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Back on the european continent

I took off from Agadir early morning and following Luc’s advices I climbed to 7000 ft in order to get the good wind.
First hour: no clouds, calm air and quiet flight.
My hands are getting frozen (We disconnected the heating system in South Africa because it heated and burned my right foot.)
After a while, the clouds appeared and I climbed on top of them keeping visual on the ground.
Then, approaching Rabat-Salé, I decided to start descending in the bumpy air and the air controler asked me to keep 3000 ft, just the most bumpy place next to the clouds and asked me to report at one point away from 20 NM on the runway axe, that means 40 NM on top of my route just for the approach while nobody’s in the circuit nor around !
I asked a direct to the last point in order to short cut the first point and avoid this extra miles. She approved and I landed rw 21 wind 290/10 kt ! after 4 hours of flight ! Quiet proud of my landing ! (sorry, 03:54 of flight !).

 

I had to wait one hour alone next to my plane to get the fuel...
That never happened to me in all Africa !
The guy from the C office came to me and said: “when are you leaving ?” “Tomorrow morning.” “You will do everything tomorrow morning !” “No sir, I want to pay and make the flight plan today”, “No, it is a 24 hours airport, you will do it tomorrow and refuelling as well !”, “No sir, I want to refuel now, I will not waste more time tomorrow waiting for the fuel, I must take off very early...”
He called the fuel guy (who had been called twice by the air controler) again and left me afraid I would ask him for something else.
Then I understood that it was 13:00 LT and they change the people: some are going home, some are coming to work...
Eventually the fuel guy arrived and filled up my tanks.
Plane secured, I went to the terminal and took a cab that drop me at the top of the Medina telling me to continue by feet to the closed hotel. Nice service ! Thank you !
I feld suddenly exhausted, tired, alone with my bags and everybody watching me deeply as if I was coming from another planet...
I found a hotel, was not sure it was the good one, rang the bell and a very nice lady, Isabelle, came to open the door.
She welcome me and we sympathize immediately.
She is Swiss and was a chief cabin for Swiss Air before !
She understood immediately how tired I could be and gave me a cup of tea.
Unfortunately she was fully booked but she decided to help me finding a nice room.
On the wall in her riad, I saw the famous phrase of St Exupery: “on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” (Le Petit Prince).
I do believe it is the Petit Prince himself who send me into this riad with this helpful lady.
She found a room in a close by other riad and took me there.
What was my surprise when in the entrance I saw written on the wall :“on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur, l’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux” (Le Petit Prince). 😳 Isabelle was surprised as well !

 

As I said before, I often ask myself: am I at the right place, at the right time with the right persons ?
Here the answer was obvious!

 

Next morning I lost 45 minutes on my schedule for nothing !
At the airport they asked my passeport 5 times: at the police desk, and 3 meters away from this desk ! Please tell me what could had changed in these 3 meters ? 🤔

 

Some people can’t believe that I am flying alone, especially in the muslim countries, me a weak woman..., and they look at me intensively, mouth open, just as if my skin will turn green, and when they notice that my skin keeps the same colour, they start laughing stupidly...

 

I finally found a helpful person: a lady at the C office.
And I took off with 30 minutes delay on my schedule.

 

Following Luc’s advices I climbed to 7000 ft in order to find the good tailwind.

 

I forgot to tell you that yesterday during my flight in altitude my artificial horizon showed me as inverted ! I think he died yesterday.
I checked again and it is confirmed: out of service !
On the ground I see a deep mist covering the land, it is nice and even if I am high it is a vfr on top without artificial horizon !

 

Heading north I passed the mountains and reaching the north tip of Africa, the landscape was splendid: on my right side: Tetouan in the fog, on my left side: Tanger clear, in front: the Mediterranean sea and Gibraltar rock !

 

As you know I don’t have 833 radio yet and I was quiet anxious about the air controler reaction.
I was ready to call Sevilla, nervous, thinking they might send me back in Morocco...
I took my nicest voice and called Sevilla who immediately confirmed very kindly that I was radar identified and I can proceed to Granada.
Waow ! What a relief...😉
In the morning, before leaving the hotel, I saw that Grenada was 800 m visibility with mist and TAF: 1800 m with mist.
I asked this nice controler the latest weather of Granada: 1600 m !
My alternated on my flight plan were Tetouan and Malaga, I asked Malaga.
He came back to me a little while later telling me that Malaga doesn’t accept vfr flight ! (I discovered later that it is not true).
He suggested me to go on a small airfield next Malaga (LEAX if I well remember) but he doesn’t have the weather (just next Malaga should be the same nice weather ! Let’s go for it !)

 

On top of losing my artificial horizon, at this altitude, my iphone doesn’t like it and switch off... meaning no pictures anymore !
And the view was just splendid, leaving the african continent in a clear sky, Gibraltar rock just in front of me and the spanish coast line with its mountains and the blue Mediterranean sea...just marvellous !
I don’t have pictures but all the views are well recorded in my hard memory !

 

I switched to Gibraltar frequency and a lovely lady with a splendid British accent answered me very politely... what a first cultural chock !
After Casablanca controler all morning... this Lady sounds like :”you are back to civilisation now Valerie, back to the real world !”
But I know it is a fake dream, Europe is NOT civilisation anymore, civilised people pay attention to each other, say hello, thank you, please, and civilised people doesn’t get angry each time they get into their car, civilised people offer a good service when you pay for it, instead of complaining about the customers....
I think you understand my position, I will not start a political debate here.

 

All this means only one simple thing: I do already miss black Africa that I love so much !

 

I overflew Gibraltar runway just ahead of it and saws an airliner ready for departure, I continued along the coast line, left the nice British Lady and went back with Sevilla.
After a while I switch with Malaga and here was the second chock: Malaga’s traffic is almost Heathrow’s !
Busy controler, many airliners, I understand now why he didn’t want me in this heavy traffic.
Still I need to get contact before entering the CTR, event if Sevilla confirmed that I can cross the CTR.
I insisted but he didn’t answer me... finally approved my route: W1-E1.
And I crossed the runways just ahead of them with the airliners landing below me ! Waow that was an experience !
After cleared of the CTR, I asked to switch frequency, no answer, I switched to Granada and turned into the mountains flying between the fat cumulus.
Long final with wind calm and bad landing I must admit ! I put it on the fatigue, long flights and high altitude...

 

I’ve been welcome by Luis a lovely old man and the director of the airport Elisa who took pictures of my arrival, my plane and me just as if I were a Hollywood star !

 

The handling agent was there telling me that handling is mandatory for plane coming from Africa ! Do you believe it ? I crossed all Africa by myself (handling agent only for Nigeria and Angola) and here in Europe, I must get a handling agent ? Come on...😡

 

I forget it immediately, so happy I was to receive such welcome !

 

I secured my plane as I decided to leave my plane here for few weeks and going back home to rest and prepare the last legs safely.

 

I would like to get a new artificial horizon, reconnect the heating, change a piece of hose from my turtle pack that is leaking and change the air filter that collected quite a lot of sand and dust.
I will ask Raymond to come with me for one day of work before following my trip: Flap 7 !

 

Luis who welcome me so warmly is sent by José Luis, president of the royal aeroclub of Spain who’s helping me in Spain and who is sent by my friend Blaise from Geneva...
Pilots world is small and helpful !

 

I take the chance to thank them warmly for their help.

 

Luis is speaking about me just as if I were a star who’s flying around the world ! Around Africa would be more correct ! No, he insists around the world. I guess crossing Europe, flying in Turkey and middle east and then Africa means around the world !👍🏽

 

He took me in a hotel and told me he will pick me up at 8 pm for dinner with his wife.
I spent a very nice evening and went to bed very late considering my usual time of sleep during my flying trip...

 

I woke up as usual at 05:20 but feld asleep again deeply.
Later I woke up feeling tired, that’s not usual for me, the morning girl !
I took a taxi to reach Malaga airport and felt asleep in the cab !

 

The busy airport of Malaga, crowded and noisy just killed me... I just want peace please, quiet and calm atmosphere... 😨

 

I flew 47:48 hours during this Flap 6 and 160:48 since departure from Belgium.

 

Each day after take off, I have a peaceful feeling of release stress. On the ground, the formalities, the flight permit validity, the flight plan, the weather, the fuel, the contact who’s expecting me, writing on my blog, sending the pictures to Thierry for him to put them on my blog, post on FB, answer my friends and followers... all these points must be worked and organized.
On top of it, there is the stress or let’s say the worries about the next flight...
This is all of that that make me so tired, I guess.

 

Since this Flap 6, I have the chance to receive the great and very helpful forecast from Luc Trullemans everyday for my next flight. I must say that it is a big part of less stress. Often, the METAR are not published in Africa or published once a day. Very rarely there’s TAF, and the information aren’t 100% reliable.
I take the chance here to thank him for his help and interest.

 

I feel sorry to be out of Africa but I start to realize what I’ve accomplished and feel quiet happy and proud about it !

 

My african favorite countries are: South Africa (to fly it is just a dream, no flight plan, no controler, you are completely free, I have some good friends over there), Botswana (beautiful country especially Okavango Delta) , Namibia (beautiful discoveries and nice private airstrips), Zambia (for the nice people and mentality), Gabon (I would like to visit more from the ground), Benin (great discoveries and nice people), Cote d’Ivoire (surprising country with many different sides), Mali (I loved the desert and poor visibility, the nice people I met), Senegal (I love the smell of Senegal and the exotic side of the country, I met many nice people with whom I keep in touch)...

 

Stay tuned... Flap 7 will start soon !

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