A few years ago I was blessed with the opportunity to fly the Cessna 172 to Bimini, Bahamas. I was a private pilot working on my instrument rating, now I am a Flight Instructor. Approaching Bimini to land was one of the most rewarding experiences in my aviation adventure. Consequently, my point of departure was Jacksonville, Florida. I took a 1980’s model Cessna 172 equipped with a Garmin GTN 650 to the Bahamas. Aviation Lawyer
The trip was awesome. We left Jacksonville Florida refueled as we headed down the Florida coast. Eventually, we saw the Nasa complex where they house the launch vehicles. You can see that building from the air, it is noticeable and massive.
Our last point of departure before heading to Bimini, Bahamas was Fort Lauderdale, Florida. There is no fuel at Bimini Airport so you will want to top off your tanks before you cross the 49 miles of water separating Florida and Bimini.
When we took off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, because of the airspace Air Traffic Control kept us below 1200 Feet. South Florida is some of the busiest airspace in the country and there is a lot going on. A few miles off the coast of Florida we were able ascend as I was given the “altitude your discretion” clearance. Realistically though, you can see Bimini From the coast of Florida right after departure. Its not that far. And, on a clear day you can see it.
While crossing the water we saw a lot of little boats buzzing around the water below. It was a beautiful day and everyone was out. On approach to Bimini, the water looked very clear. You could see the bottom of the lagoons. It was soo pretty. The landing was smooth also, I was surprised because the winds were over 20 knots on landing. Which is a bit extra for a Cessna 172. I think because the winds that are in the Islands are ocean winds they don’t really changed direction much and are steady one direction winds that are not creating a bunch of turbulence.
Upon landing we had to pay a landing fee to the Bahama government authorities at the airport. Consequently, if I recall correctly, this was a $50.00 fee per-person. Their airport is a small operation. Approximately three or four employess appeared to be working.
There was a neat airplane bone yard there that we checked out. It appears that a lot of these airplanes were abandoned. This is likely because there are few services at the Bimini Airport. It is an island and they don't even have fuel soo and potential airplane break down would require the extra expense of importing parts from the mainland. Not to mention the facilities are limited.
After our stay for an evening we headed back to Jacksonville, Florida. Consequently, there were some high winds expected on departure out of Bimini soo we woke up pretty early to leave. As the atmosphere heats up with the sunrise, the winds tend to increase. Heat is the source of most weather on earth, the sun.
In order to fly a Cessna 172 internationally, you must be sure it has several qualifications. First, you will need a letter from the owner providing you permission. This is just a one page document signed by the owner, nothing extravagent or complex. You should keep this letter in the airplane while you are in international territory. Subsequently, this letter serves the purpose of letting any local authorities know that you have permission to use the plane. This is because, if you are not the actual owner the local authorities may detain you until they can prove permission from the owner.
Another modification that must be made to the airplane is that you must have the call sign letters and numbers on the side of the airplane larger then 12 inches. This is because in the United States not all tail numbers and letters are that large on Cessna’s. My FBO had to make this modification before my departure.
Also, you should have life jackets in the plane. This is because you will be flying over water and it is wise to have life jackets and, if you are flying for hire then it is required. This is because, you power off gliding distance will not all you to make it back to shore if the engine goes out. If there is an engine out scenario, you are going to want life jackets in order to survive until the coast guard can come get you. Realistically, on most days if you are crossing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Bimini, Bahamas there are a lot of private boaters in that area. It is unlikely if you did go down, that you would be in the water for long.
Another requirement is that you will need a customs stamp. This is a decal stamp issued by the United States Customs and Border Protection that goes on the side of your airplane. Pften, upon arrival back in the U.S. they check this. In Conclusion, If you have an aviation issue, you should call me I am an Aviation Lawyer.
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Available with appointment (434) 660-9701:
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