It all started with an article last year in the AOPA magazin about the Vanilla Sky operations north of Tblisi (Natakhtari airfield) in Georgia. ( not US Georgia, but European Georgia landlocked in between the Kaspian and Black seas together with Armenia and Azerbeijan.)
According to this article, the.Vanilla Sky team over there has some private single engine planes available which they rent out. This little country at European/Asian border has been triggering me for a long time and so time has come to go and discover flying options in Georgia.
Historically seen, I remember that they were once part of the Roman Empire almost 2000 years ago and that the early Christianity influenced this region quite a lot. They seem to have a very rich cultural heritage. It is also a country which has been in the midst between power full neighbours and who too often unfortunately turned into a war zone. The kitchen of Georgia must be one of the best of the world from what I read, it is time to plan some tasting. Similar for the wines, which are quite renowned in the former Sovjet Union states, but you can’t find them in Luxembourg!
We established contacts with the Vanilla Sky team and they learned me they have two small planes available for rent, being a Cessna 172 and a Cessna 182. That sounded good, but I learned that you can’t just rent one of their planes, there seems to be strangely enough a legal obligation that every plane always needs to be flown by a pilot having a Georgian flight license.
Nevertheless this minor point, I’d like to give it a try. I addressed my interest for flying in Georgia to fellow pilots at the UPL-AOPA, there was immediately some interest.
Further, I have been contacting their government and aviation authorities to address the point of the flight licenses and they agreed to meet to discuss the matter.
In order to study the feasibility of setting up a pan European “1st Long Range tourist Rally” to Georgia in 2016, we have been putting together a small exploration team. All of this resulted that we are on our way now to Georgia these first days of August together with Jean Birgen ( experienced organiser of long range rallies for pilots and FAI technical officer) and Misha (Mike) Kornev and Artem Kirillov, who are both young Russian entrepreneurs living in European and passionated private pilots as well.
After some preparations, we decide to fly from Luxembourg via Amsterdam ( with regular filght) to Tblisi, Georgia’s capital city. It proved to be the only option to arrive in the afternoon, Turkish airlines and Lufthansa only have flights to this country arriving in the mid of the night.
Tblisi, here we come !!!