March 8, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Flying from the U.S. mainland to the Bahamas is easy and rewarding for a general aviation pilot who knows the procedures. That’s where pilot education comes in.
To learn how, some 150 pilots made their way on Feb. 19 to Showalter Flying Service at the Orlando (Fla.) Executive Airport for a briefing on the ins and outs of making the international, overwater flight to the Bahamas from Florida. Those pilots were among several hundred people, aviators and nonaviators alike, who attended the second annual Bahamas Day activities at Showalter, a fixed-base operator that is a Bahamas Preferred Gateway FBO. AOPA is a sponsor of the Bahamas Day activities. “The event was nicely orchestrated, and it showcased just how easy it is to plan and fly a roundtrip to the Bahamas,” said Woody Cahall, vice president of AOPA’s Pilot Information Center.
The FAA’s North Florida Flight Standards District Office was represented at Bahamas Day by Mark Griffin, a veteran pilot on the Bahamas crossing, who presented the seminar “Let’s Fly to the Islands of the Bahamas.” Presentations also included a session on preflighting passengers for overwater flight, and Amy Laboda’s life raft demonstration, “Pull the Cord.”
Group shot of vendors, sponsors and organizers of Showalter Flying Service, Orlando, Florida's successful Bahamas Day 2011
Bahamas Day information wasn’t just for pilots. Another goal of the event is to promote the Bahamas as a destination for the general public. To that end there were booths to showcase information on accommodations, dining, activities, and shopping in the 700 islands, where life “features world-class diving and fishing, miles of picture perfect beaches, and gorgeous turquoise water,” said the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation.
Bahamas Day is a major marketing initiative of the tourism ministry as it reaches out to the “lucrative aviation market that boasts nearly 50,000 general aviation pilots in the Florida market alone,” it said in a news release.
AOPA members can get tips on flying to the Bahamas in the association’s online resource on international flying.
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