We have been continuing our preparations for the rally to Georgia this August. Yesterday, we had another meeting with the organisation team. In Turkey, we have got a good contact, Turgut Kulacoglu, who has been very active in his country providing us all necessary support for the preparations.
Even although the official folder hasn’t been distributed yet, we’ve already had several pilots who contacted us from various European countries expressing their interest in participating to this great adventure
The following decisions were taken:
- The participation fee for the rally is deliberately kept low as the preparation is based upon volunteer work. The inscription fee is 250€. Our team member Mike Kornev is to open an online account to receive payments.
- Day 1 – August 5: Arrival to Jakabszállás – Hungary (LHJK). According to the website http://en.aerohotel.hu/rovatok/repuloter/a_repuloter/ 100LL is available. Outbound Customs control should be done at the last airport of Schengen area, in this case LHJK has got an “on-demand” customs, meaning they should be notified two days in advance (small fee) by the airport officials, so they arrange customs people to be there at a small charge.
- Day 2 – August 6: flight to Turkey.A fuel stop on the road at Sofia airport in Bulgaria can be scheduled.Our initial plan was to land in Turkey on the Sabiha Gökçen (LTFJ) airfield and spend the night in Istanbul.According to a Belgian pilot, Evi Mellebeek, who has been there and as well as according to Turgut, this might be a painfull option. Due to high season landing delays sometimes are close to 1 hour and they only give 3 VFR takeoff permits per hour. Avgas seems possible, but with some issues. So we have been looking for alternatives around Istanbul. Two alternatives were found: west of Instanbul, there’s Tekirdağ Çorlu Airport (LTBU) (Turkish: Tekirdağ Çorlu Havalimanı). This is a military and public airport in Çorlu, a town in Tekirdağ Province, Turkey. It was opened to public/civil air traffic in 1998. The other alternative south east of Istanbul is the Bursa-Yeneschir (LTBR) airfield, which seems to have a hangar available. Our team member Artem has been there and was not enthusiastic about this place even although handling costs are half the price of Corlu airport.Decision is taken to land in Turkey first at the Çorlu Airport (LTBU) and stay there overnight.
- Day 3 – August 7: Flight to Batumi Georgia (UGSB)Turgut Kulacoglu delivered excellent support, we now have a good insight of the road to follow within Turkey– Less than 400 NM after Istanbul, there’s the Samsun Carsamba airport (LTFH) for refuelling. The good news is that there’s a flight school at Samsun airport which provides Avgas.– An alternative is Ordu Giresun airport (LTCB) refuelling. It is some 80 Miles after Samsun. This is and artificial island airport opened in 2015. City is very near for those who wish to lunch. Customs available. Avgas will be sent to this airport for this occasion.We need in any way to hurry up as we intend to land in Batumi (UGSB), just behind the Georgian border, where’w e’ll stay overnight as well. Batumi is a very modern city , we were truly impressed by the beauty of it last year during our exploration tour. Artem and Mike will check customs and refuelling in Batumi. An option is that Avgas is brought by tank to Batumi.
- Day 4 – August 8 Batumi to Natakhari airfieldA point which needs to be discussed with Georgian authorities is the road to follow to Natakhari airfield. Peter to connect to co-organiser Mike Kornev to Georgian Civil Aviation Agency officials.Our co-organiser Artem received good news from Georgia from the spouse of the owner of the general aviation Natakhari airfield,. They can provide us high quality AVGAS at 2.5€/liter. As this needs to be imported from abroad, a prepayment will be requested. Artem to work this out.We’ve agreed that we’ll use the Natakhari general aviation airfield as our arrival point and basis from where to operate.
- Day 5 – August 9 Natakhari to Tbilisi airportOn Day 5, we’ll fly with all participants in the morning to Tbilisi international airport, where we’ll have to coordinate with Georgian Government officals to have an official welcome.That’s also the place where the 4 day tourist part of our expedition starts, which we will be further developed in cooperation with Amiran Ivanidze of the Georgian National Tourism Administration (GNTA).We need to clarify as well with Georgian Civil Aviation Agency officials if travel within the country is allowed for our pilots
- Day 9 – August 13 Farewell dinnerOn August 12, we’ll end the official part of the tour with a farewell dinner in Natakhari or Tbilisi.
- Day 10 – August 14. Pilots refuel in Natakhari and flying out of Georgia.We’ve decided to end the tour in Georgia, giving everyone the opportunity to extend their stay in this beautiful country.