Fly around New Zealand, take an aerial safari in southern Africa, fly your own high-performance aircraft to other continents, or explore Mexico and the Caribbean on the vacation of a lifetime.
FlyInn New Zealand allows visiting pilots to explore the beaches, mountains, and fjords of that wondrous country by air—and every bit of it is remarkable. (See “Magic in the Air,” from the May 2010 AOPA Pilot.) Starting at a nontowered airport in Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island, you get in the left seat of a 180-horsepower Cessna 172 Skyhawk with a highly experienced local pilot and set your own itinerary. If the mountains and rivers in the area look like they formed the backdrop to the Lord of the Rings movies, it’s because they did. You’ll take off and land on beaches, at sheep ranches, and drop in on Milford Sound—a spectacular airport with approaches lined by vertical cliffs. Hosts Matt and Jo McCaughan are warm and welcoming, and they will make sure you have the flying trip of a lifetime.—Dave Hirschman
If you want to expand—really expand—your vacation horizons, check out the tours offered by Florida-based Air Journey. These are escorted tours, meaning that Air Journey sets the itinerary and covers lodging, most meals, transfers from airport to hotel and back, sightseeing side trips, and other expenses. And because these trips are designed for those flying their own airplanes, Air Journey also takes care of the pilot-related grunt work once the trip begins. Almost all the trips involve international flying, so there’s a lot of it, like obtaining overflight and landing permits, flight planning in foreign countries, and arranging for customs. Oh, and making sure that fuel is available at each stop. By the way, you’re on your own when it comes to buying that fuel.
There are many different escorted trips each year, some to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and others that range far from home. Like the trips to the Galapagos, Europe, and Africa. But for the most ambitious, there’s the annual around-the-world trip that starts every May and winds up in July. This trip isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. First of all, owing to the long legs, you’ll need to fly a turboprop or jet, and be ready to ante up the trip charge, which amounts to about $1,400 per day, per person. Do the math and you’ll see that it could run just under $100,000. Per person. Then again, this covers 70 days’ worth of top-notch travel. So, if you want the flight of a lifetime, complete with a mixture of upscale hotels (think Paris’ Plaza Athénée, Bhutan’s Amankora Paro Lodge, or Singapore’s Raffles Hotel) and adventures to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Taipei, maybe you should go for it. (See “Wings over Asia,” in the October 2014 issue of AOPA Pilot.)
Many have. The 2020 Around the World trip will have six airplanes and is sold out. Ditto some other trips. But it’s never too soon to start planning for next year!—Tom Horne
If the Caribbean is on your mind, AOPA has a good working relationship with Caribbean Sky Tours. The company provides premium, turn-key services for flights to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America with Caribbean Sky Tours Flight Services. Caribbean Sky Tours is led by Rick Gardner, AOPA’s representative for the Bahamas, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. Gardner provides reliable aviation information on country-specific regulations, permits, documents, and procedures, so that you can enjoy flying knowing that you have all your paperwork in order. –Alyssa Cobb