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A mini trip report. Uk to Israel (well almost). Part II - the way home.

I recently posted a small report on our trip from the UK to Cyprus (our waystation for a commercial flight to Tel Aviv). That trip was an eye-opener in that it taught me not to avoid the terra incognita_ of Eastern Europe, but to embrace it as a way to avoid the well know problems of Greece if headed for the eastern Med.

Well, we had a terrific five days in Jerusalem and I can only say that we were even more blown away by the energy of the Israeli people and the wonders of the old city of Jerusalem than we had expected. Then it was time to figure out a way to get home.

We flew out of Tel Aviv on the very short hop to Larnaca on Friday afternoon. My wife had made the adventurous suggestion that we use Friday evening to make a head start on our trip home by flying from Larnaca to Rhodes in Greece right away. This would mean both getting through Larnaca very quickly (1.15 from El Al touchdown to N380KC off the block and also a very rare night flight for us, and over the mediterranean to boot. Larnaca BTW is a huge and VERY busy commercial airport.

As we knew we would need a quick transit through Larnaca we had decided to wear our crew shirts, epaulettes and crew cards through Tel Aviv to be ready for the onward GA flight in Cyprus. We have learned that wearing these outfits anywhere in the S and E of Europe is incredibly useful. This proved to be a great blessing in Tel Aviv as we were ushered through security quickly. On arriving at Larnaca we were met at the commercial terminal by Criton of our handling agent Spiros of Airmotive. We would have been completely lost without him. Our luggage went one way through dedicated screening channels to reappear mysteriously at our plane 2 km away and we passed through various strange doors and talked to various officials and then were whisked off in the Airmotive car to the GA ramp at the far end of the airport. Spiros had already prepared all of the fees into one handy invoice. He had also had the plane fuelled, and done a couple of small maintenance things for us. Larnaca fees were as follows:

  • Landing E34
  • Parking E390 ( yes it is expensive, but the fact that we were technically ‘in maintenance’ for a period allowed Spiros to bring this element down from an even higher amount.
  • Ramp Transport E30
  • Jet A E2.09 / litre
  • Handling E150 (a bargain under the complex and challenging circumstances, and a small fraction of what the ‘big guy’ charges there. I could not have been more pleased with Spiros, and a big thanks to @Luis on this forum for the introduction.

First Leg – LCLK Larnaca to LGRP Rhodes. First question was would we be able to get permission to land and park at Rhodes. I contacted Goldair Handling at Rhodes who said yes we could land but that parking overnight was out of the question, per airport management. A lot of pleading later, citing the end of the tourist season and the airport relented. Also, surprised to learn that Rhodes as a 24 hour airport. We took off from Larnaca for the 1.30 flight just as the sun dipped below the horizon. As well as being my first true night flight in a couple of years the gods decided to throw a couple of curve balls at us. Firstly, half way into the climb we lost GPS signals on both boxes. For a panicky minute or two I considered turning back, then remembered reading that GPS outages around Cyprus are not unknown (military jamming? Russians?). ATC confirmed this and agreed to give me vectors. I also fired up the trusty VOR receiver and tuned into the Paphos beacon on the far west end of the island as back up. Hadn’t needed to use a VOR in anger for en-route navigation for many a long year! The GPS signal didn’t restore until about well over 30 minutes into the flight, by which time it was pitch black outside, with only a tiny crescent new moon visible. At this point my backup attitude indicator decided to fall off the perch, which really did piss me off, leaving me completely at the mercy of only the PFDs. It was therefore a great relief to be switched over to Rhodes approach get vectors for the RWY 24 ILS. I find getting the flare just right on black nights is quite a challenge, but this night was an exception and it was a great relief to be able to shut down, get a taxi into the old city and a couple of beers and a grilled fish into us.

As others have noted, Rhodes old city is a marvel. Especially at 7am before all the normal tourists wakeup.

Second Leg – LGRP Rhodes to LDSB Brac and LSGS Sion. By now in my flying career I have been through quite a few commercial airports in GA. But Rhodes was one of the most frustrating. In total it took over an hour to get to the plane, with our handling person taking us up long flights of stairs to pay airport fees in one place, along long corridors to a 1960’s style smoke filled room to pay handling and through many strange doors to get to the bus and to our plane. Then another long wait for fuel, which out us past our FPL time. Costs in Rhodes (Fraport BTW):

  • Landing and overnight parking (1.97 tonnes) E74.40 inc VAT
  • Handling/transport etc E104
  • Jet A E2.28 / litre

BTW, here is the ramp space that is available for GA/private aviation at Rhodes, all along the right side. You can see how busy it is and why the airport was so reluctant to allow me to have overnight parking. It is well over 500m end to end. Perhaps our friends at AOPA Greece can add this to the list of greivances.

We had originally wanted fly back via Serbia, based on recommendations on this forum and to continue our E Europe theme. But it proved impossible to get a routing that would at the altitude we needed. We had some terrific help from various forum members, but couldn’t get them implemented in time, so we took the easy way out and decided to make our first visit to Brac, LDSB. But I am working on getting a bug fixed with Eurocontrol, thanks to this input, which should improve matters in the future. Anyway, it was a beautiful day to fly, across the Agean Islands such as Mykonos, past Athens, the Corinth canal and over Corfu. Below is a shot from finals onto the ‘aircraft carrier’. I recalled reading about @Peter finding a footpath from the runway straight down to Bol 1700 fty below and indeed there it was, clearly visible on short finals, angling down steeply to the left. I hope you didn’t walk up too Peter!

Many others have talked about the marvels of Brac airport. Suffice it to say it is now our second fave in Europe after Mali Losinj. Fuel E1.60/litre and airport fees for a tech stop of E54. Cant wait to go back.

The last fight of the day was a 2 hour leg to Sion, LSGS. The interesting aspect of this flight was to see how far we could push the Italian controllers for a shortcut. The normal FPL route goes well to the west of Sion on the S side of Mt Blanc, then north and back east. I was surprised, when about over Milan, to be granted direct to Sion at FL210, which cuts out about 50 nm off the route, with further descents in towards the Simplon Pass still under IFR, before finally cancelling IFR at FL 160 and being handed over to GVA info at the pass. This was a degree of flexibility that I did not expect.

Thats it for this report. The last leg back to the UK is not of note. But thanks again to everyone on this forum for suggestions and help.

Last Edited by Buckerfan at 30 Oct 10:35
Upper Harford private strip UK, near EGBJ, United Kingdom

Sounds wonderful

I went to Rhodes in 2015 with Justine; we have a lovely time there. But that was by airline… I flew over it from Kastelorizo and probably over the same route as you flew, over all the lovely islands. I got a video of that flight. Starting at 0400 UTC and the sunrise, one of the most memorable flights I’ve ever done.

Brac is one of the two jewels in the Adriatic. I hope we don’t lose either of them when Croatia joins schengen, because they close too early to do an intermediate stop. No; I would not have wanted to walk UP that path

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
2 Posts
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