On Thursday evening, for the first time in the Slovak airspace, another paratrooper Cessna 182 E appeared. It will serve the needs of the “paragons” mainly at the home airfield under Poľana, in Očová. The Padaj.sk parachute group hereby expands its squadron with a second Cessna aircraft of the same type from the most well-known and proven American manufacturer of small sport aircraft in the world.
The flight of the plane for the Očov skydiving group was provided by our joint partner flight school Sky Story ATO with its pilot and instructor in one person, Andrej Zelem. The Cessna took off from its previous location at Lezignan-Corbieres Airport (LFMZ) in the Aude department in the south of France in the early hours of Thursday. After two stopovers along the flight path in Albenga Riviera, Italy (LIMG) and Maribor, Slovenia (LJMB) for refuelling and necessary servicing, she landed at Očová Airport (LZOC) on Thursday, May nineteenth, shortly after eighteen o’clock our time, after seven hours and twenty minutes of flight time.
The “hundred and eight” as we familiarly call this type so far bears the original F-BKRA matriculation markings from its previous location. According to the available information, the aircraft was manufactured in 1962 in the United States of America under serial number c/n 18254163.
Andrej Zelem, pilot of the aircraft, briefly evaluated the flight and the experience directly from the deck for letectvosr.sk.
“We travelled to France one and a half days in advance before the actual implementation of the flyover, because the journey was quite long and my work duties between my work in Egypt and Sudan did not allow me to devote more time to the organization of the flyover. I did the flight preparation only at the last minute, which is not typical for me. We flew from Budapest to Marseille with Ryanair, used the train service for transfers in France and on the last leg of our journey to the departure airport we travelled in a small two-seater car. And since there were three of us with the driver, I was placed in the trunk for the final part of the trip. Among other things, I used the wrong ICAO code for the departure airport for the first flight route, which I only found out during the transfer, and so the whole preparation was useless for me and I had to plan all over again, from the departure point 350km further inland. We had planned to fly along the coast of France via Montpellier, Marseille, Saint Tropez, Cannes, Nice and fly over the most exposed areas, where there are no VFR flight paths at a level that would suit us. The question was how to put it in the flight plan so that they could approve it. The first problem after our arrival at the airport was that the plane was not fueled, fuel was not available until 8am and the whole plan to leave at sunrise was unrealistic. The second problem arose when we learned in the memo about the current unavailability of AVGAS fuel at the airport of our first stopover. There was a promise of fuel, but no one in charge could actually confirm or deny whether or not fuel would be available. This information did not allow us to plan further flight towards Slovakia before landing at Albenga Riviera airport. Our first flight was approved as planned, we climbed level 095 in pleasant weather after takeoff and continued up the coast to the French border. We flew into Italian airspace and for our first stopover we used a small but very interesting airport in a valley between high hills with charming surrounding scenery that accompanied us throughout the approach to land. There we learned that AVGAS fuel was available, but only in a limited quantity of 100 litres, which theoretically, after recalculation, should be enough to fly us to Maribor in Slovenia, our next planned stop. The flight was calculated to take three hours, and we had fuel in the tanks with a reserve of four hours and fifteen minutes of flight time. At the same time, we submitted a flight plan for a flight from Maribor via Hungary to Nitra, which was our original intention, with the possibility of cancelling it during the flight and heading directly home to the Očová airport, which we did. We flew over Italy at 7,500 feet and later had to descend to 4,500 feet due to airspace considerations. In most cases we managed to shorten the flight in agreement with the air traffic controllers, except in the north of Italy, where they strictly demanded to observe VFR points outside the approved flight plan. Throughout the flight we checked the fuel gauges hoping they were showing the correct amounts of fuel in the tanks.”
” Among such interesting facts, during the flight in France we had to verify the correctness of the flight plan submission, define the take-off time and confirm that the flight plan would be activated on the Montpellier info frequency after take-off via the phone line before releasing the flight plan. We had a very similar scenario with flight plan filing and activation in Italy. We had luxurious weather for the whole length of the trip. CAVOK, sunny with minimal clouds around, just beautiful. In Maribor it was a snap, in thirty minutes we were equipped, fueled up. After landing, a tanker with the ordered fuel was waiting for us, we refuelled, filled in the necessary documents and taxied to take off. The last part of the route was like a reward. Having mastered the most challenging and congested airspace in France and Italy, flying across Hungary on a straight line to our home felt like a sightseeing trip. At the Xomba point on the Slovak border we cancelled the flight plan, re-evaluated the information and continued via Sierra Lima Charlie to Očová. For me, as an IFR pilot looking at the world from the cockpit of a Boeing, to fly like that all day across Europe in VFR conditions through the busiest airspace was more than interesting. Whether with regard to flight organisation, local specifics, space and weather monitoring, but also the flight itself. I admire pilots who fly like this routinely.”
Photo, Text: Juraj Uhliar and Andrej Zelem
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