A flight to France and Spain

At the end of September 2022, it was time again: After it had stayed a few months in Germany, I wanted to fly my Taifun motor glider, registration D-KJTN, back to France to see my partner Michael and bring him the aircraft (there is better weather in southern France than in Germany during the winter). On September 25th, I still was busy with my job in Erlangen, but on September 26th, I was already on my way to Biberach/Riss, where the TN has its summer parking space in the glider workshop at the airport (EDMB). ‚Äč

Next day, September 27th, I started my flight to France, but only around midday, because early in the morning there was still some annoying fog over the High Rhine area. At midday, the weather was wonderful, only in the north of Switzerland I had to fly maybe 20km between a cloud layer/high fog with an upper limit of 2300 ft MSL and the Zurich airspace Charlie with a lower limit at 3000 ft, which was a little uncomfortable (similar to night flights the question is: What do I do if the engine fails?). After that everything went well and I landed in Annemasse (LFLI) south of Lake Geneva at 1:40 p.m.

Fog above the High Rhine area
Fog above the High Rhine area

After a short break, I continued my journey to Toulouse-Labordes (LFCL), where I parked the TN and washed it. A little later I was picked up by Michael, who lives in Toulouse with his French wife and daughter. We delivered my luggage to his house and then went into town for pizza with a friend, Steffen.

In previous years, I would fly home again pretty soon after such a transfer flight. But this time we had different plans: the weather was wonderful, my return flight was booked only on October 2nd, and we wanted to make a little trip to Spain in the following days! And we actually started the following day (Thursday, September 28th), again around midday, and flew south around Toulouse over the Pyrenees (the thermals helped us a little, even though we were coming from the northern side) and then to Fuentemilanos (LEFM). This airfield is located northwest of Madrid and is probably known to some of you as a Spanish gliding paradise. However, we had a lot of headwind during the flight, so we didn't get there until around four o'clock in the afternoon. Nevertheless, we still had time to look around the nearby town of Segovia, where we also stayed overnight. We visited the castle (Alcatraz) and a fantastically preserved aqueduct, and in the evening we ate a specially prepared suckling pig with very tender meat and a thin, hard crust.

The aqueduct in Segovia
The aqueduct in Segovia
A cat family in the tower of Fuentemilanos airport
A cat family in the tower of Fuentemilanos airport

The next morning (Friday, September 29th) we visited the cathedral in Segovia, then we went back to Fuentemilanos airport (by the way, taxis are much cheaper in Spain than in Germany or France). From there we flew a little bit east again to an airfield called Robledillo (LERM), northeast of Madrid. There we met with another Taifun pilot, Peter, who I knew from a Taifun mailing list and whose Taifun is stationed in Robledillo. He invited us to lunch at the airport restaurant and we had a very interesting conversation. It would be beyond the scope to report everything, so I just want to mention that the weather in Spain is actually so good that he spends most of his time sailing with his Taifun.

Michael and myself in Robledillo
Michael and myself in Robledillo

He then recommended us the Castellon De La Plana (LECN) airport, which is located directly on the Mediterranean (northeast of Valencia), as our next destination and also recommended a friend of his who owns and rents out an apartment there. So after lunch we flew on to Castellon. The flight lasted a little over two hours, but we also had fun in some thermals under cumuli (almost reaching 4000 meters AMSL). In Castellon, we were picked up by Peter's friend and obtained the key to a large and beautiful apartment which was both close to the sea and close to the airport. A nice swim in the Mediterranean and a fish dinner with wine rounded off the day nicely.

Moonrise with palm tree in Castellon
Moonrise with palm tree in Castellon

The next day (Saturday, September 30th) we flew back to France, to St. Girons-Antichan (LFCG), on the northern edge of the Pyrenees (stretching in an east-west direction), where the TN has its second home. We started just after 11am and arrived just before 2pm. Unfortunately, the air mass was quite stable, so the thermals didn't help us much when crossing the Pyrenees. In St. Girons we washed the Taifun, folded its wings and moved it into its hangar. Afterwards we had a coffee and were then taken back to Toulouse by a glider pilot. Incidentally, this pilot was Carl Audissou, a wave specialist, who two weeks earlier succeeded in this awesome flight over 1620 km. (For such flights, it is absolutely necessary to have good connections with air traffic control, as large parts of these flights take place in IFR airspace.)

On Sunday we bought ingredients in Toulouse center and had a barbecue at Michael's home in the evening. And on Monday, October 2nd, I flew back to Nuremberg on a standard Lufthansa flight. Unfortunately, my baggage didn't arrive until one day later than me...

In total, these were six impressive days, and I flew over 2000 km with the TN during the first four of them. Besides other things I learned about Spain, where I have been the first time with my own aircraft, that the interior of the country is quite high (Segovia, for example, at 1000m AMSL) and the landscape looks rather dry. Air traffic control was uninterested in us: since the frequencies are also used by IFR pilots, they probably had enough to do without bothering us. For example, when flying through airspace Charlie from Zaragoza, we only received a transponder code and then never heard anything from the controller again. And Madrid Control didn't even respond to our reports, which may, of course, also be due to bad transmission conditions. Whatever was the reason, we simply continued our flight without radio connection.

Therefore, for me these days were a nice end of my flying year. Europe is beautiful and big, many countries want to be explored! I wish many good flights to all of us!

Note: This text was translated with the help of Google translator starting from the German version. Only a little polishing was needed afterwards.