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Fly-in to La Cerdanya / Andorra LECD/LESU 16 October 2021

Ibra wrote:

PS: you may still want to tell ATC you will be sitting in SID for 80min to hit FL120 on departure !



Airborne_Again wrote:

Like you, I have heard that ATC expects at least ±500 fpm

I’ve heard the same from an FI and would be really interested in the corresponding regulation – if it exists.

I’ve only once been contacted by a controller upon trying to reach FL140 in a NA plane, where really it was like 50fpm in the end. But she was only asking if I preferred a lower FL It took me something like 50 minutes to get there.

Last Edited by UdoR at 18 Oct 12:21

beats me why you guys insist on playing airliner in ill equipped flying machines, even in perfect VMC, and miss:
A/ the physical flying, as in wiggling the stick and feeling the machine
B/ the fantastic ever changing 3D bird view that is afforded
C/ the freedom to alter course, speed, altitude, ROC or ROD, at will, for whatever reason

Example given, yesterday, en route direction Pampelona, 10 minutes after departure, this view instead of perusing an SID plate or the airways charts whilst on the A/P

Life's short... enjoy!
LSZF, Switzerland

I am sure we were all hand flying in that terrain

Right decision to come back yesterday instead of today

EGKA 181350Z 20012KT 8000 -RADZ BKN009 17/15 Q1016 was spot on, from a few days back.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

yep, gotta say Windy has become very useable. I had a look when it come out a couple of years ago, and was not impressed. Taking the time to acquainted with the app helps for sure, and I think the program now offers amazing and precise actual (easy…) and forecast weather. And LESU reports sct clouds and a summerly 22°C as I write

Life's short... enjoy!
LSZF, Switzerland

I did a report on LESU here

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Fuller post to follow and airport reports for the DB of course, but my routing was EGTR LFQB LFMT (overnight) LFMU (to meet up) LESU (overnight) LFMT (overnight) LFLA LFAT EGTR.

Now I have better fuel burn and cruise speed figures I can plan a bit more accurately next time

Elstree, United Kingdom

Another report preview as I’m off on the family holiday for which i had my “must return” date.

Regarding terrain around LESU I arrived via the Med coast, crossing the FIR boundary at VEVUT. I’d followed.the coast down from LFMU at 1000 and asked for a climb.passing Perpignan. This was granted reasonably quickly and combined with a 360 took me up to 4500. Bit bumpy at that high so Girona was happy for me to go up to 6000 where I sat for most of my route in from the south.

On the way back I routed ENE via LECD and LFYS. Flew at 9500 and I think I was at least 3000ft over the valley and no lower than anything within 5 miles.

There’s also a route out the NW but I didn’t take it. I think it would have been absolutely fine, but at that point I just wanted to come back the way I’d planned rather than spending any more time looking at the AIP and figuring out where I could get fuel on a Sunday in France!

I am a glider pilot so probably more aware of the weather effects, but with nil wind the only thing I noticed were some bumps from thermals. On the way back in the UK I did manage to get +10kts following the ridge lift towards Rochester though :-)

Elstree, United Kingdom

OK, here we go, with some pics from the Andorra trip.

Originally, 2018, it was to be to La Cerdanya LECD. That one got cancelled due to bad wx. When we started looking at it again in 2021, it was LECD or LESU, with LESU much closer to Andorra, and there was a clear preference (among those likely to turn up) for a trip to Andorra, so LESU was decided on. LECD (see notes earlier in this thread) is currently stuck in local politics and has no fuel.

Nice wx on the way down, Friday, with a bit of tailwind too

It was known from the start that Monday was likely to be difficult wx at the UK end

and a decision would be made on Saturday on when to fly back. Tuesday onwards was even worse…

Shoreham departure. We got a massive CTOT due to a French ATC strike (I seem to hit strikes in France on roughly 25% of flights there). This killed the whole trip because (as posted further back) the Spanish close LESU for an hour or so around a commercial movement, so there was just a 1-2hr slot on that day during which we could land. This is actually flexible – they don’t close the airport once the said plane has landed – but they can’t tell you that officially. With a customs stop at Beziers, and a fill-up in case the LESU pump was broken or empty (also common in Spain IME), we could not waste 1hr. So, I did the old trick and departed VFR, 5000ft, OCAS, disregarding the filed IFR flight plan, flew to France at 5000ft, and once in contact with Paris Info (still in UK airspace) got an IFR clearance on the filed FP and nobody gave a damn about the CTOT

5000ft and VMC on top. Nice.

After clearing N France, things start to get scenic

Flying past the Massif Central, FL100

Beziers city

Final on the RNP IAP. There was a bit of cloud around so this was sensible

A quick refuel

3 of us there at the same time. Emir, Winston and us

Then we got another French strike CTOT – this time only 30 mins and not a problem. So we departed IFR, all proper. Departing straight to La Seu LESU; a 1hr flight. The alternate was Beziers

Not sure I’d want to swim in whatever is in that lake

The Pyrenees are a lot more rugged than the Alps, with far fewer engine-out options

I bet there is some good hard-core black-run skiing here (not my level unfortunately)

Andora town (La Vella)

La Seu LESU from FL140

Comms were lost with Barcelona halfway. Fairly obviously you do what you like in the mountains and nobody cares

We flew the RNP03 IAP in VMC (IFR cancelled) but near the end of it we were asked by LESU tower to turn right of track to make room for a departing aircraft from 21 which was heading up the same canyon

Left downwind for 21

Left base

At the pump. LESU is actually a super airport. Everyone was friendly. Everything worked. It looks all brand new, clean and perfect…

Not one of our group but I bet he (she?) could tell some stories

La Vella (a €50 / 30 mins taxi from LESU) is a huge shopping mall, although with some good stuff.

There are lots of buses to the various villages. The area is very scenic and well worth exploring. We did some bus rides and some walks

The wx on the day of planned departure was getting worse at the UK end so we departed after just 2 nights. It could have been done as planned but with OVC009 at Shoreham it would have been right on the limit, so the decision to go a day early was spot on. (ECMWF) was accurate. Nice morning at LESU, with our crowd still mostly there

Aart showing off his brand new hardware, pretending to just be doing a preflight

This one will need a bit of WD40

Loading up all our junk

Departing on 03. Nobody in the tower, so blind calls, then a climb up and trying to raise Barcelona at maybe FL100

Right turn to the south initially. The TB20 could, marginally, climb straight to the north, but with just 4hrs to home there was no need to save fuel

This is the valley which you fly in and out through

We didn’t fly all the way south as planned because it was soon obvious that a right turn and going north would have a good obstacle clearance. Radio comms were difficult. Barcelona initially told us to get stuffed (busy with big planes) then gave us a squawk, then said at FL130 we are too high for VFR, max FL125, so we said 125 is too close to the terrain, so they said FL140 is OK (as filed) and then lost contact…

Some snow

The Pyrenees end suddenly. Toulouse told us were were IFR all along, with the right Eurocontrol-issued squawk This is France; fields and thousands more fields, so descending FL100 for the rest of the flight

The famous Dordogne river

A brilliant adventure, but no place like home

This was one of the best fly-ins ever. A super group of people, very interesting and nice to meet characters. Well, in the end, after most of those originally in the telegram group just bizzarely sat there silently, not saying if they are coming or not (disrespectful to Aart the organiser; I felt sorry for him) and of course not turning up. This is why the type-specific fly-ins (e.g. Cirrus) take some €200 off each arrival, to get “commitment”. We don’t do that… We had a super dinner at the Novotel hotel; a €20 buffet with loads of choice including healthy stuff, not noisy, lots of space, no booking issues. Some of us did buses and walking around. The airport is a really great destination, and despite the “aircraft carrier” appearance is dead easy to fly to/from (just add 1000ft to the 2600ft elevation for the circuit, in the usual way ) You need to reach some 6000ft to get through that pass to the south. Winston made it there from the UK in a C172 and it was his first flight abroad – a remarkable achievement which put to shame those who dropped out despite having vastly superior hardware In fact he landed before us, despite departing Beziers at the same time… my excuse is that we flew the whole 40nm IAP because I wanted to get it on the camera

Beziers was a great refuel/police choice. Very quick, and 1hr was enough. Would have been quicker except for two Ryanairs sitting there. 24hr PN for Brits but that is normal in France, with Le Touquet being one great exception. I also planned Perpignan but their comms were rather random, and it is 48hr PN (!) for weekend movements. How much time do French police need?? Montpellier is another known-good place in the same area.

I ended up with 5GB of stills and ~200GB of HD video which I can edit sometime… The entire trip just fitted onto the one 250GB SD card. It’s been raining here almost nonstop. I barely got time for some mountain bike rides… so not a bad time for video editing

Thanks go to those who made the effort to turn up and make it such a good meet-up, to Aart for organising it, and to Antonio for sorting out so much local stuff but then being unable to go there.

Regarding coronavirus: no problems in France, Spain or Andorra with everyone now being dual-vacced. The paper printout of the vacc certificate is the best thing to carry. It was not asked for anywhere in the town but masks were worn indoors quite diligently.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I definitely agree with Peter – it was really great fly-in. We were lucky to stay one day longer enjoying nice (and exhausting) hike of 20 km and 1000 m altitude gain but it was incredible to see well maintained mountain paths with carefully set fences and chains wherever close to dangerous cliffs. The buses are superb, leading practically to every corner of the country and enabling you to visit spectacular nature sites.

Regarding flying I don’t have much to add except f.ckedup interesting departure. I filed Y plan (flying to VFR field in Slovenia LJBL) and after startup AFIS informed me that IFR departures are allowed only to commercial operations. He asked me to submit new plan and, thinking it would be easier, I asked him whether he could just change departure leaving the rest of the plan untouched. He confirmed and minutes later cleared us for taxi and departure on our discretion reporting nearby traffic. We departed towards south and at S2 contacted Barcelona. ATC was clueless about our flight plan and asked us to which altitude we wanted to climb. They cleared us to visually climb to FL150 at current heading and to hold.

After few orbits they informed us that we were on V plan and that we had to descend to FL115 continuing visually towards Marseille. To make long story short we had to explain to each following sector what had happened and to negotiate route and altitude. The final result was quite good with just 3 altitude changes, pretty much direct route and some 20 min of delay due to holdings (at the beginning and at the end) and flying at lower altitude. At the end it was my longest VFR flight ever with 4:20 in the air.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia
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