I love Cyprus. Its light and its scent are unique. When you get out of the international terminal of Larnaca, you feel a special warmth in the sun and in its blinding yet joyful light. A similar feeling I derive by my frequent exchanges with all the Cypriot friends I had the fortune to meet in the past two years. Indeed, I pass by here frequently and anytime I am impatient to log some flight time and feed to my brain some unique memories of the breath-taking landscape of the Island.
Although when you fly in Cyprus you feel relatively constrained by the VFR routes, the limited availability of G-airspace areas (a type of uncontrolled airspace) and a number of restricted areas along the path, it’s an experience that I strongly recommend to any pilot for a good series of reasons:
• The landscape is absolutely amazing in any season and in any moment of the day.
• You can find not only very skilled FIs, but also great people with whom to share the passion of flying.
• You can start from Cyprus to do some island-hopping.
• The cost is generally more reasonable than in other countries and possibly set to decrease for fiscal reasons.
I have been in contact with Demos Ektoros for quite some time and I have regarded him as one of the friendliest and most helpful instructors I know since our very first contacts. He opened a flying school called The Pigeon (link to their Facebook page here) and together with a passionate investor they are building the youngest fleet on the Island, with a few brand new Tecnams. So, if you are interested in discovering this part of Mediterranean by plane or simply wish to do some hour building, give him a call and enjoy a service of the highest level!
I was excited to try the P2008. It is a high wing plane with a nice slick line. The cabin is larger than its predecessor the P92 and is mostly made of composite materials, while the wings have a metal infrastructure. The combination of the engine (a most common Rotax 912s) and the very capable tanks (with a stunning 110-litre capacity) makes the plane able to undertake long navigation.
The glass cockpit solution by Garmin complements the ability to travel long distances with remarkable peace of mind along the trip.
When we fired the engine the weather was just ideal: a few clouds crowded the west of the Island, but above our heads the sky was of a deep blue, the wind was around 12 kts perfectly aligned with RWY 04 and the temperature was a mild 14 degrees Celsius.
The P2008 is a remarkable machine: the interiors are incredibly well designed. The dashboard is well designed and you find all switches easily thanks to their size and the backlit indications.
One major improvement from the P92 and the P2002 is the flap lever, which doesn’t need to be kept in position till the flaps reach the desired angle. This means having your right hand busy only for an instant in a busy phase of flight, unlike in the older models. The steering on ground is by differential braking (also very welcome change).
So let’s get to the fun part, i.e. the flight. We line up behind an Airbus from Aeroflot and take off from RWY 04, the two-seater climbs beautifully passing in front of Mackenzie Beach (a very sweet spot in Summer). The VFR procedure of Larnaca requires you to fly over the Salt Lake which is north of the airfield and from there enter the chosen VFR route.
In Summer the lake is often dry, but in winter the orange evening sun reflects on its waters making the view simply incomparable. We continue towards the training area of Makri, north of the mountains. The Garmin is a stunning navigational aid as it projects the flight plan over a 3D profile and it is so well programmed that you may almost forget to look outside and enjoy the view.
I flew over a couple of dams, which are vital for the Country, and enjoyed the long dark shadows plotted on the ground by the dying sun. From Alampra we headed directly to the Salt Lake and I had the impression that darkness falled upon us almost abruptly before reaching the lake.
Doing traffic patterns in an international airport is beautiful and in Larnaca the ATC is also particularly friendly. Under Demos’instructions, I performed a few traffic patterns and a forced landing in the dark. The plane handles perfectly, the lighting system is very good and makes night landings as easy as daylight ones.
Taxiing back to the apron, you wish you could just fly that plane to the last drop of fuel available.
But, now it’s time to let the picture speak for themselves. Once again many thanks are owed to Demos for his time and dedication. If you pass by Cyprus and like to fly, The Pigeon Aviation School is by far the best solution, if you care for a friendly environment and brand new planes!