Sport Pilots Free To Leave The Country

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The Bahamas is the first country outside the U.S. to welcome sport pilots, even those using just a driver's license as their FAA medical, and this month a group of about 18 aircraft were the first to make the flight. The pilots launched from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on Dec. 10 and spent the weekend in the islands, enjoying plenty of blue skies, sunshine, and a group rate at a local resort. The first stop, in Bimini, is only about 90 nm from FXE, but various preparations are required, including passports and life vests for all on board, and of course, paperwork. The Bahamas welcomes tourism, and offers a lot of support to pilots to help make your trip simple and trouble-free. For example, a "private pilot bill of rights" posted on the country's official website spells out restrictions on fees and paperwork to help ease the way to enjoying the islands' attractions, and group fly-ins are organized once a month.

The Banyan Air FBO at FXE, which hosted the recent LSA fly-in, is a designated gateway for the Bahamas, and helps to guide pilots through all the necessary steps to prepare for the flight. Life vests are available there for rental, as well as rafts for those who want them (rafts are not required). A free preparation kit can be requested at their website. AVweb's Mary Grady spoke with Banyan Air Bahamas specialist Pedro Garcia about tips for pilots planning a trip; click here to listen.