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

Part 2 : Heraklion, Greece – Hurghada, Egypt

It took 30 minutes longer on the ground in Heraklion, Crete, Greece (LGIR) than expected : something with the flight plans to Egypt. In the meanwhile we were slowly but surely cooking on the 39° hot tarmac while we did not want to drink too much as that might lead to having to find toilet solutions in the next leg of the flights … Two nice fuel guys offered us fresh cold water and we nevertheless took it.

In the meanwhile, two Cessna 208 caravans came in : one was a brand new airplane delivered from its factory in Wichita towards Australia (I think). Somehow I thought of seeing Guido Warnecke crawling out of that high cockpit, but it wasn’t him. The other Caravan was being ferried back from Afrika to the US but it had nothing but technical problems and got stuck here on Crete for many days already.

All of the sudden, things started moving again and before we knew it, we were in the air again towards Hurghada in Egypt (HEGN) ! Heraklion Approach told us to climb to 9000ft because of military activity south of Crete, and we slowly complied.

All of the sudden, we spotted an aircraft carrier below us in the turquoise water, steaming at full power towards the east ! And one minute later, two F/A18s fighter jets came screaming past us at our altitude ! Is this an interception by the US Navy ?? Our hearts started beating faster, but because we were flying so slowly they could not stay with us and disappeared as fast as they came in the horizon. Below us in the meanwhile, more jets were being scrambled off the deck of that carrier. A quick search on the internet learned me that this probably is the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN69).

Before we knew it, another two F/A18s came screaming by and turning in front of us. I tried to hail them on the On-Guard frequency of 121.5 MHz but they didn’t hear us or didn’t want to answer us … wow ! I guess our three little Piper didn’t pose too much of a threat to them. But it was kind to offer us a emergency landing spot below us in case we needed it. Some minutes later we spotted several support ships of the carrier group. We tried to make many pics and videos but few actually worked out.

After this excitement, we droned onwards to the southeast. We heard first and talked later to Cairo control as soon as they came in range. And then we spotted the African coast ahead of us with million little lights while the sun was setting in the west. We coasted in over the port of Alexandria and we noticed that we were being lasered by green light flashes from over the ground : pretty annoying and dangerous if you look into them, but when we switched our external lights off, they couldn’t find us anymore and stopped lighting us.

The moon was slowly rising in the east while the night fell over the Nile. We got transferred to Cairo Approach at 9000ft, and then all hell broke loose : the controller gave a continuous stream of instructions to all approaching airplanes for minutes in a row : crazzzy ! We could not get our call in … it probably took 10 minutes before we could each get our call in, and the controller swiftly cleared us on route at 9000ft. On the traffic screen we saw all other airplanes crazily approaching Cairo International Airport below us. In the meanwhile, the moon was started to light up Cairo and the Nile below us: it was a beautiful spectacle.

We continued southeast directly towards Hurghada and the lights below us became less and less. We had to cross a mountain range and got in contact with Hurghada Approach. We all got a visual approach and landed on the gigantic runway 34R at night: wow boy this is a big airport. A follow-me car brough us to our stands: almost 8 hours of flight.

After refuelling and red tape, we crashed in our hotel after this tiring day .

Stay tuned for our flight to Kuwait over the Red Sea and Saudi-Arabia in Day 3 !

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