With its dozens of islands, Greece is the perfect country to experience some regional flights. Since hardly any of these flights are economically feasible, they're subsidized by the government, which in turn allowed me to get a flight with six legs for 100 Euro. Not bad! So here's the itinerary:


The first leg was on Sky-Express, the local island of Crete, founded in 2005. It operates a fleet of one BAe Jetstream 32 (SX-IDI) and two Jetstream 41 (SX-DIA, SX-ROD) - all of them have a flight attendant on board serving sweets defore departure and a drink enroute.

Getting up early at my hotel in the approach path to Heraklion's airport, I was able to catch one of the first landings of the day...

For my flight, the only JS32 SX-IDI was to be the means of transport. Unfortunately, the heavily tinted windows left me with almost no good shots - but here we go anyway. After departing from Rwy 27, we get a nice view of Heraklion.




Not much more to see during the flight, and so the next shot's already from Rhodos. 

For the evening, I had booked one of Olympic's puddle jumper flights to the island of Kastelorizo near the turkish coast and back. But when I got to the check-in I was informed that the flight had been cancelled because of techical difficulties with the Dash 8-100 - which is the only plane that's able to land on the short 850meter runway. At the Sales Desk, where I was supposed to get my refund, a nice surprise awaited me! Instead of just getting back the 50€ I had paid, I was given the full 250€ cancellation fee! Thanks to Olympic for paying for my whole two days of flying adventures (and even two T-Shirts on top of that!).

The next morning I was up early for my other island hopping flight. This, too, was supposed to be a Dash flight, but was changed to the bigger ATR - looks like that was okay for the 950m runways at today's destinations. But it really felt like it was the ATR's limit here and there. Not yet though - the departure from Rhodos' Rwy 25 is business as usual.



After a short hop, we're on finals for Rwy 32 at Kos' big airport - nothing special here either, so keep the angle of the wing and prop in mind for later...!  



After a ten minute break, we leave the terminal and the only parked 737 behind and take off for the smaller islands...! 



We leave Kos... 



...pass some idyllic islands and villages...   



...and Kalymnos Airport, opened in 2006. Looks like a decent destination for a trip report, too! 



A reach the southern tip of Leros, our next destination 



Having a look at the GPS recording of the approach to Rwy32, we see that there are quite a few hills on both sides of the approach path, requiring a steep angle! 



Nose down, here we go! 



Passing low over the terrain and the hills the ATR finally hits the runway hard, but still comes to a stop after two third of the distance 

Apparently the aircraft is refuelled here, and so the passengers had to go to the terminal for a few minutes. The perfect opportunity for a terminal shot!


The terminal is so small that the passengers headed straight out and into the surrounding taverns. Gotta love the greek! I used the 10 minute break to take a close look at all there is to Leros' airport - which isn't much, but at least includes a welcoming sign in four languagues (with wrong german grammar)!


After all the passengers had been rounded up again, we were all set for the next leg. Taking off over the nice bay of Leros!


 

The flight over to Astypalaia, the butterfly island, isn't long. The airport's location is quite spectacular, on a plateau at the narrowest point of the islands. That would have made for a great cockpit shot, but I was denied access on the whole flight...


Well, the pilots sure had a lot of work to do! They put their poor ATR trough an extremely tight visual circling and a steep descent - just look at the angle of the wings, and remember the standard pitch from the other approaches!




Back to normal ops on final 



After a hard touchdown and some good braking action we came to a halt pretty quickly, and finally the pilots maneuvered their plane into the corner of the tarmac using reverse thrust - apparently to leave space for the plane from Athens which was due in, too. Note the rampers' helmets, too! 



Proceeding to the terminal to check in for the return flight 



The terminal was filled to the gills with people: Passengers storming the single counter to check in for Rhodos or Athens, friendy and family saying hello and goodbye, and eager taxi drivers waiting for business. Wow!  



After half an hour our flight was ready again, and off we went - bye bye, Astypalaia! 



This window was even dirtier than the last, and so I fast forward to the final at Leros again 



Without refuelling the ground time was even shorter, and after a few minutes we took to the skies again! 



Back at Kos airport, where I missed the Swiss flag :) 



And 20 minutes I'm back where I started, on finals for Rhodos passing some nice beaches 

Checking in for my Sky-Express flights back to Crete (with a detour to Mykonos) was an adventure, too - we were only 2 passengers, and so the check-in agent felt no need to staff her counter at all and preferred to stay in her office. A long search for her followed until I could finally get my boarding pass. I proceeded to the large boarding area where I met the only other passenger, and shortly after we were driven to our plane in a huge bus  - just for the two of us! Same plane (SX-IDI) again, same flight attendant, and off we go!




Enroute  



Thanks to the light load I could switch seats as I pleased, and set up for the perfect view of Santorini Airport, our next stop 

Being 45 minutes early, our ground time in Santorini was stretched to a whole hour, which the two of us could spend in the deserted transit area of the airport - at least the restaurant provided a great apron overview!




There was even an occasion for some sightseeing, as this church was towering right over the runway! 



Seven more passengers joined us for the next leg to Mykonos, and so the flight was at least half full! 



The island was hiding below a thick layer of overcast clouds, and so there's just one shot of the approach!  

The short turn-around of 30 minutes was more than enough to check in again, and upon returning to the aircraft the flight attendant could hardly believe seeing me again! She offered that I could do the safety demo and she could sleep a little, but I declined and just opted for some more sweets out of her basket :)

At least it was a full flight now, and a cheerful crowd on board, as the Jetstream lifted its nose up and climbed into the dark, cloudy sky. Quite a unique feeling riding this small plane through the darkness, being thrown all over the place by frequent, powerful turbulence.


After another stop in Santorini - at least we were allowed to stay in the plane this time - I finally made it back to Heraklion late at night, finishing an exhausting yet very entertaining day of 10 takeoffs and landings.

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