A Slow Flight to India – Day 2, Part 1 – Budapest-Heraklion-Hurghada

Part 1 : Budapest-Heraklion

Today would be the longest day with two long flights. And it turned out also to be the most exciting day of the trip, particularly in the afternoon (Part 2) !

First flight was planned from Budapest (LHTL) to Heraklion (LGIR) on Crete in Greece. We got up very early and woke up the birds at the Tökol airport south of Budapest. A quick preflight check, a run-up (FADEC !) and off we were in the early morning air. This time we filed three separate flightplans so we operated as three independent crews : Macksolo and Sam Rutherford in N726DX, Jaxon and Sandrine in N721DX, and Ray and me in N726DX.

Foreflight told us that 3500 ft was the ideal altitude to avoid headwinds and that’s what we took. From Hungarian airspace, we flew into Serbia under control of Belgrad.

Around Nis it became more mountainous and we had to climb to 6000ft to avoid the beautifully looming granite below us. All in all this part of Europe is very quiet and seems to be geared mainly to agriculture.

Over the first couple of mountains, we passed into North-Macedonia and the landscape became even more rugged. We almost sung about « Skopje, Skopje » when we spoke with their ATC center.

Next was entering captivating Greece. The landscape became drier and drier and our tupe of trees got replaced by olive gardens and yellow grass. When getting out of the most rugged terrain, we spotted a large bushfire. Later we heard of waterbomber airplanes active in the area.

We got passed over to Thessaloniki and we crossed into the Mediterranean, spotting the first Greek islands baking into the sun amidst the bluest blue water. Luckily our tailwinds picked up. We crossed right over Skyros island that featured a huge new runway to its north.

From there onwards it was pure pleasure passing from one island to the next under the baking blue sky. We passed Pharos, spoke to Mykonos and go finally transferred to Heraklion Approach where we performed a visual approach to runway 27 amidst the A320s and 737s full of tourists.

A follow-me car guided us to our parking spot somewhere on a quiet spot… man it is hot here !!

More than 9 hours in the logbook, and we still had to get to east Egypt this day …

Stay tuned for more excitement in Part 2 !

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