One of the reasons why I value my job, is the opportunity to visit regularly different countries around Europe. What I normally do is to find an airport and rent a plane to fly around.
Two things made me dream of my latest trip: the country, Cyprus, and the plane. Indeed, I finally managed to fly on a Tecnam.
I landed in Larnaca (ICAO code: LCLK) at 14.45 and at 15.30 I was already running the pre-flight inspection of 5B-CLE, a Tecnam P92JS owned by Nemax Pilot Training.
Nemax is a small school, but they offer all pilot courses and offer a fleet of planes at a very reasonable price. I liked the friendly, relaxed yet deeply professional atmosphere and I am looking forward to my next trip to the Island to do some hour building and seriously considering some additional steps in my training with them.
The P92 is a high-wing plane, with a nice aerodynamic profile and characterised by a very light weight (its first version was indeed conceived for the ultralight market). It uses a stick control, like in the Katana, but the nose wheel is directly connected to the pedals and the breaks are controlled by a lever between pilot and passenger seat, which makes taxiing a little different from what I am used to. I could write for a few pages about Tecnam, but I don’t want to repeat myself, so take a look at my previous article about Tecnam’s founders, the Pascale bothers.
The airspace of Cyprus is not particularly vast, but due to the presence of military installations and high terrain, VFR flights must be conducted according to pre-defined routes between Paphos and Larnaca or to training areas in airspace G. Flight plans must be submitted for all flights departing Larnaca. The VFR chart is available at the website of the Department of Civil Aviation of Cyprus (link here)
Zakos, joins me to guide me in the familiarisation with the area. We contact the tower to request the start-up and receive the expected taxi instructions via CU and B. Large airlines like Lufthansa lands in Larnaca. We waited around 20 minutes in front of holding point B enjoying the close touch down of a few A320s and then were cleared for take off by radio and by the green lights on the taxiway.
I lined-up the P92 and applied full power. I barely had the time to call the speed because the P92 likes short take-offs and it accelerated and detached in matter of instants. We overflew the right (north) downwind of runway 22 till over the Salt Lake and then entered the VFR route for the Marki training area.
I like the P92JS, the checklist is short and you can focus on flying. Due to its lightweight and high-wing configuration the pilot must fly in the most precise manner to avoid the cabin to swing sideways. I like this aspect of the machine because it helps me focus on my primary goal as pilot, i.e. flying well!
I tried the usual check ride manoeuvres like steep turns and stalls and I still have a baby smile on my face. Having tried the Savage Cub, I was expecting a wing drop while attempting the stall much earlier, but
it just didn’t drop.
Fully satisfied by the behaviour of this plane, I enjoyed the landscape in front of my eyes: green fields, hills hiding small towns and then river becoming lakes just before a dam.
The weather was so enjoyable at 22 Celsius, even inside the cockpit, where typically every temperature above 20 is easily doubled. We then left Marki, via the reporting point of Alampra and then went back to Larnaca for some Traffic patterns.
The standard traffic patterns develops to the South of the airport of Larnaca, which means that you fly over the sea. I loved this too: a light blue sea, completely transparent and reflecting the glare of the sunset depending on the angle.
This plane flows beautifully through the air and has a great glide ratio. Something to keep in mind on a short final, where excess energy is hard to dissipate.
Indeed, the P92 loves to fly and you really have to convince her to get back on the ground.
…Oh wait, perhaps that was me!