Month: April 2013

Croatia

It was my first time flying to Croatia, so I was quite excited to see how it would be. I’ve never really known much about Croatia other than war coverage in the 90s, so this was a good opportunity to learn a little!

We took off from UK and I took took the opportunity to fly manually for a while to keep up the proficiency in my handling skills. It’s so easy to be reliant on the autopilot all the times and gradually over time handling skills will degrade, so every now and then I fly a manual departure. Our route took us south towards Birmingham, passing London, over Germany, Austria and the finally to Croatia with a flying time of just over 2.5 hours. The approach was simple – a straight in ILS, so we were already lined up with the runway from the direction that we were coming in. The mountains were to the north with the Adriatic Sea to the south, giving us spectacular views.

Zadar, Croatia - looking out to the Adriatic Sea.
Zadar, Croatia – looking out to the Adriatic Sea.

The airport itself had a small terminal building and a small apron to match.  It had just recently rained, as it was damp, but the weather was mild and I could see the mountains in the distance as I did my walk-around.  On departure from Zadar, we were once again treated to spectacular views.

Zadar Airport, Croatia - Mountains in view!
Zadar Airport, Croatia – Mountains in view!

From Sunny to Rainy and back at over 400mph

Today’s day of flying gave me some gorgeous views.  We first hopped over to Ireland, which was a flight that took no more than 30 minutes.  Everything happened really quickly and only a few minutes after take off, we were already at cruising altitude, travelling at over 400mph over the Irish Sea inbound to Ireland.  The weather was cold, dull and it was raining, which gave us some indication of what we were to expect later on in the day back in UK!

The next trip was to Spain again, and this time it was a much longer flight of just over 2 hours, which gave me a little bit of time in cruise to catch my thoughts.  England was still in a state of generally good weather, with clear skies, though the temperature had dropped a little over the past few days, being only around 8ºC in the morning.  Our routing took us past Birmingham, west of London and then past the Isle of White. Halfway over France we were once again over cloud, obscuring the view of the ground below.

Isle of White on a clear day.
Isle of White on a clear day.

We soon approached the Pyrenees and today the cloud cover had diminished, affording us a superb view.  As usual, as soon as we had flown over the Pyrenees, the sky was clear and I could see a sharp ridge rise ahead in the distance, which we fly over on our descent towards Barcelona.

Pyrenees
Pyrenees

The turnaround in Barcelona took a little longer than expected due to an issue we had to deal with.  After managing to to calm down a passenger that had a fear of flying (which wasn’t the issue that actually caused a delay) and once we had a new flight plan, we were on our way!  On the way back to UK we got fantastic views of the northern coast of Spain, as we headed over the Bay of Biscay towards the Brest Peninsula, France.  On landing back in UK I said goodbye to the many appreciative passengers that disembarked and were quite happy with us getting them back to UK with minimal disruption despite the initial delay.  It always feels great to have your efforts appreciated with some genuine polite expressions of gratitude rather than the quick courtesy “thanks” one gives as you’re trying to get off as soon as you can!

Northern Spain
Northern Spain

 

Windy over Europe

The past few days have been quite windy over Europe, resulting in some disruption due to the necessary diversions.  Luckily, I was on my time off away from flying, so I wasn’t affected by any of it.  It looked like a strong low pressure system was moving across causing all this havoc!

My early shift began today, and though I usually find the sleeping pattern on the first day quite difficult to adjust to, I found it relatively easy this time.  I find a cup of green tea before work always sets me up nicely for the rest of the day!  Am I getting used to waking up at 4am for my flights?  Maybe, I don’t know!  I used to worry about trying to get to bed early, and tried all sorts of rituals in order to get myself to sleep early for the next day.  I found that worrying is just counterproductive and I end up not being able to sleep as a result, so now I just don’t think about it and manage to doze away quite easily!

Todays flights took us to France and then Barcelona, Spain.  The weather was mild in both locations, but slightly warmer in Barcelona at 19ºC, though it felt a little bit colder due to the breeze.  We ended up flying a procedural approach to both destinations since there was no radar support at the airport itself (though there was around in the surrounding area).  I find procedural approaches quite easy to plan for in terms of descent since the lateral path is defined, and so the track miles are defined.  With radar vectors it’s a bit of a game in trying to anticipate the controllers next move and heightened situational awareness is necessary.

Decent over UK, enjoying the sun whilst I can!
Decent over UK, enjoying the sun whilst I can!

The weather looks like it’s improving as we’re approaching Summer.. and soon we shall be avoiding thunderstorms and wrestling with thermals! Summer does bring its own challenges as well!

Enroute Rhodes

It’s been a while! I’ve been busy creating iOS apps – the latest additions being AirScape & Recipe Box.  I’m really enjoying iOS development and I suspect that it will keep me busy for quite a while yet (in addition to the flying)!  I had a great break away in March, and now I’m flying again this month.

The first duty I was rostered for was a flight to the Greek island of Rhodes, which is located in the eastern Aegean Sea, close to Turkey.  The route took us across Europe, passing the Alps, which were still rather snowy, owed to the cold weather we have still been experiencing.

Italian Alps
The Italian Alps. Still covered with snow.

Rhodes was a mild 18C and quite hazy – the first time I’ve seen it so.  I absolutely love the approach into Rhodes.  We approach the island from the west, passing the island of Kos on the way, and also many of the other Greek islands that are dotted around the sea.  The radar controllers then vector the aircraft parallel to the runway , bringing us over the town, which we have to be careful for since we are not supposed to descend below a certain altitude for noise considerations.  Then we are given a final heading to intercept the ILS for our final approach to the runway.  The view is amazing and the water looks absolutely gorgeous – a beautiful aqua colour that just makes you want to dive in after you’ve landed!  What a treat for the passengers!

Greek Islands
Greek Islands