Bahamas: Escape to tropical beaches

January 27, 2011

Another winter storm moved up the East Coast as January came to a close. But in the Bahamas, warm waters from the Gulf Stream make for temperatures in the 70s this time of year.

Even light general aviation aircraft can reach the Bahamas from the Florida coast. With a warm climate, the island chain boasts 2,200 miles of coastline for the winter-weary pilot. And plenty of resources are available to help smooth the process of flying into the country.

AOPA provides guidance on requirements for flying into the Bahamas. Florida-area pilots can find out more about the ins and outs of flying to the islands in person during Showalter's Bahamas Day on Feb. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.at Orlando Executive Airport. AOPA is among the sponsors of the event, which will offer tips on over-water flying operations, safety and life-raft use, and eAPIS manifest filing, as well as information on what to see and do once you arrive. Showalter Flying Service is a new Bahamas gateway FBO, trained by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism to assist pilots flying to the islands.

Before you depart for a tropical vacation, make sure you have the paperwork in order. An exemption allowing U.S.-registered aircraft to fly with 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitters (ELTs), set to expire on Feb. 1, will be extended for another year—continuing until Feb. 1, 2012. AOPA will post the exemption online when it is available.

If you’re planning on flying an Experimental aircraft into the Bahamas, the Bahamas requires that you carry a copy of a policy document outlining the conditions for operating in the country. The association had requested clarification from the Bahamas Civil Aviation department regarding flying Experimental, registered, amateur-built aircraft to the Bahamas, and received the “standardised validation,” which contains some minor updates from a previous document on the subject.

Find out more about the requirements for travel to the Bahamas. Advance planning can help you make the most of a tropical vacation as you leave the snow behind.