Krakow International Airport
Sunday 23 April 2017: Our morning easyJet flight to Krakow in southern Poland departed Edinburgh slightly later than its scheduled 06:40 hrs but, with a good tail wind, the crew made up time and actually landed a few minutes early.
From the right-hand side of the plane on take-off I had a short lived, distant view of the new Queensferry Crossing, which is due to open later this year and looked almost complete. Harder to make out was HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the Royal Navy's two massive aircraft carriers, under the final stages of construction at Rosyth.
A blanket of cloud restricted views throughout much of the journey but gaps revealed the North Sea below then patches of mainland Europe before our descent to Krakow-Balice International Airport. Also known as John Paul II International airport, which is located 11km west of the city of Krakow, is Poland's largest regional airport. There is a single concrete runway, number 07/25, which is 2,550 metres-long × 60 m wide (8,366 ft × 197 ft).
The 13th Airlift Squadron, which was established at Krakow in 1963, operates from the airport, with the military complex known as the 8th Airlift Base. The unit operates CASA C-295 and PZL M-28B Bryza transports, plus PZL W-3 Sokół (Falcon) helicopters of the 3rd Search and Rescue (SAR) Group are also based here.
Below: Local step-ladder equipped spotters capture the arrival of our easyJet flight on 23 April. Cessna 525 CitationJet OK-PBS, Socata TBM-930 SP-TBM and Piper PA-32 Saratoga II SP-NRS were among the handful of smaller aircraft present on the executive ramp.
Having carried out no research whatsoever before my first brief visit to Krakow several years ago I had been surprised to see the aircraft lined-up on the military ramp as my plane taxied past en route to the terminal after landing. I didn't have a camera handy, so for my second visit in April 2017 I made sure I'd pre-booked a window seat with an unobstructed view on the same (right-hand) side. I managed a few shots of the resident aircraft, plus a welcome snap of a surprise visitor in the shape of Israeli Air Force Boeing 707-3L6C, serial number 272.
Unfortunately the weather for the return flight a few days later was poor with heavy rain ruling out any worthwhile shots from the terminal, including the second-floor viewing terrace. Although roofed, the terrace's side walls are partially open to the elements so it can become uncomfortably chilly when the wind picks up. The main apron and length of runway are in view but all shots must be taken through glass which leaves a greenish tinge - nothing that can't be sorted in Photoshop though, but the raindrops on the glass made that irrelevant. Entry, which only costs 2 Zloty, is via a turnstile but there are no facilities and if you leave you have to pay again every time you re-enter. A similar view can be obtained from one of the seating areas on the first floor of the international terminal with comfy seats, right next to the large windows.
Although it didn`t seem too cold, the pilot reported a slight build-up of ice on the wings which had to be cleared before we set off. Somewhere over Germany, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11F (bottom right) flew underneath at right angles to our plane, several thousand feet below.
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