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Carcassonne Trip 2011

Three Skyrangers, RG in G-HMCB, the Bassett's in G-CZMI and the Ian Town's in G-SKRG met with Ian Love and Graham Elvis in their FoxBat for this amble down the middle of France to the historic walled city of Carcassonne, which can boast being the recipient of two World Heritage Site awards. 

Meeting at Lashenden EGKH (Headcorn) we had an uneventful journey over than channel to Abbeville LFOI where customs etc had been booked. After refueling, a swift turn round took us on our way down to Chartres Champol LFOR where we arrived just after 1600 local. After parking we were asked to move the aircraft across the grass and RG found difficulty restarting G-HMCB.

We were booked into the ETAP at Chartres which turned out to be a doubtful decision as it is neither near the airfield or the city centre. Several expensive taxi rides later we had booked in and then gone into the City for dinner, which we took at an outdoor venue looking across to the magnificent cathedral.

The following morning was spent sightseeing in the city centre and visiting the cathedral in particular, before going back to the airfield for departure. We left at about 1300 local for the short 1hr45 journey to the next stop, Chatellerault Targe LFCA. Here again, the ETAP was inconvenient for the town but not too far from the hotel. We didn’t go into town that evening as Mike Hawkins had previously reported a decent oriental restaurant a short walk from the ETAP, so that is where we victualed.

The chap running the flying club at Chatellerault was very helpful and sold us mogas in containers which we transferred into our tanks. There was a minor hiccup in that G-HMCB was found to have a defective carb rubber (the probable reason for the difficult starting and vibration at Chartres previously). Fortunately Ian and Graham had a spare 912S carb rubber which RG was able to fit, and we left at 1120 local, bound for Bergerac Roumanière LFBE,  a flight of just over 2 hours. Bergerac is a fairly busy regional airport but the arrival arrangements were straightforward. We did have to pass out and in through security though, and there was a need to carry pilot documents for this purpose. Fuel was taken on board there and Ian and Graham had what seemed to be a minor collision between their wing and a hangar. As it turned out this was found, on return to the UK, to be quite serious and major repairs to the wing had to be undertaken.

We were on the ground at Bergerac for 1hr30 and left there at 1500 local for Carcassonne. After flying for a couple of hours over increasingly hilly terrain Carcassonne Salvaza LFMK came into view and we joined in an orderly fashion, landing and parking on a hard apron, which was furnished with embedded and secure tie-downs. This was however a very long way from the terminal.

Taxis were taken to the ETAP, another marginal decision as once again the hotel was several miles from the town centre and stuck out on a soulless industrial estate, albeit quite close to the airport. We spent two nights in Carcassonne, mainly walking round the magnificent walled part of the city, one of the finest examples anywhere. There are heaps of bars and restaurants with cassoulet seeming to be the local speciality.

Total flying time for the outward journey was 9hr55.

We left Carcassonne Salvaza LFMK at 1000 local, having failed to find anyone taccept our landing and parking charges of around €24. The office for such was simply not open and everyone else just shrugged. So off we went. Ian and Graham decided to stay an extra day as the wind was picking up and gusting quite badly.

Our next leg, to Sarlat Domme LFDS, was a two hour flight over the pleasant and picturesque countryside of the Dordogne. We were soon parked up there and chatting to the very friendly pilots at the aero club. There were no refreshments but Laurie brewed up tea on the apron, which went down very well. An hour later we were on the way to Troyes, about 2 hours or so to the north.  The only really sour note of the trip was being told off in very severe terms on arrival at Troyes Barberey LFQB that as ULMs we should not be there without permission. To be fair to them, this is what the guides actually say.

After investigating the hotel at Troyes next to the airfield (expensive and not very interesting) we elected to go into town and stay at the centrally located IBIS. From here it was an easy stroll to the restaurant area of this very attractive timbered mediaeval town where we took dinner.

Another good day for flying followed. Taking off from Troyes at 1020 local (the bad feeling of the previous day had entirely disappeared, we were able to refuel and everyone was very helpful and friendly) our next stop at Abbeville was 2hr20. On arrival we topped up and left for home. I arrived home in 2hr 15.

Total flying time of return journey was 10hr40, total trip therefore 20hr35.

A great trip, but we felt that a more relaxed schedule might have suited us better.  (RG)

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