AT the Evektor factory I get treated to a tour and meet Vlastimil, the Evektor ferry pilot, who has some great stories to tell, and Javic, the Evektor test pilot.
I learn that Javic once had to pull an aircraft parachute during extensive and deliberate spin testing, with the centre of gravity pushed a long way back. He landed with a plop in the middle of a lake near the airfield. Ever since then he’s been known here as the “submarine pilot”.
Javic takes my EV97 for a spin around the block and comes back beaming. He tells me how light my EV97 felt as he climbed 1300 feet per minute, even with a full tank of fuel.
The Evektor team check my brake system and they replace the whole kit: pads, discs and worn calipers. Everything is as good as new. Over a few days, the team do my spar check, which involves drilling out the seats, taking the wings off and disassembling everything to allow inspection.
FRIDAY morning arrives, and there is hardly a breath of wind. I get to the airfield at 07:40am to fly G-JG for the first time since the wing strip-down. My next stop is Spiš castle, an enormous 11th-century castle in central Slovakia.
The green electric gates protecting the Kunovice runway slide open majestically as I approach them. After only 30 miles I am over the border into Slovakia. The Low Tatras mountains loom ahead at 4500ft, and as I clear the first range, a broad valley opens up in front of me. Each valley I skip over leads me over another ridge of mountains, and by the end of the leg I am at 8000ft.
The terrain below me is remote. I wish I was higher still, to be well clear of the peaks, but I find myself faced with a double-edged sword. I have the choice of either being a few hundred feet above the broken clouds with the mountains peeking through them, or being sandwiched underneath.Gliders from a NOTAM’d competition could be soaring along ridges. I choose the first option and continue ahead. I am relieved that the cloud doesn’t appear to be getting any thicker to force my decision. Not long after, I pass the last mountain peak and the airfield comes into sight.