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Old 01-19-2007, 08:22 AM
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karoliina karoliina is offline
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Cool How flight around Helsinki TMA ended up in Estonia without passport

Hi,

This happened a week ago, but haven't been able to post it because our Internet connection has been down for a week (thanks to Saunalahti - the Internet operator we use).

Anyhow, here is what happened:
It was Friday evening. Sun had just set long ago enough to the flight to be considered as night-VFR. We planned a night-VFR flight around Helsinki TMA with my flight instructor. The weather was pretty much clear and wind was calm. Looked like a good day for having the night flight training. We took our flight club's diesel Cessna 172 and went according to plan. Sometimes we listened to Helsinki-Malmi ATIS to hear if there are some changes occurring in the weather. Then when we were about most apart that we can be on our circular trip from the home airport Helsinki-Malmi (EFHF), nearby uncontrolled Hyvinkää airfield (which has no lights, making it hard and more specificly illegal to land night time), the weather report had changed from about CAVOK to BKN004. Ok, we turned around and went back to see if ti is still possible to land and there are e.g. the runway lights visible. We asked from Helsinki radar to be able to maintain 1000 feet on Helsinki Malmi control zone, normally when the airport is closed, the clearance is only up to 700 feet.
After we arrived to above the airfield (taking in account the not more than 105 kt cruising speed of the Cessna with 85% power selected on the FADEC) it became clear that the BKN004 had turned into OVC004 - overcast.
No way to land with VFR plane because the clouds were already so thick that it was not possible to see any of the lights from the airfield. There were some dim lights glowing below, somewhere, but they were most likely Helsinki city lights. Ok, now we asked from Helsinki radar clearance above the Helsinki-Vantaa airport to see if we could attempt landing on there. No way, it was also overcast in there below us and the cloud bottoms were at 400 feet and extended up to somewhere over 1300 feet. We had 1700 feet over the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Ok, next thing was to see if we could fly to some alternate airport. All controlled airports in southern Finland were already in IMC or getting soon into IMC. Tampere Pirkkala was not that bad, but the forecast there wasn't so good either taking in account that it would take one hour to fly there with the Cessna. So we got clearance over Baltic Sea to Estonia. Tallinn airport had CAVOK. We dialed a direct GPS-route to EETN to the Garmin 430 and got clearance to 5000 feet above the sea. It was not possible to see much if any of the horizon, only few lights were visible on front from Tallinn, so it was pretty much flying with instruments up there over the sea.

We arrived then in Tallinn and made non-eventful landing and taxied to apron. The people there brought weights for strapping the plane to the ground. Next we went into the briefing to see if the weather gets better so we could fly back. Now it appeared that the airport handler was leaving for home and we were not allowed to go to the plane without going by car with her. And the weather forecast now promised really bad weather for several next days. So she left us in the International side of the Tallinn terminal and went home.

We agreed with my flight instructor that we leave the plane there and go to the next boat from Tallin to Helsinki. Simpler said than done. I had a passport with me, I always keep it with me just in case since I don't know to which country the day might end up to, but my flight instructor was not so prepared - he had no passport with him. So he got stuck in customs in the airport, and no way he was getting through it. He had Finnish driver's license and he was clearly identifiable from that, he had pilot's license with him and myself proving that he is the person he claims to be, but no way, no luck. He was now stuck to the International terminal of Tallin airport with no way to get back home.

We were becoming quite hungry and thirsty because we hadn't eaten anything during the day (too busy workday to allow eating and the flight was supposed to be just a short flight around the Helsinki TMA) and because of the nature of the flight, I did not bring food or drinks to the plane. So we were stuck in the International side of the terminal and there was shop open on the other side, but it was not possible to go there to eat/drink (except for me), and it was not possible to bring drinks back more than a size of toothpaste because of the current crazy security restrictions. But I had no idea to how to get him back from the international terminal to Finland, and we were hungry and thirsty, so I had no other choice than to go to argue with the customs guys that I need to get drinks and food to this side. After explaining some time the effects for human body for not drinking for a certain period of time, I finally got a permission to bring stuff back from the shop on the other side. There was some coast guard guy letting me back with the food and Coke and water bottles.

The airport personnel felt pityful to us and let us to go to sleep to a guestroom. It was pretty nice, like a hotel room with two beds, toilet, shower and everything. We ate, I went to shower and after that we went to sleep and agreed that we will call the Finnish embassy tomorrow during their open time.

In the morning, the weather had became really bad also in Tallinn, it was snowing and it was something like overcast at 600 feet, so it didn't count even as marginal VFR. Still the forecast showed that it might be next time possibel to get to fly the plane back on next Thursday. So we were joking if my flight instructor has to stay in the International terminal that long - I had the possibility to leave the country by boat as I had the passport along with me.

However, it came apparent to us, that because we were on the other side of the security checks, on the International side of the terminal, we were actually able to board airplane without passport. So that is what we did. I surfed to Finnair's page with my Nokia N800 (it is good to have always Internet in a pocket) and ordered flight tickets for two of us. We negotiated with the airport personnel that we get us checked in without getting to the domestic side of the terminal. So we got the tickets from the gate directly and went to the Finnair plane. I was a little bit concerned if the Finnair personnel are going to ask for passport, but apparently my flight instructor get through with showing his driver's license.

The flight was short, about 15 minutes with the turboprop plane. It was pretty much most of the time inside the cloud and it appeared that the conditions were very severely icing, the wings and propellers were collecting ice all the time, so it would have been really a suicide to attempt flying into that cloud with the Cessna.

We arrived to Finland after non-eventful flight and then there was the Finnish side of the customs. My flight instructor of course got stuck in that too. After spending some time in the back room, they allowed him to get back to Finland (after me explaining that we flew with private plane to Estonia because of an emergency). So he wasn't returned to Estonia. So we returned to home around afternoon of Saturday.

Someone else from our flight club flew the plane back to Finland on Wednesday since my flight instructor wasn't available on Wednesday and I couldn't have gone alone because my PPL is not yet ready.

It was quite an adventure. Lessons learned: always keep passport with you.
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Last edited by karoliina : 01-19-2007 at 08:55 AM.
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  #2  
Old 01-19-2007, 10:41 AM
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are both countries in the EU?

great story - if you plan on going fast in a small plane - plan on staying long!

this could happen to me in the near future - currently i do not need a passport to come and go to canada, south of me, but that too is changing. As the weather moves from the southwest to the northeast - canada could be the only place to land

great story - how much did this short flight cost you?
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Old 01-19-2007, 11:50 AM
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Hahaha, cool!

Both counties are in the EU, but you still need a recognized ID-card (drivers licenses are not) Most countries in the EU now have small credit card sized ID-cards that are recognized within the Schengen area as a passport)

I have my "Schengen" ID-card in my log-book

In 2000 there was a suggestion to totally skip ID/Passport demands within the EU, but 9/11 put a quick end to that one......
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:11 PM
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karoliina karoliina is offline
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Control already replied but answer to the second question, price:

Extra costs (in addition to flight costs):
- Finnair flight 200 eur
- landing fee & parking fee for the time the plane was there, 107 eur.

Fortunately it was the diesel cessna - because of low fuel consumption, we had over 4.5 hours
of endurance left when we had to divert from the home airport to Estonia.
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:26 PM
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Dust,
Not only will you need a passport. You will need to file a flight plan, and have your insurance endorsement for Canada, the aircraft radio licence, airworthiness certificate, registration. land at a port of entry. They like at least a 1/2 hour before landing. When the weather clears and you return to the US you will have to clear US customs, and pay around $25.00 for a 2X2 sticker for the plane. Someone help me out on the Canada fees for entering their country.
I think DH for Willow Run ILS runway 5R is less than 250 feet, and no paper work.

Last edited by Riseguy : 01-19-2007 at 01:22 PM. Reason: bad info
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Old 01-19-2007, 12:38 PM
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Karoliina, you didn't talk about this part but I'm sure the approaching weather was reported. What's the diesel in that 172?

What language did you speak with the Estonians? I'm planning a trip to Oslo this summer, it was going to be Finland but the Fords drew me to Norway. I'm wondering how frequently I'll encounter an English speaker. No passport yet.
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Old 01-19-2007, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riseguy View Post
Dust,
Not only will you need a passport. You will need to file a flight plan, and have your insurance endorsement for Canada, the aircraft radio licence, airworthiness certificate, registration. land at a port of entry. They like at least a 1/2 hour before landing. When the weather clears and you return to the US you will have to clear US customs, and pay around $25.00 for a 2X2 sticker for the plane. Someone help me out on the Canada fees for entering their country.
I think DH for Willow Run ILS runway 5R is less than 250 feet, and no paper work.
They strongly prefer you to have that 2x2 sticker before you go. And it is $25. Your flight plan will need to be filed with ADCUS in the remarks line, and you still want to call customs at your port of entry before departure from your originating airport as they sometimes don't get the flight plan, and then you have a huge mess on your hands.
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Old 01-19-2007, 02:27 PM
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Dust, One more thing I forgot Canada's ATC is privatized now so you will be getting a bill for that service too.
I think if it was a weather issue. Staying in the US and landing would be the smart thing to do.
A friend of mine with a Zinair gets a bill From Australia for $250.00 for ATC services. It seems someone used his N number.
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Old 01-19-2007, 04:48 PM
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In Oslo at least 95% of the people aged under 50 will speak English good enough to handle a tourist.

Welcome to Scandinavia!

About the above, it's still not completly hassle-free to travel between countries within EU but it sure is easier than going between US-Canada.

BTW, trying not to upset you Karoliina... but the last time I flew to Riga (Latvia) and Pärnu (Estonia) I actually passed customs without showing any papers... for some reason they had zero interest in me at both places and just pointed me towards the exit.
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Old 01-19-2007, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Control View Post
In Oslo at least 95% of the people aged under 50 will speak English good enough to handle a tourist.

Welcome to Scandinavia!
Excellent. Thanks!

I have already contacted an aeroclub in Norway about getting a GA flight, they can fly while I look out the window.
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Last edited by tnt : 01-19-2007 at 06:29 PM.
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  #11  
Old 01-21-2007, 07:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tnt View Post
Karoliina, you didn't talk about this part but I'm sure the approaching weather was reported. What's the diesel in that 172?
Approaching weather wasn't reported. It was a sudden change which occurs in Finland occasionally when temperature is right. The cloud forms as a fog on the ground and rises and thickens very quickly without prior notice. TAF reported broken 2200 feet but it became ovecast 400 feet instead.

The diesel in our flight club's C172 is Thielert Centurion 1.7. It is equipped with MT Propeller constant speed propeller which is automatically controlled with FADEC, giving single throttle control to pilot while the automation does everything else. It is pretty impressive system, I would love to have one in a canard aircraft...
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:23 AM
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same system as on the DA40 TDI, right ? wonderful system, but a litte underpowered.
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
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same system as on the DA40 TDI, right ? wonderful system, but a litte underpowered.
Well, not for a C172/PA28... At least not if you agree that the usual setup is ok (160-180hp fixed pitched, with the prop pitch choosen almost for best cruise speed)

The Thielert setup with 135hp and a CS prop gets you off the ground and climbing just as good. Then at high alt cruise you have as much or more power left because of the turbo... Yes the weight is higher but thats basically offset by the need for less fuel to go as far...

As I see it, there are three major problems, one it's still "new" and still could be considered unproven if you are the very careful type of person.

The second is of course that "we" can't buy them...

And lastly, most of us aren't happy with 160/fp performance, many would like a 200hp/CS solution.
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Old 01-21-2007, 11:21 AM
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ok, I was comparing it to the Cirrus SR20 GTS I've flown. climbs up from MSL with a nice 900-1300 fpm, depending on GW.
Compared to that the DA 40 TDI manages a mere 500 pfm, maybe 700 if you're light and lucky.

But still, the setup is marvellous on that System. single lever "fire and forget" control. and a really nice fuel consumption (4.7 gph cruise on the DA40)
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Old 01-21-2007, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
The second is of course that "we" can't buy them...
Sounds like a certain student pilot needs to accidentally sheer off a wing on a hanger, and then offer to buy the scrapped trainer for engine parts.
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