Pilot Journal
Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Fly The Bahamas

What you’ll need to know as a first-timer to the out islands

fly the bahamasFor 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.
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flying the bahamasKnow Before You Go…The Basics
Once you choose your destination (in this case, Eleuthera), you can determine your departure point. Your first point of landing in the Bahamas must be at an airport of entry (AOE) with Customs and Immigration. Governor’s Harbour on Eleuthera is one of the more than 20 island airports classified as an AOE.

Obvious choices for departing for the Bahamas are St. Lucie County International Airport (FPR) in Fort Pierce, Fla., and Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE). FBOs at both airports have the required forms for entry into and departure from the Bahamas, but your best bet is to use one of the links provided in the “Resources” sidebar to preprint the forms and fill them out in advance. Place everything in a folder, which travels with you, and have a passport for each passenger and crewmember, and you’ll be set.

Be aware that the United States is instituting new border-crossing and arrival-notice requirements for private aircraft crew and passengers as of May 19, 2009. Under the new Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS), you’re required to notify Customs and Border Protection (CBP) no less than 60 minutes prior to crossing the border as you leave and return, and you’ll be required to supply information on your passengers to verify that no one is on the “No Fly List.” You can comply via telephone or the CBP website, and you can file the information for both departure and return at the same time. A handy tutorial on how to do this is available at the CBP website (see “Resources”)

Tips For Making Your Flight To The Bahamas Easier

1. Use online planning resources to download and fill out required forms.
2. Buy a copy of the current Bahamas & Caribbean Pilot’s Guide…you’ll use it.
3. Use the services of an FBO at Fort Pierce or Fort Lauderdale to take care of your needs for the required over-water equipment and any last-minute paperwork.
4. Plan your departure from south Florida so that you arrive at your destination airport no later than
4 p.m.
5. Relax…if you followed tips 1 through 4, then you can just enjoy the flight and your stay.

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