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Trip from Shoreham EGKA to Mali Losinj LDLO and Brac LDSB, May 2021

Following the reports here I am now posting another report; this time it isn’t a circular UK-UK flight (done previously to avoid quarantine) but a UK to Croatia trip.

Croatia very sensibly accepts dual-vaccinated people (2 weeks after the 2nd vaccination), while the UK is bound up with the political opposition and other factions demanding “equality for all” etc etc so, to make sure everybody is screwed equally, vaccination status is disregarded for all purposes and a return quarantine (10d, or 5d with 2 PCR tests) is still needed.

There is also a pre-return-flight test which makes airline trips extremely risky because if you test positive you get locked up in solitary confinement in some crappy hotel room in a country far from home, until you deliver a negative test! With GA travel, this risk is avoided because you can always fly back home, but you then face a £500 penalty for not having done that test. The test can be pre-purchased for about £40 and is done, apparently, over a video link using your phone. It is very likely that this doesn’t actually work; can you imagine somebody setting up a video call centre dealing with tens of thousands of tourists each day? The UK is basically doing all it can to scare people off travelling (without actually making it illegal) until the vaccination programme is complete. Vaccine acceptance is running at a high level – 95% – across most of the country but there are still anti-vaccers in important areas: NHS staff, care home staff, certain ethnic communities, and a bunch of 5G/nanoparticles/ Bill Gates conspiracy theorists

Travel for leisure was illegal (£5k penalty, unless you visited an estate agent abroad to discuss property – not kidding!) until around 17th May.

On the previous two trips I got low level movies of (1st) Jungfrau, Monch, Eiger, and (2nd) Mt Blanc. On the 1st I got screwed around by Swiss ATC but I got the job done just as they got impatient; it was a big help that those mountains are at the northern edge of the Alps. The Mt Blanc one went well with no trouble, for some reason, perhaps because the summit lies on the Swiss-French border so the Swiss military don’t go right up to it. Swiss military are “constantly training” Like in France, the zones are “active” even if there is nobody flying, because if they gave them up sometimes, they would risk questions being asked, and perhaps losing the airspace. The politics is pretty obvious when you fly there and listen to the ATC exchanges.

So this time I consulted this Swiss site which was claimed to show their activities, and as noted here it indicated that flying above 14800ft would be approved.

I’ve done many Shoreham to Mali Losinj trips. It is a highly scenic destination, as well as one of the most friendly airports in Europe. In fact all of Croatia is super friendly to GA, and only Dubrovnik is getting more pricey now (but is still 1/3 of what Fraport skim off you in Greece). The filed route is shown here and the bit over the Alps was filed VFR because in general you have to do that to go below the MEA, and to fly where you want to fly to get photos or movies. The departure was also filed VFR because an IFR departure, via London Control, sends you to TRACA which is almost in Belgium, while VFR you can go direct to BILGO which is near the edge of Paris airspace, and is a useful shortcut. You can’t do this if the weather is not great; then you may need high altitude ASAP, without the UK airspace limits keeping you low down. But on this trip the weather was excellent all the way down, otherwise there is not much point in doing a photo trip.

Departure weather was fine though hazy. Justine helped me carry the luggage to the plane As on the two previous flights I was carrying the full camping kit, in case it might help to avoid being taken away and locked up, in case of an unplanned landing in a country which bans arrivals from the UK (currently this was France and Germany, and the flight went all the way down France!)

Here I am at FL100, having got cleared to FL100 by Lille while still in UK airspace, base FL075. Obviously they coordinated this with London Control but nowadays I record all GPS track and ATC audio just in case; the UK CAA has a zero-tolerance policy and busts 100% of infringements no matter how brief

I created user waypoints for Finsteraarhorn, Weisshorn and Matterhorn, so I didn’t waste any time looking for them. These aren’t like Mt Blanc which is obvious, and on a previous flight it was quite difficult to find Jungfrau, Monch was confused with Jungfrau, and the Eiger was never found but I flew over its summit by luck The coordinates and summit heights are on Wikipedia. With the GPS set to 0.3nm full-scale, you will fly exactly over the summit, especially if on autopilot. You have to be at least 500ft above the summit to be legal; mainland Europe does not have the UK concession of below 500ft if there are no people or buildings there (actually Mt Blanc had people on the summit, but anyway it was just as well the video showed me 550ft above).

One of many ex-mil airfields in France, some disused, some (like Vatri) used by bizjets etc.

In-flight catering by Justine, with a flask of mocha to keep me awake The user waypoints were entered while I was over France; it isn’t a quick process on the KLN94 (or any other GPS) and I don’t like running the battery down too much

It’s always great to see the Alps appearing, after 2.5hrs of basically featureless (from FL100) French landscape of fields and more fields, thousands of them

I got immediate hassle with Swiss ATC who were obviously not operating that website data at all; instead a blanket ban of flying between FL130 and FL160. 130 is below the terrain (!) so of no use for this (although you “can” cross the Alps in most places at 130, if you avoid anything sticking up) and 160 was too high to get decent summit footage. Well, this was a risk which could probably be avoided by flying on a weekend (Mr Putin would never invade Switzerland on a weekend) but the following day, Saturday, was forecast with bad wx over the Alps… One must never argue with ATC but I did put it to them very politely that I did check their official mil activity website and it should be fine above 14800ft but they were basically not interested. I would put money on the ATC-military relationship in Switzerland being like it is in France (civilian ATC are quite scared of phoning up the military).

So FL160 would have to do, otherwise I would be limited to flying below the summits and just getting some close-up still photos; no videos.

Now at FL160, and the fuel computer showing 30 USG LFOB (landing fuel on board) at LDLO, which is more than very adequate – it is more than 3hrs’ flying, at altitude. One could get to Corfu on that; in fact more like Kefalonia! That is computed on current programmed route and current ground speed, and there was about 15kt tailwind, so one has to be aware of these factors…

First one – Finsteraarhorn – is in the middle of here

I did make a note of this airport’s name on the sound track but I won’t have it until I have done the video edit…

In any case, if it has an instrument approach, it must be “interesting”

and here is another one

The whole place is massively scenic; I never get tired of the Alps

and it just gets better and better… 90%+ of the time there are obvious forced landing options, and at FL160 it is more like 100%

One of the many glaciers, covered in snow

This one, less so

1 done, 2 more to go

Finsteraarhorn is close to Jungfrau and this is the trio I did on one of the previous (long circular) flights, showing (L to R) Jungfrau Monch and Eiger

You can’t see it above but a 1:1 zoom of the original (the mountain pics were done with a Pentax K1 and a 24-70 lens, except for the forward-looking ones which are still frames from the HD video camera) shows the Jungfraujoch restaurant which is reached by a train running in a tunnel, through the Eiger etc and is really worth a visit

This is Weisshorn (arrow) and the Matterhorn is to the left of it

Weisshorn summit from a video frame

This airport is marked “disused” – again I don’t have the name to hand. A perfect runway, totally wasted

Getting closer

Matterhorn summit – I did an orbit

Then I turned to the next waypoint, out of the Alps in N Italy (DESIP) and this one popped up ahead: Monte Rosa, and at 15203ft the 2nd tallest in the Alps

So of course I flew over it – still about 1000ft above the summit. No photo of the summit because I was right above it; this is from a video frame

Then some random interesting shots

Now in Italy, and there are some great lakes. Again, I don’t have the names to hand; one needs the video with the GPS coordinates, or local knowledge

This I believe is looking straight down Lake Garda

Bay of Venice

In the haze, the unmistakable scenery of Croatia, with Pula and its big runway (and super nice ATC)

The little island of Unije and its grass “airfield”

This is part of Mali Losing island; you don’t want to go into this hill

One cancels IFR with Pula, because there is no ATCO in the tower, just a FISO and he can’t do an instrument approach

Right base for runway 20

A view back up north, towards Cres

There was somebody in final who I could not see until late (and whose transponder was OFF so nothing on TCAS ) so I extended the downwing leg well over the coast

Final, with Susak island in the background

The busy terminal building in the background

Everyone is always really nice here. The police lady checked my vaccination certificate (which at present is just a paper card, which would be trivial to photoshop). I also brought with me a copy of it to give her. I also brought a printout of my UK NHS medical record showing the vaccinations; this would also be trivial to fake, but I also had a laptop with the login to the NHS website (this is hard to arrange in the UK; it took ~10 years before the GP authorised me to get access to my records; such is the patrinising NHS approach, thinking that everybody will commit suicide if they can see their records, although to be fair most people have zero interest in their health and wouldn’t have a clue what the stuff is about and might get scared over some of it) and that would be very hard to fake. I give the Croatian police credit for this level of trust, but I guess they have to choose between tourist income, and some slipping through, and with almost no airlines flying, it would not be many people. They don’t get 8k/day from India here… and I reckon only a very small % of GA pilots will be forging vaccination certificates, especially as the police do keep a copy. You have a lot to lose…

The fuel totaliser showed that 225 litres ought to go in to refill the tanks, so this was quite funny (obviously to get this close is a coincidence, though within 1% would be normal)

There were a few other planes there, from various countries. 2 were D-reg

Mali Losinj did once fit 62 planes there, about 2 years ago! Very pragmatic and a contrast to so many which are run by stupid people who have 10 positions painted on the tarmac so they can park only 10, even if the positions are spaced for sizeable jets…

Time to get an early dinner

Most of these are fresh fish, not farmed, apparently, but this place (Barracuda) isn’t cheap

End of day 1

Mali Losinj harbour

I rented a bike (€10/24hrs) and went as far as the concrete track went around the island

This is very “Croatia”

The mandatory re-exploration of the tunnels

This needs at least two torches, because you would never get out otherwise. This looks like a torpedo service workshop. Yugoslavia had some torpedo boats I think

Somebody messing about with guns

On the coast walk to Veli Losinj for lunch, stopping at the herb gardens to stock up with lavender oil

The mountains of the mainland in the distance

Veli Losinj – those who came to our great 2014 fly-in will be very familiar with all this

Very few tourists… I think I saw a few Germans but otherwise 99% seem to be from Croatia or similar. Well, Mali Losinj is not readily accessible anyway; airline travellers need to go to Pula or Zadar and get a ferry, but there are very few airlines operating anyway. The economic destruction due to coronavirus is there to see everywhere…

More to be added later

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Great flight. See you there soon

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

Could you post the flightplan (rout/altitude) details? That would interesting.

FWIW, Losinj does not have AFIS. Just TWR or nothing,

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

It is in the link posted earlier – here.


The different levels are just routing artefacts; I don’t know if even ATC see them.

The route was constructed from two parts as described; the Autorouter can’t generate such a route (VFR bit in the middle) by itself, in the same way as it can’t generate an A-A route from Shoreham to the Alps.

MONIN and CERVI are close to the mountains in question. But again I don’t know if ATC see the filed route; I have rarely seen any indication that they do – other than a line within each unit’s sector.

I wonder how LDLO can have an IAP, if IFR cancellation is required.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

It‘s interesting because from CERVI to SRN is full of class A up to FL 195, so can‘t be flown under VFR. Wonder where, when and by whom you were given an IFR clearance for that leg.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany


I got an IFR clearance soon after the Matterhorn.

Someone who is actually a current Swiss pilot tells me that airspace FL130+ is to be assumed a no-go due to the military, so that website is a mystery… ATC were certainly not interested in knowing anything about it, and it wasn’t lack of ELP.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Means you relied on ATC giving you an IFR clearance for a leg which which YOU explicitly filed as VFR (and for which no airway exists). Just surprises me, as you usually want all t’s crossed and i’s dotted on these things before taking off.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Peter wrote:

Mali Losinj did once fit 62 planes there, about 2 years ago!

At the German fly-in? I was there at the same time. And they still had parking spots for more aircraft. We had the good fortune to be parked next to where the fuel truck happened to be, otherwise we could have waited a looong time for fuel.

ESKC (Uppsala/Sundbro), Sweden

Means you relied on ATC giving you an IFR clearance for a leg which which YOU explicitly filed as VFR (and for which no airway exists). Just surprises me, as you usually want all t’s crossed and i’s dotted on these things before taking off.

I am very happy you enjoyed the report so far

Eurocontrol validates flight plans according to rules supplied to it by member countries. I have not before heard of them doing it on the basis of ICAO airspace rules. In any case, one could fly VFR within the mountains, and CAS is rarely down to 0 ft AGL. If it was, gliding there would not be possible.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Brilliant reply. I thought this is to discuss things. What else do you want hear? How great a trip it is?

Worrying so much over the Swiss routing, but not bothering about the Italian routing doesn‘t seem logical. The latter can really throw curveballs at you. Anyway, you do your preflight planning, and I do mine, as always.

Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany
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