To fly a private airplane in Israel, you either need an Israeli pilot license (for which the written exam is in Hebrew) or you need to fly with a local pilot. I flew with instructor Tamar Levin. You need to file a flight plane and have it accepted before departure. As you would expect given the country's tiny size and nearby enemies, the airspace is very complex, and you are in constant communication with air traffic control, in Hebrew. Before the flight Tamar and I went over the flight plan and the charts. In flight she handled the radio communication and made sure I did not violate any airspace. Paul rode in the back seat with cameras, and the GoPro rode on the window for video.
The 2000 Cessna 172SP I rented, 4XCWH, is based at Herzliya airport (LLHZ). This short-runway towered airport, where much of the non-military flight training in Israel takes place, is just north of the commercial airport at Sde Dov on the north side of Tel Aviv and within the approach paths for Ben Gurion Airport just south of Tel Aviv, so the approach and departure procedures are complicated.
Taking off on 29, you must turn to the north as soon as you can, to avoid restricted airspace over the railroad track that is just to the west of the end of the runway. Since our flight plan had me flying south along the Mediterranean coastline, I then had to turn left once clear and continue to the coast.
The Mediterranean coast, south past the Tel Aviv beaches to Ashdod and then to Ashkelon. The Tel Aviv commercial airport at Sde Dov is on the northern bank of the Yarkon River.
Jerusalem: Due to security concerns we could not get permission to overfly the Old City as I had hoped. You can see the golden Dome of the Rock in the distance, but we flew over the Mount of Olives.
Dead Sea: Lowest place on earth, 1373 feet below sea level and four thousand feet lower than Jerusalem. The water has receded a great deal in the last thirty years, about a meter per year, as the Jordan River is diverted for agriculture by both Israel and Jordan and even Syria, leaving less than 7% of the river's original flow to reach the Dead Sea. I had hoped to land at the landing strip here, just to be able to say that I had landed at the lowest elevation airport, but the airport was not open because the manager happened to be on vacation.
Masada: King Herod's mountaintop desert palace/fortress, site of the last stand of the Jewish rebels against Rome in 73 C.E, who committed suicide rather than surrender. Herod built a dam in the valley so that reservoir water could be carried up to the cisterns on the steep-cliffed 1400' mesa and constructed water channels to send water from the wadis into cisterns carved into the mountainside. The squares in the valley below are the Roman siege camps. The Roman ramp is on the west side of the mesa, where the Romans breached Masada's defenses. The Snake Path on the eastern side was used by Herod's workers and the Jewish rebels.
Caesarea: Ruins of King Herod's port city and its artificial harbor, the moated Crusader fortress, and the restored Roman theater.
Returning to and landing at Herzliya.
Landing on 29, you enter a close-in, very high right base (from the north) and drop like a rock in order to land on this rather short runway.
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Last modified 14 June 2016