Photo File – Looking Out Of 2018

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Once again, regular as clockwork, the winter calm has come down on the Croatian GA scene. Even though the weather has been eerily cooperative of late – hardly any snow even – light aircraft ops have been few and far in between, most machines either having their long sleep in the hangar or flying up and down to the coast for the season. So, while I wait for things to start up again, here are a couple of highlights from my autumn/winter/pre-spring “getting paid to stare out the window” collection 🙂 .

A bit of anticyclonic weather here, some freezing temperatures there, mix it all in with a dawn arrival and voilà – one very happy first officer!

Getting up at 4 AM to go to work: not really a fan. Greeting the dawn like this as a consequence: like it very much! Layer cloud, rain, icing, fog and clear skies – and all of them happening at the same time. Damn I love this job!

For some reason, getting stuck in a dawn holding pattern went down pretty well with me this morning…

Bursting out of a deep cloud bank into a windy and turbulent seaside morning. With surface winds hovering around the 30 knot mark – and winds aloft in treble figures even at turboprop altitudes – the views were guaranteed to be impressive…

Enjoying a spot of late afternoon cloudsurfing near the Eternal City as a wall of nasty thunderstorms starts to build over Naples out in the distance…

Soaking up the majesty of Italy’s Gran Sasso mountain range as we zip past on our way west. Dominated by the Corno Grande – the country’s highest non-Alpine peak – Gran Sasso is perhaps most famous as the setting of Operation Eiche, an audacious 1943 airborne assault by German special forces to rescue Benito Mussolini, then being held under arrest in a hotel on the Campo Imperatore highlands (the depression in the center). Having reached the site in assault gliders, the attacking troops had quickly overwhelmed the defenders and shuffled Mussolini to a waiting Fieseler Storch, which – though dangerously overloaded – managed to eventually lift off and head for the Pratica di Mare airbase, located very near Rome’s present Fiumicino Airport. In a particular twist, our flight path that day had taken us along almost exactly the same route, a trip that took us 15 minutes in a warm cockpit with tea in hand – as opposed to the harrowing hour it took the Storch barely clinging to the air in bitterly cold winter (not to mention having Mussolini as a passenger and Hitler waiting anxiously in Berlin for news)… nowadays the entire range is a designated national park, known for its pristine nature and ski slopes – as well as the world’s largest underground particle research laboratory (the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso), and an out-station of the Rome Observatory tracking and cataloging orbital bodies passing near the Earth (Near Earth Objects, NEOs).

They say “Blue Monday” is the most depressing day of the year… “Blue Tuesday” however seems to be a far better deal! No room for gloom when you get to greet the dawn above the sleepy, anticyclonic Alps…

There are fine views of the Alps at sundown… and then there’s this one. Zipping past the several Tauern subranges as we sneak under a nasty jetstream blanketing most of Austria…

Bonus content: while all of these airliner views are fine and dandy, I could not in good conscience post them without shoehorning a bit of GA in 😀 . So, to balance things out, here’s one shot (+ video) from the good old C172 and the paying to stare out the window collection!

A piston single, a backwoods grass runway, a deep anticyclone and all the time in the world – feels good to be back in the old saddle! One of the first private airstrips in Croatia, Zvekovac (LDZE) has always been a GA favorite; located just 20 minutes away from Lučko (LDZL), it’s a perfect place for a short afternoon getaway (especially when there’s a barbecue in the mix somewhere)

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