The EPS Team has been busy since our return from Africa. Please accept our apology that we haven’t posted any follow-up before now, but let’s get everyone caught up a little bit.
We are very proud and excited to have completed two additional Lancair Evolution Phase One flight test periods. Kit numbers 35 and 36 are now proud members of the flying fleet. We also had the pleasure of providing the transition training to both new owners, and they couldn’t be happier with the experience and their Evolution. Both aircraft will be base in the Northeast. One will be based at the Farmingdale Republic Airport on Long Island, and the other at Bedford, Laurence G Hanscom Field, just outside Boston.
EPS also attended the Sun N Fun Fly-in located in Lakeland Florida the second week in April. Hopefully if you were there you caught us answering questions and helping the Lancair team at their booth. It was a successful show with a great deal of interest in the Evolution, as well as the release of new Lancair Legacy Kit with updated pricing, build, and avionics options. The new options ensure a faster build time, easier overall buying process, new “Glass” Garmin avionics panel, and wing cuffs standard.
EPS is also proud to announce another successful Lancair Evolution First Flight completed on 04/17/2013. Bob Jeffrey piloted EVO Kit number 40 safely into the sky and reported another successful build for Composite Approach and their team. We’d like to thank Composite Approach for another great build and the support leading up to the flight. We are excited to complete the flight testing over the next few weeks, and deliver another airplane to its owner. This Evolution’s home will be in Mexico.
This is a very exciting time for Elite Pilot Services, Lancair and the Evolution. EPS will be conducting another first flight in Wisconsin at the end of April. In addition Composite Approach will have two more Evo’s flying within the next few months. Cascade Aircraft Management has one to fly that will be ready in a few weeks, and one more in Florida around that same time. That’s another 5 kits that will be flying inside the next quarter of 2013. This means we will total more than 40 Evolutions in the flying fleet!
We appreciate you taking the time to read our blog. We will continue to update the blog with current events moving forward, so be sure to check back.
November 15th & 16th 2012
Well, this is the day we have been waiting for. We are hoping to make it to Johannesburg, South Africa , our final destination. The first leg is from Luanda, Angola (FNLU) to Windhoek, Namibia (FYWE) and is almost 900 nautical miles. Yesterday we had to divert and return to Luanda because of the ice buildup we accumulated penetrating some heavy cirrus clouds at 25,000’. After breaking out of the cirrus, we found another bank across our flight path. We climbed to 27,000’ and waited for a closer look to make a final call. It’s difficult to tell where the breaks are in the weather until you get closer. The shadows caused by overhangs and the bases of the clouds make it appear that there are holes of blue sky from a distance, requiring you to get closer to really tell if there is a way through. There was no way to go around or over this one, so we had to call it a day and return to Luanda with around a ¼ inch of icing on the wings, tail and some on the windshield. Again, this has been the frustrating part of the trip, poor weather information for making decisions. The Significant Weather Charts will define large areas of weather with the usual “surface to 45,000’, isolated or occasional CB”. The METAR’s and TAF’s are just as vague with pretty much the same forecast for each day. Temporary conditions and probabilities almost always say CB, and include forecast for thunderstorms. You really can’t get an accurate picture over your route, so it’s just go look and see. The previous day, it didn’t work. This was a critical day, as was yesterday, because of the distance. The winds and weather had to be right to arrive with some reserve fuel.
We launched out of Luanda after the usual long delays of fueling, paying bills, and getting our flight plan into the system. The thunderstorms should be well on their way to making it to the stratosphere by now. Luanda is considered the most dangerous airport in the world by IATA. They run clearance delivery, ground control, and tower on the same frequency. It’s a busy airport and it’s mayhem. In addition to that, you have to try and understand the controller’s instructions through a heavy accent. More often than not, David and I would look at each other and ask “what did he say”. Usually, between the two of us we could figure it out. Other times we just had to fake it. We made two approaches here in the last two days and the controller’s actually don’t use standard procedures. There is no approach radar, so what happens seems to be everyone making their own interpretation of the approach, which is a VOR/DME or ADF/DME, and the controller will change it during the course of the approach. VERY INTERESTING!
It looked like today was our day. We climbed above the cloud deck and lower visibility caused by all the water vapor in the air and up to 25,000’. The air seemed cooler and dryer today and the buildups weren’t developing as fast as yesterday. We crossed a couple of ridges of weather, which were below us and continued into the dry desert of Namibia. The atmosphere dried out and the clouds turned to small, disbursed puffs below us. By the time we reached Eros airport at Windhoek, it was clear. This was one of the prettiest towns we have seen yet and looked like it was right out of Arizona or New Mexico.
The people were friendly and helpful so we were able to file the flight plan, fuel and make a quick turn. The Evolution attracted a crowd as usual, their curiosity being satisfied by David as I filed the flight plan. We were off for Lanseria Airport (FALA) in Johannesburg in less than an hour, a record for us. The Significant Weather chart showed an area of weather, which looked like it would run just North of our course to, so we thought we had it made. Thirty minutes later it was obvious that the weatherman was a little off again. There was a towering wall of thunderstorms across our path. It ran from as far North as we could see to as far South as we could see.
These were billowing thunderstorms with vertical development to around 45,000’. We thought we could see some blue gaps in the line so we continued to distinguish the shadows from actual holes. As we approached, it became obvious there were no openings in this line. It looked pretty hopeless at this point. Running along the leading edge of this line was a low ridge of small outflow cumulus. We hated the idea of turning around again, especially since we were so close to our final destination (could be called get-homeitis) so we continued on, descending to get below the bases of the line in hopes of finding a way through. We picked an area below a dissipating portion of the cells which provided our best chance and headed that way.
It was pitch black beneath until we got below the bases at around 8,000’. The terrain was no concern and was at 5,000’. Beneath the bases of the dissipating cells, we could make out an area with a few miles visibility in light rain showers. On both sides were heavy showers with continuous lightening. We continued for around fifty miles with blackness overhead and on both sides until it began to clear, and the ceiling began to rise. We had made it through a line that had looked impossible. All this time, we were in and out of contact with ATC. We had been approved to deviate before we lost contact and had been cleared to 15,000’. So, yes, technically we didn’t adhere to the clearance but had discovered through our previous experience that sometimes it’s necessary to get the job done. As Arnold says “That’s Africa”.
Now, it really looked like we had it made. We re-established contact with ATC and climbed to 19,000’ for the rest of the trip. Finally, we had controllers we could understand clearly and were in a radar environment, which was rare in Africa. As we approached FALA they provided vectors for an ILS. Just to the Northwest of the airport, another thunderstorm cell was rapidly developing. We hit the airport about the same time as the thunderstorm. On short final, the winds shifted dramatically as the first gust from the thunderstorm arrived. The wind was a direct right crosswind and the windsock was parallel to the ground. The turbulence increased and the airspeed began varying by around 10 knots. David was flying and did an excellent job of flying the Evolution onto the ground with his usual grease job. A fitting end to our trip to South Africa.
This is what we accomplished:
We flew from Redmond Oregon to Pretoria, South Africa
We flew the Lancair Evolution 13,195 nautical miles
We are the first Lancair Evolution to land in Africa
We flew a total of 59.6 hours
We landed 25 times
We landed in 18 countries
The Evolution did not take one quart of oil
The Evolution did not have one maintenance problem
During the course of the flight:
The Evolution experienced 140 knot quartering tail winds
The Evolution flew in an Outside Air Temperature of – 50 C between Reykjavik, Iceland and Stornoway, Scotland
The Evolution experience icing conditions
The Evolution was able to circumvent major thunderstorms
To say the least, we are very proud of what we, and the Lancair Evolution were able to accomplish.
Our thanks go to Brian Harris and his shop at Composite Approach for the great job they did assisting with Arnolds Evolution. We literally bet our lives on his aircraft with thousands of miles over inhospitable water and through extreme weather conditions. Our thanks also to JC and Nick, and the entire team for their support getting the aircraft ready for this Excellent Adventure.
November, 14th 2012
When we returned to the airport the next day, we unloaded the car and headed into the terminal. We were still being escorted by our handler who passed us off to the immigrations officer. We passed through the usual security line with an x ray machine, etc. Our next stop was at a security desk where we signed “In” the aircrew book we signed “out” the previous day. Our immigration officer then escorted us out of the terminal where the Evolution was parked. We went out a jet bridge and down the stairs to our aircraft where we performed our preflight ritual of taking the cover off; unlocking the doors and fuel caps: storing the baggage, preflighting the aircraft, and making our “nests” in the cabin in preparation for flight.
This was to be a 424 nm flight across the Gulf of Niger to the island of Sao Tome Principe, then 677 nm across water to Luanda, Angola. It seems like we are spending a lot of time flying across water. Oh well, I guess that’s what the 4 man life raft, life vests, Personal Locator Beacon and Satellite Phone are for. You can’t say we aren’t prepared.
We departed Lagos (thank goodness) and climbed to 25,000’, as usual. This airplane likes it there. We are cruising at 265 – 270 KTAS on 33 gal/hr. All is well until we see a giant thunderstorm up ahead. It looks like the mother of all thunderstorms from where we are. It’s big, black, and high with a large anviled top and must be at least 50 nm across and yes, it was spitting lightening. Heavy rain showers obscured the water. Fortunately, this is a relatively short leg and we have the gas to deviate. We head for the upwind side, giving a respectable berth and now wonder what surprises might await us on the other side. To our relief, it looks like we have a clear shot in the direction of our route. We made an uneventful descent and landing at Sao Tome.
When we arrived our handler was there as well as the fuel truck. The next leg is fairly long and it’s over water again. I always make sure I’m there to fuel the Evolution because you must fuel one side, the other side, then go back to each to top off. This is because the fuel percolates toward the wing root after it is filled the first time leaving space for more fuel. If you don’t provide guidance to the fueler, you can end up being 10 gallons or so short. Everything was going well and this could have been a fast turn except for one thing, we are out of money (another story all together). Most of these countries will not take a credit card so you need cash. The handler took David into town to withdraw money from the local bank. Now here is the problem, we are out of the land of ATM’s. Even if you were fortunate enough to find one (there is not one ATM on this island, which is a resort destination) it will spit out Kwanzas, zippidy dos, or whatever the currency is of that country. Nobody will exchange it for Dollars or Euros, and once you leave the country, nobody will give you anything for that currency. Many of the countries won’t even accept their own currency for fuel. You see the problem.
David tried to get money on his debit card but the bank would not accept it as they wanted the money from a credit card account. No problem, all we needed was internet to facilitate. Of course the computer at the bank is not working so now David has take a taxi to one of the resorts to use their computer, then go back to the bank. This is just another example of the things that could go wrong and cause delays, you definitely need to carry plenty of cash. The general rule was that if there is anything that could possibly cause a delay, it did. The hardest part of the trip seemed to be getting to the departure end of the runway so we could takeoff! Our quick turnaround became a three hour delay, but we still depart and are off and flying for Luanda, Angola.
This turned out to be one of the easiest legs with the bad weather just North of our track. We approach Luanda and are told to report overhead, nothing else. The active runways are 23 and 25 with both approach thresholds beginning at the same place. Basically, you are crossing each others paths on short final to land. We are overhead and still can’t get any further clearance (thankfully, it’s VMC). The controller finally tells us to fly the VOR/DME. Unfortunately, the VOR is not an IAF and there is no course reversal procedure published on any approach plate. We are also high, so I extend the flaps to 25 and the gear, and start a left 270 degree spiral to runway 23 turning inside of the 25 approach path for a short approach. Nobody says anything! We finally get to the hardstand and call it a day.
November, 13th 2012
We had a nice stay in Abidjan. There were no real issues, the whole experience was pleasant, and we were feeling rested. The weather and winds for the direct route to Sao Tome didn’t allow for the direct flight we hoped for. We made all the proper arrangements with the handler and informed them we would stick with the original plan and refuel in Lagos. We asked them to please make sure everything was in order for our fuel stop as we needed a quick turn for weather, and because the airport closes at 1700 hrs local time. Of course they assured us we would have no issues or delay and understood the importance of good handling.
The flight into Nigeria went well, and upon landing we taxied to the International Terminal of the airport onto a hard stand. Next to us were B-767’s, B777’s, Airbus A-340”s etc. I think it’s the craziest thing they handle small airplanes the same as large airliners. They have no FBO’s or facilities that are designed for general aviation.
Well, this fuel stop didn’t go as we planned. We stood on ramp (as you are not allowed anywhere else) for about 3 hours trying to get everything we needed. Keep in mind it’s 33 Celsius with 100 % humidity! The handler was late coming to the airplane and had not notified anyone we needed fuel. It took over an hour to get the fuel truck over to the airplane. Meanwhile Bob had taken the handler inside to file the flight plan so we could get out of there. At about one hour and fifteen minutes I was actually getting nervous about where Bob had gone. I phoned our main handler and explained to him we were being delayed greatly, and that my other crewmember had been gone for a LONG time, so please check on the situation.
About 10 minutes later Bob comes back and doesn’t look happy at all. He explains the young person he was working with took all the paperwork and disappeared for over an hour and returned with no weather information at all, including for Sao Tome, and he had still not filed the flight plan. The three of us began to talk about what needed to be accomplished right away so we could leave. We asked them to file the flight plan immediately, get what weather they could, and let us get out of there. Well, as usual they took off and left us on the ramp waiting… 10 min, 20 min… 30 min… 45 min, no sign of the handler. Bob and I figured even if they were to show up now, we probably couldn’t even make Sao Tome before the airport closed. After another 15 minutes or so we called the handler and told them we were forced to spend the night because the now 3 hour delay prevented us from departing. This situation was one of the most frustrating of the trip.
Of course everyone apologized and said they did the best they could, but we explained this was not acceptable and their delay cost our customer a great deal of additional money for the mistake. They helped us unload the bags and Bob and I secured the aircraft. Then they escorted us to their “Operations” area to wait. This is where everything became much more interesting.
While they were processing our paperwork they asked us for out “Visas”. Remember we have a main handling service which is supposed to take care of all paperwork for us and inform us of exactly what we need. No mention of Visas, and every other country issues temporary “Crew” Visas for between 24 – 72 hours with no problem. Well, this didn’t seem to be the case here in Nigeria.
Bob and I were told to leave our things and we were escorted to a small room next door. Inside this room were a few armed military soldiers, and another man behind a desk wearing dark blue traditional African style clothing. He was extremely uninviting and downright scary. His eyes were dark yellow and his scowl made us immediately uncomfortable. He began to interrogate us, wanting information like, who are you working for, who owns the airplane we are flying, where did it come from, under whos directions are we operating, etc. He then began asking for phone numbers for the aircraft owner and anyone else who we were working on their behalf. Of course we did not provide any such information, but this situation was becoming concerning, and fast. He then told us to go and await his decision for what he was going to do with us.
We returned to Operations to wait. Fortunately we had a wireless phone, and I immediately began to call our local handler and inform him of our situation. He was actually already aware, and assured us he was working to take care of it. At this point we didn’t know how much faith to put into this assurance, but we didn’t exactly have any other options. About 45 minutes passed, and they must have worked it out because they escorted us through immigration, requiring us to sign out in a logbook, and released us to the handler. I can’t help but think the handler played a large part in this process, and without them we could have seen a completely different outcome.
November 12th, 2012
We gathered our paperwork, looked at the little bits of weather provided to us by the handlers and decided it was okay to fly on to Abidjan, Cote de Ivoire “Ivory Coast” (DIAP). We knew they were forecasting thunderstorms along the route, but without a network of ground based weather radar you just launch and hope for the best. Everything went pretty well until we arrived in the Abidjan area where we encountered some thunderstorms blocking our route. We found a valley in the tops and got over them close to the airport requiring a quick descent to try and get below the storms. We maneuvered around some heavy showers, cancelled our IFR flight plan to avoid the rest, and made a visual arrival and approach to the airport just on the edge of the storm. In fact, we could not have flown the procedure into the airport because it would have taken us directly into the worst part of the storm.
Our original plan was a fuel stop and to go on to Lagos, Nigeria (DNMM), but a large area of strong thunderstorms to 35,000 feet which were continuing to build changed our mind, and we stayed in Abidjan. The handler did a better job of picking a hotel and escorted us personally to be sure we were satisfied. Abidjan is a more modern and prosperous area than Conakry. This really has to do with the President again, and his relationship with the local “Mafias”. Conakry’s president, evidentially controlled all the wealth and power and was not willing to put any into developing the infrastructure of the country and improving the lives of the people. On the other hand, the President in Abidjan is very supporting of his people and does things to ensure the country and its people are improving.
Another days productivity has been shattered by the coastal weather. Our plan for tomorrow will be to try and fly directly to the island of Sao Tome (FPST) which is in the Gulf of Guinea. It is a 700+ nautical mile flight over water so we must have good weather and winds to try it, but if we can make it we will gain some time by skipping the fuel stop in Nigeria. Then we will hopefully be able to make Luanda, Angola (FNLU). Otherwise we will go to Lagos, Nigeria (DNMM) for a quick fuel stop, and directly down to Sao Tome. Of course, we hope to gain some time!
November 11th, 2012
Our flight from the Grand Canary Islands to Conakry was actually very uneventful. We landed in Dakar, Senegal (GOOY) for fuel and departed for Conakry, Guinea (GUCY). The weather in Dakar required us to fly the instrument approach with low clouds and visibility. Except for the complete lack of procedure and guidance from ATC, the fuel stop actually went pretty smooth. We were able to depart in about 1 ½ hours.
Shortly after we touched down in Conakry, the president was scheduled to arrive. Just next to where we parked the entire ramp became covered with armed military at every possible post. Unlike the United States, it’s fairly common to see the military toting an AK-47 or weapon in public, but this many people somewhat on edge guarding for the presidents arrival caused one to feel uneasy.
The hotel in Lagos was supposed to be a “4 Star” resort hotel. What we got for our $250 Euros was one double room on the back side of the resort. About 50 yards from the door and just over the “resort” wall were railroad tracks, which hosted a squealing, horn blowing train every hour during the night. There was no hot water for the shower and the toilet did not work. The two small dimly lit lights hanging from the ceiling barely lit the room, and by morning only one was working. The TV did not function. One of the two “easy” chairs had a leg missing, making it a rocking chair. There was only one glass and one towel in a double room, and the glass globe on the bed headboard was missing. To top it off, the two pictures hanging on the wall were askew, leaning toward each other. As Arnold Pistorius says, “it’s Africa”.
We gladly left the hotel for our hour ride to the airport in a “limousine” escorted by our handler. We could not travel by the main highway because the new president declared that both sides of the highway would be one way into town in the morning. This forced us to take the back streets right through the middle of town all the way to the airport. You couldn’t really call these streets because they more resembled the muddy paths of the old cowboy westerns except those streets didn’t have foot deep potholes making the drive a meandering obstacle course. There were street side markets almost the entire way. They were just crates or tables with everything imaginable, and the market seemed to be divided into categories, furniture here: meat and fish there; etc. People were scurrying everywhere crossing the streets, slowing the already bumper to bumper traffic that was maneuvering the obstacle course without any obvious traffic rules or regulations. There were large trucks that seemed abandoned parked on the side with hammocks hanging from the undercarriage where people slept for the night. Between the pot holes, the maneuvering, and the stop and go jolting, it seemed more like a bull ride than an cab ride. After an hour of this, we were almost at the airport and the car stalled in the middle of all this mayhem. The driver started the car and drove another 20 yards before it stalled again. I looked at the gas gauge over his shoulder, and yes, it was setting on the big E. He started the car around 5 more times trying to make some kind of headway in the traffic. The handler finally realized what the problem was, said something to the teenage driver who jumped out of the cab leaving it in the middle of the “street” with all the other cars and trucks honking their horns and giving us dirty looks. Finally the driver reappeared with another man carrying 5 wine bottles we can only assume were filled with gas. They put the gas in the car and we were able to make it to the airport, and the next set of obstacles to get our Evolution into the air. There was no doubt, we were definitely in Africa now!
The EPS Crew has made some great progress over the last several days. We apologize for not posting blogs each day, but if the terrible Internet was our only challenges believe me the posts would have been there. The trip from Spain through Africa has been exciting, eye-opening, challenging, and sometimes outright scary. We are currently in Luanda with just over 1,400 NM remaining. If the weather cooperates tomorrow we will land at the final destination in South Africa. Below is a post about the leg departing Spain.
We launched from Malaga, Spain (LEMG) on November 10th, 2012 extremely excited for the first Evolution in the world to touch down in Africa. Especially after the weather delays we experienced, we were eager to get going. The flight went very well as expected, above the weather and smooth sailing. We flew directly across the Strait of Gibraltar and into Agadir Almassira, Morocco (GMAD). The handling agent and people on the ground were very helpful and did a nice job getting us on our way quickly.
From Morocco we flew directly to Las Palmas, Grand Canary Islands (GCLP). The island is a popular tourist destination, so the airport is a busy international airport. Interestingly enough we were flying back into Spain again. We stayed in a hotel close to the airport, so it was not located near the popular tourist areas. This didn’t stop us from having a great time though. We actually had one of the best nights on the trip at this overnight.
We decided to walk from the hotel to find some dinner. There wasn’t much to offer from the hotel, and the only thing close was fast food. I would say we walked about half a mile and unfortunately things still didn’t look promising by this point. Up ahead were a few lights and a major street that we thought possibly had something, so we decided to walk up there and if we didn’t see anything, head back to the hotel. We were actually amazed at what we found. There was a street festival of all local foods and goods which only happens once every three years. There was traditional Spanish food, music, dancing, and lots of local people enjoying the festivities. We had Tapas and enjoyed some of the best food on the trip so far. It was a great surprise we happened into this great find.
November 7th, 2012
As you might have noticed there has been one common theme to our journey to South Africa. The weather has taken a great deal of real estate on the blog thus far. It was known to expect some delays on this trip, but with the late start crossing the Atlantic, combined with the fact Africa is currently in the Monsoon season; our delays are mounting quicker than expected. The low pressure system currently causing our greatest problem is extremely resilient to say the least. At this point all we can do is wait for a window large enough to make progress towards Africa. It appears our first opportunity to depart from Spain is Saturday, November 10th. We will keep you updated as we continue to monitor the weather. Until then, we continue to hold.
November 5th, 2012
The weather forecast for Bern, Switzerland was pretty poor in the morning, but was forecasted to clear up early in the afternoon. Our plan was to have a relaxed morning, departing as soon as the weather cleared and head towards Reus, Spain (LERS). We figured that was about all we could accomplish this day considering the late start and weather conditions. The following day we planned on an early start to Gibraltar (LXGB), and then to the Canary Islands. All the flight plans were filed and the notifications to the proper airport authorities were made. We had “slots” and “PPR” numbers and all the documentation ready for our flight.
When I opened my eyes at around 0700 the morning of the 5th I was actually amazed. It was perfect conditions with blue skies and light winds. The weather had changed and now the forecast was great until about noon, and then cumulus clouds and deteriorating weather to follow. Bob and I scrambled to get ready and head to the airport so we could launch. Over breakfast we quickly emailed all the appropriate airport facilities and notified them of our change in plans. We were now attempting to continue all the way to Gibraltar and overnight there. We had to notify the Bern airport of departure time change, the Reus airport we were going to continue and not stay overnight, refile the flights plan to reflect a difference in arrival/departure times, and refile the flight plane to Gibraltar moving it up one day. Also, Gibraltar airport needed to be notified of the change in plans as well.
The flight from Bern was great with views of the Alps and the coastline in France and Spain. Once we parked in Reus, Bob went to Ops and took care of the paperwork while I made sure the aircraft was fueled and ready upon his return. Since the flight plan was already on file and the fuel truck was quick to refuel, we were ready to depart in only about 45 minutes. We even had to delay about 30 minutes to meet our flight planned departure time. Things were looking great! (so we thought)
We called Reus tower for our clearance very excited about flying all the way to Gibraltar. Tower responds, “N122AP stand by”. After a brief moment they inform us that Gibraltar will not accept our flight because we do not have a handling service and no PPR number for that day. In our bit of a scramble to depart Bern, I accidentally forgot to email Gibraltar of the change and select a handling service. Originally we had the night in Reus to figure this out, but when the weather was perfect that morning I just overlooked it.
All at once it felt like our momentum came to a screeching halt! After we called the phone number provided for the ops manager in Gibraltar, we were informed it was impossible to fly into the airport that day as he required a 24 hour notice for all arrivals. We buttoned up the airplane and took a bus into town to find a hotel. We had a quiet evening in Reus and prepared for the following day.
November 6th, 2012
The weather in Gibraltar this morning and for the remainder of the day is really terrible. Forecast for heavy rain and winds, and the weather charts are confirming the TAF. There is a large low pressure system extending up the coast which covers most of the area where we need to fly. Lightning and rain showers are basically parked right over Gibraltar as well.
The decision was made to leave Reus and head towards Gibraltar going as far as we can. We decided to try for Valencia (LEVC) a short distance away. After we got a handling service (it’s required), notified Reus of the destination and departure time change, cancelled the flight plan to Gibraltar and refiled to Valencia, we were ready to head for the airport.
Due to weather we flew low altitude at FL110 and were basically in and out of the clouds for most of the trip. Temp was -6C, but negative icing with light rain in some places. On the ILS approach into Valencia we were just north of the front. There was a wall of weather about 10 miles south of the airport which would have certainly prevented continuing. We picked the perfect stopping point for the day.
After we checked into the hotel we had a chance to walk around a bit and take in some sights. Valencia is a beautiful metropolitan city! The architecture of the old buildings alone will keep you entertained, and there is no shortage of restaurants and shopping in the area. Due only to my ignorance, I had no idea Valencia would be such a great place. We feel very fortunate to have lucked into this great find. The city has a beautiful broad sunken park that runs through the entire city, dividing it in half. It has broad thoroughfares with small side streets lined with beautiful high apartment buildings displaying amazing architecture, squares with fountains, statues, parks, ample shops, restaurants and sidewalk bars with tapas and beverages. It is actually reminiscent of Paris in ways except it is cleaner. It is a jewel as far as cities go.
Our hope is to have the Evolution to Grand Canaria Island (GCLP) tomorrow with a stop in Gibraltar for fuel on the way. We have all the required overflight permits for Africa, and all the paperwork is squared away on the island. The only thing standing in our way is the weather.