Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The winds at Supersano were 35-40kmph, however, with a long runway, Supersano is a safe place to land and exquisite place to eat. Our hosts were the owners of Supersano, Alfio and his wife. Alfio is an exuberant, always ready to help, full of energy and stories kind of person. It was delightful to stay with them for lunch and till late hoping that the winds would die down, or at least the gusts would reduce in their intensity.
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Gallipoli from 500ft. Flying over the sea and beginning the descent to the Gallipoli airstrip.
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Early morning Gallipoli

Close to Gallipoli early in the morning. We then landed at a sandy runway of Aeroclub of Gallipoli. It was deserted... be careful landing and taking off from Sand-dunes. At max AUW, they can make take-off miserable. Fortunately, Pluto was neither at max AUW nor does it have a low engine, thus things went off smoothly.
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Planes parked at Castel del Monte

Pluto is the second aircraft from left, parked at the airstrip of Tannoja (I-BAAND). We refueled during the evening for an early start the next morning.
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Castel del Monte

When we landed at Tannoja's airstrip (I-BAAND), we took Mr. Salvatore Tannoja's car for a ride to see the incredible Castel del Monte. We could see the edge of Tannoja's strip from there.
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Beautiful fields

All the way from Termoli to Castel del Monte, the rolling hills look incredibly beautiful. One characteristic of the farm fields is that after cultivation, the farmers burn the straw on the fields. This gives them a very tapestry like look. This was the first such field I noticed before landing at Castel del Monte.
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View from Vasto towards Termoli

Heading south from Vasto, the sea appears extremely clean. Termoli is at the second tip that projects from the coast line. We made a deviation from Termoli heading straight into Castel del Monte. Puglia is full of CTR's and ATZ's that are prohibited for ULM. Thus, our path takes us smack into the line dividing the CTR's of Amendola and Foggia. Alberto, calls it FogAmen. Thus that's our next reporting point to each other.
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On the way to Alanno

To avoid the CTR of Pescara, we are forced to head out from the sea to Alanno, a tiny sleepy town in the shadow of the daunting Mount Morrone. The mountain range has crevices that form the valleys leading towards the sea. The view is spectacularly breathtaking.
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Landing for the first fuel stop at Corridonia

My Pluto (far right) and the Eurostar (left) of Alberto and Ivano in an empty hangar at the Corridonia aeroclub. I took 35 liters of automotive gasoline for the next 350km of our leg to Castel del Monte.
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San Marino on the Port Side

On the way to Puglia, notice the characteristic ledge of Republic of San Marino on the port side of Pluto.
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Trip from Sabbioneta (Mantova) to Supersano in Puglia

An announcement on the website of Aeroclub of Mantova mentioned an organized trip to Puglia with ULM aircraft. I wrote to them and got an invitation to visit the club for a briefing two days prior to the trip.
Thus, 18th evening I drove to the club... during the day from the air it is easy to reach, however, at 9pm after sunset, it was quite an adventure. There I met Alberto for the first time. He'd planned the trip with fuel stops, the entire route was developed avoiding all the CTR's ATZ's and other numerous no-fly zones on the way.

Briefing: Monday 18th of August 2008
For those of you who don't know, in Italy we cannot fly above 500feet AGL during the week days and 1000feet AGL during weekends and holidays. Additionally, not only we're not allowed to land on any "real" airport, all CTR's and ATZ's are prohibited to ULMs. Therefore if you find yourself in an emergency you have very few options, and all of them are away from "real publicly funded (read: funded by tax payers money) airports".

In Italy, there are approximately 10,000 ULM's, defined as sport apparatus with max all up mass of 450kgs, two seat capability, and a stall speed lower than 70km/hour. The only respite is that the 450kg mass does not include the mass of instruments and ballistic parachutes. The General Aviation Fleet in Italy is 1/10th of the ULM fleet. GA fleet flying hours are much less as well, however accident rates with respect to the fleet size make the Italian GA fleet less safer than the ULM fleet. Despite the statistics that proves them wrong, the Italian aviation authorities such as ENAC/ENAV cite ULM's as unsafe and the main reason that they are not allowed into airports.

Tuesday 19th of August, 2008
With briefing notes, the route saved into my tiny GPS, a standby GPS, I pack up a rucksack for the three day trip, complete with tools for emergency, water bottle, Jeppeson VFR maps for Italy. When all was setup, I couldn't locate tie-downs for Pluto, and remembered that one of the pilots has promised me the ties, thus, I called one of the pilots and he told me that he'd dropped out of the flight. I immediately called Alberto who said they'll go anyway. Thus we agreed once again to wait for each other at the first refueling stop.

Wednesday 20th of August 2008
Pluto cruises around 20-25kmph slower than the brand new Eurostar, therefore, I was supposed to take off 30minutes earlier for the first stretch of 300km.
I planned my take-off at 7:00 as was already at the Sabbioneta airstrip at 6:20. The plane was already prepared, fueled up, cleaned and ready to go. The visibility at 7:00 was perfect and I took off as scheduled. The trip was now on.