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While the met office tended to respond with much doom and gloom every time the summer of 2016 came up, out in the (air)field we had mostly been treated to beautiful flying weather all throughout the season, with gorgeous conditions from dawn all the way until the last dusk. This had particularly been true for the week preceding this article, with a large high pressure area over Europe responsible for skies clear as far as the eye could see (even from the flight levels).
Unsurprisingly, this turn of events had lured out many light aircraft all throughout the region, with plains, seas and hills alive with the sounds of pistons. By sheer good luck, this fine spell had seen me travel all over the place, allowing my camera to see what our little piston singles – and gliders – were up to… 🙂
One of only three aircraft on the Pula Airport (PUY/LDPL) apron greets a calm – and slightly foggy – morning. If you had a feeling that this is a bit too elegant to be a Cessna, you’d be entirely right… for despite the name, this is actually a Lancair LC-42-550RG Columbia, a speedy carbon fiber design that Cessna bought some years ago and started selling under its own brand. Like all Lancairs, the LC-42 is notable for its sleek aerodynamics, as well as an enviable power-to-weight ratio, with 310 HP hauling only 1500 kg of all-up mass. Coupled with a modern propeller, this ratio gives the Corvalis cruise speeds in the 340 km/h range – which puts this little “toy” in the same league with some turboprops…
A very welcome visitor to Lučko warming up prior to its afternoon hop to Vrsar Airfield (LDPV). Even though DYG looks at first like a stock late-model 172, details such as the three-bladed constant-speed prop, large exhaust and an air intake on the right side of the cowl reveal that it actually sports Thielert diesel muscle under the hood. A thorough rework of the 2 liter CDI unit out of the Mercedes A Class, the Centurion 2.0 can boast a maximum output of between 135 and 155 HP, and a consumption of only 20 liters per hour – significantly less than the 35+ of the standard avgas model. An additional benefit are the digital engine controls (FADEC), which replace the traditional levers fverniers for power, propeller RPM and mixture with only one jet-style lever…
Proof that even airline pilots are not immune to the call of light aircraft! Briefly swapping gas turbines for cylinders, the crew of OM-M902 prepares for a one hour joyride on and around Lučko. Still pretty rare in Europe, the Jabiru family ranks among the most successful Australian light aircraft programs in recent years, and already pretty much has a cult following in its home state. An interesting detail is that the majority of Jabiru models use the company’s own engine – in this case a 2.2 liter petrol four-cylinder engine developing 80 HP for takeoff.
A mint Reims-built C172P of the Motorfluggruppe Zürich potters calmly along taxiway Alpha at Zürich Airport (ZRH/LSZH) following an afternoon arrival into RWY 28. Despite the airport handling hundreds heavier aircraft every day – ranging from regional turboprops to intercontinental widebodies – it still manages to seamlessly integrate its resident GA population into the traffic flow. In what is almost a case study of Swiss efficiency, the airport manages this through IFR-style regulation of VFR traffic, including strict departure routes and procedures (intended to keep light traffic separated from the big boys and on known tracks) – and even VFR slots, specific periods during the day when commercial traffic is slow enough to permit unhampered operations on both sides.
The newest resident of Lučko just starting to roll towards RWY 28 for another skydive flight. The permanent replacement for C210 9A-DZP – which had been written off in a landing incident – G-MILN is also one of the most well-kept classic Cessnas in Croatia, and had accumulated only around 1300 flight hours since its completion in 1977 – and with only one owner at that. Equipped with a pretty modern avionics setup – including a Garmin GTN 650 touchscreen GPS – this machine will in future also receive a specialized skydive door and other ancillary equipment for such ops.
Easily concealing the fact that it already has more than three decades of service behind it, GOD prepares to wait out an incoming storm in the field’s main hangar. One of former Yugoslavia’s most popular gliders, the Vuk-T was conceived in the late 70s as an intermediate training type – most closely fitting the Standard Class – sporting an all-fiberglass body and a 15 meter supercritical airfoil wing. To make it suitable for its intended role, it had sacrificed ultimate performance for ease of handling and structural integrity – and even today has a reputation for toughness, durability, crashworthiness and simplicity of maintenance (some examples even pushing 6000 flight hours). Despite this, it still boasts a 1/38 glide ratio, and is cleared for maneuvers such as loops, wingovers and spins. Interestingly, the type was also one of the first Yugoslav aircraft designed using CAD tools – and the country’s first glider to be comprehensively tested in a wind tunnel. Another tidbit is its name: translated as “wolf-T”, it comes from a peculiar subdued howl it makes in high speed flight.
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Even though autumn is in full swing here in SE Europe – with “formal” winter only a month away – the weather had apparently not been informed of this development, with constantly clear & sunny skies, light winds and 20 degrees Centigrade at noon being pretty much the norm. Not wanting to let this beautiful opportunity go to waste – and having been away from GA for most of the summer – I’d decided to use my free time productively and drive around looking for lighties to photograph 😀 . While most of the stuff in my immediate vicinity had already been featured here ( ad nauseam in some cases), a research drive for an upcoming article had seen me visit Novo Mesto Airfield (LJNM) in neighboring Slovenia, bringing some fresh material to table. Combined with a few snaps left over from the summer, this should be enough to bring my readers a fresh dose of light aviation on the Balkans… 🙂
A small, odd airplane + parked on grass with muddy tires + a background of rolling hills and autumn colors = love at first sight. The irreplaceable magic of light aviation in one photo as “Alpendohle” warms up its engine for departure from Novo Mesto. A design that tends to raise some eyebrows, the BO-208 is actually a German-built version of the Swedish MFI-9, created at the end of the 50s as a light touring aircraft with utility potential. Even though it is pretty obscure today, the MFI-9 was also the basis for the larger and more powerful SAAB MFI-15 Supporter, which is still used for training duties by several Scandinavian air forces…
Even though it already boasts aircraft from the USA, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, France and former Yugoslavia, Lučko had recently also become home to a little bird (emu?) from Australia. One of the most well known products of Australia’s present-day aviation industry, the Jabiru line of two- and four-seaters is still a rarity in Europe, and are sometimes hard to find even at specialized GA shows. Even though it carries a Slovak registration, OM-M902 – manufactured in 2008 and powered by Jabiru’s own 2200 cc engine developing 80 HP – is actually a former resident of Vinkovac Airfield (LDOV) in the extreme east of Croatia.
An airfield by the coast, clear blue skies, pleasant summer temperatures – and three Cessnas soaking up the afternoon sun… a scene that just begs one to go flying! Even though it still wears its original German colors, D-EBXS (mfd. 1977) is nowadays a permanent resident of Medulin Airfield (LDPM) in Istria, and is frequently seen flying panorama flights up and down the peninsula.
Something that any proper airfield should be: a cafe and restaurant, good company, a full hangar and and interesting little aircraft parked outside (a Robin DR-400-180 Remorqueur, D-EOSR in this case).
C210 Squadron. The only two operational Centurions in Croatia together on the Lučko apron. However, even though they are only two letters apart, the 210L and P210N are actually significantly different machines: DZP is a simple, basic model whose equipment levels do not differ much from other single-engine Cessnas – while N50DD is a top-of-the-line version, equipped with a turbocharger, de-icing systems… and a pressurized fuselage.
One of the newest gliders on the Croatian register waiting for its turn to be put to bed in the field’s main hangar. Restored and assembled by hand, GKB wears this simple – but eye-catching – scheme, which is in fact a copy of a similar paint job seen on another Schleicher in the Netherlands.
And finally, one of those gems that can only be found by careful hangar trawling. Even though, from a numerical perspective, the L-13 Blanik is to gliders what the Cessna 172 is to piston singles, its younger brother – the L-23 Super Blanik seen here – is a somewhat different story. Designed on the basis of operational experiences with the L-13, the L-23 had received a completely new T-tail with swept fin, a slightly larger cabin with a two-piece canopy – and had lost its flaps as a weight-saving measure. Despite noticeably increased performance in all areas, the L-23 had not achieved the popularity of the original – but had nevertheless noted significant success in the USA, where it was also used in the Civil Air Patrol.