Part I. Brindisi, Italy to Heraklion, Greece

Round the World Flight with HB-PON 2008/09
Rolf Martin FRIEDEN & Manfred Melloh
Wed 3 May 2006 20:03
35:20.3N 025:10.7E

The following days plan was to fly to Heraklion on the Greek Island of Crete and then right on, crossing the Mediterranean
Sea to Luxor in Egypt on the African Continent.

The Route flown aroud Africa over 108 Hours flying time

As we arrived at the airport in the  morning, what a surprise!
You should have seen our plane… After a rainy night with strong southerly wind, blowing brownish sand from the Lybian
desert, our Comanche had a free colour change since we parked it at the apron the day before.


We obtained our IFR clearance to Heraklion, and were advised of three Sigmets, warnings of severe turbulance in some parts
of the FIR.

A relatively uneventful flight in low visibility at level 110 until we reached a position  right abeam Patras in Greece where we
started to experience enormous turbulence and all of a sudden we were in a down draft of 1500ft/m.
Unable to maintain our level, I advised Athenes Control of the situation. A few minutes later the situation normalized again and
we climbed back to our level.

Following some unexpected rerouting, we finally approached Heraklion which reported good visibility.

Moments later, I noted down the ATS and was handed over from Approach Control to the Tower. The Tower gave me the latest weather:
Wind 180 at 35 to 40 knots. This was the moment, when I noticed
our incredible crab angle to runway.

After some exitement, we managed to get safely on the ground using runway 27.


While taxying, enquiring, if they had any news from our friends in N8873P, the answer was : « We are expecting them later » --came back.


Customs formalities, refuling at 2.10$/litre, and then on and up to the control tower.

While filing the flight plan to Luxor and checking the Meteo, we noticed that most airliners balked their landings and had to go around a
few times before finally landing, or then go on to an alternate, as the extremely strong southerly wind at a perfect right angle to the runway 
was now at times in excess of 40 knots.

No Go- to continue in such conditions on to Luxor at this point and time !

We were requested to reposition our plane 1 mile away from the main Apron Area, onto a abandoned runway for the night.
Solidely securing HB-PON with all available means was next, so it was not going to blow our aircraft right over, if the wind
should further intensify.

Again we solicitated the advise of one of the controllers in the tower and found what we were looking for, a hotel right down
town, overlooking the harbour.

Mike and Paul arrived a few hours later and by miracle we met them in the same hotel that evening.Horrified from what they
experienced in severe turbulance over the mediterranean sea and the strong crosswind conditions on landing, Mike and Paul
decided to call it a day.

My co-pilot Anne and I enjoyed strolling around in the narrow streets of old Heraklion and enjoied again a nice dinner in a nice restaurant
in the old town on a sidewalk.

The wind conditions actually worsened the following day and wind reported was 180/45 knots. The airport was packed with tourists,
wanting to return home from their holidays- a total mess !

Each Comanche crew picked up a rental car and then exploited individually the interresting mountainous Island for the rest of the day.

On the following morning, the 5th of may, the front had passed and wind conditions were calm.