Thursday, May 17, 2012

Weekend in the Cayman Islands

With great weather predicted for south FL and the Caribbean, this past weekend was the perfect opportunity to make a dent in the bucket list.  I decided to fly to Grand Cayman.

The flight was a straightforward IFR route mostly over water and directly over Cuba:
There were a few VOR fixes along the way, which are not shown.

I was a little nervous about the international flying protocol.  While I have done some international flying, this flight would require a  Cuba overflight, which involves getting an explicit permit and some special procedures. 

I probably could have done it entirely on my own.  But for added convenience and "peace of mind", I enlisted the help of the concierge service of Air Journey.  This service is like having a private airline dispatch crew at your disposal.
They provided me an amazing briefing packet prior to the flight, which included everything I needed.  Not only did it include the stuff you would expect, such as charts, flight plan, and International permits, it also included photos of the destination buildings, FBO, customs etc.  With their help, I felt totally prepared.  In addition, it also felt nice to have the "safety blanket" of a knowledgable person to call in the event I encountered something unusual during the journey.

The journey itself was rather simple and very much like flying any IFR flight plan in the US.  However, the ATC radio calls were a bit interesting.  Somehow, the Havana Center controllers seem to know which planes to speak to in English and which ones to speak to in Spanish.  There were also several nuances to international flight that I learned along way.  For example, altimeter usage, Class A airspace boundaries, and reporting points over water in areas with minimal radar coverage.


You can hear some of the ATC audio in the Youtube clip below:



But the views were the most amazing part of the trip.  The color of the water, especially just south of Cuba, was brilliant:
Of course, after a couple of hours over the water, land was certainly a very welcome sight!
Notice the runway edge is right on the water!
Once I landed the immigration/customs process extremely simple and took no more than 5 minutes for the authorities to check my passport and look over the plane.

Within 30 minutes after landing, I was sipping a cool beverage in this hammock on Seven Mile beach!







7 comments:

  1. Awesome!! I've been thinking about that trip as well someday. Any more info and pictures is always appreciated!

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    Replies
    1. @Geoff: Thanks! (Whenever you are ready to go, let me know and I will help you plan the trip...)

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  2. Great post as always, TJ! I've just started my IFR training, so I'm looking forward to some more flying around the country :-)

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  3. Very cool, TJ! Once again, you are doing a great job of making the rest of us jealous! That picture of the water is gorgeous.

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  4. This is what they call a high-flying life :-).

    Coincidentially, I'm going to be on vacation in Miami, so thinking about putting in a couple of hours in SR20 with Platinum, out of Opa Locka. Gotta check how that side stick works.

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  5. Wow, words and even the photos don't do that water justice. Nice job crossing another destination off the list!

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