Georgia is a hidden gem for tourists


Local tour operator Vanilla Sky setup a full tourist program spanning over four days for our 44 person group. It included a visit of visit of Georgia’s capital Tbilisi, but also a visit of the Khazbegi castles. It further included a flight high in the European Caucasus whilst a two day tour in Svaneti with overnight stay in Mestia. And finally, the eastern part of Georgia (the Kakheti wine region) was visited as well.

The food we enjoyed has always been amazing! A great farewell dinner was organized in the “Shadow of Metekhi”, overseeing the valleys of Tbilisi. We’ll always remember the great cultural heritage and absolutely exceptional hospitality and friendship one finds everywhere in Georgia. This is unseen!

The official part ended on August 12th. Some teams extended their stay in Georgia for another week and discovered the country with rented jeeps, some other crews flew to Antalya, where the local authorities offered free half board hotel stayover for several days. Some other crews flew home over the Black sea.

welcome event setup by Vanilla Sky and the Georgian government

A formal welcome for the European aviators was setup on August 9, in presence of multiple TV and radio crews. Georgian State Minister for EU and Atlantic integration David Bakradze as well as Giorgi Chogovadze, head of the Georgian National Tourism Administration held warm speeches as Georgia feels itself as a part of the European house. A further speech was held by Guram Jalaghonia, head of the Civil Aviation Agency of Georgia, who’s team helped a lot to facilitate flying in to Georgia was private pilots
We distributed the rare bottles of “Chateau de Schengen” wine we brought from Luxembourg. This was highly appreciated as Georgia is preparing to join the European Union.

Amiran Ivanidze , Peter Sodermans and Niko Tsiklauri 

Peter Sodermans and Jean Birgen

The Peterzelka family

Peter Sodermans, Jean Birgen, Georgia State Minister David Bakradze and  Giorgi Chogovadze (head of Tourism in Georgia)

State Minister David Bakradze talks about Georgian’s EU and atlantic integration

Peter Sodermans and Jean Birgen with the picture of Minister Goebbels of Luxembourg

Speech Peter Sodermans and Jean Birgen

Georgia State Minister David Bakradze and  Giorgi Chogovadze (head of Tourism in Georgia) actively supporting to attract general aviation into Georgia

some 120 persons attended the welcome event

Peter Sodermans hands over the (very rare) Chateau de Schengen wine to Georgian State Minister David Bakradze 
a memorable event

arrival at Natakthari airfield in Georgia (UGSA)

After being validated for an overland flight by the Georgian central dispatching unit, all our planes left subtropical Batumi in the morning and headed for our final destination, being the general aviation airfield of Natakthari (UGSA), north of Georgian’s capital city Tbilisi. This airfield has a hotel and swimming pool at the same facilities. It proved to be a perfect stayover location. We had also lots of children with us on this rally, which strengthed the family atmosphere of the rally

The owner of the airfield, Amiran Manjavidze, organized a huge welcome party for the European aviators with dance, music and whilst tasting the excellent Georgian food and wines of his own vineyards. The Chairman of the faction Georgian Dream, Gia Volski, attended the event and was quite enthusiastic when we rolled the flag of the Schengen agreement.

dance and music party was organized for the first European aviators arriving in Georgia

welcomed by Gia Volksi, chairman of Georgian dream in the Georgian parliament

The Luxembourg Schengen flag arrived in Georgia

Gia Volksi and Peter Sodermans

Crossing the Georgian border

With sunny Turkish skies, all our pilots were able to take off early in the morning and we flew to the University Engiz airport in the northern part of Turkey, where we received also a warm welcome. Avgas was provided to all planes over there

Whilst preparing this rally, we learned that finding AVGAS once you pass Istanbul is not obvious. We had to organize in advance to get AVGAS at all the airfields we visited

Flying from there over the Black Sea shores, our pilots approached hot and humid Batumi, Georgia by the end of the afternoon.

Our pilots have been paying in advance for AVGAS to Vanilla Sky in Georgia, which was brought in barrels on the back of a car and served with a hand pump at the Batumi airport. The good teamwork with the Georgian Vanilla Sky management made it possible that we were delivered with quality AVGAS (imported from Holland) all along our route in Georgia.

landing in rainy Batumi with CB’s around

approaching Batumi via the sea

refueling adventures with a hand pump

Flying to Turkey

After an early morning take off due to an approaching thunderstorm, all pilots headed for Turkey after loosing some time due to customs formalities in southern Hungary. On trips like these, the clear advantage of the Schengen agreement becomes obvious. Some pilots made a fuel stop in Serbia (with AVGAS prices as low as 1€ per liter). Some others made a stop in Bulgaria. Due to the military coup attempt in July 2016 in Turkey, the airspace of Turkey was initially closed for all VFR traffic up to 20.000 ft. By the time we arrived, this limitation was restricted to the CTR’s of Istanbul and Ankara…but it was only thanks to the efforts and network of our advisory board member Turgut Kulacoglu, fmr president of the Bosporus aviation club, that all our planes got a special corridor of the Turkish Interior Minister validated which allowed us to fly a narrow route to the airfield of Bursa Yenişehir Airport Turkey (LTBR). 
Over here, we discovered the great Turkish hospitality as a welcome reception has been organized by the Istanbul aviation club. In the evening, we were invited by the Bosporus aviation club to enjoy dinner by the on a sea terrace at the Bosphorus. Wonderful people!

a formal welcome team has been waiting us up in Turkey

we enjoyed great Turkish hospitality

Skydemon has Turkish charts

Dining with our friends of the Bosphorus aviation club. We’ll never forget


  • 11 planes are on their way to Georgia right now, carring 25 persons 
  • 9 persons coming by regular airline 
  • 34 persons in total arriving at Natakhari of which 4 are children 

route to Turkey

Turgut did some homework for your route after entering Turkish airspace.
Entry point you should request for our route is ADORU 
You may have trouble contacting Istanbul Radar frequency at entry point. In that case you can always contact Corlu airport, Frq. 120.37 or 122.10
Corlu VOR  frq 115.90  and IST (Istanbul) VOR frq  112.50
Here is the Route
via G80
to  EKI (Tekirdag city)  VOR 116.30
via G12
to  YAA (Yalova city) VOR 117.70
via W714
to BRY after  VOR 115.30
dct LTBR
At entry point ADORU until YAA maintain 7500 as this is the minimum altitude for the route.

After YAA desend as you like and contact Yenisehir tower 124.20

Remainder  for Flight Plans into Turkey. Please don’t miss this.
Please state in section 18 of your plans.



Update from LHJK

Dear pilots

Although the initiative of this rally was driven by Luxembourg, the official gathering point for all crews to join was the airfield of Jakabszállás in Hungary (LHJK) with its famous Aerohotel (with swimming pool and 2 runways: grass and concrete). A social event has been setup as welcome party, being an aviator’s party with a live band playing gipsy music.

Greetings for LHJK where already 5 planes arrived


The weather is what a summer should look alike, sunny,  warm and very nice and whilst we are waiting for the other pilots and planes to arrive, we have some news from Turkey.

Most of the restrictions caused by the coup are lifted, only Istanbul and Ankara CTR’s remain prohabited.

The letter we received yesterday states if we respect the rules we are authorized to go ahead.

Turgut will send us this evening the new corridor which is basicly IFR routes at VFR levels. This will make your flight 50 miles shorter 🙂

I need to send him at 3pm UTC the latest list of planes/crew/passengers to prepare customs documents so you wont have to prepare anything on arrival.

So far I have no feedback or any news from the Italian planes, we still hope and encourage them to join the rally as all obstacles have definitively been cleared.

We’ve taken off

Our initial plan was to take of on August 3 for the Hans Gutmann memorial long range tourist rally to Georgie, but our Cessna Skylane (the 182) with call sign LX-AIX was still in the maintenance. As the plane was finally ready on August 4th, it started to heavily rain in Luxembourg. With western winds a front was passing in Luxembourg. So we were postponing and postponing our departure. At 2pm UTC (4pm local time in Luxembourg) we finally left Luxembourg.

I filed a flight plan to LOLW , Wels airport in Austria. Wels Airfield (ICAO: LOLW) is an airfield serving Wels, a city in the Austrian state of Upper Austria. It is not used for commercial scheduled services but features business and general aviation as well as private and military training flights and medical transportation.

The first part of the flight forced me (as a VFR pilot) to flow relatively low as there were many clouds and some rain from time to time. Visibility has been ok and there was little wind. Only after Stuttgart in Germany, the situation improved a bit. I realised it got impossible to reach Hungary, we have been taken off too laten.

That’s why we ended up landing in Wels.Here’s it was warm and sunny. After a traditional Austrian dinner in a Biergarten,we went early too bed as the plan is to get up early tomorrow morning as the bad weather is following us.

bad weather for departure

many clouds on part I of the flight

the new GNS 650

perfect landing in Wels

our crew: Romain Fouarge, Peter Sodermans, Guido Peterzella

crew overview

We have 15 crews who signed up for the rally. We’ve used a website and blog, as well as a Facebook page to interact with our pilots and followers. However, due to the political troubles in Turkey in the weeks prior to the departure of the rally, we noticed that 5 crews did not show up and 1 crew canceled due to technical problems. All by all, we had 9 crews who flew into Georgia. Some 10 persons flew to Georgia by regular airline. All together, we had a group of some 44 people.

The following planes participated at the 2016 rally
Luxembourg LX-AIX C182
Luxembourg LX-AVS Piper Saratoga PA32T
Luxembourg LX-AIE C172SP
Turkey TC-UTH Flight design CTLS
United Kingdom G-UILT Cessna 303
Germany D-ELAI Flight Design CTSL
Lithuania F-HASD Cirrus SR22
Austria D-EWGA Flight Design CTLS
Poland SP-AVI Cirrus SR20
Turkey TC-MCM Cessna Skylane (till Batumi)
Turkey TC-EST Socata TB-21 (till Ordu Giresun airfield)