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Balearic Islands and Valencia

By user terbang

We decided to take a part of our annual leave in May and spend two weeks on the Balearic Islands. This may not be the most spectacular trip one could make, but as it involves some popular tourist destinations, I take it as the opportunity for the first write-up here on EuroGA.

So here is the route we took: Mannheim (EDFM) – Rodez (LFCR) – Menorca (LESL) – Mallorca (LESB) – Ibiza (LEIB) – Valencia (LEVC) – Mannheim (EDFM)

We used Béziers (LFMU) as a fuel stop several times on previous trips and were happy. However, this time the TAF promised 26G38 right across the runway, so we looked for some other place. We chose Rodez (LFCR). It was still windy there but directly down the runway. We chose to fly level 120 from our home base Mannheim (EDFM) to southern Frane.

Approaching Rodez (LFCR), where we had to descend on the racetrack procedure and we found this nice landscape when we came out of the clouds:

Rodez proved to be a convenient fuel stop as well. It took us half an hour to be airborne again. Fuel price was slightly higher than what we payed in Perpignan a couple of weeks before, but there was no landing fee (maybe 3€, invoice maybe by mail…). There is a long runway here with precision approaches in both directions.

The next uneventful leg took us in FL150 to our first destination, San Luis (LESL) on the island of Menorca. This is close to the French/Spanish border:

And here we’re approaching Menorca:

LESL is located in the CTR of LEMH, the frequencies of that AD have to be used in LESL and there are no plates of LESL. The runway is quite long and in reasonable shape. There are no fees, no security control but also no avgas.

We approached the island from the north and ATC instructed us to enter the CTR via W once we canceled IFR and thereafter cross LEMH midfield not above 1000 ft. This looked like this:

Wind was variable 9kt, so we took the southerly direction for our approach, which afforded nice views of Mahón:

We arrived on a Saturday and there were a couple of aircraft on the apron, it was deserted when we left on Monday. The friendly guy at the bar called a taxi which took us to the main Terminal for about 10€. All the rental car companies are present there and ready to rip you off.

Menorca is a pretty place but there is not as much to see and do as on the other Balearic islands. Unless you have a special interest in the ancient Talayotic culture two days/three nights are plenty for a visit. As I had never heard of the Talayotic culture before our visit, we left after three nights.

Here are some Talayotic remnants. Neither general aviation nor EuroGa was invented, so they had plenty of time to play around with huge stones. Apparently the guys in Stonehenge had similar problems, to an even greater extend :-)

This is Ciutadella, at the Western tip of the island:

Our next destination was Son Bonet (LESB) on Mallorca. As this was a leg from an uncontrolled AD to an uncontrolled AD of only a little more than half an hour we filed VFR.

VFR in Spain means usually 1000ft AGL or below and our flight was no exception. We crossed LEMH midfield again and from there it was almost a straight line to the final approach of LESB. ATC keeps a close look at you but except for the lady in LEMH their English was good and they were friendly.

South coast of Menorca:

Final approach LESB, Palma is to the right of the extended center line:

LESB has a long runway again and there is fuel, but we didn’t need to refuel. However, it is not a cheap place. They ask 15€ per day for parking in low season and 35€ in high season. So eight days there cost us 150€. A taxi was about 20€ to the large airport. Again the usual suspects are there, renting out cars.

Mallorca is a mountainous island and very popular for cycling. Others come for hiking and we had our hiking boots with us, as well.

This is during the ascent to Puig de Masanella, at 1364m the island’s highest accessible peak (Puig Major is a bit higher but it’s occupied by the Ejercito del AIre, the Spanish Air Force):

And on the summit:

This is a view we had while hiking in the east of the island:

And this as well:

However, most people (mainly Germans, Brits and Scandinavians) come to Malle, as it is known to my fellow Germans to get sunburnt and drink insane quantities of alcohol. They prefer to do this near Palma, in S’Arenal. This is a detail of a map we found there:

The seaside resort service is actually a booth with unlimited supplies of cold drinks. Apparently it translates to Ballermann in German and looks like this:

After a week we left for Ibiza and filed VFR again (see below), what means 1000ft AGL again. It was a bit cloudy that day, here is the western tip of Mallorca:

And here the northeastern tip of Ibiza:

There is only one aerodrome on Ibiza, LEIB. The Spanish AIP states that you need a handling agent in LEIB whenever you arrive of depart IFR. Otherwise the airport provides transportation to/from your parking position. According to reports on the internet handling fees are steep, so we decided to do it VFR (Z-FPL is OK, see below). It is a very busy place, with lots of airline and private jet traffic. However, we didn’t have to wait, neither on arrival nor on departure, but we might have been lucky. They charge about 8€ for parking per day and another 25€ for landing etc. So we ended up with ca. 50€ for three days. Again, we didn’t have to refuel, but there is avgas. Rental car companies are the airport, so no need to take a taxi.

They asked us to fly a tight base as there were two jets waiting:

Ibiza’s economy is totally dominated by the tourism industry, much more than Menorca and even more than Mallorca. There is no agriculture anymore on Ibiza, more money can be made in the tourist trade. Most people come for beaching and clubbing. However, it’s for a reason that so many come to Ibiza, the island is very scenic:

This is the view we had from the place we stayed for two nights:

Neither are we much into beaching nor into clubbing, so we left for Valencia after three nights. We filed a Z-FPL and took a scenic flight around Formentera before we returned to the continent:

This is how it looks from above:

We crossed LEIB CTR midfield and asked for IFR pick-up near San Antonio on the north coast of Ibiza. All worked smoothly. This is San Antonio, which – according to our guide book – is as Spanish as bangers and mash. In fact I had a full breakfast there, complete with HP-Sauce :-)

We have been to many Spanish cities, but Valencia was missing on the list, so this was our last destination. I wasn’t able to find a GA friendly aerodrome in any reasonable distance so we had to go to Valencia’s main airport LEVC.

LEVC is slot coordinated and contracting a handling agent is mandatory. We asked all the agents listed in the AIP to send a quote. Swissport received good reviews on the internet, however they were 10€ more than EuraServices and on the phone the guy from Swissport recommended them. So we went with EuraServices. They asked 126€ plus tax and we ended up paying 210€ for two nights. We had to refuel which was quite expensive as well. The subway takes you from the main terminal to the city but it’s not very wise to take it. The ride is 4,40€ per person and takes almost an hour. On the way back we took a taxi which did it in 15 minutes and cost 12€.

Short final 12 in LEVC:

Valencia is well worth a visit but it’s not as good as the Andalusian cities I like a lot, let alone Barcelona. There are many bars and restaurants and the atmosphere is pleasant. This is the cathedral:

Calatrava is from Valencia and there are many of his buildings:

The next day our vacation was over and we headed back to Mannheim. It turned out to be a long flight due to unfavorable winds.

After departure from 12:

Unfortunately the clouds closed to an undercast from the Pyrenees, so this is the last picture: