Posts Tagged ‘eAPIS’

The best-laid plans

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

 

Flying into New Bight Airport on Cat Island.

Short final, New Bight Airport, Cat Island, the Bahamas.

 

When you travel GA—and VFR pilots know this better than anybody—flexibility is the name of the game.

The launch of 12 aircraft from Northern Virginia to the Bahamas by way of Florida (see Reporting Points, “Bahamas Bound”) commenced the week of Jan. 26, with most airplanes set to depart Jan. 31 and a few making their cautious way down south earlier in the week to navigate around unseasonable snow- and ice storms in North and South Carolina and Georgia. (One airplane launched from Stearman Field in Kansas.)

On Friday, when conditions were severe clear (if exceptionally cold) in Virginia, all aircraft but one were under way. The pilot of a Cessna 182RG had postponed his departure because his wife was suffering from a fever.

Stopping for fuel and a BBQ lunch at Low Country Airport in South Carolina, we check the weather that lies between us and St. Lucie Airport in Fort Pierce. Some sizable chunks of green with some red and yellow mixed in are in our path, but moving off to the east. This weather doesn’t pose much of a problem for the nine instrument-rated pilots. It’s another story for the three who are flying VFR—and one of them is piloting a Light Sport aircraft.

Sure enough, when we land at Fort Pierce, we discover that all three VFR pilots are stranded at various points along the East Coast—and a fourth, instrument-rated pilot experienced radio failure at her fuel stop in Savannah, Georgia. What’s more, the weather-stranded pilots are in different locations: One got as far as Fernandina Beach in Florida; one is on the ground in Savannah; the third—the LSA pilot—is in St. Simons, Georgia. The clouds and precipitation keeping them on the ground threatened to remain well into Feb. 1, when all aircraft were set to depart Fort Pierce for New Bight Airport (MYCB) on Cat Island.

What to do? Could anything be done?

If this were 12 separate airplanes just coincidentally headed to the Bahamas, probably nothing. But, that’s not how things work when you’re traveling with Aviation Adventures in Manassas. Owner Bob Hepp, who is coordinating this trip and toting me along in the flight school’s 1964 Piper Twin Comanche, puts together a rescue mission: The group’s sole Bonanza will carry two of the group’s instrument-rated pilots to Fernandina Beach and Savannah, and they’ll fly as PIC back to Fort Pierce. (Sadly, no such option is available for the aircraft with radio problems, nor the Light Sport aircraft.)

And that’s what happened. More on our trip in a future post.

eAPIS is confusing

Monday, August 17th, 2009

I spent three frustrating hours trying to fill out an online eAPIS passenger manifest report to Customs and Border Patrol before flying to London, Ontario. Here’s why.

It seemed logical to list fellow writer Tom Horne as the pilot, and me as crew, since we would share pilot duties. The form blocked that entry, saying general aviation can have only one pilot. And there I sat, trying one fix after another for three hours.

By the way, I was frustrated by the question, “Address While in the United States.” I was going to Canada so why would I stay in the United States? Finally I entered my home address in Maryland. That made the form happy. Below is the actual form and the response I WISH I had filed. Click to enlarge it:

Once I arrived in Canada I phoned Canadian customs authorities, and at first they were concerned that they weren’t hearing from the pilot. I explained that I was sitting beside the pilot. (Next time I’ll make sure it is the pilot who calls.) They approved our arrival over the phone and we got out of the aircraft. Simple! Coming back, Horne was coached through the eAPIS filing by an official of Diamond Aircraft. Horne said something about “…reaming them [Customs] a new one.” Watch for his article. By the way, Diamond company pilots don’t like eAPIS either, and they frequently fly to the United States.  Here is an AOPA Air Safety course you can take to help understand the system.