The CIX VFR Club Bahamas
Club Events - CIX Christmas Caper 2011: The Bahamas
It's Cix in the Cays! Bring your bucket and spade (and a plane!) for the adventure of the season...
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The CIX VFR Club
Club Events - CIX Christmas Caper 2011: The Bahamas
It's Cix in the Cays! Bring your bucket and spade (and a plane!) for the adventure of the season...
Event: Tim Arnot.   Briefing: Tim Arnot.
  Briefing December 1st to 31st, 2011  
Overview Every year the CIX VFR club goes away for the Christmas holiday season. We've been to France and Italy; we've been to Norway; we've been to Vancouver Island. They were a bit too chilly for our liking,  so it's out with the cutlasses, onto the shoulder with the parrot, a quick "Arr Jim Lad!" and we're off to the Bahamas!
Start Time and Place Our Christmas Caper event doesn't run to a fixed timetable. You can start and complete the event in your own time, just so long as you start on or after the 1st of December, and finish on or before the 31st. There is no requirement to just fly one leg per day, or that each leg should be flown on consecutive days.
Aircraft You will need a regular light GA aircraft, capable of holding fuel for at least four hours of flight. (none of the flights will be very long, but not every airfield we'll be landing at has fuel available)
In addition you will need a helicopter for some of the optional flights. Any GA helicopter, such as an R22 or R44 would be suitable.
Also for some optional flights you will need a flexwing microlight (the default FSX trike is fine).
Weather ...or not Before starting we will check the weather. If it is unsuitable for our trip as planned, then we will fix it.
FSInn has a "CAVOK" button. Click this and you get calm clear weather.
Those using SB will need to turn off the on-line weather updates, and select calm in the FS weather options.
Most of the airfields we will be visiting don't have lighting or instrument approaches, so day VFR conditions are pretty much a requisite.

Charts and Scenery

Charts for a number of Bahamas airports are available here. Sectional charts are available on SkyVector and of course there is always Plan-G.
Caribbean scenery is available for both FS9 and FSX. For FSX, look for 'Caribbean Seaplane Tours'. For FS9 look for 'Freeflow Bahamas'. Both can be downloaded from

Plans and Route

We'll be starting off in Palm Beach and travelling through the Bahamas to the Turks and Caicos Islands, and then back to Florida. The trip is split over 18 flights.

Flight Plans
These plans show the overall route, as depicted at left. (right-click the link and 'save as')
FSX      FS9

Optional flights

Many of the flights have additional components - A bit on the side and Diversions. These will often specify that a particular aircraft is to be used, such as a helicopter or Microlight. These additional flights are not compulsory - if you don't wish to fly them, you don't need to. Also it's fine if you shorten them to fewer stops, or simply overfly an airstrip.
Day 1
KPBI Palm Beach Intl to MYGF Grand Bahama Intl
101 76nm

Our first flight takes us to Grand Bahama Island. The Bahamas are noted as a tax-free base for Western trading nations, and Grand Bahama is second only to Nassau in terms of popularity and population. Grand Bahama Intl is the main port of entry here, and the tarmac runway has lighting and an instrument approach. But don’t get used to it – most of the places we’ll be visiting don’t have such luxuries.
Jet-A and 100LL available at MYGF

A bit on the side:
We have managed to secure a special deal from the Ottoro Tate Helicopter Rental and Storm Door Company, and once you have unpacked and settled in to your hotel, take your complimentary Robinson R22 (other helicopters are available at extra cost) on a sightseeing trip around the island. Tea and mince pies are available to pilots who land at  MYGW West End, MYGM Grand Bahama Aux or MYXZ Deep Water Cay.

Day 2 MYGF Grand Bahama Intl to MYAT Treasure Cay
085 71nm

Now you’re settled in, we’re going to spend a couple of days in the Abaco Islands. This is the capital of the Bahamian sailing world, and yachtsmen come from all over the world to sail along this 130-mile boomerang shaped arc of islands.
Jet-A only available at MYAT (100LL is available at MYAM)

A bit on the side:
Once again, we have a special helicopter deal from our friends at Ottoro Tate. We’ve been given special privileges to visit the private islands of Scotland Cay (MYXI) and Spanish Cay (MYAX). Please be on your very best behavior as these locations are not normally open to visitors. If you have the time, fly along the Upper Bahamas barrier Reef to Walkers Cay (MYAW), which is listed as “one of the world’s 10 best getaway islands” by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. When you are done, return the helicopter to Treasure Cay.

Day 3
MYAT Treasure Cay to MYXB Castaway Cay
196 40nm

We’re going to be heading South across Marsh Harbour to Castaway Cay, also known as Disney’s Island. This island is wholly owned by the Disney Corporation, and run somewhat as a theme park. You may need a low pass across the runway, as it is frequently used as a walking and cycling track. We’ll be staying in crew quarters normally used by the cruise liners that regularly stop here.
No fuel (but see ‘Diversions’ below)

If you need 100LL fuel, stop at Marsh Harbour (MYAM) on the way. We’ve also been asked by the residents of Mores Island (MYAO) if we could help with some supplies deliveries. There is 600kgs of cargo in various sized bundles waiting at MYAM for delivery. If you stop there, it would be helpful if you could take some of it with you and drop it off at Mores on the way. Please post how much you’ve taken in the forum (but don’t overload your aircraft), and maybe together we can get them their stuff.

Day 4
MYXB Castaway Cay to MYEM Governor’s Harbour 
131 82nm

I hope you’ve all been thoroughly Disneyed out! Today we’re going to Eleuthera, and the 300 year old settlement of Governor’s Harbour. According to the guide book, attractions here include a doctor and dentist! The airport is a former US naval base.
Fuel: Jet-A, 100LL

A bit on the side:
Once again we have an opportunity to explore the island, thanks to the support of a local company. Big Kite Microlights has offered us the use of their fleet of flexwing microlights for just the cost of fuel. Head North West to North Eleuthera MYEH, and maybe even land out on the beach at Harbour Island, or head South East to Rock Sound (MYER) and Cape Eleuthera (MYZ2). Return to Governor’s when you’re done, and don’t forget to fill up!

Day 5
MYEM Governor’s Harbour  to  MYCX Cutlass Bay
148 85nm

Cat Island may have been named after the British sea captain Arthur Catt, or it might be just from the large number of cats that used to live here. This island boasts the highest point in the Bahamas, at 205ft!
Fuel: None. (100LL available from Hawks Nest, MYE4)

A bit on the side:
Hawks Nest Microlights has a variety of single and two seat microlight aircraft with which you can tour the island. Unfortunately they are all located at Hawks Nest, although you may be able to get a ride across. (if you relocate your aircraft, don’t forget to return it to Cutlass Bay afterwards!)

Day 6
MYCX Cutlass Bay to MYLS Stella Maris
173 34nm

A short hop across to Long Island is today’s flight.  This island is a land of contrasting geography, featuring rolling hills that drop sharply into the surf, and gentle rolling banks touching placid beaches. Well, we have FS! In the late 18th Century, there were large cotton plantations here, although now in ruins.
Fuel: Jet-A, 100LL

A bit on the side:
We don’t have any tours laid on today, but there are several other airstrips on the island that you are welcome to visit. Or you could be adventurous and head North West to Rum Cay or San Salvador Island – just remember to be back before dark!

Day 7
MYLS Stella Maris to MYX1 Pittsdown Point
136 69nm

Today we’ll be flying down the length of Long Island, and across the strait to Crooked Island. Pittsdown Point airfield is right on the beach at the near end of the island. We’ll be staying at the resort, which backs on to the airfield. There’s parking for 40 planes here, so we shouldn’t be short on space!
Fuel: None, although engine oil is available.

Day 8
MYX1 Pittsdown Point to MYMM Mayaguana
115 78nm

Mayaguana is the most Easterly island in the Bahamas. During the NASA Mercury and Apollo programmes, there was a tracking station here, which was used to keep the astronauts on course. This is the reason for the 11000ft runway, which has subsequently become largely overgrown. As a result, you are cautioned not to use the first 3300ft of runway 06.
Fuel: None

Day 9
MYMM Mayaguana to MBNC North Caicos
121 67nm

Today we leave the Bahamas and enter Turks & Caicos. North Caicos is a Port of Entry, so have your passports ready… Turks and Caicos is a British crown colony, ruled by a governor that is appointed by the Queen. There are 40 islands here although only 8 are occupied, and technically we are in the Atlantic Ocean, not the Caribbean Sea.
Fuel: None. If you are desperately short, hop over to Provo (MBPV)

Day 10
MBNC North Caicos to MBGT Jags McCartney Intl
131 53nm

Grand Turk is the most Easterly point on our trip, and from here on we’ll be heading gradually back towards the US. Grand Turk is the capital of the Turks & Caicos Islands. One of the main attractions here is the Molasses Reef shipwreck. This ship sank here some 500 years ago and is regarded as the oldest European shipwreck in the new world.
Fuel: Jet-A, 100LL

A bit on the side:
We have been advised that exotic salt products are the hit gifts of the season. To that end we’ve chartered some helicopters to take us to Salt Cay (MBSY) to visit the salt pans and maybe stock up! At one time, Salt Cay was the world’s biggest producer of salt.

Day 11
MBGT Jags McCartney Intl to MBPV Providenciales Intl
297 66nm

Providenciales, or ‘Provo’ is the tourism and cultural centre of the Turks & Caicos. It was ranked as the world’s No 1 beach destination for 2011 by TripAdvisor. There had not been a single wheeled vehicle on the island before 1964, but the recent boom in tourism and wealthy retirees has seen a massive development expansion.
Fuel: Jet-A, 100LL

On our way down we didn’t spend much time looking around, mostly because we were nursing our fuel reserves. But as we start to head back there is a chance for a look see, so if you want to break up the flight between the islands, here are some suggested stop off points:  South Caicos (MBSC), Conch Bar (MBMC), Parrot Cay (MB02), Pine Cay (MBPI)

Day 12
MBPV Providenciales Intl to MYAP Spring Point
302 103nm

And now we return to the Bahamas. Before you leave Provo, make sure you have completed the customs and immigration requirements, and top off those tanks: We have a ways to go before there’s more fuel available!
Spring Point is in the Crooked & Acklins Islands (we visited Crooked Island on the way down). The island is shaped roughly like a seahorse. There is a doctor on the island.
Fuel: None.

Day 13
MYAP Spring Point to MYEF Exuma Intl
309 125nm

We’ll be spending the next couple of days in the Exumas. According to the guide book, this is the sailing capital of the Bahamas. But they also said that about Treasure Cay. I guess you can make up your own mind (given that we’re not running a sailing sim!). Exuma Intl is on Great Exuma Island, the biggest in the chain and Georgetown is its centre. The Tropic of Cancer passes right through the town.
Fuel: 100LL

A bit on the side:
Our favourite Microlight company, Big Kite has a hangar at the airport, and they have once more made their flex wings available to us for exploring the island. Coffee and cakes have been laid on at George Town (MYEG) and we have a hog roast organized at Hog Cay (MY21). Don’t forget to be back by sunset, for although the airport has lighting, your flexwings are rated for Day VFR only.

Day 14
MYEF Exuma Intl to MYXA  Fowl Cay
326 55nm

Today we’ re travelling up through the Exumas to Fowl Cay. There are no navaids, but the island is shaped like a camel from the air, so it should be easy to spot.
CAUTION: STOL This is a 400m runway with no overruns (sea at both ends). If you can’t make it in or out, we recommend that you divert to Norman’s Cay (MYEN). Amphibian aircraft, of course, don’t need to worry and can simply beach themselves onto the runway.
Fuel: None

There are lots of islands in the Exuma chain, and many of them have airstrips. Feel free to drop in on any or all of them on the way. Some of them have interesting an exotic sounding names; some have very short runways, so exercise caution if you are not flying a STOL or amphibious aircraft. Lee Stocking Island, Darby Island, Little Darby Island, Rudder Cut Cay, Farmer’s Cay, Blackpoint, Leaf Cay, Staniel Cay, Sampson Cay…

Day 15
MYXA  Fowl Cay to MYNN Nassau Intl
316 69nm

Nassau is the capital of the Bahamas, situated on Providence Island, and with a population of around a quarter of a million the city pretty much dominates the island. Its airport is the largest in the country, and served by a number of international carriers, so we may well have other online traffic, and even ATC. Nassau and the surrounding area of course, has famously featured in many James Bond films.
Fuel: Jet-A, 100LL

Norman’s Cay (MYEN) is the final airstrip in the Exuma islands. A brief stop here will break up the long sea crossing.

Day 16
MYNN Nassau Intl to MYBC Chub Cay Intl
321  32nm

Picture a cluster of 30 islands and over 100 cays sprinkled across a turquoise sea. These are the Berry Islands. Chub Cay is a resort community featuring scuba diving and all kinds of water sports. But we’re here for the flying! It’s only a short 35nm flight from Nassau, so we had a word with our friends at Ottoro Tate…
Fuel Jet-A1, 100LL

A bit on the side:
By now you should be getting quite good at this helicopter lark, and our friends at Ottoro are even prepared to let you fly solo! There are four more airstrips in the Berry Islands – Big & Little Whake Cays, Great harbour Cay and Cistern Cay. Let’s see if we can find them all and get back in one piece…

Day 17
MYBC Chub Cay Intl to MYBS South Bimini
287 77nm

Our penultimate flight takes us to the Bimini Islands. This is the closest island to the mainland, and we’ll be just 60 miles from Miami. During the 1930s prohibition, North Bimini was infamous as a base for Florida’s rum runners. Ernest Hemingway also had a home here.
Fuel: Jet-A, 100LL

Day 18
MYBS South Bimini to KOPF Opa Locka
287 56nm

Our final flight of the trip takes us back to Florida, and Opa Locka. This city was founded by Glen Curtiss, the aviation pioneer. It was originally called Opa-tisha-woka-locka, which means ‘ the high land north of the little river on which there is a camping place’ in a local native dialect, but it soon got shortened.

This is the end of this year’s Christmas Caper, and I hope you had an enjoyable time, and didn’t dent too many helicopters! Now don’t all jump back into those jets and rush back to the UK, because we’ll be staying in Florida for January’s event…

VOR Tracking

The Instrument Flight document in the Training section of the club web site contains a section on VORs and how to use them. If you are unsure how to track a VOR radial, download and have a look at this.
The document covers the use of NDB and DME for direction and distance measurements as well.

Radio Discipline

Take care not to let our Teamspeak chat cut across ATC. Stop any conversation immediately the R/T comes alive, then continue if "he wasn't talking to us". This is difficult because when transmitting on Teamspeak you can't hear the R/T. So be brief on Teamspeak, and be aware that ATC might be trying to get through. If anyone hears an R/T message which seems to be being ignored, just say "ATC is calling G-CIXN" if you have identified the callsign, or "ATC is calling us" which is a cue for everyone to be quiet on Teamspeak until ATC call again (which they will). Remember too that if asked to "Stand By" by ATC, you do not reply - not even "Roger", but simply wait until you are called again.
Remember also that there are several different ATC frequencies in use, and you may not be able to hear when communications are taking place. Make sure you have set and know how to use a Teamspeak mute switch.
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