Trip Start Jun 27, 2011
Trip End Dec 08, 2011

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I returned to Gloucester on October 4, staying in a nice hotel in Cheltenham, the closest city to the airport. For this RTW flight I needed an FAA Special Flight Permit (SFP) covering the installation and use of the extra fuel tank, and allowing aircraft operation at greater than maximum certified takeoff weight (MTOW) for this plane.  This permit was issued in June for 3 months so during my 10 week hiatus back to the US it had expired. I naively assume it would be easy to get the expiration date extended but no such luck.  To get a new permit required a new inspection process, and since the aircraft was now in Europe, the FAA's International Field Office (IFO) in Munich now had jurisdiction to sign off on the permit.  What ensued was 3 days of chasing inspectors (an FAA Designated Airworthiness Representative or DAR) and documents around until I finally got the new SFP in hand at 10:30 last Friday night! This put me two days behind my original schedule.  Knowing my flight objective, I can say the FAA people at the Munich IFO were particularly helpful in getting this SFP processed in a timely fashion so hat's off to them.

I did have a chance to meet with some new friends, Patrick and Linda, who just last month completed a year-long flight around the world in a homebuilt Long EZ aircraft, a plane of novel design that has shorter range than mine and is limited to daytime flight with visual flight rules (VFR). Taking shorter hops between airports, they ended up seeing a lot more places along the way than I will. Their route paralleled mine through the middle east and SE Asia so they've been a great source of recent information on what they encountered.

Anxious to be on my way, I left Gloucester (EGBJ) for Cannes, France (LFMD) the next morning (Oct. 8) at 9:00 am. The people I dealt with at Gloucester where very helpful and friendly, particularly Steve Williams, who owns the Skypark hangar where I parked my plane, and his wife Kathryn who is the chief flight instructor at the Staverton Flying School.  I can also say that EGBJ is a great GA-friendly airport with relatively low fees and businesses on the field that cater to small aircraft; for example, RGV Aviation - an FAA certified repair station that had a lot of Cirrus's in their shop and filled my O2 bottle (something Bristol couldn't do). I had N788W's oil changed by Aerotech, another good resource based near EGBJ.  Overall, if you're flying into UK and want a place to leave your plane for awhile, EGBJ is a good choice.  Good hotels in Cheltenham and a little over 2 hour train ride to London, so a good base to explore some of the UK.
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