Photo File – Flying In The Time Of Corona: Croatian GA Snapshots

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Due to reasons beyond my control (to put it mildly), I had quite a bit of free time on my hands this summer, which I decided to spend – like in the good ol’ days – by enjoying the scenery at various airports and airfields throughout the land. While one would have assumed that the lockdown (pretty mild in Croatia, but still keenly felt) would have had a negative impact on GA ops, the truth of the matter was that the number of aircraft buzzing about had actually increased – which meant that there were always plentiful photo opportunities wherever you went. A perfect setting then to get the camera out and see what I’d been missing over the winter… 😀

If you’re sad for the demise of Cold War underground air bases and bomb-proof aircraft hangars, don’t despair – Dubrovnik Airport (DBV/LDDU) has something for you! Not so much a Hardened Aircraft Shelter as a “Hardened Vehicle Garage”, the brand new semi-subterranean storage depot along the airport’s northwestern perimeter may seem like an unlikely place for aircraft photography… but as you can see, it pulls it off nicely!

Concentration at 120% as a young colleague readies his ship for a late afternoon training flight. Somewhat fortunately, this student-weary veteran of the Croatian Aviation Training Center – to whose weariness I myself had actively contributed a decade ago – will soon give way to…

… this. It’s startup may not have been as smoky as I would have liked (thankfully for the engine!), but it was nevertheless worth frying like sushi on the superheated apron to catch my first ever Duchess. Conceived on the same train of thought as the Seminole, the 76 was always a typical Beech design: built up to a standard rather than down to a price. Unfortunately, that made it quite expensive to buy and maintain, meaning that only 437 would ever be produced… barely half the Seminole’s ~930 (and counting). Ironically, being a replacement for 9A-DZG means that Walter Beech may still have a tiny last chuckle!

Number 2 for departure after three incoming arrivals, holding short on a parallel runway being used as a taxiway since it is too close for proper simultaneous operations… this is not Lučko – it’s Gatwick on grass!

Of course he’s happy – he’s going flying… and on an aircraft he built himself from the wheels up, and from parts of half a dozen factory Super Cubs!

The 70s are back – as an airplane. While this “50 Shades Of Brown” interior may not be all that hot by today’s style standards, it is nevertheless so throwback cool that it warrants a “10/10 would sit” rating! (it also helps that the entire cockpit is crisp, clean, neat – and fully original, with the same trim it had back in 1986 when it rolled off the production line) (and yes, despite the D- reg, this machine is a fully-fledged local)

Even on its own territory, the Reims Rocket is a shy and reclusive species, easily frightened by noise and sudden movement. Because its colorful plumage makes it easy prey for photographers, it has evolved the ability to escape and hide quickly and without warning; always approach it silently and patiently, using local terrain and foliage for cover whenever possible…

And finally, one little Cherokee I’m VERY happy to see again! Covered previously in two some of my earliest posts here (part #1 and #2), DJZ is the sole “pre-Warrior” PA-28 in the country, and had years & years ago been based at Dubrovnik (DBV/LDDU). Unfortunately, a while back it had fallen on some hard times and was left to rot in the corner of the apron. Thankfully, about a year ago it had been brought to Medulin Airfield (LDPM) in Istria, where it is now undergoing a complete restoration – and will be happily flying already in early 2021!

Photo File – Traveler’s Tales

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

Having recently gotten into a position where I do a fair bit of air travel (to put it mildly!), I had suddenly (and somewhat unexpectedly) found myself being served with ever-increasing opportunities to snap – up close – various flying machinery operating out of Europe’s major airports. While these naturally tend to be of the airliner variety (and therefore not the default topic here), every once in awhile I do come across a true gem, something so fascinating, rare and unusual that it immediately warrants a feature at Achtung, Skyhawk! 🙂 .

Even though snaps of these machines are still few in number – with my definition of “fascinating” mostly to blame 😀 – I feel they are nevertheless numerous enough for me to cobble together a short, but hopefully interesting, post for my viewers’ pleasure. For a bit of added “weight”, I have also decided to add a couple of shots taken “en route”, showing that the journey to the destination airport can indeed be half the (photographic) fun!

As a tool for doing business, a 737-200 bizjet may not really be the best of choices; but as a statement of style, very, very few machines come close! An absolutely stunning 1981 classic, VP-CAQ had – interestingly – never seen a day of passenger operations, having been delivered with an executive interior straight from the factory. Often seen flying all over Europe (despite the EU’s stringent noise regulations), at the time this photo was taken CAQ had already been parked at Dubrovnik Airport (LDDU) for several days, likely waiting on a client…

A photo that perfectly encapsulates a popular Croatian saying: “to have more luck than brains”! It’s not often one gets a spontaneous chance to photograph a VIP military transport on the apron of a major European aerodrome – without someone trying to chase you away! Enjoying the early morning sun on one of Vienna Airport’s (LOWW) remote aprons while waiting for Mr. John Kerry (who was in town to attend some nuclear talks).

An interesting visitor from the north easily standing out among the Citation and Falcon crowd at Zadar’s Zemunik Airport (LDZD). Operated by Germany’s Central Command for Maritime Emergencies, 57+05 is normally based by the North Sea and is used (as can be inferred from the titles on the fuselage) for detection and monitoring of sea pollution. Interestingly, this machine is not a classic Dornier-built example, but the NG model, produced in India by Hindustan Aeronautics and assembled in Germany by RUAG (the owner of the Do-228 type certificate).

Nature showing off what it can do as we maneuver around a growing towering cumulus near Zurich (LSZH), Switzerland. Easily visible are little pouch formations hanging beneath the cloud called “mammatus clouds”, which are an early indication that this cloud could eventually produce a heavy storm.

Enjoying the charming (and unbeatable) atmosphere of the cockpit at night as we cruise southwards across the Alps, roughly halfway between Munich (EDDM) in Germany and Klagenfurt (LOWK) in Austria…

Saluting the setting sun on another beautiful, calm and crisp summer evening. Traversing southbound above the Northern Adriatic Sea – just off the Istrian Peninsula and Pula Airport (LDPL) – we were treated to this fantastic view by a large high pressure area that had been parked over the region for several days…