Trip Planning

by Patrick on December 15, 2010

Our departure date is 12 days away and seems like we are finally getting to the point that things are beginning to come together.  We received our official aircraft registration today! Since we purchased the airplane a few weeks ago we had to register as the new owner with the FAA.  This is a rather tedious process, especially if you register the aircraft to an LLC.  The application was rejected the first time because I did not sign with the correct title of Manager.  Normally you have 120 days to process the registration with the FAA during this time you are allowed to fly inside the U.S. with a temporary registration.  However, since we are flying internationally we had to submit a Declaration of International Operations so that the FAA would expedite the processing of our paperwork.  I will say they were amazingly fast for a government organization, we sent the docs overnight and had a faxed copy in hand tonight!!  This copy will allow our handler, Caribbean Sky Tours, to apply for landing permits and overflight permits in the countries we will be visiting or overflying.

The paperwork for a trip like this is rather daunting for someone who has never done it before.  I have flown Citations all over Central and South America but on a different budget and with a handler doing everything.  Caribbean Sky Tours‘ expertise in priceless, they have either flown to every destination or have a customer that has been there in the recent past.  They have recommended places to go and things to do, which airports are friendly, and which ones are not in addition to tackling the pile of paperwork required to overfly certain countries like Nicaragua or to land in Columbia.  I have no doubt that their services will be well worth the expense.

We also have to be self-sufficient in a survival situation since search and rescue is rather non-existent in most 3rd world countries.  Here are few of the key survival tools we will be taking:

Satellite Phone

This piece of equipment might not be as much of a life-saver as a comfort blanket but at least we can get a hold of someone that speaks English and will help us out.  The cost is reasonable, we rented the phone for $7.99/day from, they charge $1.69/minute so we are not going to be to chatty but if we need to make a call we can.

PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)

In addition to our ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) installed in the aircraft we will be carrying PLBs.  These little devices are truly life-saving pieces of equipment.  They contain a GPS that in an emergency acquires the position and transmits it via a 406Mhz signal to satellites that then transmit to a Search and Rescue facility.  You register the 15 digit unique hex code to your name and list your personal emergency contacts.  If we need help quick this will let the SAR facilities and our emergency contacts know immediately.  For $180 its cheap insurance in my opinion.

Tomorrow I have to find somewhere to rent a 4-man life-raft, and life-preservers.  We are planning to use life-preservers that you can wear all the time and inflate with a C02 cartridge when needed.  It seems like it might be difficult to deal with ditching an aircraft, getting a life-raft out, and getting a life preserver on all at the same time.  I’ll put mine on before I take-off.

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