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U.S. Territories Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, etc.
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Old 05-16-2021, 04:43 PM
 
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Indeed, even as a military pilot that has crossed the Pacific Ocean all the way to Guam in a bomber non-stop, this personal trip has more personal achievement significance for me.

It's hard to relate all that aviation content here since it's not an aviation forum, which is why I shared it over on that pilot board I frequent more often. At any rate, best summation I could give is that even for a military pilot like myself, the journey makes for longish 2 days and requires a lot of flexibility due to the limited capabilities of a small light piston engine aircraft. Still, it does showcase the amazing feat one can achieve with a lot of planning, a little bit of luck, and a lot of perseverance.

There's nothing technically cosmic about the trip in 2021, sitting in the back of a flying cattle car going 8 nautical miles a minute, which shrinks the entire planet to less than 24 hours. But as a personal achievement goal in a 2ish nautical mile/minute flying dinghy without the benefit of a second engine nor the altitude to stay in radio contact across the ocean, it made for a lifetime worthy goal.

Travel to destination took 2 days. One TX to FL, the other FL to PR. Weather was crap launching both days, but I'm instrument rated and the airplane legally equipped for it, though I try to limit my instrument condition flying in this glorified go-kart. It's just not well suited for what I consider full-time instrument work, especially flying solo. After all, it's supposed to be a leisure pursuit for me, not work flying like I do for a living.

I could have done some flying at night, but very much decided against doing any kind of international overwater leg during night time for very obvious reasons, especially as a gratuitous recreational flight under no schedule pressures. The biggest hassle was not having the range to do the Florida to Aguadilla segment non-stop, which would have been my preference. As a result, you're at the mercy of international paperwork and filing requirements, most notably US customs. Bunch of bureaucratic BS that agency likes to dabble in (CBP), which added cost and time that otherwise would have not been the case if I had fly far enough to just file a "domestic" flight FL-PR non-stop. I am considering trading airplanes in the future to one with large enough tanks to do this trip again non-stop from FL, especially if I intend to snowbird back home in PR in my middle age and senior years. I won't ever do the trip often enough to justify the dramatic jump in operating, maintenance and insurance cost of a twin engine airplane, especially considering I'll never do this with the entire family on board. Plus more money left for internal flying and arroz congrí back home after I land too!

As to the obvious, yes the overwater portions were the unspoken largest risk in the event of engine failure in a single engine airplane lol. It gets lonely too after a while, but you get to pass time by listening to immature airline pilots meowing on guard (emergency freq one's supposed to monitor on a second radio if able) way above your altitude through the entire crossing lol. Some got pretty elaborate and funny, but that's corny pilot humor for ya.

At any rate, that ditching risk was also part of the challenge and allure for me as a type-A pointy nose type. I also did it solo, as I am not interested in enduring a ditching scenario with family on board. Did rent a raft for the crossing, along the carriage of 406Mhz PLBs, horse collar vests and all the other ancillary survival stuff I won't bore the gallery here with. I am well versed in water ditching procedures due to my occupation (USAF), so I was comfortable with the scenario going into it. I also picked the route knowing the retrieval radius of the adjacent Coast Guard Air Stations on through the entire crossing. I was in good hands as long as I stayed in daylight conditions.

Solo flight also added challenges in terms of not having a second set of hands to help out in the event of an emergency, or during ground logistics (filing/customs/airplane pushing on the ground when away from fixed base operator facilities et al) in order to expedite the myriad of errands on the ground required to make this multiple sortie trip possible.

The view cannot be beat. 10,000ft is a much nicer altitude to enjoy the Caribbean views. Amazing colors in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. Some pictures I've already shared online here and in that blog. I missed the opportunity to do photography of Vieques and Culebra, mainly because I wanted to spend as much time with my parents during my stay back home. The next trip I'll def fly internally in PR and do day trips to Culebra, which is probably the most picturesque beach municipality, and beats the main island imo.

All in all, not a cheap endeavor, but nothing nice in life seems to be these days. Compromises abound. I count my blessings. At any rate, hope this description is helpful to the non-aviation-speaking crowd. Cheers!
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Old 05-21-2021, 05:23 AM
 
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Today is the last day of this wonderful and amazing 2-week vacation. It has exceeded all expectations. After more than one year of Covid related isolation, nothing compares to seeing my parents, close family, and few friends. In the course of this vacation, I believe I've made two new friends.

I cannot say enough about the town of Dorado and our AirB&B hosts. It's beautiful, safe, and has every amenity one needs and wants. Its beach was never overcrowded. I and others reported to its shore almost daily for a morning walk/jog, conversation, and to take in the clean air and sounds of lazy waves.

As I begin to pack my bags, I cannot help but to feel nostalgic for what I am about to leave behind.

I'm already looking forward to coming back.

Good day.
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Old 05-21-2021, 02:32 PM
 
1,165 posts, read 481,404 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chacho_keva View Post
Today is the last day of this wonderful and amazing 2-week vacation. It has exceeded all expectations. After more than one year of Covid related isolation, nothing compares to seeing my parents, close family, and few friends. In the course of this vacation, I believe I've made two new friends.

I cannot say enough about the town of Dorado and our AirB&B hosts. It's beautiful, safe, and has every amenity one needs and wants. Its beach was never overcrowded. I and others reported to its shore almost daily for a morning walk/jog, conversation, and to take in the clean air and sounds of lazy waves.

As I begin to pack my bags, I cannot help but to feel nostalgic for what I am about to leave behind.

I'm already looking forward to coming back.

Good day.
Happy for you, sounds great
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Old Today, 11:20 AM
 
3,270 posts, read 3,693,723 times
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Originally Posted by mym View Post
ay bendito. do we ALL live in texas? i moved in three years ago this june.
I certainly don't live in Texas! Wouldn't want to.

Well, it's been one week since I returned from PR. It would be an understatement to say that I miss the island. Although I really didn't do much, it was great to see family, friends, and to be minutes from the beach for 2 solid weeks.

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