2018

Around the Caribbean Sea in 18 Days

We owe this wonderful adventure to our dear hosts and partners

Immerse yourself in rich cultures! On this 18-day journey visiting a total of 9 countries and exploring truly diverse heritage, this Air Rally provides the unique opportunity to visit the Caribbean Island, and part of South and Central America in 18 days.

 

Follow the adventure here and track us on Airbly:

Every year, fun, passionate and like-minded people get together to share unique and binding experiences. The itinerary is planned taking into consideration slowest aircraft. Alternate “overland route” are always suggested but not mandatory.

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Sunday, March 11 (Fort Lauderdale, KFXE)

Participants arrive at Sano Jet Center in Fort Lauderdale (KFXE). Crews are greeted with the usual VIP service and friendly smiles.

Fuel discount, no parking charge and free shuttle service to hotel !

Registration and a 2 hour workshop are held at 3:30 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott in Fort Lauderdale Cypress Creek. Pilots and crews are briefed on safety, navigation, air transport regulations, customs, international flight planning and eAPIS.

Ready to go with in hand:

  • 50 General Declarations partially completed
  • 15 International Flight Plan Form partially completed
  • Copy of the Daily Schedule
  • Copy of ALL the kneeboards
  • Valid Passport for everyone onboard
  • Aircraft documentation : registration, Airworthiness cert. Pilot License, Medical & insurance
  • US Tourist VISA if applies
  • Tshirts & name tags & luggage labels
  • Vaccination : Yellow Fever certificate
  • School supplies & gifts for the kids in Anguilla, Tobago, &  Limon
  • All permits acquired by the IAR
  • life vests onboard life raft not mandatory but recommended

 NEW THIS YEAR: The teams will collect a flag from every country they visit. One crew will be designated to represent each country. In some destinations, flags will be earned by answering correctly to a quiz or a game organized by destination.

Monday, March 12 (Puerto Plata, DR – MDPP) : Takeoff !

Fuel Stop: Exuma International (MYEF)     $50 Gov. Tax         Total with fuel stop: 656 NM

Odessey FBO, all documentation filled out for the pilots – 20 mnt turn around fuel stop ! Fuel discount $060/GAL

Welcome to Dominican Republic !

The executive director of Dominican Republic airports, Mr. Collando, arranged for a delegation to welcome the teams at the Puerto Plata VIP salon:

airport Director Mr. Collante, IDAC director Cheo Zorilla, airport Manager,  Christiern Broberg, Técnical Director Departamento Aeroportuario,

… and other guests were present.

Pilots received gifts and a warm welcome from the Dominican Republic !

Catherine Tobenas receives the Dominican Republic Flag from

the Governor of the Puerto Plata Province, Dr. Iván Rivera.

Tuesday, March 13 (Puerto Plata, DR – MDPP)

Participants had a full day planned exploring the Dominican Republic Countryside! We discovered the ‘7 charcos’ refreshing and beautiful lagoons and waterfalls while enjoying a majestic landscape. We went though back country roads, crossing rivers, streams and sugar cane fields, and visited small colorful villages, interacting with the local people.

At 6:00 pm sharp, pilots meet in the outdoor restaurant of the hotel to prepare the flight to Anguilla.

All flight plans are collected by Puerto Plate controller. Flight plans were filed ahead to avoid delays on take-off.

We appreciate greatly the collaboration of Departamento Aeroportuaria.

Wednesday, March 14 (Anguilla – TQPF) : Welcome to Anguilla!

The Air Rally landed at the Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport on runway 10 with a good crosswind.

The group was welcomed by the Minister of Tourism, the Honorable Cardigan Connor.

A table covered with a mix of Anguilla specialties was set at the airport ! What a nice touch !

Lloyd’s Aviation provided the fuel and parking service and facilitated clearance making everyone happy.

 

The participants appreciated the visit of Premier (country’s head of state) the Honorable Victor F. Banks who made a point to come to the airport

shake everyone’s hand and wish them well on their journey around the Caribbean sea.

After checking in at our favorite family owned hotel & home of the Air Rally since 2013 : Paradise Cove,

we boarded a bus all dressed up to attend a cocktail reception at Governor Foy”s residence..

The group was then transported to Sandy Ground for dinner at leisure. We had to choose between a number of restaurants on the beach. It was a great night.

Thursday, March 15 (Anguilla – TQPF)

Today we had the wonderful opportunity to mentor Anguilla primary school students and discuss aviation.

This was followed by a quiz on Anguilla’s history.

Vie for the Flag’ : pilots and crews were paired with 2 primary school students for a ‘question & Answer’ game. All questions focus on Anguilla’s history..

The winners, Al and Robert from Minnesota collected the island official flag, and will be representing Anguilla at the Air Rally finals!

Winners of the Anguilla quiz!

Thank you everyone for bringing the gifts to the children

This fun day continues with an organized lunch on the beach and a snorkel excursion!

Lunch on the beach!

Pilot briefing @6PM: file CARICOM to Tobago in and out. Flight plans delivered to  Team Leader.  5 copies Gen Dec. ready. Order of departure noted, all set, time for buffet diner by the pool at the hotel

Paradise Cove Dinner by the pool

Friday, March 16 (Tobago – TTCP):

It’s a 442 NM flight from Anguilla to Tobago. We start the day with an early breakfast at 7:00 am.

The takeoff departure is from slowest to fastest aircraft this morning. Flight formation along the way? Why not! The sunny skies are ours to enjoy.

Formation flying

 

As we land in Tobago ANR Robinson International Airport /Crown Point, we are in for a very wonderful surprise. The kids, the population, dancers and musicians welcomed the participants of the Air Rally. Councillor Nadine Stewart-Phillips Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, presents a gift to Catherine, a beautiful painting representing Tobago.

The kids had a great time and so did the pilots! We showed the planes and delivered gifts!

There is no av gas available in Tobago. The fuel dispatch to Tobago was acquired thanks to

Captain Alfred Bell (SunAir aviation) & Captain Ron Junya Montano.

A committee of volunteer pilots and Kara Randal helped coordinate the clearance of all the crews. Thank you for your support!

We board the buses to the Bacolet Beach Club Hotel.  This hotel is beyond what was expected !!!

An exclusive boutique hotel a stylist luxury retreat with 5 star level accommodations, private secluded beach and a lovely garden.

The group enjoyed the hotel beach, bar and garden until the time came to jump on a bus for the official welcome reception dinner at Pembroke Heritage Park where all dignitaries hosting the party were waiting. Amazing entertainment, exceptional dancers, talented singers, musicians!

We are so grateful to everyone in Tobago for making our visit such a memorable experience.

Saturday, March 17 (Tobago – TTCP)

Today we have a few activities to pick from:

1. Taking a glass bottom kayak to view the under water flora and fauna of one of the most popular reefs in the Caribbean: The Buccoo Reef.

2. An expedition to the rain-forest: Abundant flora and fauna abounds in Tobago. Participants walked the Gilpin Trail listening to a variety of exotic Caribbean bird from the Blue Backed Manikin, Blue Crowned Mot-Mot, Parrots to the White-Tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird.

3. Visit of the thriving cocoa plantation, viewing its pods and dried beans from which one of the world’s finest dark chocolate is made. The tour ended with a swim in the majestic Argyle Falls.

The pilot briefing took place at 6:00 pm and Tobago air traffic controllers attended. All flight plans were handed to them for quick processing in order to facilitate early departure. Our dear friend Sadie, Air Rally coordinator, brought a box FULL of gifts and souvenirs for us to take home. The evening ended with a dinner at the hotel restaurant with Krishna, ATC and his lovely wife.

Sunday, March 18 (Bonaire – TNCB)

Wheels up to Flamingo International Airport, Bonaire! It’s a beautiful flight along the Venezuelan coast.  Venezuelan Civil Aviation Authorities provided clearance for Air Rally aircraft. Tail numbers and time of passage on the two occasions (Tobago to Bonaire & Bonaire to Colombia) is all that was required. It was  the most amazing, exciting flight of the Air Rally: Flying over La Orchilla, Los Roques right underneath us on the way to Bonaire. What a beautiful scenery!

Why Bonaire? If you ever visit, you will find out why. There you will find the nicest, friendliest people, starting with Rosalinda Balentin, Airport Operations Manager of Bonaire International Airport, and our dear friend Claydrick! T

Rosalinda was on the tarmac, making sure the planes found their way to the parking assigned and in proper order to get out for the kids fly in.

Fuel was provided especially for Rally planes by: CUROIL GROUP of Curaçao.

The clearance was a breeze !!

Two lovely people, Malinda and Derrick, Tourism Bonaire welcomed the group and we all boarded a bus to the beautiful Plaza Beach Resort.

Fast check in, get changed, ready for dinner at Eddy’s, courtesy of Tourism Bonaire

Monday, March 19

Rise and shine! We meet at 8:00 am for a pilot briefing to prepare the flight plans for Panama and Limon, Costa Rica.

Derek was waiting for us to take the pilots to the airport to file the flight plans and meet with the kids excited to visit the planes and fly !

We enjoyed the rest of the day visiting Bonaire which is known as a shore diving mecca.  The entire island is a gold mine for divers.

A reception was arranged  to meet with Bonaire dignitaries and to receive the flag.

Congressman James Kroon gives each pilot the Bonaire pin!

What a memorable day! Thank you so much Bonaire !

Tuesday, March 20 (Baranquilla – SKBQ)

We depart from Bonaire knowing we will be back to this place we now call home. Our next destination: Baranquilla, Colombia!

Welcome to Colombia ! Barranquilla-Ernesto Cortissoz Airport

Upon landing the pilots were directed by a truck to the parking place especially reserved for our planes. A delegation of  Barranquilla airport officials, media and our friends, Jorge and Carlin, Aeroclub Los Campanos was waiting to welcome all.

Jorge and Carlin, arranged transport to the terminal with the help of Barranquilla Flight school director.

We managed the clearance without problem and were escorted to the bus taking us to  ‘Los Campanos Aeroclub’ located halfway between Barranquilla and Cartagena. How exciting to be welcomed by passionate pilots and their family! And what an honor to meet Colombia aviation living legend : Capitan Jorge Solano Recio (tallest guy on the photo below), owner of one of largest and oldest air freight companies AEROSUCRE which he started in 1969. Capitan Solano was a tremendous help in getting some of our paperwork done .

After spending a great afternoon visiting the aeroclub’s facility enjoying great company and Colombia specialty snacks, we visited one of the most sophisticated radio stations: property of Jorge Prieto award winning expert. Our day at the Campanos was great fun!

Below is Carlin (left), the guy who made it all happen in Colombia and his lovely wife. On the right pilot Thomas from Minnesota, a great guy ! always smiling !

The bus was waiting, we boarded ! Just as we departed, a few minutes later, the bus stopped. No problem, the party at Los Campanos continued while we waited for the replacement to arrive..   just more fun and some excitement..

We arrived late in Cartagena. Staying in the old city, at the 3 Banderas hotel was the best way to get the feel of Cartagena. Our bus couldn’t make it through he narrow streets so the hotel personnel came to meet us in the Plaza and escorted us.

Wednesday, March 21 (Cartagena)

The day is ours! We embark on a city tour bordering one of the most beautiful and protected bays of America (Bay of Cartagena), tour of the island of Manga, a visit to the convent of La Candelaria on the hill of the stern, Monument to the old shoes, Fort San Felipe de Barajas, Bóvedas (shopping) and finally walk through the walled town. It seemed the drivers only cared about filling their bus and they did not manage to do so, so we suffered the consequences… Cartagena is certainly not aviation friendly as they wanted to charge over 1000$ per plane for handling fees. A tourist hub unfortunately gets spoiled by the quantity of people who visit. The Best memories are always gathered through local authentic experiences.

Thursday, March 22 (Panama – MPMG)

Early departure by bus from Cartagena back to Barranquilla. Breakfast and breifing in the bus ! Leaving Barranquilla was quite a challenge: paperwork, more paperwork! Our friends Carlin and Jorge did their best to help and we were finally out to the planes to meet a cute puppy sniffing our plane for drugs!

We takeoff early today so we can arrive early enough in Panama.

Welcome to Panama!

The landing was challenging: Our pilot missed the first approach, went around and we were wheels down at Aeropuerto Marco Galabert.

 FBO handler MAPIEX handled our paperwork, fuel, transport, etc.. Jaime Fabrega, President Aeroclub de Panama & Regional Vice President for the South America Region IAOPA  welcomed the Rally accompanied by lovely dressed in traditional clothes.

Jaime delivered the Panama Flag !

Clearance was easy and off we go to the canal. Mapiex kindly provided the transport. We enjoyed lunch at the  Restaurante Atlantic & Pacific Co. and visited the Miraflores Locks Visitor Center, a museum that tells the story of this incredible engineering feat through exhibits.

We met in the hotel lobby at 6:30 pm for those who wanted to experience Casco Viejo — Panama City’s Old Quarter — 17th-century Spanish colonial architecture lining cobblestone streets and public parks, France Plaza, Iglesia de San Jose,the Flat Arch and the Metropolitan Cathedral as well as Paseo Las Bovedas, a stone promenade and seawall now home to shops and cafes. Panama is great, inexpensive and there is plenty to do!

Friday, March 23 (Costa Rica – MRLM)

Change your watch ! 1 hour back

This morning we fly to Costa Rica. We will be passing through the Nicaragua airspace. Permits acquired, we are all set. What a beautiful flight as we enjoy the view of Costa Rica’s gorgeous Caribbean coast!

The visit to Limon was made possible thanks to the implication of Juan Belliard, a good friend of the Air Rally who is the former director of operations at Dominican Repbulic civil Aviation and now director of operations and security at the main airport of San José. Juan introduced the Rally to Rolando Richmond, Director Civil Aviation who became involved with the organization of our visit.

Upon our arrival at Limon International Airport : a delegation of  high officials, media, kids, population, the army and the fire fighters!, everyone was waiting! Limon has never seen so many planes at once! The Government is looking to develop the airport to bring more tourists to the region. Costa Rica East Coast is not as popular and as frequented by tourists as is the West coast. The Government has big plans for this airport and we are just what they need to show how important it is to invest in the airport infrastructure.

Official declarations were made. Everyone stood and sang the National anthem. It was an emotional moment.

The Costa Rica Flag was delivered

 

Time to discover our jungle retreat in Manzanillo: Wildlife and Marine Refuge, small laid back fishing village. The main attraction of this tiny town is its fabulous white sand beach strip lined with palm trees, bathed in the calm and gentle waters of the Caribbean Sea. Located nearby is one of he most scenic beaches in Costa Rica, with fantastic weather all year round. Our hotels are next to each other set into the jungle: the Congo Bongo and Almond & Coral.

Almond & Coral

Congo-Bongo Village luxury villas in the Jungle

Worth watching this amazing video to find out about Congo-Bongo and the beauty fo the region

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mx6BJevgW0M

Saturday, March 24 (Costa Rica – MRLM)

Some of us went for an expedition others just relaxed. I must say it rained like hell!

In the evening we gathered at the dining room to prepare our next flight to Roatan.

Rolando Richmond director of Civil Aviation delivered a beautiful book with photos of Costa Rica to everyone

We appreciate greatly all the work and investment that was put into organizing the visit of the Air Rally to Limon.

Thank you  Mr. Richmond and his family, Juan Belliard and his family for  coming all the way from San José to spend a few days with us in Limon.

Sunday, March 25 (Roatan – MHRO) :

On our way to Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport, we had to stop at La Ceiba for fuel. Avgas Fuel normally is not available there but we arranged ahead, with the help of Angel Ramirez of Aeroplus, to have it delivered so to avoid having to fly further north to San Pedro de Sulla. Angel is a wonderful person, he actually delivered the Flag ! Surprise, the technical fuel stop strategy did not work. We had to clear through customs there but the Honduras airport Authority did everything in their power to make it as fast as possible so we could make a flight to Roatan before the sunset.

the mini buses took us to the Clarion Suites Pineapple Villas, a beautiful resort with huge comfortable apartments and big balconies overlooking the waterfalls and pool! It was a great place to relax after we stayed in the jungle a couple of days.

Monday, March 26 (Roatan – MHRO)

9 AM morning briefing – file the Mexican EAPIS –

Enjoying the day as  suggested at Little French Cay, Clarion Suites private island. A few decided to rent a car and tour the island

In the evening we celebrated at  the Herby’s Sports bar & Grill

Tuesday, March 27 Roatan MHRO – Cozumel MMCZ

The FBO Technologias Unidas staff, took us through the customs out to the planes. So far so good,

Before leaving, change time + 1 hour- Prepare the Pax departure tax: $50 in cash.

The 125$ Mexican entry fee payment was handled ahead by Rafael Rally coordinator and manager of Edouardo Toledo airport in Cozumel

Then OUPS ! the lady had not done any of the paperwork and we all had to wait for at least an hour out in the sun !!! while she was sitting in a tiny ‘closet like’ air conditioned office ..the pilots had to put up with the sun, the wind, the noise … that was the worse  FBO experience ever  !!

Talal always smiles no matter what !

Roatan Technologias Unidas FBO VIP lounge !!

Finally Flying to Cozumel Mexico ! to see our good friends at the Aerodromo Edouardo Toledo.

 

Our dear friend,Rafael, Edouardo Toledo private airport manager, is taking care of facilitating airport procedures.

the priority however was to take care of the refueling so the planes would be ready for take off on the day of departure.

Lets celebrate the end of this great adventure at the all inclusive  Hotel Cozumel

We love Cozumel ! not over developed for tourism, it provides all of the ingredients for a fantastic island experience: white sand beaches, warm waters and great food !  I t is known as a world-class diving destination, and is surrounded by the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral reef system on the planet. the hotel Cozumel was the perfect place to celebrate the end of this UNIQUE adventure !!!

 

 

And the winners are !

Bob and Jerri  McGlory and Brenda & Bob Sanders ! from Arizona, Cessna 421-

It wasn’t the plane, the challenge is not about speed or anything to do with the aircraft..

Second place, Michele and Robert Connelly from Minnesota, PA28R-200 Arrow

Third place, Burt and Maria Hodgins from Ontario, Lancair Legacy

After such an adventure ! It was FRIENDS FOR EVER !

The Sanders are from Arizona, the Neveu are from Quebec.

Chris learned to speak French on this trip and Daniele learned to speak English !!

and the day of the flags had come !

 Fifteen aircraft, 37 people ! from USA, Canada, Switzerland, Romania, France !!! An amazing AMAZING group of people who embarked on this trip. THANK YOU for making this journey memorable experience. It was a pleasure to share it with you ! It surely takes special people !

We said its just A walk in the park ! and you did it ! just like that ! You understood that the success of this journey relies on the people not the places.

We learn and grow through experiences ! Most of you return for more… Lets see what I got for you next time !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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