Preparation for the European leg of the project is well developed. It has been a busy couple of months in Turkey, a lot of phone calls have been made and many e-mails sent.
It was nice to get away for a few days to the south of Turkey with my Girlfriend. On the way there, we got caught in a large traffic jam as a new electric cable was being put up across the valley. A small truck that sold local sweets was just ahead of us and set up shop. He did a very good trade. The truck next to us was giving coffee to anyone who wanted it. There was a good sense of community spirit.
Once there, we managed to park right next to the Mediterranean Sea for the few days. Two days in Mersin and one at Kizkalesi.
The number of Syrians displaced by the war was very noticeable. There were many. You can also see many Syrian registered cars. It would be interesting to know how they have adapted to life in Turkey.
The weather was not great for the first couple of days, but it was a perfect 19deg and sun for the last. We then headed back to Kapadokya where it was -3deg and snowing. It turned out that snowfall was the biggest they had had in nearly 30 years.
I have also done a couple of flights here giving pointers to a junior pilot. It was nice to get into the skies over Kapadokya again. It is a spectacular place to fly.
Most of my stay here has been spending hours sitting in front of a computer though. It was expected as organising the European leg of the project is quite involved.
I have recently been to Ankara to meet with UNICEF Turkey to go over the events we are arranging. There are some strict rules regarding balloons in Turkey, so we’ve worked a lot with the Civil Aviation Authority over the past few weeks to make sure everything is correct. The plan is to free-fly here in Kapadokya on Monday, then tether the balloon in Ankara on the 17th.
While in Ankara, we even checked out a few indoor venues to see whether they would be suitable in case of inclement weather. None of them had enough ceiling clearance for the balloon though.
We have confirmed events with other UNICEF offices also, (a mixture of free-flying and tethering) in Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary and Austria. I am still working on events in many more European countries. The rest of the mainly southern European countries will be covered next time I come through here after I have travelled through Africa
The rough European schedule for this year is below:
Turkey: Until 20/3
Czech Republic: 3/5-8/5
New Zealand: 8/5-18/5
The Netherlands: 15/7-21/7
More news to come soon….