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Flying in European Airspace

by Art on

Cruising by Heathrow at FL290 After a really nice visit to Inverness, Scotland we took off this morning to Paris, France. Our flight plans were filed and accepted last night so we expected very few changes this morning. Tracy wanted to practice writing clearances down so she called in for us and the tower read back a list of airways without any waypoints. It was a little weird but after looking it all up on the maps we realized it really was what we had filed. The skies were almost clear and the winds light. As we took off the tower called out our takeoff time and switched us over to Scottish Control. They cleared us on up to FL290 then immediately put us on vectors where we stayed until we got transferred over to Paris Control. From the top of the United Kingdom to the bottom, they vectored us left and right of course back and forth see-sawing all over the skies. I have no idea why they think that is more efficient than just giving us a routing to follow ourselves but it's this way every time I fly over here. All the controllers spoke very good English however the accents sometimes caused a little trouble (I suppose they had trouble with my accent as well!). Actually, I could understand the French controllers easier than the ones in the United Kingdom! One thing that I had to do en-route was enable the 8.33 khz spacing for radio channels on my Garmin 530 radios as they use them over here (we use 25 khz spacing in the US). It also helped to listen to what they were giving other aircraft ahead of us for waypoints and radio channels so I was prepared when it was my turn for new instructions. Paris Control finally put us on a standard arrival route (STAR) to Pontoise airport (LFPT) then handed us over to the local approach controllers who vectored us for runway 05.

A lovely view at the end of a nice flight to France It was a beautiful day in Paris and this airport was north of the downtown area and in a really nice location with fields all around bursting with greenness, a very pastoral setting. We topped off with fuel then went over to the local Aeroclub for lunch. Not your typical airport cafe here. We had Confit de Canard (which turned out to be a duck breast marinated in something wonderful along with homemade mashed potatoes). Of course, a nice glass of white wine accompanied lunch along with a piece of pineapple tart for dessert. I wish our airport restaurant back home was this good! Oh yeah baby, we'll be eating well in France!

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