All photos me too, copyrighted
In further proof that the weather here has completely lost its bearings, 12 January 2014 had dawned with clear skies, unlimited visibility and mild temperatures hovering at around 8 degrees Centigrade – a marked contrast to the low cloud, fog, two feet of snow and -10 we’re used to seeing at this time (as I had made abundantly clear on more than one occasion 😀 ). Naturally, such a fine day could not have been allowed to go to waste – especially since “proper” winter is likely preparing to pounce from around the corner – so a friend and I made arrangements for a short hop to neighboring Slovenia in our club’s wee Cessna 150.
Our target for the day was Maribor Airport (LJMB), a swell field serving the town of the same name and located near the northeastern tip of Slovenia, right between Croatia and Austria. One of the country’s three airports of entry, it sports a 2,500 m / 8,200 ft paved runway equipped with a host of instrument approaches, full night lighting, all relevant ground services – and virtually no large-caliber traffic 🙂 . Just 30-ish minutes of flight time from Zagreb, this had always made it an ideal training location and a practical alternative to busy Pleso – so much so that the majority of our local student pilots (especially those aiming for CPLs) have visited it at least once during their training 🙂 (I myself more than half a dozen times).
Our flight today was however a pure cross-country joyride, which gave me ample time to soak up the weather and enjoy the scenery – and naturally get busy with the camera 🙂 .
“Haha, I’m flying and you’re not!”. A visitor from Germany is preparing for takeoff down RWY 14, while MD-82 S5-ACC slowly rots away in the background… a fixture of the airport for several years now, ACC had previously flown with Aurora Airlines, and was at the time said to be one of the better Mad Dogs in the area. Sadly, its current state leaves very little hope it could one day regain that reputation… (though – with any luck – it will be featured in a more extensive post later on)
The fine weather at Maribor had – like in Zagreb – immediately lured out most of the local training fleet, a fleet that had included everything from the old, Yugoslav-designed UTVA-75 to the modern, efficient Diesel Star. Filled to the brim, DOD has just started taxiing towards RWY 14 for a panorama flight above town, barely squeezing in among the other four aircraft in the circuit…
The joys of sub-Alpine anticyclonic weather… our flight back home had also included a touch-and-go at Slovenj Gradec airfield, located in a valley on the opposite side of Maribor’s Pohorje mountain range. You can probably guess how that plan had turned out… (to compound the issue, LJSG has no met station linked into the rest of the system – so when we’d asked the met office at Maribor for a brief, all they could do was slump their shoulders and extrapolate from existing data)
A large, unbroken stratus, beautiful sunshine on top, a light aircraft and a camera – what more could one want to be content? (except a pair of gloves) Skirting the edge of an extensive sheet of stratus as the perfect cap to the whole flight.