First attempt from Elstree
Early June 2011, I was asked by a contact from Greece, with who I had been flying before, if I was interested to ferry a TB-20 from London to Athens. Ilias never had flown over the Alps, and he would take the plane all around the Alps via France otherwise. I had time, and we agreed to meet at Elstree the next week where he would inspect the plane and finalize the purchase on behalf of the buyer. Then we would fly the plane to Greece. I would be the pilot in command for the ferry flight.
The next week we traveled to Elstree, Ilias from Athens, and I was already in London for business. The test flight had not revealed any issues, and I also had made two flights myself following the test flights to get acquainted with the airplane; one with a local instructor, and then one more on my own for some additional touch and go's.
René on Elstree airport with the TB-20
Problem with the ignition
After everything was arranged we loaded the luggage on the plane, and we were ready to go for the first leg on our ferry flight. We taxied to the run-up area for runway 26, and started to work down the checklist.
When we performed the run-up, the engine was running rough on one of the magneto's. Trying to burn possible dirt on the spark plugs did not solve the problem, and we returned to the apron. The previous owner, who was still on the airport, took the controls to convince himself about the problem. We took the plane to the mechanic, hoping that it was just a simple issue. The spark plugs were replaced, but that did not solve the problem. It turned out to be an issue with the ignition timing of the magneto's to the engine (I forgot the name of the component).
The mechanic did not have the equipment to test and repair the component, and suggested to take it out from the plane to have it tested and possibly repaired at a maintenance centre at Luton airport. We took a taxi to Luton airport with the component.
While waiting at the maintenance centre at Luton airport, I had a conversation with someone at the maintenance centre. His name was Roger, and he also told me that in the past he had worked in the movie industry for which he built props. He told me that he also had been involved in the first Star Wars movies, and he had pictures about it. I asked him to send me a picture as one of my sons was a Star Wars fan, which he did after the summer. I later found out on the internet that Roger was told to be the genius behind the motorised R2 units. In the picture Roger sent to us he is surrounded by R2 units in his work shop. Roger worked on these for The Empire Strikes Back.
Roger with Star Wars R2-type props
Ju-Air HB-HOY at Lelystad
In the mean time, the component was placed on a test stand at the maintenance centre. The firing was not correct, and upon opening the harness, it turned out the device was worn out, and it had to be replaced with a new one. As it could not be installed in a day or two, I traveled to London City Airport to take a flight to Amsterdam.
The next week I received notice that the plane was ready to fly again, and we decided to depart on Friday, June 24. I asked Ilias to fly the plane from Elstree to Lelystad, and from there I would pilot the plane further to Athens. He had test flown the plane already before flying to Lelystad.
On the day of departure I asked Maurits if he would like to fly with us to Athens, which he accepted. We drove to Lelystad airport in the afternoon. While we waited for the Trinidad to arrive, we also noticed the Ju-Air HB-HOY at Lelystad airport. We did not know yet that two years later we were going to make a sightseeing flight in this plane.
From Lelystad to Bremgarten
Upon arrival of the TB-20 at Lelystad in the afternoon, we filed a flight plan to Bremgarten where we were going to refuel. We took-off from Lelystad after 3 pm, and we flew to Bremgarten according to plan.
René with the TB20 at Lelystad
Ilias, Maurits and René
Near the river Moesel
René to fuel at Bremgarten
From Bremgarten to Bergamo
Upon arriving at Bremgarten airport we refueled and we had a snack. We checked the weather for the next leg; via the Gotthard pass to Bergamo. It appeared that the clouds were sufficient scattered to safely cross the Gotthard. We took-off from Bremgarten early in the evening.
When we approached the Gotthard we had a clear view to the Leventina valley across the Gotthard, and we were able to safely cross the Gotthard clear of clouds. South of the Gotthard it was clear skies (pictures).
We flew over Lugano, and then over Lago di Como to Bergamo, where we had to hold near the old city for our turn to land at Bergamo airport. Upon landing, the sun was setting. We booked a hotel in Bergamo, and we had diner in the old city.
To the Gotthard
Final runway 10 Bergamo, Orio al Serio
René at Bergamo airport
From Bergamo to Foggia
In the morning we returned to the airport where we filed a flight plan to Foggia, Gino Lisa airport. After take-off we flew direction Rimini, and then further along the eastern coast of Italy to Foggia, where we arrived 2 hours 30 minutes later. We refueled, so we did not have to fuel again before reaching Athens.
Maurits and René at Bergamo airport
Take-off runway 28 Bergamo airport
Left base runway 33 Foggia, Gino Lisa
Foggia, Gino Lisa airport
From Foggia to Ioannina
After a lunch at Foggia airport, we took-off to Ioannina in the north of Greece. We crossed the Ionian sea between the south-eastern tip of Italy and Kerkira (Corfu), and then around Kerkira counter clockwise further to Ioannina. After landing at Ioannina King Pyrros airport, we learned that the new owner of the plane had not received parking permission for the plane at Megara airport yet, and therefore we were not allowed to land at Megara. Because Ioannina airport was already closing, we decided to fly to a small aerodrome some 30 nautical miles north of Megara airport.
Departing Foggia, Gino Lisa airport
Left base runway 32 Ioannina airport
Ioannina, King Pyrros airport
From Ioannina to Kopaida
On the route from Ioannina to Kopaida we passed Kalabaka in central Greece, with its famous Meteora Monasteries nearby (pictures). It is a prohibited area from the ground up to 4000 ft, so we could not make a closer pass.
Holy Trinity monastery
The monasteries of Meteora are one of the most extraordinary sights in mainland Greece. Built into and on top of huge pinnacles of smooth rock, the earliest monasteries were reached by climbing articulated removable ladders. Later, windlasses were used so monks could be hauled up in nets, a method used until the 1920s.
Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron
The monasteries provided monks with peaceful havens from increasing bloodshed as the Byzantine Empire waned at the end of the 14th century. Access to the monasteries was originally difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. These days access to the monasteries is by steps hewn into the rocks and the windlasses are used only for hauling up provisions.
After one hour ten minutes we landed at the further deserted private aerodrome. Some twenty minutes after landing, we received a call from the new owner that he had received parking permission for the plane at Megara airport.
Olympic Air Dash 8 at Ioannina
René and Maurits with the copilot of the Dash 8
Mountains between Ioannina and Trikala
Maurits at Dekelia, Ikaros aerodrome
From Kopaida to Megara
We quickly filed a flight plan to Megara, and we took off for the last small hop. Upon arriving, we were welcomed by the new owner and some of his friends. Maurits and I booked a hotel in Athens, to return the next day to Amsterdam by airline. It was a nice journey.
Short hop to Athens, Megara airport
Gulf of Corinth
Overhead Megara airport
Arrived at Athens, Megara airport