another tour de france

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psk
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Re: another tour de france

Post by psk » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:19 am

I'm far from expert relative to other forum participants but, in my limited experience, the restricted areas were a good deal less work than I was anticipating from reviewing the charts in advance of flying. I did several days of my flying on weekdays and, thanks largely to the pro-active nature of the French ATC, the process was much smoother and easier than similar transits would have been in the UK. For many legs of my trips I did file flight plans in advance, so ATC knew in advance where I wanted to go, not sure how much this mattered though for the enroute portion of my trips. I always had backup plans, in the event I could not transit the restricted areas or, eg, Class D airspace, but very often this was not required. ATC typically asked me where I was planning to go, what altitude I wanted and they let me know when and where it was going to be a problem, well in advance of key boundaries, or they handed me off to the appropriate Military or airport ATC who either gave me a transit without my having to negotiate, albeit sometimes with clear and simple conditions, or in a couple instances did not let me in (Cognac on monday morning with exercises going on and U/S radar) and Nice radar let me know Le Luc was active on a Tuesday morning and when I asked to double-check which area, they were kind enough to say well in advance of the boundary something like "that it is the area ahead of you which you should track 20 degrees to the right to avoid entering," which was what I was planning to do but I just wanted to double check... due to the large number of nearby restricted areas. I had a moment of uncertainty looking at my chart and asked them to confirm that it was R95 (that they were not warning me about R138, R196, R71...)
I would say that "going for it" (with backup plans) seemed to maybe be less work, less irresponsible perhaps, than I would have expected and in most cases I did not need to ask for transits as these were offered to during initial contact or well in advance of boundaries pro-actively by ATC.
I did plan my trip north through the Rhone Valley from Cannes to land at Lyon Bron as I had read on the internet that transits were difficult to obtain through Lyon and it seemed easier to just plan to land and depart from there. I was stressing a bit about this area based on looking at my map. Not sure I would do that again as I had plenty of fuel, bladder capacity and lower back endurance to have planned that leg for a landing further north, Dijon, Troyes or similar. Not sure what others' experiences have been - in general I am much more confident of easily getting transit through classes of airspace which would I would simply avoid in the UK because it would be more hassle than it is worth or unobtainable to receive transit in the UK.
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Re: another tour de france

Post by wolfipilot » Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:43 am

VFR in France is very much similar to IFR flying in VMC. Examining the charts it looks from time to time impossible to fly across France VFR because of the many, many restricted airspaces. Just try finding a path from Germany across the border to France for pure VFR, it is mostly impossible to find - kind of a 'Maginot Line' as I call it. My FI earlier always told me to simply fly at 300" AGL below any radar station for the first 50 NM into the French airpsace :) ... However, reality shows that ATC is very supportive in France, this is kind of a real GA-country. Just call ATC and tell your intentions (where to go, what altitude) and everything works fine. I frequently receive the answer "The Sky is yours ..." :) ... from time to time they give some new instructions such like headings or even altitudes, so it's as I said at the beginning: VIFR.

I see the theoretical problem anyway of not having any real 'Plan B' just in case ATC is not granting you any request. However, this has never never happend to me so far, and I think that even in that case the French ATC would try finding any suitable solution for us pilots.
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Antoine » Sat Jun 29, 2013 3:25 pm

fully agree with Ingo. I also got the craziest IFR DCT approved... across açtive military zones, with fighter jets zooming all over the place!
And since I am for once not bashing france, you'd be amazed at how helpful meteofrance are. I routinely call them from ... Switzerland and get a 30 minute briefing with detailed info that s simply not available on the net.
France is (still) a GA paradise in Europe. Sadly, the recent and drastic reduction of customs services means that it has become a lot more difficult to hop in from where I am based...
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wolfipilot
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Re: another tour de france

Post by wolfipilot » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:54 am

Antoine wrote:... Sadly, the recent and drastic reduction of customs services means that it has become a lot more difficult to hop in from where I am based...
... which, however, is mostly caused by your homecountry :) But man, you guys are doing it so damn right :)

Cheers
Ingo
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Re: another tour de france

Post by Keith M » Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:26 pm

The Mistral finally calmed down enough for me to venture out on my sightseeing trip from Avignon this morning. After takeoff, the sum total of ATC interaction consisted of the tower saying "squawk 7000, goodbye", and a recorded message from Salon Approach saying the restricted areas were not active. However, it is Sunday, so the ability to randomly wander between points of interest is probably rather more restrictive on a weekday.

I was disconcerted to find I'd lost about 10 litres of Jet A1 from the right tank, since filling up after my last landing. I never lock the tanks, because those locks look like they could easily jam, but I find it hard to believe anyone could be bothered to siphon out such a small amount. There was no staining of the tarmac under that wing, and the drain valve wasn't dripping, so I don't know what to make of it.
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