Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb 2012 Fly In & Help Out - The Flights Down

A week ago my friend Pete and I set off on an adventure to donate our labor and some items to the good people of the Bahamas through the Bahamas Habitat. Although the Bahamas Habitat supports continuous humanitarian, disaster relief, and missions flights throughout the Bahamas and in to Haiti, twice a year they have a Fly In & Help Out Event to give aviators and others a "taste" of mission work. I signed up with them last fall after Hurricane Irene ravaged the Bahamas, but was unable to help then.

Pete and I signed up to attend this event just after the New Year. As the date drew near, we received donation requests for the Zion Children’s Home on Current Island that the Bahamas Habitat has been supporting in parteneship with the Bahamas Methodist Habitat and others. Pete and his wife, with some huge support from her old work, donated a lot of items that were on the wish list. With all that and some supplies and equipment that Kristi and I donated, we had well over 225 lbs. worth of donated stuff to take to the Bahamas.

We departed Craig Field (KCRG) around 0930 and headed south for Orlando Executive Airport (KORL). I filed for 6000 feet but got 4000 feet as a final. Oh well, at least we were approved direct! The plan was for all the participants to meet at Showalter Flying Services at KORL by 1130. From there we would have a little lunch, a short briefing, and launch for Governors Harbor (MYEM), Eleuthera, Bahamas, to arrive by 1630.

Two days before we started this adventure, I got a call from Cameron King asking if I could provide two seats to some other participants since one of the planes that was scheduled to be used was down for maintenance. I kindly informed her that my plane was full of cargo so I could do one or the other, but not both. She felt that was an awesome problem for them to have! We agreed that I would fly all the cargo to Orlando, split the cargo up amongst the other planes, and carry the passengers to Governor’s Harbor. My first passenger was Gerry Frumusa from Rochester, NY. He is a CFII-MEI that was attending the event to provide some computer support to the local schools. My other passenger, well actually my other TWO passengers, were Brenda and her dog Spot that were enroute to Camp Symonette on Eleuthera to live and work there for the next year!

We departed Orlando around 1330 at max gross weight. We were loaded so much that Brenda's bags had to go in another plane. So with a long, slow take-off roll, we were airborne and headed for The Bahamas! I had filed IFR for 9000 feet to take advantage of some tailwinds. Unfortunately with the gaggle of planes all headed in the same direction, I had to climb to 11,000 feet as final cruising altitude. It was a good thing we weren't asked to go any higher since by the time we reached 11,000 feet, the loaded down Lance was done climbing. I had to let her slowly pick up a knot of speed at a time just to be able to reduce the engine RPMS from full to cruise settings. It took a few minutes, but eventually we settled out around 145 KTAS with a ground speed of around 160 knots or about 184 MPH. Not bad!

Our route of flight was direct to Freeport then direct to Governor’s Harbor. Since we were so high at 11,000 feet, we could still see Florida when we got close to Grand Bahama Island. The ride was smooth and we enjoyed that beautiful change of the ocean to magnificent shades of blue as we flew over the Bahamas. After Grand Bahama Island, we fly by Castaway Cay and the south end of Abaco before North Eleuthera was in sight. As we descended over North Eleuthera I cancelled IFR with Nassau Approach and we made an uneventful landing and arrival in to Governor’s Harbor.

With the plane unloaded and secured, we cleared Customs & Immigration and headed for our home for the next few days, Camp Symonette in James Cistern. First order a business was to select a bunk bed. Priority for me was to find one near an outlet to power my CPAP machine. Pete already warned me that if it didn't work and I started snoring I might wake to find myself lashed up to a palm tree somewhere! Needless to say, I found a bunk in the "Cat Island" room that worked perfectly.

We all settled in, chit chatted for a bit, had a wonderful dinner, and turned in early to get ready for our day of work awaiting us on Friday.

So on the first day we flew 536 miles in 3.8 hours and flew to two new airports!


  1. Geoff,

    Cool post on the trip to the Bahamas! The water was a gorgeous color. Look forward to hearing more about your trip.

  2. Looks like a cool trip, Jeff.

    I freaked out a little bit when I just started with the pictures and saw that picture of Jerry Fromusa. He used to work at my company. I only met him once. It was right after the company did a little news piece on him for doing relief flights into Haiti a few years ago. After reading it, I wandered over to his desk and introduced myself.

    Weird, small, world.

  3. Oh, man, sorry about the name typo. Total brain fart, you know I know better. No ice cream for me...

  4. Dave, Thanks!

    Chris, no worries! It is amazing how small this world is sometimes.


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