Fri Sep 18, 2020 5:08 pm
I've always thought it a rather sad state of affairs that many in aviation view flying abroad as something that needs paid-for training or coaching, or least being accompanied by an experienced old hand the first time you try it.
If you can fly to LFAT then you can fly to anywhere in France. It isn't much more of a step to then branch out into neighbouring countries. The aircraft flies the same and ATC is in English, so the extra/different things you need to do are purely administrative. As @Flyingfemme says, these are increased at the present time so the advisability or otherwise of starting your adventures now depend on your own appetite for getting your head around bureaucracy.
If you can use read, use Google, and distinguish a reliable source from a dodgy one then you can learn all you need yourself. You don't need someone to teach you unless you really don't have the appetite for it.
Time was you'd have needed to go shopping for charts and there might have been some debate about which were the best ones to buy. Thankfully now there is SkyDemon.
Don't worry about airspace looking complicated. Apart from major cities with their associated large airports and TMAs you are likely to just be cleared straight through everything. Often the controllers are so relaxed that they don't even take the trouble to formally clear you. In France in particular they just take an attitude of "continue, I call you if there is a problem" and when we inevitably (because being British we're so paranoid about airspace) ask them to confirm we're cleared they reply "but of course" in a slightly baffled tone. The other really nice thing is that European countries have joined-up ATC systems so in any given en-route location there is one radar controller that a VFR flight should be talking to (look at chart/SkyDemon for the frequencies) and they will usually save you trouble of looking up the next one by handing you straight over. You can forget the silly patchwork of private fiefdoms we have in the UK.
If you need fuel then make sure they have Avgas, that they will sell it to you ('for aeroclub members only' is non unheard of in Italy) and that you will be able to pay them (at some airports in France you cannot get fuel unless you have a Total or BP card). If you need fuel, always get it immediately on landing rather than prior to departure.
Never assume, always check. The consequences of getting the admin side of things wrong are rarely catastrophic, but they can be incredibly inconvenient.
Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.