Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Fly The Bahamas
What you’ll need to know as a first-timer to the out islands
|For many pilots, it’s a rite of passage; for others, it’s their daily work. Some are fearful at the thought of so much water below, and their first flight over an ocean becomes an adrenaline-fueled leap of faith. |
For many pilots, it’s a rite of passage; for others, it’s their daily work. Some are fearful at the thought of so much water below, and their first flight over an ocean becomes an adrenaline-fueled leap of faith.
Whatever the motivation, for those who’ve looked down at the Florida shoreline passing beneath their wings, and then looked ahead to see only water, a flight to the Out Islands of the Bahamas is beyond compare.
On the best days, the shadows of small clouds fool the eye as “cloud islands” on the sea below— false harbingers of land floating on water that change color as you head east.
|Governor’s Harbour Airport (MYEM), one of three airports on the island of Eleuthera, is a popular airport of entry for Americans flying to the Out Islands from southern Florida. |
No matter how slow the ’craft, the short distance between the mainland and the first islands is covered quickly. Every pilot who has cruised more than one of the Out Islands has a favorite; for many, that would be Eleuthera, which gets its name from the Greek word for freedom. It’s a long and narrow expanse of sand, rocks, lush beaches and history that’s 215 nm to the southeast of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Three airports almost equally divide the island; one of the most popular is Governor’s Harbour (MYEM), in the center. With an approach from the west/northwest, the 8,000-foot (and very wide) runway seems perched on the eastern shore, pretty much a necessity for an island that’s barely two miles wide and 100 miles long.
Well before the plane’s wheels come to rest on the expanse of concrete at Governor’s Harbour (and especially for the first-time island flyer), a safe and trouble-free flight to paradise begins with planning and knowledge. The good news is that there are plenty of resources out there, and many are available free online.
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