Ferry Flight 1: Switzerland to Crete

Its been a successful day. First time at the controls – and it was a great flight.

We departed the Pilatus factory airfield at around 10am local time and landed around 3.30pm local time at Iraklion, Crete. It was hot a humid when we left Switzerland and it was hot when we landed. This is likely to be a consistent experience this week, and likely all the more so at our next few landing points!

I really enjoyed flying between countries today, up at 29,000 feet (and with a very effective air-conditioner in the aircraft as well, it’s the coolest I’ve been in days!).

I was happy to discover that I had remembered most of what I had learned during my type endorsement course! I started up and we launched up and away from the place my plane was built.

We flew up over the Swiss mountains (marvelling at the peaks and the glaciers), then headed down alongside Italy, over several smaller Greek islands before descent and landing in Crete.

We landed into the main runway in Iraklion, which juts right out to a cliff edge over the water, and sits quite close to town.

We were guided in to park alongside some other visiting aircraft, most notably a Piaggio P.180 Avanti. This is rather beautiful aircraft, with impressive performance, that has a quite unique ramp presence.

Customs clearance was swift (we haven’t yet left the EU) and ten minutes later we were at our hotel, down near the harbour in Iraklion.

It’s a huge contrast from the very organised, clean, verdant and highly maintained environment in Switzerland. Indeed it is pretty the much the precise opposite to each of those attributes ☺

There are plenty of tourists here, doing what we did this evening…. wandering the streets, looking at the shops and stalls and the churches and the collision of building types, styles, and states of disrepair that initially assault the eyes somewhat. However, it doesn’t take long to get used to it all and relax into the place.

The people do seem relaxed and comfortable with the place – there is an almost happy-go-lucky sensibility to the township. Nobody looks too stressed about anything – which is really rather lovely.

The shops close over the middle of the day and were only just re-opening again when we stepped out of our hotel at 5.30pm… and they will be open far into the night.

Switzerland has a lot of bikes. Iraklion has almost none (and the few in evidence seem to be ridden tourists). Instead, the dominant mode of transport is small motor scooters.

We had dinner at a restaurant at the top of our hotel (a hotel which has very small but clean and comfortable rooms, and… saints be praised… air conditioning). From that vantage point, we watched the sun set over the harbour (with its old fortifications and sea wall, and with big ferries loading cars and trucks while a succession of low cost airline flights belted into and out of the airport just up the road, and up over our heads).

Tomorrow we’ll depart at 8am local time and head for Sharm El Sheikh.  It should be a shorter leg (likely around 3 hours), and I’m sure it’ll be another big experiential shift from the day before!

I’ve put together a photo essay from the day… It’s too late in the day to add more comments under them all, so they’ll just have to stand as they are, and hopefully they’ll tell a bit more of the story in pictures that I’ve tried to write down here in words.

One in the gallery is the last one of the Jeppesen maps we will use tomorrow. You can see that final part of the flight will take us right over Cairo airport and then onward to Sharm El Sheikh, at the northern end of the Red Sea. I’m looking forward to it!