The weather was beautiful, in the low 70s and clear, as we departed Leesburg for Orlando Executive Airport today. One of the FBOs at KORL, Showalter Flying Services, sponsored Bahamas Day for local pilots to learn the ins and outs of flying to the island nation of the Bahamas. Amazingly, I ran into quite a few friends at the event that I have not seen in quite some time.
At Bahamas Day, there was a seminar covering things like Customs and eAPIS, presented to a standing room only crowd by the FAA. Afterwards, there were many vendors, comprised mostly hotels and resorts from the Bahamian Islands, set up in an adjacent hangar.
We have been to the Bahamas many times in the past, but that was when all you needed was a driver’s license and a phone call inbound to US customs on the return leg. Now you need US Passports for all passengers and crew, an eAPIS notification both inbound and outbound, as well as a phone call to US Customs to tell them when and where you are arriving. In your eAPIS filing you must also tell them where you will be crossing the ADIZ boundary. And if you screw up your eAPIS filing or do not call Customs at least one hour before arrival, you are subject to a $5,000 fine. Things are definitely more complicated flying general aviation internationally than they used to be.
The highlight of the day was touring a perfectly restored DC-3 in an executive configuration. It was gorgeous, and really let you know how glamorous and elegant travel was during the golden age of aviation.