Bahamas Fly-In to Freeport and Treasure Cay
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is sponsoring several fly-ins from various Florida cities starting this year. My CFI invited me to go to the first one this weekend. He was already booked with other people, but arranged for me to fly with another CFI. The weather Friday morning was completely IMC, and not expected to improve for at least several hours.
The plane we had booked was not IFR-equipped, so we couldn’t take it. The CFI I was scheduled to fly with didn’t want to wait all day hoping for VFR weather, so I caught a ride with another pilot who owns a plane. We took off into solid clouds from about 1000 to 5000 feet. That flight would make a great recruitment tool for an instrument rating. It was intense and quite educational to watch the pilot and copilot fly through zero visibility weather for about 45 minutes. We were most of the way to Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) before we could see anything beyond the wingtips.
Riding in the back, not doing any of the work, gave me a chance to watch and listen to how things are done. PBI is the first class C airport I’ve been to in a small plane, and I learned as much going there as a passenger as I would have in a lesson with my CFI. There we met our hosts from the Ministry and some of the pilots from around the state involved with the fly-in.
From PBI we flew to Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, where we stayed Friday night. Saturday we flew to Treasure Cay in the Abacos, east of Grand Bahama, and spent the night there. Sunday we went direct to PBI to clear customs, and then back home. (See my Cross Country Map.)
We met a wide variety of people, from students to instructors and 15,000-hour airline transport pilots to combat-experienced fighter pilots. The weather wasn’t very good the whole weekend, and it was a bit of a drag to spend all that time in a plane and hanging out with pilots without actually getting to take the controls myself. Hopefully it will work out better next month. The weather was nice when we got home, and if a plane had been available, I would have gone up right then.