Introduction. One of the
great advantages of being a Florida Pilot is the ability to easily fly to
the Bahamas. With proper planning, a flight to the Bahamas is
safe, easy and enjoyable.
With the help of Greg Rolle, Aviation Specialist with the Bahamas Ministry
of Tourism, this guide was put together to assist FPA members in planning
a Bahama flight.
Bahamas Fly-in Whether
you're new to the Bahamas or a veteran flyer, you should consider
participating in one of the numerous fly-ins arranged by the Bahamas
Tourist Office. For more information click
FPA Member Thierry (Terry)
Pouille with Air Journey
conducts self-fly guided tours of the Bahamas. You fly and they do
all the rest including all arrangements for hotels, transportation,
activities, flight plans, customs expediting, etc.
Private aircraft entering the Bahamas clear
Customs at the initial airport of entry. This procedure can be made easier
if you have Customs and Immigration forms prepared in advance. These forms
can be obtained at an airport of entry/Florida airports of departure, or
through the Bahamas Travel Kit produced by Pilot Publishing.
This kit includes everything the pilot needs to travel with ease to, from,
and within the Bahamas. The kit is stuffed with information, including
accommodations - all in a vinyl resealable pouch. The Travel Kit is
$29.95. You should also obtain a current copy of The "Bahamas and
Caribbean Pilot's Guide" by the same publisher. This is a very
informative guide, 450 pages in full color, hundreds of color photographs,
covering every airport in the islands. $44.95. Your webmaster would
not travel to the Bahamas without it! Both publications can be
ordered directly from the publisher
by calling 1-800-521-212O.
Pilots must file a flight
plan before departing the U.S. First arrival must be at an airport of
entry. Each aircraft must carry Coast Guard approved life jackets for each
person on board. U.S. Customs require all aircraft to have 12" or
larger N numbers and an outside data plate. Also, all aircraft must have
altitude reporting capability incorporated in the transponder.
Pilots and passengers must
have proof of citizenship. This proof may be in the form of a voter's
registration card, birth certificate, or draft card. A drivers license is
not proof of citizenship. No firearms or illegal drugs are allowed into
the country. Customs hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily.
Customs charges a $25 fee for after hours entry.
Air traffic rules in the
Bahamas are very similar to those in the States. There are few
restrictions except in the controlled areas around Freeport, Nassau and
Exuma International airports.
Massive cloud build ups are
often a sign of land. It is very common to mistake shadows formed by
clouds as land masses. A coloring of the water from dark blue to light
blue, or a green shade are usual signs of land.
For the nervous first time
island bound pilot it may be comforting to remember that you are never out
of sight of land for very long. A properly trimmed single-engine airplane
can glide, power off, for more than 25 miles, and stay aloft for more than
10 minutes from an altitude of 10,000 feet.
There are many landing
facilities. Aviators are welcome at all government-operated strips and
most of the privately-owned ones as well.
Take note of any special
airport descriptions on the chart, or use the Pilots Bahamas &
Caribbean Aviation Guide as a reference since some airports are rough,
overgrown, abandoned, or restricted for some other reason, and should be
used for emergency use only.
Many hotels on the out
islands have Unicom service so that pilots may inquire about
accommodations and transportation availability.
It is illegal to fly
below 2000’ MSL over populated areas or assemblies of persons, except
when necessary during take off or landing operations. VFR operations over
ocean waters at night are exceedingly dangerous for the VFR pilot and are
prohibited. IFR is easily accomplished. However, a filed flight plan and
clearance must be secured prior to official sunset.
There is a continuous
program of runway improvement, new construction, repair and installation
of NAVICOM facilities throughout The Bahamas. Notam information is
available through Nassau, Freeport and U.S. International
The larger FBO's in
Florida, especially at international east coast airports, will have
current Bahamas notams posted. When contacting U.S. International FSS,
before filing a flight plan, ask for a Bahamas Notam Briefing. Call toll
free, in Florida 1-800-992-7433. Always check with Nassau Radio for
fuel availability before committing to a fueling point at one of our
Family of Out Islands. Top off immediately upon arrival.
EMERGENCY MAINTENANCE IS AVAILABLE IN:
Freeport, Nassau, Mosstown, Marsh
Please read the Pilots
For a copy of The Bahamas
Flight Planning Guide or for further information on The Islands Of The
Bahamas, call 800-4-BAHAMAS or access the official web site for
special flying packages and other information at www.flying.bahamas.com.
For Island Information Visit
For Island Out Information
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