While Marcio and I were enjoying the product that Scotland is most famous for, Cory and Pete were stuck in the actual country. The daring duo had finally made it to Wick but their hopes for a quick turn and been dashed. You see they were now in Eurocontrol country. And when you want to fly in Eurocontrol’s airspace you must ask pretty please my I? And this time the answer was “no, we don’t have a slot time for you right now, maybe later, much later.”
They tried everything. Changed their routing. Nope, still no slot time. Change their requested altitude? (Even though the Caravan’s turbine engine would use a ton more fuel if they flew lower.) No. Fly VFR? “No, stop asking. We’ll get back to you when we get back to you.” which turned out to be 8 hours later because they had to fly right past both London and Paris which, as it turns out, is a rather busy chunk of airspace.
But eventually the Caravan landed at the Annecy airport only fifteen minutes after they were to be officially closed for the night. Which wouldn’t be a big deal in the US, but in France when an airport closes it closes. No landings permitted. Luckily I’d been in contact with Pete and knew it would be close so I’d gone up to the tower and pled my case for a little extra time. The controller was reluctant at first, (Zat is ze rule monsieur) but after a few fingers of Glenfiddich found its way into his coffee mug things just sort of worked out.
The gang was back together! Not only had I done trips with both Cory and Pete but the cameramen in both our planes were best friends and had known each other since college. I was especially glad to see their cameraman John.
John had been my cameraman on every trip I’d flown the previous season and we we really got along well. That first year we flew all over the world together, landing in over 50 countries and having all kinds of amazing adventures. You don’t spend that amount of time with someone without becoming great friends.
It was a fantastic night. First we had to apologize for the horrible accommodations and mediocre food.
Then it was a great night out on the town where the locals treated us like kings.
It was the kind of night that makes me love being a ferry pilot. It’s the grand adventure of flying small planes around the world, meeting up with other ferry pilots and swapping flying stories at the bar, and meeting the locals who think that what you do is just the coolest thing in the world. Which of course it is.
But the next day it was back to work. Cory and Pete were going to get checked out to be able to land on the famous Courchevel airstrip (one of the most dangerous in the world) and Marcio and I still had a broken sound system on our hands and Marcio had a real race to win because his wife was super pregnant and if he didn’t make it home in time to be there for the birth of his second child he would be a dead man.
To be continued: