When I was writing the the previous post I was getting ready to leave for Hungary. Now I’m happy to say that I have completed the training!
I’ve also passed the Assessment of Competence, and all the paperwork has been submitted to the Norwegian CAA. This should mean that I am an instructor now, but I don’t trust that until I get the new license in (probably) 1-2 months. Since I still haven’t completed the CPL-theory, I will be restricted to LAPL only.
The ATO I went to is Best Fly, which I booked with the help from Flygerskolen. The airport they use is located near one of Hungary’s oldest towns, Kalocsa. They also arranged an appartement for me in Kalocsa, and a bicycle.
LHKA, Kalocsa-Foktő Airport, is a decommissioned military base. The concrete runway is quite large, but only a small portion of it is in use. A part of it is used as a drifting track, and it was not unusual to have cars and people right up to a couple meters from the threshold of runway 35.
Even the local Police train here, and they did when I was here as well. Flying just a few feet above a bunch of Police officers is not something I though I ever would do.
They use a non-standard pattern here, and always on the east side of the airport. The reason is to avoid flying over the city, to keep people from complaining. The west side is avoided to stay out of the nearby restricted area around the nuclear plant across the Danube.
Best Fly has a lot of aircraft, but I mainly used D-EKJJ, a Cessna 172 with a turbodiesel engine. All of their C-172s have been retrofitted with diesel engines, constant speed propeller, and FADEC - everything controlled by a single lever power control. I also got to try their Piper PA-44 just for fun.
The aircraft are all well maintained, well equipped (except for the annoying German transponder which made a very annoying sound), and great to fly. The diesel engine give them a very good range, but are a bit different to operate. Slightly less powerful, but that doesn’t matter much for training purposes. The single lever power control means you have to fly on engine load instead of RPM. Other than that, it’s still a Cessna 172.
Getting to Kalocsa is easy. From Norway you start by getting to Budapest, Norwegian is flying directly from OSL - and that’s the route I took down there. Then I used Bolt to book a taxi to Nepliget bus station.
When you get to Nepliget just head inside and ask for a ticket to Kalocsa (make sure you get of at the second stop, the bus station in Kalocsa, not the hospital). The easiest route is Volánbusz route 1110, departing every hour.
I did not book the flight home until after I had passed the Assessment of Competence. I highly recommend you don’t either. This greatly reduced stress for me, as I still had plenty of time left to my hard deadline of four weeks. Booking the flight home was easy enough to do from Hungary once I had passed, and then I could book the cheapest option. Booking a flexible ticket earlier, or having to book a new because I missed the first, would probably not be any cheaper - just add extra stress.
I needed a few hours to meet the prerequisites
Before I could start the training itself, I needed 4:35 dual instrument time, in addition to the mandatory pre-entry test.
Since I only have PPL, the full prerequisites for FI(A) are:
Received at least 10 hours of instrument flight instruction on the appropriate aircraft category
Completed 20 hours of VFR cross-country flight on the appropriate aircraft category as PIC
Completed at least 200 hours of flight time on aeroplanes or TMGs, of which 150 hours as PIC
Completed at least 30 hours on single-engine piston powered aeroplanes of which at least 5 hours shall have been completed during the 6 months preceding the pre-entry flight test
Completed a VFR cross-country flight as PIC, including a flight of at least 540 km (300 NM) in the course of which full stop landings at 2 different aerodromes shall be made
Additionally I will need the CPL theory if I want to instruct for anything other than LAPL (which I do, so I need to get that done).
I had more than enough to satisfy all requirements except dual instrument. So that’s what we started with.
I arrived in Hungary on a Saturday, after traveling for almost 24 hours (spent a night at Gardermoen). When I got the option to go flying right away, I could’t say no!
Thanks to my eagerness to fly, and a very pleasant and willing instructor we were able to complete all of the dual instrument hours, the pre-entry test and the first lesson within the first two days. That’s not bad, given that the first day was also a travel day!
To make it even better, I also got to attempt a couple approaches (which I haven’t done before) and get a new airport in my logbook (I love collecting airports).
Preparations paid of
As mentioned before, I had a binder of important information, which contained all relevant information about the school, the local airports, Hungarian airspace, and a summary of my flight hours this far.
I didn’t need all of this, but having what I actually needed this readily available was very convenient. It helps me to focus on the training itself.
What I recommend that you prepare and bring with you:
A summary of your flight hours (total, dual, pic, night, cross-country, multi, etc.)
A pre-filled copy of NF-1165 (or whatever’s relevant for your competent authority) (fill in your name, certificate number, address ,etc.)
Maps and navigation plan templates if you plan to use that for navigation
You also have to bring your logbook, and you should bring your own headset. I also brought my iPad, kneeboard (with relevant frequencies, etc.), GoPro, and a flight-backpack to carry it all to and from the airport.
Whatever you do, don't forget a pair of proper sunglasses! The visibility improved significantly with sunglasses compared to without!
The Hungarian Meteorological Service has a lot of useful information and forecasts for general aviation. You need to register a user, so I highly recommend you do that before leaving home.
The training is intensive, which of course is how they are able to provide such short FI(A) courses. They are short in number of weeks, but you still have to fly a lot.
Except for the first and last days, I had around three hours of flying each day. Every 7th day is a rest day, which give you time to relax a bit, and explore Kalocsa or whatever else you want to do.
The training was a lot of fun, and the experienced instructors had a lot of knowledge (and crazy stories) to share. The instructors I flew with down here were all very pleasant to fly with, and that’s very important. My instructor back home usually say that the cramped and noisy cockpit of a tiny Cessna is a horrible learning environment, it’s the instructor’s job to make it as good as it can get - that means it will soon be my job!
Sitting on the right side didn’t take as long to get used to as I expected, and now it feels like the natural place to sit.
Almost every airport is like a museum
I also got to visit a lot of new airports, like LHJK Jakabszállás - which had a restaurant (and hotel) right at the airport.
We only flew to smaller uncontrolled airports (some of them had AFIS), and most of them had a lot of parked aircraft. Some of them could double as a museum.
Some of them also had old abandoned control towers (Kalocsa as well), like at LHOY which also has the widest runway I’ve ever landed on - 300 meters!
Hungary is flat, mostly
The region around Kalocsa is flat, which means you don’t have to climb high to avoid terrain. This combined with the mostly fair weather make it easy to fly almost every day.
This also means that the winds are the same for a rather large area, which I guess is the reason for most of the runways in Hungary being 17/35.
It’s not all flat though
One of the longest flights of the course did allow me to see a bit more of the not-so-flat part of Hungary. I also got to fly very close to Budapest, which was nice!
The visibility wasn’t the best, but I could clearly see the Hungarian Parliament Building. Unfortunately restricted airspace meant we couldn’t get any closer.
The route also took us under the TMA of a military airfield, which was a bit closer to the ground than the onboard Garmin device liked… After getting yelled at for long enough, we decided to ask for a climb. That was no problem at all, so just as in Norway - just ask!
This airspace was however military, and a large NATO freighter (I think) got the take off clearance as we entered. The darker color made it significantly easier to spot, which was nice.
Nice to know about Kalocsa and training in Hungary
One of the beauties of EASA, from my perspective, is the ability to do training and hour building within any of the EASA member states. Flying in Hungary is almost the same as flying in Norway.
Nice to know about flying in Hungary and Hungarian airspace
The airspace in Hungary is not particularly complicated, and most of it is class G. There are a few control zones, some military, and a couple TIZ. There’s also a lot of restricted areas and danger areas which can be activated. Navigating around them is usually very easy. Having a app like SkyDemon which can visualize NOTAMs is very handy. During the time I was down there, most of the airspace above 4000 ft was closed due to military exercise activity. This NOTAM made us quickly skip one of the airports we had planned to visit:
Uncontrolled airspace ends at 9500 ft in Hungary, but most Hungarians talk to Budapest Information (divided into several regions) even in uncontrolled airspace. They also talk a lot of Hungarian on the radio. Budapest Information won’t talk to you unless you have filed a flightplan, it was not uncommon to hear this:
Without a flightplan, have a nice flight
For this reason, it’s very common to file a flightplan. And so we did. We got the same service I am used to from Norway, and you will also get information about active danger areas. They were also very friendly, and often ended with “Have a good landing” before you left their frequency.
The Hungarian Meteorological Service have a nice visualization of the forecast for the entire country based on flight risk (under the tab Weather information), it can be separated into Cumulonimbus, Cloud base, Gusts, Freezing rain, Visibility, and Thunderstorm.
I’m told the weather in Hungary is mostly fair, and good enough for flying most days in the summer half of the year. That was true the time I was there, however, it can get quite windy. And you should expect thermals, which means you should also expect glider activity near smaller airports (not Kalocsa though).
Places to eat
Most restaurants in Kalocsa only have the menu in Hungarian, so I highly recommend that you find the menu online and translate to English using Google Translate or something similar.
Kalocsa is not a very large town, so I mostly ended up eating at the same restaurant - E.T. pizzéria. It was within walking distance from my apartment, open every day, and had great (and very cheap) food.
I also think it’s possible to rent a car and give the drifting track end of the runway a try.
Since I did this through Flygerskolen, I paid the first part to them in NOK. I then paid the rest directly to Best Fly, partially in cash and partially using wire transfer. The examiner wanted cash, which I paid in Hungarian Forints (he also accepts Euros).
Cost in NOK
Training fee to Flygerskolen
For access to theory course
Travel to Hungary
Includes hotel at Gardermoen
ASA Pilot Backpack and Hungary VFR chart
FI(A) Course training fee to Best Fly
EUR 5 180
Dual instrument fee to Best Fly
HUF 60 000
Alternatively EUR 150
Multi engine rental Best Fly
Apartment rental Best Fly
Travel from Hungary
Includes hotel in Budapest
Food and groceries in Hungary
Bus and Bolt entire trip
NOK 106 795,56
My costs include the extra 4:35 instrument and 0:35 multi engine, so without those the total cost would be NOK 94 352.07. Without the optional equipment (which you may already have, or don’t need) the total cost would be just north of NOK 90 000,-. This will however change depending on the exchange rate, and the cost of the travel to/from Hungary.
Just the course itself, examiner fee, bus/Bolt, and accommodation and food in Kalocsa is around NOK 80 000,-.
In addition to this, I will have to pay fees to the Norwegian CAA (Luftfartstilsynet). And then even more to take the CPL theory exams. A full breakdown of all costs will be part of the final summary once I’m done with everything. The above is only for the FI course itself in Hungary, and the equipment I purchased specifically for the trip.
Hopefully I’ll get the updated license within the next 1-2 months, then I’ll actually be a flight instructor for real. But to actually be able to instruct, I will also need to complete the instructor standardization at the local flying club.
As mentioned several times before, I need to continue studying for the CPL theory. I then need to get the exams booked, and hopefully remove the LAPL Only restriction.
So there’s still more to be done before I can start instructing, but I intend to use the next months wisely. In addition to studying the theory, I will join in on as many briefings and lessons as I can, to get (more) familiar with the instruction in the local club.
I’ve come this far, now I just have to get the last part done!