Spain and France 9th July to 17th July 2011

Photographs Raymond Barber

In order to give some flavour of Air-Britain tours, here is a brief snapshot of some of the aircraft seen on the above recent trip.

We departed from Heathrow on Iberia A.321 EC-JQZ. First stop was the mound overlooking Madrid Barajas airport where in a few hours some 60 airliners were logged. Representative of the local airlines operating from here are EC-LIN Embraer 195 of Air Europa, EC-LEQ A330 of Orbest (formerly Iberworld), EC-KBX A319 of Iberia and EC-JNC A320 of Spanair.

Sunday saw a visit to the famous Museo del Aire at Cuentro Ventos where entry via the military gate enabled the various stored DHC-4s and Casas to be noted. The museum is vast with a wide range of aircraft of which the following are a sample of what can be seen. EC-CBB BA Eagle II replica, one of several in the museum, Alouette EC-CLV one of many civil and military helicopters and autogiros on display, EC-YBL Blanik one of several gliders,42 Mig-17F Fresco under restoration one of many fighters E1-14 Casa I.133 Jungmeister, originally a Bucker built machine and Casa 212 T12b-29 one of a number stored here.

Next stop was Cuentro Ventos airfield where a complete ramp tour including the Police helicopter hanger was provided. Of interest here were EC-GHU Aero Commander 680F the only one airworthy in Spain, EC-GQL DHC-4A Caribou one of 4 stored here, EC-JTE Cessna 421, EC-LKA Eurocopter EC135 of Police , E20-6 Beech Baron ex Spanish Air Force one of many aircraft stored here and Cessna P210N XB-JSG a visitor from afar.

Monday saw the long drive to Barcelona. Passing Torrejon Falcon 900 EC-JBB and Citation Jet EC-IVJ were noted. At Zaragoza we were received by Airport Manager and his assistant and started with a fascinating talk on the use of Peregrine falcons for bird scaring at this airport followed by a full ramp tour. The 4th largest freight hub in Europe unfortunately Monday is a quiet day! Nevertheless the Zorex fleet of 2 Metros including EC-HJC were present as was Global Express N711LS and Medical A109 EC-IRQ around which the group photograph was taken.

On arrival at Barcelona the first aircraft we saw was Falcon 900EX YV2486 a good start to our visit. A spot near the general aviation area was found to park the coach and provided good views of both arrivals and departures but unfortunately was unsuitable for photographs. However a number of bizjets including XA-GPR Challenger, BBJs P4-ASL and N315TS and Legacy CN-MBP were noted. A large number of Russian airlines operate to here and Transaero 767 and 747s; Nordwind 757 and 767, Donavia 737, UT Air 757, Oren Air 737 and Sky Express 737 were noted. Before retiring to the hotel and SBS boxes some 50 had been logged.

Tuesday started with a visit to Sabadall where again a ramp tour was provided. Over 100 were noted here including EC-BDS Zlin 526A, EC-FTZ Casa I.131 Jungmann and EC-BPT Aisa I-11B Peque which are part of the Parc Aeronautic de Catalunya collection. Others included Islander EC-FIP, EC-GIJ B90 King Air, Squirrels EC-KYJ and LHE and Technam EC-KKV. We returned to Barcelona but unfortunately the hoped for ramp tour was cancelled as no coach was available so we again returned to the general aviation area and another 60+ went into the log book including Transaero 747 VQ-BHX, Gulfstreams N65HD, N550PR and D-ASAF, Avianca A330 N967AV, VQ-BKM 757 of Nordwind and 737 VQ-BAO of Donavia.

Wednesday started the long trip to France. A quick visit to Girona netted the Gulfstream 200 EC-KBC before arriving at Empuria Brava where there were more foreign than Spanish Aircraft! The most interesting were however the locally registered including Turbo Porter EC-EMZ and Twin Otter EC-ISV both used for parachute dropping and Particularly Air Tractors EC-LMQ &U.Uk was represented by Skyranger G-CDNE and Sportscruiser G-OCRZ, and there were German, Belgian Dutch and US registered aircraft also present.

First stop in France was Perpignan which produced SP-IAC A320 of Yes and a number of stored 727s including 6V-AEF of Senegal Government as well as 5T-CLP and the newly retired TY-24A from Benin. As350B F-GCGZ was also present. A brief call at Lezigman Corbieres Produced a further 4 including King Air 90 F-GEOU. At Toulouse we visited the A380 production line which included nos 67 &99 to be F-HPJG/H for Air France and the rare prototype 002 F-WXXL which is being converted for an Arab Prince. Over the next 2 days a further 4 A.380s were identified together with a number of A320 and A330s.ATR PR-AZZ of Azul was also seen undergoing tests. We found that we were sharing the hotel with some of the Tour De France teams which meant there were a number of helicopters to be seen the next morning. On Bastille day Airbus was closed but the morning yielded 6 helicopters including AS 350B F-GCTO, Dassault Falcon F-HDLJ with Tour De France titles, Embraer Brasilia EC-HTO of Swiftair, CRJ 900 EC-JYA of Air Nostrum, Boeing 777 F-Orun of Air Austral, A400M F-WMMS and Beluga F-GSTD and YL-LCI A320 operating for and in Aegean colours as well as on the lighter side King Air OO-LAC. The Ailes Ancienne Toulouse Museum is currently all in the open including 3001 MIG-15 bis . An afternoon visit to Toulouse Lasbordes produced another 50 aircraft including another Squirrel F-GHPH, Mudry CAP10B F-GMPV, Robin F-GSRC and B&F Funk FK9 31-LB. Castelnaudry provided another 10 including F-BOMM Piper Super Cub, 11-HG Skyranger and Cessna F-BUMA which had a replacement fuselage, the original being in the hanger roof.

First stop on 15th July was Montauban produced 2 Menestrals F-PBMD and F-PONG, 2 Cubs F-BBIK/GLUB and Kappa KP-2U Sova 82-II. On to Aurillac which included Jodel D19 F-PLJM and an unk ab-ixn Autogyro 15-GB, and a number of gliders. Our stop for the night was at Clement Ferrand where a number of Embraers are stored pending reassignment. These included SX-CMA/C formally of Athens Airways, F-WKXN/O ex Alitalia machines and a number of ex Flybe aircraft and UR-DNE of Dnepr Air. Also present was Embraer 170 M-YRGO formally of Paramount. Residents illustrated are Robin F-HTOY and Eurocopter EC145 F-ZBPK.

Saturday found us firstly at Bourges where residents included Aquila AT-01 F-PMLB and Robin F-GTPH together with a Rallye F-BNSX with a special tail design on one side! Next Nevers where Wassmer Baladou F-BNZH, Beech Debonair F-GJTM, Europe MT-03 02-AEV and Alpi Pioneer 58-GK were seen. A stop but no photographs at Le Bourget produced some 75 biz and propjets including Falcons S5-ADG, A6-MAF,YR-CJF, TR-LGV/Y, PR-ROZ, Challengers S5-ADD, M-AKVI, C-FNEU, Legacies G-SHSI,PT-SKW together with A318 Elite OE-ICE, Embraer Lineage A6-KAH, King Air 350 SE-LLU and US Navy Citation 166474. On the way to the Ibis at Charles de Gaulle Federal Express Boeing 777s N882/4FD were noted. Torrential rain that evening did not prevent the more hardened members from going out to see the various Egyptian charters.

Sunday was cold but dry and a few hours on the mound yielded another 40 plus including 767 XA-APB, A320 SU-NMA of Nesma, F-HAXL 737 of XL Europe and Air France A 380s F-HPJA & D and the 767 N199DN retrofitted with winglets before departing for Calais and home. A thoroughly enjoyable trip with some 1000 logged.

If this short presentation has whetted your appetite why not give serious consideration on the 2012 programme.

Dennis Clement - Tour Organiser


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