Turbo-Beaver Ferry Flight
Alicante Spain: Second Fuel Stop
crossing has to be IFR and to be legal we really need a working HF and VOR.
So we had to lie our way into the air. We then told Tamanrasset that our
HF must have quit again, but we would continue with the VHF. They accepted
that. Below us we traced the ancient caravan routes etched out on the
desert floor and visible for miles. Some ended in old French stone forts
that still stood in the blazing heat. Some of the routes passed through
the oasis towns. I-n-Salah and El Golea are two of our oasis check points.
We are definitely IFR. "I follow (caravan) routes." If we have
to put down at least we have the road to aim for.
From 12,000 feet we could see the ancient
trade routes worn into the Sahara.
El Golea is an important oasis, where the sand dunes encroach into the
Klaus and I are
both concerned about crossing the Atlas Mountains. The name sounds so
formidable, and even with the ONC maps showing the heights we remain
concerned until we get closer. The mountains are not that high, but we
still hit some serious drafts gaining and losing several thousand feet
before we can recover. We actually run into some snow showers at 12,000
feet as we can see the back bone of the ancient Phoenician world spread
We cross the coast line of the
Mediterranean Sea over Mostaganem in an attempt to avoid the worst traffic
of Algiers. Since we are lying about our navigation aids we wanted to make
sure we are well off the beaten track. The GPS is working fine, however,
and we are using it like a VOR.
The Mediterranean Sea is dark
blue and the wind has whipped up some severe white caps. It is not the
calm waters I remember from 1976 when I spent part of my summer driving
along the Spanish Coast. We navigate up the coast for the city of Alicante
which is to be our second destination fuel stop. We chose Alicante because
of some flight restrictions into Barcelona and Madrid, and again to avoid
the busy airports as ATC might make us stick to the IFR flight plan we
Alicante clears us for a VOR
approach to their south facing runway, but we ask for a visual. A long
silence follows the request, before a second voice comes on to clear us
for a visual approach. Even though the weather is crystal clear and the
sky blue, they have not heard that request for a long time. We are glad to
have made it to Europe. A beautiful dark hair Spanish lady wearing plenty
of gold jewelry and a short black dress comes to lead us to customs. Klaus
and I are in heaven. I fuel the Turbo-Beaver as Klaus goes for a smoke.
Southampton UK: Third Fuel Stop
Our next leg
promises to me a lot easier so we take a leisurely breakfast of fresh
baked buns and cheese. We get out of our IFR dilemma because in Europe we
can file VFR. That does not prove easy, however, as not one person in the
flight planning speaks English. Through lots of hand signals and pointing
at maps we managed to file our route up the coast to Valencia, and then
cross country toward the Pyrenees Mountains. Valencia hands us over to
Barcelona, and they basically tell us, through ignoring us, that they
could care less where we fly and what altitude.
We request 5000 feet to cross
the Pyrenees, and Barcelona gives us a "why should we care"
clearance. The only problem is that after the Atlas Mountains we
underestimate the Pyrenees. We end up climbing to 9,000 feet to cross well
west of Andorra and even then have to weave through a mountain pass to get
through. The scenery is fantastic and we fly right past a ski resort
nestled high in the mountains.
Climbing to 9000feet, we crossed the
Pryrenees west of Andorra.
A thick fog blanketed France so we continue VFR on top.
As we cross
into France, we realize that, after the language hassle, we had forgotten
to get the weather enroute. Spain had been severe clear. France, however,
was completely covered in fog. We called the Toulouse control and told
them we were VFR on top. They could care less and assigned us our own
frequency on which we heard maybe two other aircraft as we proceeded to
fly straight across France. The same controller spoke to us in English,
another aircraft in German, and another in French.
About the only communications
we have is when control calls "5N-AXN" to warn us that we were
about to enter a military zone. "Do not vary heading or alter
altitude. You will have two Mirage pass under you in a short time."
Sure enough two Mirage fighter jets swoop under us in a high speed pass
across the country. We keep on our northerly heading until we break out
over green fields between Tours and Nantes. Not right here, but close
enough, this was the country side Billy Bishop flew and fought over in
World War One. I was in awe. I had now flown in the same sky.
We left France over Saint-Malo,
and flew just west of Jersey and Guernsey in coordination with the English
air traffic control. They would not let us fly direct to our destination
Southampton. But rather have us cross the English Channel toward Start
Point just south of Dartmouth. (I had seen the Queen's ship, the
Britannia, there one time several years ago.) Again the winds across the
water are severe and the white caps are whipped up into a frenzy. The air
is smooth, however, and we enjoy the crystal clear air and the incredible
view from Land's End to Brighton.
I had picked our third
destination fuel stop for a particular reason which to me was quite
important. The port of Southampton was used in the testing and ultimate
flights of some of the most famous of flying boats and floatplanes. Here
the Supermarine S-IV, with it's almost 2000hp Rolls Royce R-series engine,
had taken off in the protected harbor behind a sheltering island, to get
airborne and reach the incredible world record speed of over 350 knots in
1931. I remember watching an otter pilot struggle with his transition from
the 600hp P&W to the 1000hp "Polish" engine to get from
90kts to 122kts. Imagine taking your Beech18 up to 350kts. The only
problem with the R-series engines was that they only had a 90 minute TBO
Here also was a major base for
the majestic Sunderland Flying Boats. Southampton has a fantastic museum
where you can see both of these wonderful airplanes and you can actually
walk around inside the roomy flying boat's cabin and visit the cockpit.
After flying such small floatplanes for so many years it is difficult to
imagine the days of the flying boat. I can only dream of such a time. The
time when the world did not have the airports to handle such large
aircraft and they had to make their way around the world using harbors and
waterways to land and takeoff in. My only regret was that we could not
have attempted the entire trip from Africa to Canada on floats.
At the Southampton airport we
are given a warm greeting by many airplane enthusiasts who have come out
especially to see the Turbo-Beaver that had flight planned to come here.
Considering the flight plan was filed only about 12 hours ago, I was
surprised at the response. We were to find out, however, that in England
there are a hard core of aviation enthusiasts who keep close contact with
the authorities at all time as not miss such a rare sightings as a de-Havilland
DHC-2T Turbo-Beaver in their territory.
After posing for pictures and
signing their books we fuel up and then settle in for the night. The next
day would be VFR straight across the heartland of England and up into the
highlands of Scotland. This famous old port city is also famous for
housing the "Mary Rose." One of Henry the eight's navy ships
that never made it to sea. With all her big iron cannons, she was overly
top heavy. She sank on her maiden voyage will all hands on deck. The
beautiful ship has been raised from the bottom, and now can be seen in
this south coast port.
The green green grass of England. What
would Wordsworth have
written of us landing a floatplane in the Lake District?
Story and Images by John S Goulet
Aberdeen Scotland: VFR through the heart of Britain
The attitude indicator will take you back to the ferry flight
Where all our flying is
Last modified on April 21th, 2013.
© Virtual Horizons, 1996.