The next morning, we ate or breakfast –in which the bread was counted, 2 pieces a person, not more! –, I discovered I lost my sun glasses, and we waited for our taxi that was ordered the day before. It was the owner of the hotel himself who drove us to the airport. He told us the hotel was damaged from a fire, which explained why they were planning to renovate it, and there were not too much people present.
Once we arrived back at the airport why took care of the administration. Turned out the guy from the day before “guessed” our weight: 1800 kg. Do we really look that fat ? After correcting the number –it was 1087 kg- we checked the weather again, decided it was good enough, and walked to the plane. No van this time, because the driver was busy with something else. After a short walk during which I must have looked like a hunting dog trying to find his prey (but the prey/sunglasses were never found), a pre flight check and the loading of the luggage, the plane was ready to fly. Well, almost. Because of the fuel problem, we decided to modify our original plan, and fuel wherever possible. Even if that means getting fuel at excessive high prices in Germany. The latest pilot reports (only a few weeks old) we checked on the internet predicted prices of 1.6 and 1.8 eur/liter in the east of Europe. So that would compensate for the 2.33 eur/l they charged in Kassel.
Fully fueled, we taxied to the holding (due to noise abatement procedures, an intersection take off was not allowed) of runway 22, lined up a few minutes after a jet (the only other traffic that morning) , and proceeded directly to Vodochody.
The weather was getting better with every airmile we flew. The scattered clouds, that looked like little sheep grazing between the mountains –and were possible responsible for some heavy fog on the ground- made room for a beautiful grass landscape, that reflected the morning sun back to our airplane. I really missed my sun glasses at that moment. Luckily my flying buddy thought about pretty much everything, and out of this giant bag of supplies, he magically made spare sunglasses appear. Thanks again!
Blocking out the sun, we could proceed for our first stop in Czech: Vodochody. Accustomed to the Flemish way of pronouncing the place name, we were a bit surprised that you actually pronounce it as “Woedoechoody”. Sounded like a character from a Looney Tunes cartoon. After contacting Woedoechoody tower, we only had the runway in sight when we were almost overhead the threshold. A very steep approach path (you got to love 40° flaps) and a rather rough landing later, we were parked on the ground.
Vodochody is an airport with the ambition to become a major airport for general aviation traffic heading towards Prague. Luckily for us, they are not a big airport yet, so the landing fees were pretty decent. Apparently, there were also two organizations responsible for the management of the aiport. On the one hand, there was a company that owned the place and controlled the tower. On the other hand, we have the local general aviation guy, located in some prefabricated containers on the airfield itself. Luckily, this guy also controlled the fuel truck, so our extremely thirsty bird could drink as much as required.
After a friendly but –at first sight- strange welcome “Hello, welcome, we didn’t know you were coming ?” we were told we made our second mistake of the trip. Apparently Vodochody was a PPR (Prior Permission Required) airfield. Could be, they didn’t mention it on their website, and as they were not published in the Czech AIP, there was no way for us to know it was a PPR airfield. “Sorry” may seem to be the hardest word to some singers, on this moment it got us a “no problem, remember it for next time” and free drinks and cookies. Only cookies. Since we hadn’t eaten since the early morning –with the counted bread- , we could use something bigger and tastier, but unfortunately, this would be too much of a practical hassle (“No food on this area of the airport, and it would take long just to drive you out of the airport and back in. But we have cookies!”). Ah well, no point of starving here then. We filed our new flight plan, grabbed an extra cookie, and proceeded to our airplane, that was all ready to fly again.
Our next stop would be Brno (no letters are missing). One of the bigger cities of Czech. This trip was also quite uneventful. The weather forecast and the actual weather were both very good. This would be a relaxing and rather short trip. An hour and something later, we landed in Brno. The airport looked nice, a little confusing taxi and ground controller (“ah, there you are, sorry, turn right now”). Nice planes on the general aviation apron. The handling van was already waiting for us. Waiting, the magic word in Brno.
After the landing, we wanted to check the weather, to see if it would be wise to proceed to the next airport today (it was only 15h00 local time), or if it would be better to stay in Brno. Checking the weather is easy, right? Not in Brno. You need some extra passes to leave the security area. Since the weather office was located outside the secured area, we needed those passes. Of course, no one ever checks them. Feeling really secured, I proceeded to the weather office, while my co-pilot of the day was taking care of fuelling and administration. He waited for the fueling guys, while I was waiting for the weather. Everything goes quite slow in Brno, even though they have a lot of employees, all running around in slightly old-fashioned, military style uniforms. The weather forecast looked good for this day and the next. A little put off with the probably high landing and parking fees in Budapest International (our next stop), we decided to go touristic, and spend the rest of the day in the center of Brno. One extra half hour wait later, the taxi arrived to drive us to our hotel.
The hotel was located close to the city center. The ideal place to leave for some sightseeing. I combined this with a search to find a more classy looking replacement for my sunglasses (yes, their loss really bugged me the rest of the trip – I’ll never love again!). I did not find a reasonable priced alternative. That evening, we went to a restaurant in the vicinity of the hotel.
Our first encounter with Czech restaurants was not that positive. The first one did not even try to speak English, and we were not very welcome in his crowded place. Luckily, his neighbor was a lot friendlier. But of course, we had to wait… We killed the time by trying to translate some menu’s that were painted on the window. Finally, the waiter showed up, and brought us an English menu, which was just perfect. That evening, I ate the best steak of my life. It was a steak “Sirloin” -apparently quite common in restaurants in that area, but I hadn’t heard the exact name in Belgium- with some spiced butter. Very juicy, just heavenly!
We finished the evening by checking the weather once more (surprise: weather forecast was getting worse again) and filling in the airplane logbooks. If everything would go well, we would be sleeping in Romania the next day… Thinking about this, we dozed off in our air-conditioned room.