January 12, 2009
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During our post-AOPA Summit Fly Out to the Bahamas, I took advantage of the opportunity to test navaids and RCO’s in the Bahamas. Our route took us over Bimini, Andros (north end), Nassau/New Providence, the central Exumas, Eleuthera (south end), Cat Island and Long Island. During the week, I made several flights and made attempts to contact Nassau Radio at a variety of altitudes from 1,500 up to 6,000 feet in this area. In addition, I contacted Nassau Flight Service this morning and spoke with Kwane Russell who reviewed each RCO with me to confirm what I had observed. Basically, the only frequency working for Nassau Radio is 128.0 and the antenna is located on the Nassau International Airport tower. There is a second frequency for Nassau radio, 124.2, which is in test mode and that antenna is located at the Marsh Harbour airport on Abaco.
The following is a summary of what I was able to observe.
Essentially, the Bahamas have eliminated the RCO frequencies that had not been in service for many years (118.45, 124.1, 124.4) and focused on the 128.0 frequency in Nassau and the 124.2 frequency in Marsh Harbour (an area heavily travelled) as well as the AFIS frequency at Exuma International (118.0). The 128.0 frequency can be received throughout the northern Exumas, Eleuthera and north/central Andros if you get up high enough. The AFIS at Exuma International can be reached in the central and south Exuma, Cat Island and Long Island areas at reasonably low altitudes. Although the AFIS is not Nassau Flight Service directly, it is manned by someone who can provide weather and relay flight plan information to/from Nassau Flight Service. Although not having a functioning frequency for Nassau Radio (124.6) at San Salvador is a concern due to its remote geographic location, having the operational Miami Center frequency (127.22) partially offsets that problem although most FSS type requests will probably be rejected. The lack of operational NDB’s is not a major factor as the VOR at Nassau is working and most pilots are using GPS for navigation. Most instrument approaches in the Bahamas are also GPS.
Rick Gardner can be reached by phone: U.S. (786) 206-6147 or Mex. (998) 882-0943 or by visiting his Web site www.caribbeanskytours.com
Your CFII usually follows up route-planning drilling with a review of appropriate regulations, and today’s selection is 14 CFR 91.185, "IFR Operations: Two-way radio communications failure."
AOPA President Mark Baker and AOPA Foundation Executive Director Jim Minow are challenging one another to see who can recruit the most Hat in the Ring Society members for the foundation before the end of the year.
Over the past several weeks, the Air Safety Institute has observed a cluster of general aviation accidents occurring in close succession. The Air Safety Institute recommends that GA pilots conduct a pre-holiday safety pause and risk review. See these safety steps to take before your next flight.
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