Miscellaneous pics - 2011
Cayman Islands - 8/2011
Space Shuttle Launch - 4/2011
Miscellaneous pics - 2010
Flight across the US - 2010
Europe - 2010
Miscellaneous pics - 2009
France - 9/2009
Bonaire - 7/2009
Kauai - 3/2009
Southwest tour - 1/2009
Antarctica - 2008
Miscellaneous pics - 2008
Belize - June 2008
Yosemite NP - May 2008
Flight across the US - April 2008
Miscellaneous pics - 2007
Italy - 2007
Flight across the US - June 2007
Thailand - October, 2006
Havasu Falls - October, 2006
Vancouver - August, 2006
Florida - July, 2006
Miscellaneous pics - 2006
Hawaii - 2005
Miscellaneous pics - 2005
Turks & Caicos Islands - 4/05
Miscellaneous pics - 2004
Italy - 11/2004
Yucatan - 10/2004
Yellowstone N.P. - Sept. 2004
Sydney, Australia - May 2004
New York City - March 2004
Miscellaneous pics - 2003
Amsterdam & London - 12/03
Bonaire & Curacao - 10/03
Lake Powell & Grand Canyon - September 2003
Oshkosh - 7/03
Florida - 6/03
Florida Keys - May/June, 2003
Around the World - Fall, 2002
Oshkosh - 7/02
W. Canyon, Lake Powell AZ - 6/02
Caymans - 5/02
Journey to Key West, FL - 4/02
Whistler, B.C. - Jan/Feb 2002
Yucatan - 10/01
Italy - 5/01
Honduras - 5/01
Seattle - 8/01
Belize - 11/00
Australia - 8/00
France - 7/00
Australia - 1999

Flight Across America

Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas

August/September, 2010

Photo Gallery Here

Time-lapse video of the entire trip!

Detailed description of the flights here

The "Big Flying Trip" this year consisted of an island-hopping dive trip with three friends to the Turks & Caicos and Bahamas, and a flying "road trip" with Clarence on the way home.

The dive trip portion involved 4 of us: me, Jerry, Dan, and Kevin.  Dan and I departed from Palo Alto California (PAO) on Monday 8/16 and flew to Ft. Collins Colorado to pick up Jerry.  From the first day, the weather was challenging.  After departing through the fog in the Bay Area, we stopped for fuel in Logan Utah and then battled thunderstorms for much of the flight to Colorado.

Departing from the foggy Bay Area

Thunderstorm in Ft. Collins just after we landed

After an overnight in Ft. Collins, we set off the next morning VFR into clear weather with the stretch goal of making it to Ft. Lauderdale.  A big band of thunderstorms stretching from Texas to Indiana forced us to throw out our original flight plan and get as close to a gap in the thunderstorms as our fuel would allow - El Reno OK.  After refueling and lunch, we set off again, this time IFR.  After working our way through the gap in the line of thunderstorms using NEXRAD and help from ATC, we were cleared direct to our next fuel stop in Alabama.  After another two hours of flight, however, widespread thunderstorms had developed and forced us to divert to lovely Tupelo Mississippi and call it a day.

Clouds over Georgia

We departed IFR out of Tupelo into a low ceiling and rain with thunderstorms in the vicinity.  Fortunately, the weather improved within a half hour and we were mostly in the clear for the remainder of our flight to our fuel & lunch stop of St. Augustine Florida.  Unfortunately, as we were doing our pre-takeoff runup at St. Augustine, I noticed our vacuum pump had failed.  Fortunately, I carried a spare pump on board, so I found a mechanic to have it swapped in.  We then set off IFR to Ft. Lauderdale.  The trip could have been conducted VFR but Ft. Lauderdale was inside a presidential TFR that day.  Halfway there, ATC tried to reroute us via a point (PHK) which was in the middle of a big thunderstorm cell.  After I politely declined ("unable Pahokee due to TS"), they cleared us back on our original route.

Once in Ft. Lauderdale, we went out for well-earned cocktails and food, and then set off for the Bahamas the next morning with our fourth traveler.

Sunset in Grand Turk

We flew IFR from Ft. Lauderdale to Stella Maris in the Bahamas for a fuel stop.  We then proceeded IFR to Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos.  We passed over many islands that day and the colors were breathtaking: from the crystalline white sand beaches and the bright turquoise shallows to the deep indigo blue of the offshore waters - the sights were unforgettable.

We stayed at the Osprey Beach Hotel in Grand Turk and dove with Blue Water Divers.  The accommodations were just right, the dive operation was great, and the diving was spectacular.

Coral Head near Grand Turk

The highlight of our stay on Grand Turk was a day trip to Salt Cay.  We stopped for a dive on the way over, and made another dive off Salt Cay.  We then proceeded to Porter's Island Thyme bar on Salt Cay for a few drinks and lunch.  After several of us sampled a variety of Porter's island moonshines and other creations, we toured one of the colonial mansions formerly occupied by a family in the salt mining business.

On August 22nd, we departed Grand Turk and flew to Providenciales to refuel and spend an afternoon and night in "the big city".  The following morning we flew to Stella Maris in the Bahamas to refuel and clear customs, then flew to our next destination of Staniel Cay in the Exuma Islands.

Swimming Pigs near Staniel Cay

We rented a cabin at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, which included a small motor boat that we used for dive trips and exploring the area.  We did a nice mix of diving and snorkeling, and one day rented a larger boat and made a trip to the Exumas Marine Park.  The yacht club was great: friendly staff, fine accommodations, good food and drinks, and a good location.  We'll definitely be back.

Lunch on Sandy Cay between dives

The last stops in the Bahamas were Nassau for fuel and then to Bimini.  We had planned to stay a few days in Bimini and do some dives & swim with dolphins, but since the dolphin trips were booked up and the island was a dump, we elected to leave first thing in the morning and spend the next day in Ft. Lauderdale instead.

Back in Ft. Lauderdale!

Our route and overnight stops in the islands

Once back in Ft. Lauderdale, Dan, Kevin and Jerry flew home via airliners and Clarence flew out and joined me.  After spending a few days in Palm Beach visiting relatives, we flew to Savannah Georgia for a few days of sightseeing.

Clarence in Savannah

Savannah is a beautiful city with a lot of colonial architecture and antebellum homes.  It's a very walkable city and has some great restaurants.  One of our favorites was the Pink House restaurant.  We dined in the tavern in the basement and had a fantastic meal in a classy atmosphere.  After a few days in Savannah, we headed to Natchez Mississippi to see more antebellum mansions.

Jim flying somewhere over Texas

After Natchez, we spent the night in Santa Fe NM.

The Painted Desert in Arizona

Our route of flight after Santa Fe took us westward across New Mexico and Arizona and into Las Vegas Nevada for fuel.  The scenery during this flight was gorgeous, but the headwinds were ferocious, resulting in nonstop turbulence.  In fact, the winds and turbulence were so bad that I aborted a landing at Boulder City and diverted to Henderson NV instead.

Photo Gallery Here

Time-lapse video of the entire trip!

Detailed description of the flights here

Last modified: 05/11/2012