind is calm”

    Being used to the Belgium quality of airfields, we thought they were exaggerating a bit about the state of the runway. Nevertheless, we managed to pull of the smoothest landing of the trip, in the small designated touchdown square. As soon as our wheels touched down, we saw the first lightning strike north of the airfield. Just in time! We pulled the stick back the whole time during taxi to avoid damage to the nose wheel due to the bumping terrain. When we passed the first red/white block, the whole airplane got showered by a huge puddle of muddy water. I guess they didn’t exaggerate about the state of the airfield. On the left side of the runway, we could admire a flock of sheep. For a moment, we thought we were in Africa. Sheep on the active runway. It’s a bit different then the occasional bird strike of course. One very slow taxi later, we reached the parking place. Just a field of grass actually, in front of the tower, which was a blue painted shed with a big yellow C on it. We loved it immediately.

    As soon as we stopped the engine, it dawned upon me: we made it. Despite the bad weather forecast and the bumps along the road, we landed safely in Sibiu. We flew to Romania. Four years of trying and planning and starting all over finally paid off. Romania.

    To be continued ...

    [SIZE="1"]Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, loosely based on a true story. This is not an official report in any way. All rights reserved.[/SIZE]

    -------------------------

    Tiny hills


    Maneuvring throught the valleys


    Sibiu Magura Airport building
    Last edited by digits; 31-12-2010, 13:34.

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  • Immortal
    replied
    He cool verhaal, lijkt me een gaaf avontuur, ik wacht met spanning op de rest!

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