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First UK - France flight

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First UK - France flight

Old 9th May 2018, 08:19
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Northwich, Cheshire
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First UK - France flight

Hi,

I've used these forums countless times for questions, but can't really find anything current on UK - France trips...

I'm looking for a newbs guide to crossing the channel and the UK border into France.

So far I have found...
  • Flight Plan - This isn't optional, I was going to use Sky Demons flight plan filing service. 2 days prior to departure, I've read is the best time frame for this.
  • GAR - Again, not optional, I was going to use the OnlineGAR service.
  • Life Vests - I'm not going more than 50NM away from land, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
  • Waterproof bag - For electricals should the unthinkable happen.
  • French paper maps - Plot the route from Sky Demon on the map just incase of failure.
  • PLOG - I am going to use the Sky Demon generated PLOG, it's far more accurate than using a CRP-5.
  • Weight and Balance - Usually going around the UK, this isn't something which is written down, more of a mental check of my current weight and MTOW. I've been told France may have an inspector which will want to see this?
Is there any other checks I need? I want to create myself a checklist and for any other PPL looking to take a trip over seas that's more current than 2007

Thanks in advance,

Tim
timmydd is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 09:50
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Join Date: Jul 2014
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Good list but a few other points:

No need to file a flight plan two days in advance. Leave it till you are certain you are going!

No GAR required on the way out (unless you are going to Ireland, Isle of Man etc)..

You also need to notify Customs/Police at the French airfield you intend to land at first, sometimes over 24 hours in advance. The main ones near the short hop over the channel are Calais, Le Touquet, Merville and Albert-Bray. However, sadly, not longer Abbeville.

Almost no point in a life jacket unless you also carry a survival suit (and life raft if you have the space). No point is being kept afloat till you freeze to death!

Suggest you also take a PLB (and possibly handheld transceiver).

Finally, if you can, go with someone else who has done it before or in loose formation with another aircraft.

Martin Ferid of the LAA has organised several trips across the Channel recently,including one to Amiens last weekend (via Albert-Bray, I think). He has also written several informative articles in the LAA magazine about potential trips. Well worth a read.

PS You are also supposed to carry the aircraft documents (permit to fly etc)and your licence. I prefer to carry copies of the former.
Forfoxake is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 11:26
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Forfoxake is entirely correct! I do however, disagree with Forfoxake's statement of uselessness of lifejackets. The water temperature of the Channel rarely decreases to below 6 degrees during daylight hours throughout the winter months, giving you a good 30 minutes to 1 hour estimated survival time prior to hypothermia kicking in. The Channel has a tendency of being particularly busy, and boats are often a short sail away. If you ditched near(ish) a boat, the lifejacket could afford you a good margin for survival in the Channel which could easily be the difference between life or death as they prepare a tender or sail towards you. During the summer months, the water temperature is such that it could mean time to hypothermia could be well in excess of 5 hours. However, I am not sure that physical fitness would keep a normal person swimming / keeping afloat for 5 hours - the lifejackets definitely will, allowing again a safe margin. Definitely agree that carrying a liferaft is an excellent idea though.

Forfoxake's statement about police / PPR notification at your destination really needs careful attention, but also, consider the French plates, some airfields are French only on frequency, it would be wise to read up on common phrases in French used on the radio to attempt to build a proper mental picture.

Timmydd, I would recommend also taking a copy of interception notes, and having read through these, PLB / ELT (if fitted / required - depends on the country), and your / passenger's passport(s)! Very important!! Always check prior to getting into the plane both your and your passenger's passports, including expiry dates!

Good luck and have fun!!
Alex
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Old 9th May 2018, 11:48
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Originally Posted by alex90 View Post
passport(s)! Very important!!
Well, only if you're slightly unlucky - it's hardly rare to go to Calais or Le Touquet and have nobody wanting to see your passport at either end. But this is not guaranteed, so do try to remember to take the passports.

I once had to present my passport on leaving Le Touquet. But I observed another pilot say to the policeman "sorry mate, I left my passport in the aircraft, OK if I go and fetch it?". The policeman said yes ... and the pilot went to his aircraft, took off, and flew home.
Gertrude the Wombat is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 12:40
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Has anybody flown to LeTouquet lately? 2 Questions;

Do you need PPR?

They have some customs forms on their website. Do you need to fill those out or are they only for our of hours arrivals/departures?
https://www.aeroport-letouquet.com/d...ations-de-vol/
velo84 is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 12:42
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Originally Posted by alex90 View Post
Forfoxake is entirely correct! I do however, disagree with Forfoxake's statement of uselessness of lifejackets. The water temperature of the Channel rarely decreases to below 6 degrees during daylight hours throughout the winter months, giving you a good 30 minutes to 1 hour estimated survival time prior to hypothermia kicking in. The Channel has a tendency of being particularly busy, and boats are often a short sail away. If you ditched near(ish) a boat, the lifejacket could afford you a good margin for survival in the Channel which could easily be the difference between life or death as they prepare a tender or sail towards you. During the summer months, the water temperature is such that it could mean time to hypothermia could be well in excess of 5 hours. However, I am not sure that physical fitness would keep a normal person swimming / keeping afloat for 5 hours - the lifejackets definitely will, allowing again a safe margin. Definitely agree that carrying a liferaft is an excellent idea though.

Forfoxake's statement about police / PPR notification at your destination really needs careful attention, but also, consider the French plates, some airfields are French only on frequency, it would be wise to read up on common phrases in French used on the radio to attempt to build a proper mental picture.

Timmydd, I would recommend also taking a copy of interception notes, and having read through these, PLB / ELT (if fitted / required - depends on the country), and your / passenger's passport(s)! Very important!! Always check prior to getting into the plane both your and your passenger's passports, including expiry dates!

Good luck and have fun!!
Alex
Take your point, Alex. I am much more used to flying over the sea near the West of Scotland/Northern Ireland where there are a lot less boats and the water is somewhat colder.

And of course, there is cold shock. The RYA guidance states:


At a water temperature of below 15C, and if you are not wearing a life jacket, especially an automatic one, cold water shock will:
  • cause you to inhale as you go under the water, due to an involuntary gasping reflex, and drown without coming back to the surface
  • drastically reduce your ability to hold your breath underwater, typically from a minute or so to less than 10 seconds
  • induce vertigo as your ears are exposed to cold water, resulting in failure to differentiate between up and down.

So an automatic life-jacket is a lot better than nothing, although personally, I always wear it on top of a survival suit if flying over any significant body of water.

As far as passports are concerned, I have just come back from a trip from Scotland through England and France to Germany and back and never had to show my passport to anyone! But you still need to take it.
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Old 9th May 2018, 13:32
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"So an automatic life-jacket is a lot better than nothing..."

I've done a sea-survival course and have more time on yachts than in aircraft. Beware using an automatic life jacket. In fact, don't. If you ditch and the aircraft is submerged before you can escape, your lifejacket will inflate and make it damn near impossible to exit the aircraft. Some lifejackets have a facility to disable the automatic mechanism. You will still be left with the option to pull the toggle to inflate the life jacket, Automatic life jackets are used by sailors because one can be knocked overboard by the boom of a yacht and end up unconscious - so the automatic mechanism inflates the life jacket for them. If you are unconscious in an aircraft after it hits the water, I'm afraid you have bigger issues than losing the automatic inflation.

Try to use a life jacket which incorporates a spray-hood. It's a simple screen that you pull over your head (after you are in the water) to protect you from spray as you breathe. It's a life-saver that adds only a few pounds to the cost.

You should be carrying a PLB anyway (unless your aircraft has an ELT). That too is a life-saver if you ditch. Falmouth would coordinate your rescue and can communicate with vessels in your area, With the Channel as busy as it is, you stand a reasonable chance of being picked up. Someone mentioned a handheld transceiver. A marine VHF transceiver would be more useful if you have access to one. Ships and yachts all listen on Ch16 (the marine equivalent of 121.5).

Last edited by CharlieDeltaUK; 9th May 2018 at 13:39. Reason: I had more ideas to add
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Old 9th May 2018, 13:39
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Forfoxake, I knew you were a bit further north when giving this advice! ;-) I agree - any distance over cold water, dry-suit + lifejacket + life raft + PLB + flight plan as an absolute minimum.

Has anybody flown to LeTouquet lately? 2 Questions;

Do you need PPR?

They have some customs forms on their website. Do you need to fill those out or are they only for our of hours arrivals/departures?
https://www.aeroport-letouquet.com/d...ations-de-vol/
PPR doesn't (normally) exist at airfields in France for GA. This isn't PPR, this is a customs form (like the GAR in the UK) that IS required to be filled out and sent at least 2 hours prior to planned arrival. Different regions and different airport have different arrangements with local police / border-force but it is a requirement for it to be filled out and sent if coming / going to / from a non-schengen country. I have heard that most are now trying to have a similar forms and systems but it is taking time.

Passports - I agree - but I wouldn't want to be caught-out crossing an international border without a valid passport, folklore says that the pilot is responsible for carriage of and validity passports, I am not sure how true that is, but I wouldn't want my friends or family ending up in a cell for the night (or more)! I also don't want to be the person who gets half way across the Channel and diverts back to their home airfield and having stated on the radio that the reason for the diversion is that they "had left the passports on the planning table in the clubhouse" - true story on London Info a few months back!
alex90 is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 14:26
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Originally Posted by CharlieDeltaUK View Post
"So an automatic life-jacket is a lot better than nothing..."

I've done a sea-survival course and have more time on yachts than in aircraft. Beware using an automatic life jacket. In fact, don't. If you ditch and the aircraft is submerged before you can escape, your lifejacket will inflate and make it damn near impossible to exit the aircraft. Some lifejackets have a facility to disable the automatic mechanism. You will still be left with the option to pull the toggle to inflate the life jacket, Automatic life jackets are used by sailors because one can be knocked overboard by the boom of a yacht and end up unconscious - so the automatic mechanism inflates the life jacket for them. If you are unconscious in an aircraft after it hits the water, I'm afraid you have bigger issues than losing the automatic inflation.

Try to use a life jacket which incorporates a spray-hood. It's a simple screen that you pull over your head (after you are in the water) to protect you from spray as you breathe. It's a life-saver that adds only a few pounds to the cost.

You should be carrying a PLB anyway (unless your aircraft has an ELT). That too is a life-saver if you ditch. Falmouth would coordinate your rescue and can communicate with vessels in your area, With the Channel as busy as it is, you stand a reasonable chance of being picked up. Someone mentioned a handheld transceiver. A marine VHF transceiver would be more useful if you have access to one. Ships and yachts all listen on Ch16 (the marine equivalent of 121.5).
Very good point, Charlie Delta UK. Got carried away by the RYA guidance. In fact, I do not think my flying life-jackets are automatic but I will double-check!

That's the value of this forum- you learn something new all the time.
Forfoxake is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 16:02
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It was pointed out to me once that an automatic LSJ in an aircraft isn't a good idea because if water gets into the aircraft before you get out, the LSJ may inflate and prevent you from getting out if the door/exit is a bit 'tight'.
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Old 9th May 2018, 16:10
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PPR doesn't (normally) exist at airfields in France for GA.
That is too much to say, though I take your meaning. But I think it is better to say 'France has many more "public" aerodromes (in the ICAO meaning of the word) than the UK, where all, bar the biggest, are "private" ' - again in the ICAO meaning. A public field is one anyone has the basic right to fly into, a private field is basically PPR. Germany calls them "Verkehrslandeplatz" vs. "Sonderlandeplatz" - I always wonder how this country is full of landing places but has no corresponding/complementary take-off places But to come back to France and its aerodromes: most of them ARE private and thus PPR, but a good many remain public. And the difference is only one phone call, anyway, in most cases, so who cares?

Anyway, fields like LFAT Le Touquet and LFAC Calais-Dunkerque are public aerodromes, meaning no PPR. Which does not mean one can fly in like a blind elephant! Especially not if coming from non-Schengen territory like UK.
Jan Olieslagers is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 18:24
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Blimey, you lot make it sound like a Trans-Atlantic!

If you're at about 5000' and crossing the shortest distance, odds are you're never out of gliding range of land anyway (you don't mention if you're flying a glider or a brick).
  1. Call (or email if they answer by email!) the airfield you want to go to, chat to the person who answers the phone, follow their instructions.
  2. File flight plan.
  3. Go.

Have fun!
Sam Rutherford is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 20:19
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Originally Posted by Sam Rutherford View Post
Blimey, you lot make it sound like a Trans-Atlantic!

If you're at about 5000' and crossing the shortest distance, odds are you're never out of gliding range of land anyway (you don't mention if you're flying a glider or a brick).
  1. Call (or email if they answer by email!) the airfield you want to go to, chat to the person who answers the phone, follow their instructions.
  2. File flight plan.
  3. Go.

Have fun!
Agree with most of this but there must be plenty of days that you cannot get anywhere near 5000ft crossing from around Dover to Cap Gris Nez. On these days, and on the days when you opt not to go by the shortest route, I think you need at least a life-jacket over a survival suit. What is wrong with taking these simple precautions when you might make a perfect landing on water but then drown or freeze to death? You know it makes sense!

PS And I know the engine does not know it is over water.
Forfoxake is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 20:26
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Wear, don't carry, a marine non-self-inlating lifejacket. There's a huge variation in water survival time if fully clothed. Floating in a lifejacket, the water under your clothes will warm up. There's not much variation in drowning time.
I dinghy sailed in winter in Scotland, and capsized several times, with no wetsuit, and no problems. You might die after ditching, but you might not.
Maoraigh1 is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 20:32
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Don't forget about ramp checks in France carried out by the police they prosecute and fine immediately.
They do happen so you need more than just your passport.

You may need to prove the VAT is paid if a US built & imported aircraft.
I don't know the full list I guess somebody can list it all or point to a source.
The probability of a check is low but the consequences are high.

Another that should be carried at all times is the military intercept card rare to be intercepted but going international you might be.
Oh and if anyone is carrying loads of cash, rare with cost of flying declare if ask or another fine.

Don't panic just have all the paper ducks in a line worse than the flight but once done, in place for future trips.

Have fun
horizon flyer is offline  
Old 9th May 2018, 21:14
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Originally Posted by Sam Rutherford View Post
If you're at about 5000' and crossing the shortest distance, odds are you're never out of gliding range of land anyway (you don't mention if you're flying a glider or a brick).
That's what I thought a couple of days ago when my (aviation literate) yachtie friends started tweeting from their boat about an "all ships" call from Dover coastguard to look out for ditching survivors following a 7700 in mid channel. But nothing has been heard of this incident since, which suggests that the aircraft reached land in one piece with its engine going.
Gertrude the Wombat is offline  
Old 10th May 2018, 04:36
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"Another that should be carried at all times is the military intercept card rare to be intercepted but going international you might be."
Dover to Calais? It's equally likely you'll be abducted by aliens, frankly.


"Oh and if anyone is carrying loads of cash, rare with cost of flying declare if ask or another fine."
EU limit is 10K EUR in cash - not sure why you'd need this much on your flight to France either...


If the weather isn't great, don't go - otherwise don't sweat it. It's an easy trip (as you'll realise once you've done it!).
Sam Rutherford is offline  
Old 10th May 2018, 06:00
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Originally Posted by Jan Olieslagers View Post
That is too much to say, though I take your meaning. But I think it is better to say 'France has many more "public" aerodromes (in the ICAO meaning of the word) than the UK, where all, bar the biggest, are "private" ' - again in the ICAO meaning. A public field is one anyone has the basic right to fly into, a private field is basically PPR. Germany calls them "Verkehrslandeplatz" vs. "Sonderlandeplatz" - I always wonder how this country is full of landing places but has no corresponding/complementary take-off places But to come back to France and its aerodromes: most of them ARE private and thus PPR, but a good many remain public. And the difference is only one phone call, anyway, in most cases, so who cares?

Anyway, fields like LFAT Le Touquet and LFAC Calais-Dunkerque are public aerodromes, meaning no PPR. Which does not mean one can fly in like a blind elephant! Especially not if coming from non-Schengen territory like UK.
Definitely do your planning, and always a good idea to ring people ahead to tell them your coming in, also useful to find out of anything special is happening or if fuel is available, BUT - dont say PPR unless it is a microlight site (BASE ULM) which in France isnt the same thing - it has different regulations) - it usually confuses them, even at some private airfields i have flown into.

The usual response I have received is "well errr we are an airfield - and we are open, this is our frequency"!

:-)



alex90 is offline  
Old 10th May 2018, 09:17
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There are two things to consider, firstly the logistics of making the journey and secondly the problems flying over the sea.,
On the latter, there seem to be two schools of thought and you have to consider which camp you are in, There are those who would always wear a full immersion suit (including me when I was flying) with the security this offers and there are those who feel the chances of a ditching are so low that the additional cost and discomfort are just not worth it.
When I flew to Jersey from the UK I always wore a full a full immersion suit (Mr. Blobby style) however when flying around Jersey it seemed customary for most people in the club to simply tie a buoyancy aid around their waists as a sort of 'token' although you were never that far from land.
Crossing the military zone can be interesting, I once had a couple of fighter jets put 'on hold' to let me through, nice of them I thought.
funfly is offline  
Old 10th May 2018, 20:00
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Join Date: Oct 2000
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A beautiful summer evening some years ago, we arrived in the circuit at Le Touquet and found it shut. We promptly landed, parked up and then threw our bags over the fence, climbed over and phoned a taxi. Next day we booked out, however as there was no record of our arrival, they waived the landing fee . My advice, get someone to take you who has done it before, then do it solo as soon as you can.
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