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Trip And Spotting Report Corfu  
User currently offlineFly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3154 posts, RR: 51
Posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 4449 times:
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A week in Corfu was the main part and highlight of Joe’s and mine European tour this summer (other stops included BRU, AMS, FRA, and for Joe ZRH). He had long pressured me to do Corfu (while I favored Palma), and I’m now glad he won.

FRA-CFU LTE B757-2G5 EC-HRB

A very early 4am departure dictated getting up at 1.45am after less than two hours sleep.
While a minimum check-in time of 90 min was required, security control didn’t open until 3am… There were a few other flights to leisure spots this morning in an otherwise quiet terminal. Arriving at the gate, I noticed with surprise that a LTE 757, the Spanish subsidiary of LTU, was waiting for us. The crew was Spanish as well, rather young, and they weren’t really a lot more awake than the passengers, so the whole atmosphere was rather mooted throughout much of the flight. We took off from runway 18 after a long taxi from Terminal 2, and soon after, the first traces of sunrise appeared on the horizon. A decent breakfast further helped me to ease into the day, and I noticed that this 1985-vintage 757 looked quite old inside, apparently not much had been changed since delivery, as I could tell from the beige and brown colours. The seat pitch was just tolerable with a 219-passenger layout. The inflight video magazine showed pleasant images of sunspots, but I didn’t buy any headseats to listen in. After all, the flight lasted not even two hours, and soon after sunrise, we descended over the Adriatic Sea, crossing Corfu from the North before circling in for an approach to runway 35. I wished for a window seat, but at least my aisle seat in the rear cabin allowed me glimpses of both sides. The houses on the hilley coastline came closer and closer, and just before touchdown they were just racing by the windows on both sides: the famous Kanoni gap. Some heavy braking on the runway, and we were able to leave by the exit just in front of the terminal for an on-time arrival. An Air 2000 757 was just leaving while an Olympic 737-400 was still boarding passengers for the morning flight to ATH. We left via stairs, and by now the crew, maybe animated by the warm morning sun, was more vivid and wished everyone a nice holiday. I noted that there were no announcements from the flight deck throughout the whole flight, which is very unusual for a German leisure flights, where some pilots just seem to talk on forever, explaining every aspect of the flight. Apparently the Spanish pilots were too proud for that. A not-too-modern bus took us the few meters to the equally unimpressive terminal. But all tiredness was already gone as we were anxiously awaiting the beginning of our vacation. A taxi took us to the Hotel Royal, a ten minute drive from the airport.

You’ve probably seen Corfu photos before and noted that it’s one of the more spectacular airports. Well, let me tell you, my expectations were even exceeded! It is truly awesome, few airports will offer you such a combination of scenery, spectacular approach and excellent photo spots – if you want to, even from the hotel’s balcony!

A few words on the Hotel Royal: it was built around 1960 and has not seen much investment since. It’s basic, but clean. At 40 euro per room including a small buffet, it should be affordable for most of us. If you like being close to the action and love aircraft noise also at night (no aircondition, just a ceiling fan), this is the place to be. There are a few other hotels nearby, including the more luxurious Holiday Palace, but none can offer you this sight, especially if you have the right room.


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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



So I already mentioned the first spot: the balcony. To get a bit closer, you might want to consider the snack bar across the street.

Here you can see both our hotel and the cafeteria in the background:

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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



This is a self-service place, so you can stay as long as you want without having to consume too much. Only the “angry chair lady”, as we called her, might disturb your business, when she moves the chairs back into a military order while cleaning the tables every other hour. Most likely you’ll find some other spotters around. We met one of the local spotters, Spiros, who was very helpful and took excellent care of us (efcharisto!), as well as some nice guys from Athens. This spot enables views of the whole approach, such as aircraft passing by the two small islands of Vlachernias and Pontikonissi with the churches, passing over the bridge, over the keys and finally touching down, as well as taxi shots:

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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



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As the runway is 17-35, and the hotel/cafeteria are on the Eastern side, this is the morning position. In the afternoon, you cross the bridge at the narrowest part of the lagoon to move over to the Western side. Here you have to walk a bit to the left or right to find your favourite spot, or move into the swamp area closer to the runway which produces the best results, as you can see in Joe’s photos, but the drawback is that snakes might join you. I personally preferred to stay by the bridge, which enables high approach shots, shots of turning aircraft, or action shots like these:

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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



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Finally, returning to the hotel for a sundowner can produce shots like these:

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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



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The runway use seemed to unpredictable. Regardless of wind (was mostly westerly) or destination, any runway direction was used. Only the ATH flights (Olympic and Aegean) always came in on 35 and left on 17 again. When aircraft take off on 35, the 180 degree turn area (no taxiway) gives you additional photo opportunities. When they depart from 17, and they’re heavy, they are just barely higher than the hotel:

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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



Within a week you get most of the European charter scene, but keep in mind that there are slow days (namely Wednesday and Thursday) with not much else than the scheduled Olympic and Aegean flights. Saturday is the German day, while the best day for the British is Monday. The other days have a mix of everything. Please also note that there are few widebodies. Besides the Lauda 777, the only other widebodies were 767s of Britannia, Excel, Martinair and Malev. Unless you’re like Joe who didn’t miss a single movement, the slow days are best spent in downtown Kerkyra (beautiful historic town) or on a tour around the green island.

Weather was good except for some afternoon thunderstorm showers. Temperatures were not too hot this August, and a light, dry wind kept the climate agreeable. If you still need a refreshments, you will find two small beaches nearby (you can actually swim to the runway approach lights built into the sea), and the hotel offers a seawater pool. Some restaurants and taverna are also in the area, but I highly suggest a night trip to downtown Kerkyra for some authentic Mediterranean flair.


CFU-ATH Olympic B737-484 SX-BKC

After five days it was time for me to move on. As the destination of my second part of my vacation was Turkey, I chose the routing CFU-ATH-IST. In summer, the CFU-ATH flights seem to be well travelled, and I tried my luck on the morning (7.15am) departure, even though the OA had discouraged me the day before. To sum up my experience beforehand, I found the whole Olympic experience is discouraging, chaos all the way from checkin to seat assignments onboard. I was sent onboard with a boarding card reading “no seat” but in the aircraft I was told to take any free seat, as there were still some open. When some unexpected passengers still showed up, I moved on to a jumpseat in the rear galley. The crew was friendly, but not the youngest and not the prettiest. The aircraft itself was dirty with stains all over the seats and carpet. While just 10 years old, the galley looked well-worked. When even more customers appeared, some of the seats near a stretcher patient who was mounted over the last three rows were rededicated to regular use; probably unpleasant for both the patient and the passengers. We finally took off with some minutes delay and as I only had the very small window in the door, I couldn’t enjoy the view of us blasting by our hotel where Joe probably was already up on the balcony. Luckily the flight was only 45 minutes. Inflight services in Economy consisted of coffee, water and orange juice. Interestingly, I was asked to move to the front galley for arrival, which had the advantage that I was the first to leave the airplane in Athens.

The new Athens airport is of course modern and functional (with the exception that we had to wait 40 minutes for the luggage), but offers little in terms of architecture. In fact, it looks like a pre-fab building. Photo opportunities are limited, the McDonald’s on the second floor includes a small viewing area which faces eastward, and since I was there in the morning, in combination with the tinted double glasses, it was of little use. I then wandered outside of the terminal, but the ramps are still too far away from both ends of the long linear structure. A limited opportunity exists from the footbridge by the Sofitel that connects the terminal with the longterm carpark, but here you need more than 300mm even for widebodies. Thus I really missed some interesting traffic including Thai 777-300, Saudia MD90 and domestic traffic that you don’t see at many other European airports. So what you need is a car or a lift to the photo spots by the runways (approach, lineup etc).

My onward flight was with a Turkish 737-400 to IST, and I found THY to be highly superior to OA, but let’s keep this report limited to the Greek part: CFU was definitely one of the best spotting trips I ever did, and it remains one of the few “exciting” airports, at least in Europe.

Konstantin


Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
11 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineSalina Chan From Singapore, joined Jul 2001, 123 posts, RR: 3
Reply 1, posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 4315 times:

hmm...after the old one was deleted, i gladly provide my comment again....if anybody would care, that is  Wink/being sarcastic

Looking at the photo, my first thought was "thats what i call a room with a view" - stirred up my interest in going to Greece, and especially staying in that hotel for a night or two...or better a day  Wink/being sarcastic


User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 4282 times:

Hi Konstantin,

the trip report is excellent as well as the pictures are, especially I like this one:


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Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt



CFU looks like a real spotters paradise, I would like to visit the island also but unfortunately is the interesting season over and so I have to wait until the next summer.

Patrick


User currently offlineCmk10 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 513 posts, RR: 3
Reply 3, posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4249 times:

1. Great Report.
2. Great Pictures.
What airlines have scheduled flights in there?
DC-10's Forever



"Traveling light is the only way to fly" - Eric Clapton
User currently offlineFly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3154 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4233 times:
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IIRC, scheduled flights (leaving out Condor, LTU, etc who also publish their flights as scheduled) only by Olympic (ATH, SKG) and Aegean (ATH).

Konstantin



Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4256 times:

Britannia fly charter flights into CFU 20+ times a week with 752s, 762s and 763s from LGW, EMA, BRS, BHX, STN, NWI, NCL, LTN, LPL, HUY, LBA, GLA, DUB and CWL, but only in the Summer (May to October).


I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6577 posts, RR: 55
Reply 6, posted (11 years 12 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 4192 times:

Excellent report ! Very nice of you to take the time to point out great locations for photography. It will still be a long time before I get to CFU though, unfortunatly. Thanks! The777Man


Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineJoe pries From United States of America, joined May 2000, 1957 posts, RR: 53
Reply 7, posted (11 years 12 months 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 4083 times:

K,
great report! very precise! your writing skills are excellent, you need to write a book one day- perhaps on FRA? you already have the pics- just work on the text  Big grin

Joe


User currently offlineWietse From Netherlands, joined Oct 2001, 3809 posts, RR: 55
Reply 8, posted (11 years 12 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4092 times:

Konstantin,

Tim and I are perhaps planning to go there because of your (and Joe's) pictures. Great report, fantastic shots.

The Lauda 777, was that scheduled?

Wietse



Wietse de Graaf
User currently offlineFly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3154 posts, RR: 51
Reply 9, posted (11 years 12 months 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 4070 times:
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Joe: thanks, maybe an idea for long winter nights...

Wietse: It was scheduled in so far that it came every Saturday this summer.

Konstantin



Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
User currently offlineKaitak From Ireland, joined Aug 1999, 12482 posts, RR: 34
Reply 10, posted (11 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4020 times:

Hi Konstantin; wonderful photos and a great report. Corfu is a place I have long been curious about, but how are the Greeks about aircraft photos? Did you have any problems. I know the British spotters who were arrested were taking military photos, but I thought commercial photos might be forbidden also. What is the situation? Are they just used to spotters now?

Also, from the hotel, what size lens would you need to use, to get a very close up shot? Can you request a room with a runway view before you go?

Many thanks

(one of your friends from the orders group!)


User currently offlineFly-K From Germany, joined May 2000, 3154 posts, RR: 51
Reply 11, posted (11 years 11 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 4032 times:
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Kaitak:
In CFU spotting is no problem (unlike some other Greek airports).
I think you need around 200mm for a full-frame 757.
Reservation of the "room with a view" should be possible (it was arranged for us).

Konstantin



Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been...
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