Al Marsh

You WILL go to the Dominican Republic

July 27, 2010 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Dominican Republic tourism officials have worked the world to attract tourists, and are seeing results. But not from American private pilots. For years they have appeared at press conferences at aviation trade shows and air shows,  but find few journalists waiting to hear their message. You’d think they might get discouraged. But not this year at Oshkosh. They simply multiplied their numbers and reinforced their message. They are not going away. It’s 650 nm from Florida to the Dominican Republic, and you can island hop all the way. It can be done in six to eight hours by the average small piston-engine aircraft. It is obvious that our failure to go will only increase their efforts. You might as well go. After all, the Dominican Republic has it all. I just  heard that at their press conference. Twenty seven golf courses, beaches that stretch uninterrupted 40 miles..oops, sorry, I’ve become one of them.

2 Responses to “You WILL go to the Dominican Republic”

  1. Coby Sena Says:

    Last year I enjoyed a flying vacation in the Dominican Republic in a Cessna 180. It was one of the most enjoyable flying vacations I have ever taken. The country is beautiful, the people friendly, and the flying spectacular. Next January I plan to do the trip again in my own Cessna 182 (as a flight of two with my friend in his Cessna 180.)

    I highly recommend the DR as a flying vacation destination. We are looking for others to join us… you can check out the website http://www.flyskyhoppers.net.

  2. Richard Theyerl Says:

    My experience with flying into the Punta Cana airport in the Dominican Republic has caused me to vow to never return. In 2007 I was enroute from Florida to the British Virgin Islands. Punta Cana was a fuel stop for me. Upon arrival we were met on the tarmac by an “official”who bore no uniform nor identification. When I informed him that I only needed to clear customs and purchase fuel I was led through the public areas of the airport to all manner of office where I was required to pay one fee after another which varied in amount from $12 to $50. All these fees were cash only. Once I had coughed up over a hundred dollars in landing, customs, departure, tourism, etc. fees I was taken back out to my aircraft (where my wife and two young children were left sitting under the wing on a blistering afternoon) and the fuel truck was summoned. Once the plane was refueled I was informed that they could only accept cash. At one point in time I gave one of my “handlers” a $50 bill so that he could get change for me but he was never to be seen again. I had no small bills remaining after my escapades in the terminal so I paid a $612 fuel bill with seven $100 bills. Of course there was no way of making change so that was that. Away I flew with a very bad taste in my mouth and a vow to never return. Until general aviation pilots are treated fairly by D.R. customs officials I don’t see the D.R.’s tourism woes to change anytime soon. If you go, take plenty of cash in small bills and prepare to feel violated.

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