1st International Flight

Today I flew my first International IFR flight which was from Jerez to Faro.

I was lucky that the runway in use was 02 as this was in the direction of Faro and meant I could use a Standard Instrument Departure (SID) which pretty much directly joined the airway to Faro, it wasn’t however the runway I had spent ages calculating an RNAV SID from Jerez.  Unfortunately the RNAV plates we are given have only GPS co-ordinates, something that we do not have on the warrior and so those co-ordinates have to be turned into radials and distances from a beacon.

As soon as we lined up onto Runway 02 my clearance was changed and I had to fly a heading and climb to FL070.  The heading given was going to take me directly into the restricted zone and the poor warrior was scrambling its way at a measly 500fpm while I was watching the river (which was the boundary to the restricted zone) very carefully as it could only be crossed at 6000 feet.

We passed over the restricted zone with about 500m to spare and joined the airway to Faro, the crossing into a different country was rather disappointing actually “Sygnet 35 contact Faro approach” and that was it, thanks to the OpenSkies agreement that now exists, I had crossed over into another country.

I had made a request to make two VOR approaches on my flight plan and decided to give Faro Approach a reminder that this was still my intention.  “Roger that, expect vectors to Runway 10”.  This was Faro’s way of telling I was not going to be doing VOR approaches and that they would give me headings and altitudes until I was visual with the runway.

It was quite daunting being vectored further over the Atlantic Ocean, I was quickly working out in my head how far we could be from the coastline and still make it to dry land in case of an engine failure, we could make it – just.  “Sygnet 35, descend 5000ft and turn left two five zero, 1017”  This now meant I would be swimming if the engine failed and I started keeping a close eye out for any boats, preferably fast ones that looked like they could get me to shore and therefore a hospital quickly…

Finally I was vectored onto final and made a fast visual approach.  The controller on Faro approach was really good, I had heard great things about the Faro controllers and how much better they are than the local Spanish ones we have at Jerez/Sevilla.  Then I was handed over to the Faro Tower and everything seemed to sink quicker than a DC-10, he was utterly hopeless, frequently giving me wrong clearances and making at least 3 corrections on every transmission hoping that those he was talking to were clairvoyant and could decipher that he wanted us to do some combination of the 3 clearances given.  The marshall parking us was equally hopeless, I really wish my video camera had been running for others to appreciate what an imbacile this guy was,  using non-standard hand signals and parking/standing in a completely different place to that which he wanted us to park.

We sat on the apron for around 30minutes, going into the Terminal cannot be done on foot (despite it being a 600m walk) and one must have a minibus collect you and take you to the terminal.  This is a standard €60 fee no matter the number of people getting on the bus, a total conflict of interest really making a rule that you have to pay to get to the terminal.  So instead I was sat there chatting with my instructor, in front of an old BAE Trident and every other aircraft on the apron was either Monarch, Easyjet, Jet2 or Ryanair.  Its no wonder us Brits get so much stick for going to places like the Algarve, you only have to sit at the airport for 10minutes to realise we arrive there by the truckload like a bunch of lemmings.

Soon it was time for us to get our clearance to depart the airfield, it was the same idiot controller who told us to taxi in the opposite direction to the threshold (despite me asking him to confirm it 3 times) and then he got the arse when he realised we were taxying somewhere he didn’t want us to be.  I swear that this guy gave me the most difficult RNAV SID available from the Airport, it took me ages to work it all out in the aircraft because I didn’t think there was any possibility of them giving it to a small GA aircraft before we departed for Faro.

The journey back was relatively uneventful once handed over to Faro Approach, I headed straight for the Jerez VOR beacon, did a hold and low-approach go-around before heading back to the NDB beacon and holding to land at Jerez.  All in all a nice flight out and sadly the last flight I will make with my instructor Nico as he is not standardised here at FTE to instruct on the Seneca, although he used to teach on it at Cabair.

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~ by globalste on October 18, 2011.

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