Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 8 – Brac, Croatia

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This would be the shorter of our two flights today, but just as interesting. We would depart Tivat VFR and fly up the Adriatic coast to land at Brac, both to refuel and re-enter the European Union.

I had previously checked with Brac operations that we could land, refuel and complete immigration there, and received a prompt reply. There was no need to send a GENDEC in advance. The only issue was that the tower wouldn’t be manned but I didn’t see that as a problem. I filed a VFR flight plan through SkyDemon and emailed Tivat operations to confirm our schedule.

We arrived in good time at Tivat airport which was already bustling with tourists queuing up for their flight home. The check-in desks were almost empty, but the line for security had built up considerably. We reported at the Information desk where someone from Operations escorted us directly through security and then a colleague drove us in a minibus to our aircraft. He returned a few minutes later with an invoice for the landing/handling fees and accepted payment by card machine on the spot, then left me to it. We watched while an airliner landed and taxied in.

I was on time when I called for startup. ATC gave me my VFR departure clearance prior to taxi, which was to turn left after departure and fly to VFR reporting point VESLO at 1,000 feet. This is what is stated in the AIP for VFR outbound flights. Nonetheless, given that the terrain is over 500 feet, you really are quite close to the ground. I taxied towards the hold for power checks and was asked if I could be airborne in 3 minutes because two airliners were inbound shortly. I said yes, thinking I could always change my mind if I felt rushed, and was particularly measured in running through the checklist thoroughly before confirming ready for departure. Nonetheless, in my haste, I overlooked entering the squawk code given in my departure clearance. This was quickly resolved after take-off when pointed out by ATC.

Exit route via VESLO and KONUV as per AIP, then F2 just outside the Dubrovnik CTR
For some reason, SkyDemon showed a red IFR status at Tivat which definitely wasn’t the case.

We backtracked and departed with that early turn to the west, with the Garmin Aero again complaining about terrain. Once well clear, we were routed up the coast and handed over to Dubrovnik tower. They routed us to VFR point F2 and kept us at 1,000 feet – it felt a bit like Nice, France where they treat you similarly, keeping you low down and well clear of the airliner traffic. As we got closer to F2, I asked for a climb and was handed over to Approach who authorised that and our route direct to destination.

Approaching VESLO
Approaching VESLO at 1,000 feet above sea level – the terrain isn’t far below
Dubrovnik
Korčula
The mountain below on Korčula created a little turbulence

There really wasn’t much else of significance during the flight. The winds seemed fairly benign, but as we crossed over one island there was some mountain turbulence. Split Radar handled us until within about 10 or 15 miles from Brac, when we switched to the airport frequency and made blind traffic announcements of position and intentions (in English).

The white track mark ahead of our aircraft is calibrated for two, five and ten minutes ahead
With the high mountain directly ahead, we were prepared for some turbulence five minutes later

Brac airfield is 1700 feet above sea level perched on top of a cliff. I had the METAR from Split Airport close by, and the wind was similarly a little more than 10 knots but pretty much straight down the runway. It was tricky judging the descent profile, and I slightly overshot the base turn on to final, but all worked out well in the end.

Approaching Brac on a high, wide right base
Brac airport is at the top of the cliff in the centre of the picture
Final, with the village of Bol below

At the runway exit, a follow-me car was waiting. The groundcrew held up a sign asking if we wanted fuel, and I probably could have replied on the radio (I think they can listen but not talk). Instead I indicated a thumbs up, so off to the fuel station we went.

The fuel price there was similar to my home base at Gloucester, UK, so we refuelled to full.

Refuelling. Afterwards, the staff helped push back the aircraft manually to a parking spot.
Fuel station is at the far end of the apron.

We next went to pay the landing fee invoice, which was discounted by 25% as I am an AOPA member (and able to show my card). Then on through immigration, which is currently manned here during airport opening hours.

Modern terminal building

There is an airport cafe which has both indoor and outdoor seating but is fairly basic – hot drinks, alcoholic beverages, ice creams etc. – and provides a useful break.

We were disappointed not to have time to stay for at least one day and explore the island, but the weather window for our next leg looked so perfect that I felt we had to press on.

Cafe/Bar

On departure, we had to go through a full security scan as for any larger airport, then walk back to the aircraft to preflight and depart at our own pace.

Video

A slightly speeded up and compressed 30 minute video of this scenic flight below

Tivat to Brac

PIC this flight: 1:15

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