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One day trip from Italy to Portugal
 

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Could an ULM make this in one single day fly?

Yes, it could be done easily with a Pipistrel Sinus!

Flying from Pontedera (Toscana, central Italy) to Lisbon, (western capital in Europe)!

Down I will try to explain my motivations and impressions for this trip.

The story in images:  ( more info/details on clicking)

My gratitude to Ivo Boscaroly from Pipistrel factory and also Cerboneschi Fabbrizio and Barbara from Pipistrel Italy, they have exceeded my expectations about friendly support and fellowship. 

Many other also deserve my appreciation, they all have raised my admiration to the warm spirit of humanism and life in this part of our world. 

See some Italian movies of my fly's in Tuscany

In case of any image link failure you could find it in the FTP images dir, also there are many more stuff, including other movies.

  

 

It looks high, but we are not yet in stratosphere!

Images and movies by mini DV tape cameras.

And this is not taken from an U2 but from a Sinus.

Sinus 2 Loops  (mpeg4: 7Mb)

more movies and formats soon

sorry but yet without enough time...

I give priority to fly, in 6 months I put 400h in this Sinus!

I think this will say enough about my passion!

2002/08/02;08:30-19:00 - Dreams also could became reality!  

With this spacious, quiet and comfortable cabin even after more than 10H of continuous flying, I still fill great and ready for at least more 10H!

This bird it's not only a passion at first sight but after 400H in six months, as more as I fly it, more I enjoy it.

I  love fine gliders, but becoming dependent of a launching team wasn't my dream. Naturally I became attracted to motor glider's, but there are not many on market.  To pick one of this birds with enough performances and in a price range to satisfy my desires of long range flying and easy operation the choice became almost impossible.  The Stemme's looks pretty nice but they are too much expensive, difficult to find place in hangar and difficult to operate in very small airfields. Even the Dimona's and Ximango's are comparatively too expensive to buy and operate. 

Then in 1998 the Sinus appears in some magazines, and it looks a serious candidate to make my mind. It's performances per cost are clearly superior to all competitors for glide and soaring, long range and speed traveling, small airfields access and comfort. only the Stemme's are clearly superior in soaring (1:50), but did not add nothing to me in traveling. There are no other aircrafts that could be comparable in attraction, may be in dreams the U2 but this is a military jet and its price is stratospheric, not to mention all the staff and accessories needed to operate such a difficult kind of aircrafts, making them out of orbit for us common mortals.

This takes me to Slovenia to see better the real bird and try to fly it. Bad whether and strong mountain winds didn't permit that, and also the delay of more that one year for delivery was too discouragers, and I need to think about it. 

With time the desire to own such an aircraft is reaching to much density. Also time for delivery became more acceptable.  

My participation in the World Air Games 2001, carry me to fly every day too close and to compete against the object of my temptations. 

Confirmation of Sinus performances was well demonstrated there by Zen, and performances of my old Mistral is not at all comparable, this takes me definitively involved with Pipistrel.

Ivo Boscaroly and Antonio

Sinus in Ajdovscina AeroKlub - Slovenia

Ivo, Ana, Antonio, Barao

Because I like to fly long range, and this bird asks for this kind of fly, I begin the preparations to do that, from the very beginning.

Many people still look at an ULM as a very primitive low performance, simplistic, fragile or dangerous aircraft, therefore it seems important to me to do this trip in one single day, and show what is my idea of the evolution and what actual ULM class and performance means.

Pontedera friends

At Pontedera aerodrome

Pontedera runway

I did not also want to loose the opportunity to fly around that European region and knew more about it.  So I made arrangements to spent at least a week flying around Tuscany with incursions to South Italy and North into the Alps mountains, what means also a great training program and a comfortable adaptation. (see Italy pages)

Then Maximilliano (Web server designer) became with a film making idea of some gliding fly's in the mountains, lakes, beach's and around, and of course the plane and me, will be the main actors! Fabbrizio and Max will follow me in another Sinus with one door out and the cameras. You could see part of the takes in the Portuguese and Italian site. Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the original takes, to put here some more detailed versions.

The weather was great and I have the best of mountains, plains, and nice beach's all nearby to play! Tuscany region and people, are also special, they remember my childhood region and I fill like at home, also the people and language are quite alike.

I have such a great time that it will be a pleasure to revisit this region, probably next summer to ferry a Virus to Portugal.

I have intention to write some more impressions about my deambulations through Slovenia, Austria and Italian regions, in an exclusive page dedicated to that beautiful part of the world in the perspective of an errant Pegasus knight. So may the Lord's of time be complacent with us.

 Refuel mod.

 

Flying over Tuscany

We all have dreams, and some of them have wings to fly. 

I am really so happy with this aircraft that I will fill egoist if I don't share here my experiences with this wonderful flying machine to the people who love flying in the top advanced aircrafts in the planet, and as safe as a glider provided you respect the approved procedures.

If You don't have a lot of expertise and experience, it will not make any sense to adventure in long traveling, there are too many imponderables to deal with. Think that in this amateur activity you usually don't have all the staff and specialists the professionals and military have, to rescue, support, help, prepare and brief you, about all complexities to deal with meteorology for extended distances, areas and reserved air spaces to avoid, orography and .

Today there are many wonders that could help but they are also very demanding to master and less reliability that old ones, I mean the all the info trough computer networks, portable phones nets, GPS computer Maps, stormscopes, electronic instruments and so one. 

I avoid as much as possible to fly without having an aerodrome or good terrain at glide range, that means arriving at least at 250m high. It's why I need to fly High, and that means as high as possible. The usual practical limit is 10 000 feet, but again with the proper oxygen equipment, trained and approved pilots, it's possible to go higher, again not to amateurs. Local authorities usually demand that you carry a certified radio and mode C transponder, and have the aeronautics licenses to operate the equipment.

Fog in Italy

Passing Genova

Still foggy

I check trough the net, in the night before travel, if weather forecast all long the course will be within limits. It looks that the other next days will not be better.

Despite my early advice that I will need to leave early in next morning,  the hotel takes some time to ready the account due for one week there. I arrived the airfield only at around  7:30H but some fog prevented me to take of when ready. I only could decided that is safe to leave Pontedera at 8:30 local time. (2002/08/02;08:30)

I fly between Tassignano and Pisa reserved airspaces trough the beautiful mountains of Massa Carrara, famous for the old known marbles, and costal lines in sight.

Sestri Levante

Albenga

Near Monaco

The fog became light rain and I get wet sprays at all the windows. Also the visibility does not look great, but if forecast is right it will dissipate some 150Km ahead. to reach that promised cleared sky areas I need to deal with at my right the mountains at almost zero visibility and at my left with the Forbidden and Danger coastal areas of La Spezia. I try to have an eye on the small but empty beaches just for my peace of mind. It was really hard to fly there because I couldn't go trough the cost because of the forbidden areas going far in the Mediterranean sea. That forced me to go around trough a valley and return to coast, all around mountainous terrain, a very unpleasant detour. But that is the only possible legal way to go on. Next a sequence of nice seaside places defile under me like Sestri Levante. At that time I need to decided how to pass around Genova air space. The cloud ceiling is around 1500Ft to low for the mountains, that will be trough the sea and at low level, another uncomfortable situation. I could see Genova airport at distance and some ferry boats. Than Savona and Albenga and the comfort of more beaches and seaside places and the sky is clearing up.

Maritimes  Alps

High Alps

Alps Mont Blanc

Imperia, San Remo and Ventimiglia near French border, all nice places at seaside, with lots of mountains houses and nearby marinas and boats.

At that time I have ahead the Monaco and Nice crowded air spaces, and at left the Alps. The clear skies promised a safe tour trough this highs mountains, this look an irresistible program. I made cap at North went around Cime du diable, trough Alps Maritimes, Mt. Mounier, Mt. Pelat  at 11 000Ft. I pass nearby Barcelonnette and go Hautes - Alps (4103m - 13450Ft) I recognize at 50 miles away the Mont Blanche at (4810m 15770Ft), and that is enough heading North. Now on it will be West.

 Alps

Alps valley

Crossing France

Heading West trough interior of France and avoid the work to rally all around crowded, reserved and controlled air spaces. And this is the most tranquil part of the entire fly. Still some mountains, but nothing comparable to Alps The air is calm and speed is high. The peaceful time became to an end when I realized that I need to prepare to cross Pyrenees with bad whether. I could already begin to see that a barrier of clouds from South to North will be a problem demanding all my attention. I eat a sandwich, some fruit, yogurt and very cautious begin the procedures to transfer 25liters from the jarrikan to the right tank almost empty. Everyone must be aware about the real danger of working with fuel in an environment were static discharges in very dry air due to altitude and others perils demand extreme care and specialization. It's near 12 o'clock.

In the last night forecast it seems better trough the North than South, but at 150Km distance both seems equally bad. The terrain, roads, and my familiarity with nearby  Andorra part of Pyrenees will be my choice to explore the possibility of passage. I know tree good airfields to land in region, and the sites to pass, however the clouds block almost all passages. Approaching near the Andorra border road entrance I confirm that clouds had arrived first and block that route too.

 Approaching bad weather

Approaching Pyrenees

 Pyrenees border Andorra East

 I have been in the region and know the passages of south Alp valley gaps. Wind begin to be strong, that forced me to fly carefully in the exposed wind side of mountains, to avoid strong turbulence, sped is now reduced to around 140Km/H I found the passages near the old border between  Bourg Madam / Puygcerda trough Alp aerodrome valley. Its a nice airfield for gliders. it's raining there and no one is showing, but I could recognized the gliders silhouettes. 

 Alp aerodrome in Pyrenees

Light rain at Seo_de_Urgel

Segre

 It's a temptation to land in Alp and wait for a better weather, but I was committed to do that trip in one day, so I proceeded trough the valley to Seo-de-Urgel  Light rain, low visibility and high mountainous terrain. As more as I fly as more I try to have always a good place to land in case of an emergency, fortunately the Sinus is the best glider in it's class, and I have most of the time, at least, one emergency airfield at gliding distance. I don't feel safe flying low unless over a landing place.

Segre

Low visibility again

Pyrenees

It will be very rare or improbable to have all the air space free of clouds or nebulosity between Italy and Portugal. If It's good in one region it's not on the other and specially in the Pyrenees and Alps. So its important to be sure every time that weather permit to reach a nearby airfield, and not be closed. I have listed more that 1000 airfields en route. 

You could find a list for Portugal (160), Spain(380), France(600) and Italy(300) in my web pages. 

Mequinenza_Ebro

Geologic formation lines entering desert.

Mequinenza_Ebro

  Leaving the dangers of low visibility back in Pyrenees, I faced increased wind speeds and strong turbulence. The terrain became a desert like plateau, as high as 7000fts and I couldn't go more speedy than 120-150Km/H with a combined 50Km head wind, that gives a very low rate. I spent more than 4 H in a carrousel like mountain jumping up and down. Between 14 to 16H, thermals are so strong, that I could see more than 15m/s going up with motor at minimum. No time to profit from all that thermals, I intended to arrive home that same day, what a bore!

Almaraz Nuke

Montargil

  Even that I could go direct home, I decided to do a little detour in an friend airfield near home, to drink and refuel. After that I arrived home after circa  11H after  I leaved Pontedera in Italy that August day.

This trip could be made in less hours, if in a day with less turbulence or flying higher, but at that time I don't have a transponder installed to fly controlled and high enough.

Movie 2

Movie 3

Izviri 

  Next summer I intended to repeat this with a Virus, but that time visiting some friendly airfields en route.

Map

Movie 4

Next trip airplane





With your help this could be better.

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Refuel plug

Sinus arriving at Lisbon