Planning first international flight (Bahamas)

tlewis95

I drive planes
I am in the early stages of planning a trip to the Bahamas in March of next year, flying a C182T (G1000) rented from KTPF (Tampa area)

I have never been out of the country period, so I am a little bit anxious about the whole customs process. :drool:

I would appreciate any stories, tips, advice, things to expect, whatever, on flying internationaly in a small plane, and especially how customs and the ADIZ/international flight plan "work"

I am planning on leaving through PBI, entering in MYGF (Freeport) and then leaving through MYBS (Bimini) and entering again in FLL before heading down to Key West.

Thanks in advance guys... :eek:
 

pfitmx15

Well-Known Member
Hey man sounds like a fun trip. Last year I flew out to Bimini and spent a few days. Really easy. There is a FBO out of Ft. Pierce that took care of our paperwork as long as we bought gas. We called ahead with our passport information and they did the customs paperwork and the bahamas cruising permit before we got there. They also had life vests and rafts for rent. From there we just filed an ifr flight plan and went to bimini. Once there we parked the plane and went through customs. Really easy just show them the paperwork and your passport. On the way back we used the airport phone to file a flight plan back to Fort Pierce. Then we called customs at fort pierce to give them the one hour heads up that we were returning. Couldnt get miami on the ground in Bimini so we took off vfr and then called miami to open the flight plan. With the flight plan we were cleared through the adiz to fort pierce. The only thing we messed up was going to customs at Fort pierce. They have a big box drawn on the ramp with yellow lines that they want you to park in and wait for them to come out to the plane. " I parked outside of it." After we cleared us customs we taxied back over to the FBO and returned the life vest and fueled up for our trip back home. By the way keep in mind that bimini didnt have fuel when we were there last year. "Dont know if that has changed." And if you see a man working on the planes on the ramp his name is "scrappy." Good fella. Only mechanic in bimini and im pretty sure hes not certified;). All in all its pretty easy. We just filed ifr both ways so we knew we were good through the ADIZ. Also dont forget to give customs at your port of entry back in the US there 1 or 2 hours headsup they want. Any questions just PM me.

Matthew
 

tlewis95

I drive planes
Ok, I am liking that. I don't have an IR, would the ADIZ transition be any different VFR than IFR? I assume just pick up flight following before going into it each way.

Where would I get all of the forms and paper work for each person (me and two friends going) needed?
Could I get a rough estimate on what I would have to pay each trip through customs too please?

Thanks.
 

Vector4Food

This job would be easier without all the airplanes
If you've never been to the Bahamas, man it's a beautiful country with great people.

Been there three times in the last year with another trip planned in a couple of months.

(flown in a commercial aircraft, not privately although I've been thinking about it!)
 

launchpad

Well-Known Member
If you have an AOPA membership, I'm pretty sure they have a package they send you with all the forms, charts and a list of requirements to fly around there. I'm not sure if they charge for it, but either way it's a good resource. There are also FBO's scattered at almost every airport up and down the east coast that will do the paperwork for you and rent you life vests/rafts.

The biggest thing you need to worry about is the ADIZ. Make sure you file the flight plan properly, and call ahead to customs. Get in contact with Miami Center as soon as you can, especially coming back. As long as they have you on Radar, you have one less thing to worry about. Also, read the AIM chapter on international flight plans and flights...theres some good info there.

And the most important tip.....don't drink rum runners and fly......it doesn't work....trust me. :bandit:


edit: bring some cash too. I don't know how it is now, but the last time I flew into and out of freeport, I got tagged with taxes. It was only 20$ or so, but they don't take credit.
 

TurdBird

Well-Known Member
Customs will be hit or miss. They will either deal with you right away or after they are finished with a nice long lunch. Enjoy it and be safe. That's a lot of water.
 

twdeckard

New Member
I flew to the Bahamas many years ago so my feedback may be dated.

The "Pilots guide to the Bahama's" is excellent.

I recommend having your customs paperwork filled out by the folks at Fort Pierce (you fax them the information ahead of time). They can also rent you a raft.

Of course you will put ADCUS in the fight plan but call and get the persons name (or badge number) that confirms your arrival when you plan your return. Wait in the yellow circle and don't get out of the airplane till the inspector shows up. I have traveled all over the world, including the middle east, and the only time I have ever had to suffer a hard time for being an American was from a U.S. customs agent. Make sure your paperwork is in order and if you indulge in any Cohiba's -- smoke them on the Island.

When I last flew into Nassau there was an ILS but my DoD Flip charts only depicted the NDB which made everybody crabby as I was oblidged to the full approach (this is probably stale).

Make sure you go to Green Turtle Cay, there was a great bar there overlooking the beach.

Hope you decide to make the trip. An airplane is a fantastic way to see the islands.
 

tlewis95

I drive planes
Thanks for the notes.

I would love to go to the bar, but I will only be 18, which is legal drinking age there...

But, Im only gonna be there for 3 days so I better not touch anything if I am flying. =]
 

ILS37R

Well-Known Member
Mostly echoing what others have said:

Bahamas trips are fantastic. An IFR flight plan is the easiest way to go, but DVFR isn't a big deal--just be sure to pick up flight following.

Customs in the Bahamas are pretty much a non-issue. Fill out a form, get a ferry permit and fly wherever you want in the islands.

Coming back to the US, Customs can be a pain, depending. Make sure you check hours of operations (Fort Lauderdale is fine, Fort Pierce has also worked great for me in the past) and call them before taking off in the Bahamas. Also put ADCUS in the remarks of your flight plan.

In the Bahamas, there shouldn't be any tie-down fees for your private flight in a single, save at Freeport and Nassau. Personally, I'd hit one of the less busy Ports of Entry coming into the islands, if I had the option. There will be a departure fee when you leaves the Bahamas--I think it's currently $15-20 per head. And don't forget to bring cash: the FBO will be able to take cards to fuel you up, but ground (and water) transportation is cash-based (US dollars are fine) and crew cars are very uncommon. They drive on the wrong side of the road, anyhow.

Make sure the plane has all its paperwork before you go, and be sure you have an FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operators permit before you go.

The Bahamas & Carribbean Pilot's Guide is a fantastic book, especially with its pictures of the airports. You don't necessarily have to buy it, but take a look at a copy before you go.

And, lastly, be ready for the thick, Bahamanian accent when you get switched over the Nassau Center.

Have Fun!
 

tlewis95

I drive planes
Make sure the plane has all its paperwork before you go, and be sure you have an FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operators permit before you go.

Have Fun!
The "FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operators permit" is that the thing for the aircraft or the little license that used to be required to fly anywhere back in the 80s?

And how do I get one? :crazy:

Im glad I started planning this so far out in advance. :buck:
 

ILS37R

Well-Known Member
The "FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operators permit" is that the thing for the aircraft or the little license that used to be required to fly anywhere back in the 80s?

And how do I get one? :crazy:

Im glad I started planning this so far out in advance. :buck:
Yup. Still needed for international. Really easy to get: go the FCC's website, dig around for the particular permit, fill out online paperwork, put ~$60 on your credit card and it should arrive shortly in the mail. You'll get one "wallet-sized" version to laminate and toss with your other flight documents and another one "suitable for framing." You know, if you really feel the need to advertise your ability to give the Feds money :rolleyes:
 

tlewis95

I drive planes
and another one "suitable for framing." You know, if you really feel the need to advertise your ability to give the Feds money :rolleyes:
exactly...im starting to sense they like giving out things like that with all of the fun little fees they have to fly to the bahamas. :banghead:
 

Nismaxdan

Well-Known Member
For the FCC license I followed these instructions to get mine last year.

Read post #6
http://forums.jetcareers.com/general-topics/35608-fcc-license.html

You can go without filing IFR, though it will be a hell of a lot easier, you can file DVFR (remember to open it). Add ADCUS in the comment section.

The people at fort Pierce used to do all of the paper work for you. Free if you bought gas and I think it was like ~$5 if you didn't. Raft rental was like $18/day (06-07) They are under new ownership so now I don't know.

It is now owned my Volo you can call them for prices and information [SIZE=-1]772-489-2285
800-446-7830[/SIZE]
 

TrinidadGT20

Vice President of Awesome
Wow, I had no idea a (relatively) simple flight to the Bahamas was this complicated. Keep us posted on your trip.
 

tlewis95

I drive planes
Wow, I had no idea a (relatively) simple flight to the Bahamas was this complicated. Keep us posted on your trip.
Ya, me neither, but it will be worth it I am sure.

I will definatly be making a detailed report about everything with tons of pics and video after the trip. =]
 
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