We had a day to spend in Stuttgart, and started off with a walk in to town and breakfast at a cafe along the way. We wandered north through the old town, enjoying the mix of old and new architecture. The city itself has a population of just over 600,000, and the central district is very compact. Given that it was a Monday, many of the buildings and other attractions were closed, and we ended up on a mostly-empty open-top bus for a sightseeing tour of the city.
The tour was remarkably good, explaining much of the city’s history and covering all the major landmarks including the world’s largest pig museum (we gave that one a miss). Stuttgart is home to both Mercedes and Porsche, and the rich automotive heritage is reflected in the number of museums and other attractions dedicated to the motor car. We alighted on top of one of the hills overlooking the city and enjoyed a walk through the vineyards before the next bus came along; as well as cars, the city has a strong pedigree in wine!
The final stop of the tour before making it back to the town center was the Killesberg park, including the 40m high steel Killesberg tower. This was erected atop one of the high points in the park, and has spiral staircases ascending the outside, taking you to beautiful views over the city. The stiff breeze was a welcome respite from the high temperatures, still in the mid 30s although better than the day before. It was still hot enough that once we got back to the city center, I spent a while shopping for shorts and a couple of new shirts. Much better!
That evening, we met up with Christian, the COO of E-Aviation who had read about my trip in a Facebook Cessna 182 group and invited us to visit. We had dinner in a tremendous local sushi restaurant with him, his wife and their young daughter (who was extremely well behaved!) E-Aviation is a Stuttgart-based jet charter and management company, and Christian and his father also own a modern Cessna 182 which they mostly use for business travel around Germany. They were excellent company and we had a great evening together before heading back to our accommodation. The next day would have an early start for the flight to Prague!
Christian collected us a little before 8am to drive out to the airport. He was keen to come and see the aircraft, and to show us a couple of his; and we were equally interested! To get back to the aircraft we had to pass through full security, which was a bit of a nonsense for general aviation. Because our bags had liquids in (shower gel and the like), we weren’t allowed to carry them to the airplane; an FBO employee had to carry them instead, and then leave them there for us to load by ourselves!
Christian met us again to have a look around the aircraft, and then gave us a tour of their Cessna Citation Latitude jet. A little more luxurious than ours!
We had to wait about 30 minutes until our IFR slot time came around. As we sat watching the airplanes land, we saw a Delta 767 come in. I was surprised to see that it had come all the way to Stuttgart from Atlanta! All the other traffic was local from Germany, or other nearby European countries. Finally our slot time arrived; only for ATC to tell us to depart VFR instead, and pick up our IFR clearance in the air! We headed out to the north; as soon as we were clear of Stuttgart’s surface airspace we were cleared direct almost all the way to the German border and climbed up in to the smooth, cool air at 10,000ft.
The flight was uneventful, with another shortcut given to us before we left Germany that took us almost all the way to Prague. Prague radar started dropping down lower as we approached the city, and directed us around to the south before cancelling our IFR and leaving us to call up the next controller for arrival. This was the tower controller at Kbely, the larger military airport just south of our destination of Letnany. Letnany is a small grass airfield with a flying club and plenty of flight training; we parked up next to the another visiting aircraft before installing the cabin cover and taking an Uber in to the city.
That evening we took a walk to Old Town Square and the Charles Bridge, two of the classic tourist attractions in central Prague. I had only ever visited before during winter; and in July, things were significantly busier! There were crowds of tourists everywhere (to which, of course, we were contributing) – thankfully by around 10pm the crowds had thinned and we were able to enjoy a quick and tasty Vietnamese meal before heading back to the hotel. Service levels here left Stuttgart trailing well behind!
Click here to read the next part of the story.