Kiersten Rich “The Blonde Abroad” took an exciting adventure at Coast Flight Training. She started by coming in for an introductory flight in the Cirrus on a beautiful and sunny San Diego afternoon. She was crafted an amazing flight lesson that took her from Montgomery Airport, along the San Diego coastline and past the departure end of Lindbergh field. Once she passed Lindbergh she flew through the beautiful San Diego bay over the Coronado Bay Bridge and returned to land at Montgomery. She was at the flight controls for the entire flight right from the take-off until landing. A Coast Flight professional pilot walked her through what to do and backed up on the controls. She picked it up quickly when we were airborne and the flight was as good as the weather!
Video by: “The Blonde Abroad”
Daniel and François made a base in St. Lucia for a few days to explore the southern Caribbean islands. Before St. Lucia however, they flew above a few islands and made their way as far south as Barbados. Along the coast of the island of Guadeloupe they found some sun bathers enjoying the beautiful island.
Upon landing at Barbados, they had changed their mind and decided to fly to St. Lucia. One perk of flying your plane. You can change your mind at any time and simply go to another island. St Lucia is full of hidden secrets. A “drive-in” volcano is one of these hidden gems to explore. You can actually drive through the crater. However, Daniel and François report back that it smells a little like rotten eggs. They also learned that scientists are projecting that it will erupt sometime this century. The first sign an eruption is coming is that the smell actually disappears. So get there now to experience it for yourself while the rotten egg smell is still Fresh!!
Saint Martin was next on the list. This is the French owned side of the island. The flight from St. Lucia to St. Martin was a little on the long side, or at least it seemed that way after staring at beautiful blue ocean for the whole way. (This is why there is the need for the extra survival equipment, just in case.) Finally the island came into view.
St. Martin’s Princess Juliana Airport is famous for the spectators that line up at the end of the runway to be jet blasted by large airliners that are landing and taking off. One advantage Daniel and François had was their FlightRadar24 app where they could see the inbound flights. Upon checking, they found an US Airways 757 and an Air France A340 flights that were due to land within the next 30 minutes, so they decided to stand around and take part in the excitement.
On the list while staying in St. Martin was making a quick trip over to St. Bart’s island which is also French owned. This airport is famous worldwide for the difficulty of making a landing on it. As you can see in the photo, the final approach is steep leaving only a few feet between the plane and cars on the ground.
Pilots are not allowed to attempt a landing unless they first fly with a French instructor who is based in St. Martin. He must check you out first and do a few take offs and landings with you. Then if you are safe, he will endorse you to fly there on your own. There are not many pilots in the world that have been cleared to land here. Daniel is now one of them! A GoPro mounted in the Cirrus during these landings captured the intensity. Check back later to be able to view it.
After a few days in the southern islands, the two came back north and cut across to Jamaica. Staying overnight in Kingston, they did attempt a go at making it to Mexico. Thunderstorms did get in the way however and they returned to Kingston for one more night. But first thing at sun up they made another go at making it over to Mexico and this time around they beat the thunderstorms. Cozumel was the first stop in Mexico and the point to do the immigration processing. They are almost done with this amazing flight training experience. A few more stops as they make their way across the heart of Mexico and then they will turn back towards San Diego when they reach Baja California
Well Daniel and François finally have made it into the first of the Caribbean Islands. First stop is the Bahamas. Flying from Florida across the US ADIZ, the first sight of the Bahamas for them was the Bimini Islands. With so much open water and several islands they haven’t seen previously, GPS navigation came into great use. With the flight plan loaded into the Avidyne system, they were able to follow their planned course. Triangulating with the Bimini and Nassau VOR’s, they did not drift off course at all.
Andros Island was next in sight and New Providence was dead ahead. The point of entry for Daniel and François was Nassau. Since this is a foreign country, they had to announce their intent to land prior to even taking off from Florida. They filed an international flight plan and eAPIS. Authorities at Nassau gave them a clearance to land well before they were near the airport.
This photo is taken at 5500 feet and 15 miles out from runway 14 at Nassau.
The Bahamas was fairly easy as far as international paperwork goes. After officially entering the country at Nassau, they continued to fly around the Bahamas and incorporate some maneuvers such as the turn around a point and S-turns to get just the right photo angle. François sure got in a lot of practice to get the perfect photo of the beautiful islands and bright blue water. Too many photos to put up here. However, the walls of Coast will be sure to have a couple of these amazing shots put up upon their return. They ended for the day at Staniel Cay. They will relax and possibly swim with the pigs! A must see for anyone visiting the island.
Daniel and François haven’t ventured into the Caribbean islands just yet. They are having a lot of fun exploring Florida and Key West area. To the left is the Florida Everglades they explored yesterday. The Florida coastline landscape is providing François with ample training on navigation and weather. Thunder storms are moving in and out which is great for learning real time flight planing. Not every area has the beautiful stable weather we have here in San Diego. So this is providing a great opportunity for François to put his ground studies to good use and make last minute adjustments to the days flight plan accordingly. The Florida keys provide a great road map for François to use his pilotage skills as he locates his destination of Key West.
Go Pro cameras are along for the ride and have captured the landing at Key West. You can check out video of the landing on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/coastflight We are looking forward to some amazing video as they adventure into the islands.
Day number 8 is a rest day in Key West as they wait for a storm to pass. They should be on their way to the islands bright and early on Day 9. They are prepped and prepared for the islands. Everything from emergency survival and signaling gear to high power mosquito repellant is packed. International documents are on board for the aircraft and the pilots and they are ready to take on the Caribbean. Flying the Cirrus is going to make this experience a million times more comfortable and less stressful. Flying over open ocean can be pretty stressful on the pilot’s mind. But the navigational equipment on board along with the extra built in safety equipment the Cirrus has relieved a lot of the excess worry from these pilot’s minds. They can enjoy the flight knowing they are in the safest general aviation aircraft possible! Stay tuned for some amazing photographs and details of the awesome experiences they are about to encounter with international island flying.
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