A Spanish view...
I was amazed by Mr Garrett Fisher’s article; it seems to me that he views aviation from a selfish point of view, and sadly for him, does not find any good or nice things within Europe or, by the way, like any Europeans.
I have been a Pilot reader since 1973, and have read many different and interesting articles on your very good general aviation magazine. It is a pity it is no longer sold on Spanish news stands so less people get to know it. I am a Spanish ATCO (working Tower/radar at Palma de Mallorca) and PPL since 1978, and since 2007 a microlight pilot, instructor and examiner, and run a microlight strip and flight school at Binissalem - Mallorca. I have travelled all over Europe and North Africa.
So we have an American pilot that, after living in the ‘rigid’ Germany can only find some mean engineers that can’t fix a prop, so he decides – demonstrating excellent airmanship – to fly with a known faulty propeller from Germany to Spain, across France and the Pyrenees... a very intelligent and adventurous move. I can understand why the Germans preferred that in the event of an emergency landing this was carried away from Germany. Mr Fisher seems to dislike the French too, just see some of his comments.
He talks about Spain as if it was a typical Hollywood cowboy movie, Mexican border town, finds no good things in my beautiful country, and tries to make a laugh of it. He should be a bit more polite, not so distorted in his opinions against the world. Catalunya and Scotland or Corsica and many other places in Europe want to be independent, a strange situation for an American citizen like him.
Airspace is really a pending assignment, something that could be better, we all fight for it, but it can all be viewed on the AIP... Oh, sorry! Seems Mr Fisher doesn’t use such a thing. What for? He just goes into aerodromes without checking. He flies into small microlight strips mainly, and they don’t have 100LL. Microlights in Europe use mogas not avgas: “Mr Fisher, they don’t use Lycoming engines, they use Rotax”.
La Cerdanya is set in a mountain valley, so if you have to land at such a strip, and you have wind at the mountain tops, what should you expect on the lee side of the mountain? Has he ever thought about checking winds aloft charts? Is he aware of something called mountain flying? Ampuria Brava is a non-controlled airfield, Europe’s Mecca for skydivers. Information on the activity is given by the parachute plane pilots. Avgas and jet fuel are set side by side.
Why doesn’t he talk about the nice bar and terrace, the helpful staff, or the fantastic wind tunnel where you can practice sky diving for a very low price? Santa Cilia – Jaca, Did he see the nice clubhouse with a terrace by the swimming pool?
Castellon is a lovely airfield by a long sandy beach. The runway is only 500 metres from the beach. You either call in advance or “sadly be forced” to head for a nice hotel by a lovely beach, and go for a swim in that wonderful warm, Mediterranean sea and take in the sun… how nasty.
Airfields in Spain do not have ruts, rocks and tall grass, he should not lie about that, strips not airfields, are cleared for microlights.
And least but not last, let’s see his description of other European pilots like the British and the Germans… a rude, difficult and unruly bunch. I’m sorry but I cannot tolerate such a lie. I am a member of the Royal Aero Club Records Racing and Rally Association, know many British pilots and have many good friends among that community, and certainly I would never in the world use such words to describe their attitude when they are exactly the opposite. They are the nicest, friendliest and most helpful group of people I have ever met. I have raced as number 13 with them for many years, mainly at the Alderney or Isle of Wight air races and I can only say the nicest things about them. I do not know that many Germans but the ones that I know have always been very nice and correct people.
I find this article is at least insulting to all British, French, Germans and Spanish – or for logical Americans too that read it and should feel ashamed of Mr Fisher’s rude behavior. It’s an indignant piece of writing, and worst of all it gives a very false idea about Spain and other European countries and their citizens. Gabriel Gomila by email