News – History-In-Progress

By me

Even though I’ve stated on a number of occasions that my goal is to post something interesting and new at least once every two weeks (but without compromising quality), on this occasion more than a month had slipped past without so much as a peep out of me. My justification for this absence is quite a good one though, having spent the last month or so on intensive research for an upcoming major article about light aircraft in the service of Croatia’s national carrier, Croatia Airlines :).

My biggest and most thorough work so far – easily eclipsing my popular Messerschmitt Bf.108 post – it has involved some major data mining, including liaising with the company’s PR office, former technical staff, managers, flight crews and so on. Weaving together a long and complex story from bits gotten out of multiple sources is naturally slow work, but I’ve decided to go the extra mile with this one, sacrificing punctuality for quality, accuracy and readability.

More-or-less in its final stages of development (even though I keep finding new info on a day-to-day basis), I hope to have something to show my readers by mid or late November – until which I’ll leave some photos from Zagreb Intl on here to fill the gap… 🙂

Imposing in the best tradition of the Falcon family, HB-JIN easily stands out among the small and white Citations and Cheyennes scattered across Pleso's GA apron. Even though it is not a large aircraft per se, the 900s tall landing gear and No. 2 engine intake and exhaust give it a certain royal presence that always attracts all the looks.
Imposing in the best tradition of the Falcon family, HB-JIN easily stands out among the Citations and Cheyennes scattered across the GA apron. Even though it is not a large aircraft per se, the 900s tall landing gear and No. 2 engine intake and exhaust give it a certain royal presence that always attracts all the looks.
The second C-17 to visit Zagreb in a week, 080002 is seen just touching down on RWY 05 after its flight from Albania. One of three Globemasters operated as part of NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program, 080002 nominally belongs to the Hungarian AF - but is available, on a yearly flight-hour basis, to all participating states. One of them is also Croatia, which has secured - if I'm not mistaken - 200-300 flight hours yearly.
The second C-17 to visit Zagreb in a week, 080002 is seen just touching down on RWY 05 after its flight from Albania. One of three Globemasters operated as part of NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program, 080002 nominally belongs to the Hungarian AF – but is available, on a yearly flight-hour basis, to all participating states. One of them is also Croatia, which has secured – if I’m not mistaken – 200-300 flight hours yearly.
Some classic 747 noise as 4L-MRK thunders into RWY 05. Operated by the little-known "The Cargo Airline" based in Georgia and wearing the scheme of its former owner - AirBridgeCargo - MRK would become a common sight over the next few days, flying on an odd circuitous route from Amman in Jordan to Zagreb and then onto Tabuk in Saudi Arabia...
Some classic 747 noise as 4L-MRK thunders into RWY 05. Operated by the little-known “The Cargo Airline” based in Georgia and wearing the scheme of its former owner – AirBridgeCargo – MRK would become a common sight over the next few days, flying on an odd circuitous route from Amman in Jordan to Zagreb and then onto Tabuk in Saudi Arabia…
Very, very far outside its comfort zone – 7850 km / 4,239 NM to be exact – ABO had popped into ZAG on a very brief technical stop, taking on fuel for the last leg of its journey to Germany for heavy maintenance. Hopping like this across all of Africa, ABO’s last stop is reported to be Aswan in Egypt, a distance of some 2,800 km / 1,510 NM…
Very, very far outside its comfort zone – 7850 km / 4,239 NM to be exact – ABO had popped into ZAG on a very brief technical stop, taking on fuel for the last leg of its journey to Germany for heavy maintenance. Hopping like this across all of Africa, ABO’s last stop is reported to be Aswan in Egypt, a distance of some 2,800 km / 1,510 NM…

Site News – A Visit to the Paintshop

By me

After yet another extended leave of absence, I’ve once again returned to my usual (semi) regular programming :). While I did take my sweet time with this one, I’ve also decided to introduce a few changes to the blog, the most obvious of which is the new theme – I believe a welcome switch given the that stories published here are predominantly photograph-based and a bit extensive in length.

Another new change, which will become evident over the coming weeks, is the broadening of my articles’ scope. Even though this blog is and will be a primarily General Aviation and Rare Aircraft affair, I’ve also decided to include topics such as airshows, operations, various military events and such – but topics that will still cover unusual, rarely seen and interesting aircraft in the same manner, and with the same style, as my previous posts :). Think of it as the “old” Achtung, Skyhawk! expanded a bit sideways…

Another (Short) Photo Intermission

By me
The only photo me too, copyrighted

With the thick fog alternating with heavy rain already signalling the unwelcome arrival of the continental autumn – and long term forecasts predicting a very cold and snowy winter – I’d though it best to get a move on with my flying and log as much of my required CPL time as practically possible before the year (or the flying season, whichever comes first) ends. To that end, and despite the doom and gloom of yesterday’s weather forecast, I was out at the field today for my SE/IR checkride, hoping that Murphy would have some mercy for just that one short hour :D.

And while in the end the weather could have cooperated just a bit more flying-wise – with the atmosphere becoming increasingly unstable by the minute – it did provide me with another splendid photo opportunity… 🙂

9A-DMG, my mount for the day, waiting patiently for the CB in the background to pass south of the field. In the event, I had ended up flying through its fringe rain four times while shooting a couple of instrument approaches at Pleso, which had - apart from some bumpy, but otherwise benign IMC conditions - resulted in one clean airplane! 😀

A Short (Photo) Intermission

By me, photo too

With my forthcoming ATPL exams – the last three, finally! – leaving me little time in which to get to grips with my next Rare Aircraft post (even though it’ll be comparatively short), I thought I should nevertheless break the silence on here with, if anything, a single photo :).

A couple of days ago, I’d finally got fed up with sitting around all day and drove off to the field to catch some sun and fresh air. Planning to just hang around a bit and play with my new Canon 5D Mk II, I had spotted a free slot on our aeroclub Reims Rocket (9A-DMJ) and decided I could just as well keep my hand in and relax in a proper manner :D. Nothing fancy, just a half-an-hour afternoon buzz above town, with my camera close by should a nice photo opportunity come up… 🙂

Cruising into the setting sun on a late afternoon joyride above the city of Zagreb :). The beautifully calm air this late in the day always makes flying a pleasure! Just trim her an she'll fly like on autopilot (also, premiering a new feature, you can click this photo for a larger, 800x533 pixel version)

News – No Ash On The Horizon

Be me
The only photo me too, copyrighted

With the sky eerily devoid of contrails and the comm frequencies populated by nothing more than static and random noise, I thought I’d at least make some light of the current unenviable situation and head out to Lučko for some spotting, expecting a more spectacular sunset that usual. The surface front of the ash cloud had caught up with us in the morning, having forced a preemptive closure of the country’s northern airspace at 2 AM local (midnight UTC). Interestingly the airspace was closed for all flights, VFR and IFR, in contrast with Western and Middle European airspace where a “zero flow rate” was imposed – that is, no IFR flight flow was permitted (or more specifically, no IFR clearances would be given), leaving VFR flights to operate at their own risk. Forced to dump the idea of taking a short hop above the field – for the dubious honor of being the only aircraft flying in this part of the country 😀 – I took the camera and went to see what had Eyjafjallajökull thrown at us…

At 18:53 local (16:53 UTC) on 17 April, things weren't looking all that out of the ordinary. Only a slight, vague haziness in the distance - reminiscent of Saharan sand that had on occasion been blown across the Balkans - told of the presence of the ash cloud, here with a concentration 1000 times less than above Iceland (as per the met office)...