Jill Tallman

Bahamas bound

January 30, 2014 by Jill W. Tallman, Associate Editor

We’ve been having a pretty miserable winter here in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s been weeks of a seemingly endless cycle: snow followed by frigid temperatures followed by winds howling out of the northwest, followed by more snow. Or maybe ice, just to shake things up a little. Somehow, when nobody was looking, Maryland got yanked up by the roots and deposited next to Wisconsin. And those smug Facebook posts from people in the Sunshine State aren’t making things any easier. (You know who you are, people who keep posting that “I love watching winter…from Florida” photo.)

On Friday, 12 airplanes are leaving the extreme cold behind for a few days and going south. But they’re not stopping at the Florida coast for long. They’re headed for the Bahamas.

This is the third Bahamas fly-out organized by Aviation Adventures, a flight school based in Manassas, Va. I’m riding along with Aviation Adventures’ owner Bob Hepp and Ronnie Hepp in the flight school’s Piper Twin Comanche. The rest of the group are making their way in a Diamond DA42, a Cessna 206, three 182s, three 172s, a Piper Arrow, a Beech Bonanza, and a Tecnam Sierra.

We’ll depart Virginia, stop for fuel in South Carolina, and continue to Fort Pierce, where we’ll overnight. AOPA photographer Mike Fizer is joining us there. The next day, we launch for the southern Out Islands, and we’ll stay at Fernandez Bay Village on Cat Island. Its owner, Tony Armbrister, is a pilot.

I’ve been studying the procedures for flying internationally, and between required forms, equipment, and survival gear, it’s a little daunting—but it’s also telling that many of the pilots on this fly-out are repeat customers. I’ll be sharing their experiences and tips for enjoying a stress-free trip to warmer weather in the Reporting Points blog and in a future issue of AOPA Pilot.

In the meantime, stay warm and, yes, I know, I’ve just joined the ranks of those people on Facebook.

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