Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 10 – Alpine valleys, Chateauroux, France and home

Today started off with the most amazing views of the whole trip, as we climbed up through the Alpine valleys past Mont Blanc. It would be a full day of travelling, landing in France to clear immigration/customs and then back home to Gloucester. I looked at various options including making two stops including one nearer the French north coast, and another landing in the Channel Islands for cheap fuel. The

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 9 – Aosta, Italy

This would be our longest single flight, crossing the entire coastline of Croatia, then the width of Italy and finally descending into an Alpine valley to land close by the major ski areas. Flight planning a VFR flight through the morass of Danger Areas, Restricted Areas and controlled airspace would have been difficult. So instead, I filed IFR and let the professionals do the hard work. We didn’t fly through

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 8 – Brac, Croatia

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

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 7 – Tivat, Montenegro

Today’s flight had the Garmin Aero announcer going completely nuts. TERRAIN, TERRAIN, PULL UP, PULL UP. And this was before we had even got to final. It’s a six-hour drive by car from Ohrid, North Macedonia through Albania to Tivat, Montenegro. We could cover the same ground in less than an hour by plane, although we did have to climb up to 8,500 feet to get over the mountain ridges.

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 6 – Ohrid, North Macedonia

Another VFR flight today, but across very interesting terrain, crossing a timezone and then another entire country, as we flew from Plovdiv in Bulgaria to Ohrid in the south-western corner of North Macedonia. This was arguably the one of the highlights of the trip. A bonus feature is video of the final approach. Planning for this flight involved a few surprises despite careful research. North Macedonia isn’t in the EU,

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 5 – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Today’s flight was from Cluj-Napoca, Romania south to Plovdiv, Bulgaria. I had not realised before just how much larger Romania is than many of its neighbouring countries. Nor had I been aware of the high mountain ranges we needed to cross heading south. Bad weather in Bulgaria prevented us from spending as much time as originally planned there, but I think we made the right decision to enjoy the sunshine

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 4 – Arad and Cluj, Romania

A very short and straightforward VFR flight today, crossing the border from Hungary to Arad in Romania. Now that both countries are in the Schengen area, border controls shouldn’t apply. However, this is a fairly recent development and applies only to airports at this stage. I was told that the border agencies do keep an eye on movements, and if they wanted to inspect our flight then they would already

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 3 – Szeged, Hungary

Today we made a shorter one-hour flight across Hungary to Szeged. I had previously checked they would be open on May 1st bank holiday and that they had AVGAS. A NOTAM check the day before further clarified that the hard runway would be closed for a motorcycling competition, leaving the 1100m grass runway available. A flight plan is not necessary for internal flights in most countries but I thought it

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 2 – Piešťany, Slovakia & Gyor-Per, Hungary

The original plan for today was to fly across the width of the Czech Republic to Slovakia, staying overnight in Piestany. We did land there but continued on into the north of Hungary, landing at Gyor-Per. We refuelled before departure from Karlovy Vary. The AVGAS bowser comes to the aircraft, you then walk back to the terminal and pay. I normally try to refuel on arrival, but that wasn’t possible

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Balkan Tour 2024 – Part 1 – Karlovy Vary

After our successful Baltic tour last year, I booked our TB20 aircraft share for a similar two week holiday with my wife again this year. Various directions were possible – Europe has so much to offer – and I sketched out a rough route through the Balkans including Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Montegro and Croatia. These were all new countries for CORB, and me as a pilot, although I

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