156.7h – Alps Crossing

The Franklin engine roared to live and accompanied us with its distinctive galloping sound, while taxiing to runway two five. I gave the girls a quick passenger briefing and took off into the blue skies. Crossing the alps will always amaze me. 🙂 The first time without my dad – but with a superb crew on board. My girlfriend has been promoted to first officer and a friend of us took place in row 2. The weather looked perfect.

Routing-Locarno

As you can see on the map, there would have been a more direct route. Due to an active military area at Meiringen I had to circumnavigate. I called my father the day before to ask for a description of the area I would fly through. En route I was happy to reconize the places he explained. On the left turn before Raron we had a clouddeck ahead. I knew there was some cloud in the alps – but an overcast at 9000 feet? Time to D-E-C-I-D-E. I decided to check if the needed waypoints were on the GPS and I knew it had no clouds in Sion and north/south of the alps. At an altitude of 11’500ft msl I headed direct to Ambri. On the way I dialed in the ATIS of Locarno and was surprised I had conception. When I heard “clouds few at 6500ft” I knew I would be able to descend at my destination. Deduced reckoning combined with GPS made it easy to find Biasca. There, the clouds became widely scattered. The highway and double track railway in sight I could verify it was the correct valley and started the descent from 11’500ft down to a circuit altitude of 2000 feet. We were cleared for a straight in approach. After a great landing we parked on the grass parking, called a cab and went to Ascona for lunch. The girls had a biiig grin on their face and so had I! 🙂

In a restaurant at the lake we ate superb pasta and risotto and tried our best to talk Italian with the server…! We walked all the way back to Locarno which took almost one and a half hours. We treated ourselves with big ice creams from a Gelateria by the lake.

We refueled the airplane and climbed up to 9’500 feet between the few clouds. It was beautiful. The same route back – but this time without the clouds underneath. Many many glaciers, valleys and mountains passed by until we reached our homebase again. I loved this trip. I love to be a certified pilot! =)

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