Balázs Magyar is Pipistrel’s customer from Budapest, Hungary, who has been flying our aircraft for a long time. He is a pilot instructor at the Skyhawk Aviation flight school, an EASA Training Organization in Hungary, offering high quality flight training. He sent us this interesting report about his flight over 4 countries. Enjoy reading!

Balázs Magyar

“Last month I flew a lot as a mentor pilot sitting next to George, my Maltese aviator friend who is building flight hours towards his commercial aviation career. We had several cross country flights within Hungary together, so we decided to plan a more challenging, longer distance flight than just a “$100 burger run”.

We quickly agreed on Italy as the destination, with an Ajdovscina sleepover, where the aircraft could get its well deserved 200 hours maintenance, and we could hike the beautiful Alps in the meantime.”

We departed from Gödöllő Airport (LHGD), just 20 km away from Budapest onboard HA-TAC, my company’s beloved Pipistrel Virus SW 121. We were supposed to arrive to LJAJ at 7:00 in the morning, when the Pipistrel factory opens. Early morning I calculated a quick LHGD-DIMLO-LJTRB-LJAJ plan, and filed it with the SkyDemon app. Weather briefing showed that we should have a nice tailwind on the way there. Happiness. It was still dark when I arrived at the airport and started the preflight. Moments later, George joined with two life saver coffees, and we took off right at sunrise.

We flew between 4000 and 6000 feet, altitudes where the Rotax 912 engine really thrives with 120 kts true airspeed and 17 liter per hour fuel burn. The flight was exactly 2 hours long, and with a tailwind, our groundspeed was 150 knots sometimes. The same tailwind was also responsible for a little roller-coaster experience on approach, as we had to fly through a mountain’s leeward side before we could start to descend into the valley where the airport was located.

Despite the small size of Ajdovscina there are a lot of things to do there. I can highly recommend hiking to the source of Hubelj, which is just 4 kilometers from Ajdovscina and gives you a wonderful view of the waterfall. We spent the night at the only hotel in the city, and started to plan our next leg after breakfast. Our only criteria was the accessibility to auto fuel, which turned out to be a big obstacle, as most of the airports have only avgas, which is not preferred by Rotax engines. We found a couple of good destinations, and e-mailed them about the availability of fuel and parking. And here is a good advice to all of my fellow pilots, who are thinking of flying in Italy: Save yourself the time and don’t even think about writing an e-mail to the airports. Instead, just call them, and you will get the answer instantly. They speak good English, and are happy to accept visitors, especially from abroad. Based on the number of good reviews we chose Torraccia (LIKD), which is the only airport in San Marino, and as we figured out later it is also the only relatively flat land in the micro-state.

The maintenance team did a great job at the factory, and we were ready to take off with the freshly serviced plane at 16:00 to our destination. Thank you again Leon, Andraz and the team for the good service! Flying along the Italian coast is very easy – you only need to know the visual reporting points, which is a piece of cake if you spent at least 1 minute on flight preparation. We flew at 3000 feet mostly in Class D airspaces. PQSW2 (Grado), PZE1 (Lido Di Jesolo), PZS2 (Venezia) and PZS4 (Chioggia) were our VFR reporting points, after that we flew directly to LIKD through Bologna 8 CTR. ATC told us to report runway in sight which was not easy to spot among the hills. The airport has a 650 m long grass runway, and is located only 200 meters away from the Italian border. It is managed by the Aeroclub San Marino. This is a wonderful airport with avgas and mogas availability, and free overnight parking. Staff were extremely friendly and welcoming, they helped us get a taxi to the old town, and even offered to help with finding accommodation, but we already booked one before arrival. Taxi costs 40 EUR to the old town, which is absolutely beautiful. One can spend an entire week here just walking the old town streets and between the fortresses. We will definitely come back.

The next morning we topped off the tank before departure. 100 liter gas could easily take us back to Hungary from here, but we had another stop in our mind, Venezia/Lido (LIPV). It was a hot day, so after departure we climbed to 7000 feet, where we could enjoy the cool breeze from outside. The way to Venice was just a short 1 hour leg, apart from a little detour because of the LIR10 restricted area, it was along the coastline all the way. After Chioggia (PZS4) we started to descend, and over Malamocco (PZS3) we left the Padova frequency and contacted the LIPV Tower. We landed on runway 05 and taxied to the hangar and left the plane there for the night because there was a storm forecasted for early morning. It costs 30 EUR, but there are also tie down areas outside for 10 EUR. Water taxi station is very close to the airport, but we didn’t mind a 20 minutes walk to the Vaporetto station that took us directly to Piazza San Marco. Vaporetto is the Venetian public waterbus, and basically the only transportation option here.

On the next day the longest leg was ahead of us. 340 nautical miles, which can be done in 3 hours. It was also a hot summer day, so we decided to climb even higher than yesterday, so I put FL100 into our flight plan. After a straight out 05 departure we stayed below 1500 feet initially. We got the clearance for further climbing little bit before Caorle (PHE2) and we reached our FL100 cruise altitude over Grado. TUTIV, VANAX and KOPRY were our waypoints to enter Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary respectively. After a 18 minutes long descend, we landed on runway 16 of one of my favourite Hungarian city, Szeged.

During the 4 days of this amazing trip we covered 900 nautical miles with 8 hours of flying. Four countries, four flights and endless new memories. George and I liked this journey so much, we already started to plan another one even further. Our Pipistrel did a wonderful job, it would be hard to choose a better aircraft for these flights. The autopilot and the large fuel tanks come handy for international flights. If you have an aircraft, I highly encourage you jump in and take a similar flight. It is such a remarkable experience. If you don’t own one, or don’t feel confident to go on your own, you are always welcome to join our mentored hour building program. And if you are planning a flight to Hungary, plan a visit to us in LHGD, we are happy to share our hangar with fellow Pipistrel flyers.