30 Apr VASI April 2019 Meeting recap
Recap — VASI Meeting – Caribbean Flying
Speakers: Jim Parker
Another great meeting – well attended with about 60 attendees. A number of folks were non-members and from our sister groups from KVNC, such as Realto Christian Flyers and a number of residents and Airport staff.
Jim Parker’s presentation was informative as well as entertaining. A good mix of humor and hard facts about flying to the Bahama’s and all points south of here! His years as a US Diplomat honed his skills to deal with the challenges of flying beyond our boarders to make easy of some seemingly convoluted customs forms, overflight permissions and airport landing and transient fees.
Jim Parker and his C172RG have flown over 2,000 hours to 125 Bahamian/Caribbean/Mexican/Central America/Cuba airports. He knows Caribbean Flying like no other and shares his expertise on www.CaribbeanFlyingAdventures.com He also offers the lowest cost escorted tours Cuban Overflight and Landing Permits.
I was surprised at how close we really are to the islands. For example Cayman Islands is only 330nm from the tip of Miami. So with a relatively short flight you can see some exotic locations where they filmed one of the James bond movies or watch swimming pigs come to your boat for snacks!
But to get to these beautiful locations you need to have your international flight plan and paperwork sorted out. His website has a number of templates that you can download and modify for your specific information. Pay close attention to co-pilot and passenger declarations to save yourself some money off the landing fees at certain locations. He recommends DUATS, fltplan.com and foreflight.
Since most if not all of your flying is over water, you definitely want to be wearing your life vest as well as he strongly recommends an inflatable raft as well. Due to the proximity of the island to the US you are generally no more than a couple of hours away from rescue by the coast guard but you don’t want to tread water for two hours! so – again – remember to wear your life jacket while on the ground as you’ll be too busy exiting if something happens.
Lots of paperwork and notifications both outbound as well as inbound and Jim had a lot of good suggestions on how to not get stuck in red-tape. Which is just as thick outside the US as it is inside the US.
His other advise ranged from, making sure medical and insurance are all current and remember that “cash is king” no matter were you go. US dollar is accepted everywhere although often no change is available. So unless you plan on giving a big tip don’t carry only big bills with you.
Flying to the Bahamas, Cayman’s, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Belize, Guatemala is safe, inexpensive, easy and completely doable in a Cessna 172.
In summary it sounds like a lot of fun, a great adventure and different than just flying around in the US. So having a guide is definitely recommended and Jim Parker and his Caribbean Flying Adventures are just what you need.
By: Sina Adibi, VASI Communications