From Serbia to Liberland, Seaplanes Fly by Croatian Borders Again

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It is 6 years since the Croatian seaplane operator, European Coastal Airlines, was grounded before filing for bankrupcy. Since then, there have been plenty of announcements and initiatives from interested parties about the return of the seaplane service connecting the Croatian coast and its islands. But so far, nothing concrete.

But a new seaplane service came VERY close to the Croatian border a few days ago, but some distance from the Adriatic – on the Danube. 

The self-proclaimed Free State of Liberland, an unclaimed pocket of 7km2 on the Croatian side of the Danube, was claimed by Czech citizen Vit Jedlicka back in 2015 under the claim of terra nullius. Croatia promptly arrested Jedlicka and interned him overnight and ever since has done all it can to prevent Jedlicka from realising his ambitions.Serbia, on the other hand,  has been a little more hospitable, and the Apatin region across the Danube is reaping some economic benefit as a result, including the construction of the Eco Village, ARK Resort

If you haven’t come across the Liberland story before, it is truly nuts, and I highly recommend this video about the first anniversary conference in 2016 (including an appearance of me speaking Croatian). Or you can read my report on TCN – Liberland Conference: Reflections of a Weekend in Alice in LiberWonderLand.

Freedom for Liberland! from David Freid on Vimeo.

As for why there are Liberland seaplanes but not Croatian… 

More information in this translated report from the Tango Six portal:

The first ultra-light hydroplane in Serbia: the amphibious “Legend” as the beginning of a new segment of domestic ultra-light aviation

Last week, the first ulta-light amphibious hydroplane of Czech production, registered in Italy, landed in Serbia. After modification, i.e. installation of floats in the Italian city of Cremona, the ultralight “Legend” (an interesting aircraft that irresistibly resembles a Cessna 172) was delivered to a customer in Serbia. As owner Aleksandar Zubac tells the Tango Six portal, his idea is to further popularize this segment of ultra-light flying.

Milorad Matić, the owner of the Aero East airplane factory, helped Aleksandar (whose record-breaking flight with a Tango Six motor kite he wrote about earlier) in the acquisition of the aircraft and the overflight. Since the aircraft is still under Italian registration and that Matić, in addition to their license, also has authorization to fly this type of aircraft, it was a logical choice for, as he tells our portal, a very interesting first flight:

– We flew from Cremona to Portorož, from there to Belgrade and Zemun Polje. The plane spent the night and had its first water baptism at Lake Pavlovačka. Since there are currently no registered water airports in Serbia, we submitted a flight plan for landing at the “operational site”, i.e. a privately owned lake, which was approved. After that, we flew to a specially constructed pontoon near Liberland on the same principle for the recent Floating Man Liberland Summer Festival. – says Matić. As he says, the Legend is an amphibious vehicle with retractable landing gear, and the plan is for the SILA planes to also get floats and to modify three of them starting next spring.

The owner of the aircraft Zubac tells us that after kites, ultra-light aircraft and helicopters, a hydroplane is a logical evolution for him, since he deals with water tourism, which he has combined with aviation:

– To begin with, until I complete retraining, the plane is re-registered, and other regulatory prerequisites are taken care of, it will be based at the May 13 airport near Zemun Polje. The plan is for the aircraft to be based in a complex on the Sava called “Progar Cabin House”, with direct access to the river. A hall of one thousand square meters is currently being built there, where Legend will be based. The plane cannot be used for commercial purposes; it will be intended to popularize flying from the water. I am engaged in the construction of facilities mainly on the water, the production of catamarans, and it will be interesting to combine these two types of transport.

I am currently in discussions with Aero East for additional purchases of two forces with floats. – said Zubac for our portal.

Help for the whole endeavor was provided by two veterans of hydro aviation from Italy, Graciano Macolari and Oracio Frigino, who have decades of experience in this interesting segment of general and ultra-light aviation. As Matić says, they are crucial both for the process of retraining and support during modifications with floats, as well as for the transfer of experience from Italy and the European Union when it comes to water operations.

As far as hydroplanes in Serbia are concerned (outside the ultra-light category), there is currently only one aircraft on the YU registration. Cesna 206 YU-DNZ owned by Gas Aviation from Smederevska Palanka. We saw her recently at the air show in Prijedor.

Check out the Legend in action taking off from the water by Liberland – video courtesy of the President of Liberland, Vit Jedlicka.  


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning – Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners will be out by Christmas. If you would like to reserve a copy, email [email protected] Subject 20 Years Book


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