Posted by: bahamasaviator | April 12, 2012

Sun & Fun 2012

The Lakeland airshow showed signs of an improving economy, but with some new realities setting in. Both Cirrus and Mooney did not attend, and the warbird parking was half empty, compared to years past. Fuel costs are having their effects. The good thing was a good crowd, and busy trade booths.
Meanwhile the Bahamas booth was busy, and many great new programs are being launched to encourage pilots to make the jump over the water. In addition to a $300. fuel rebate, the Bahamas are offering an additional $150. for every 2 extra nights. That’s $600. back for just a 6 night stay. With some planning that could be for and fuel for the whole trip.
Wed night was a cookout at Michael Z’s place, just down the road from the airport. Unlimited conch salad and Kalik beers kept everyone happy.

Posted by: bahamasaviator | February 24, 2012

Increasing Bahamas Out Island visits
I’ve just finished flying the “Up-South” southern Bahamas Islands for the last few weeks filming for the BOIPB. After many conversations with the locals and business owners, a few thoughts come to mind for developing new business. Please note, I am making these comments as a personal observation only, knowing how complicated it is to change the way things are done.

The big issue for visitors is the cost of getting there, and how to get the most out of a trip. The Bahamas is wisely addressing that issue with the ticket and gas rebates. This program should be aggressively promoted. Secondly, everyone wants a piece of paradise, but the entry level expense for more than a short visit is too high for most people. Over the 30 years I’ve seen the out island middle class visitors fade away, while a few of the highest end islands and Cays become enclaves for the very upscale travelers. That situation reflects the general state of the western economy, and the demise of new pilots, but there might be a few ideas beside building another “mega-resort”, that could help a bit.

When talking about some of the least developed islands like Crooked, or Acklins, small moves could make a big difference. Crooked island has lost almost 70% of it’s population over the last 20 years. It’s easy to understand why the young leave. No jobs, and wanting the exposure of the more modern world in Nassau. This has left a decaying infrastructure of small houses and even whole villages. Bypassing the discussion about selling generational land for now, there might be other ways to bring in new blood.

One idea that seems to be taking hold in parts of the world is micro-economic development, ie. small ways to help local individuals start businesses or offer services.

In many tourist countrys, after a local guide takes you around, you end up in a gift shop featuring local products. Every island could develop this approach, even if you end up in someones living room buying some shell art. The key is the personal, friendly connections, which the Bahamas people excel at. It China you pay, just to see how a local person lives. Going somewhere simple, to meet people who still live off the land is very interesting to many. People who know how to farm, fish, pump water, and cook outside, have a high value to travelers, tired of big cities. People travel, looking for unique chances to see how other’s live. This flow of culture has to be organized in some way, tourists are too shy to start knocking on doors. They are used to the powerful anti-trespassing laws here in the US, and often don’t venture much beyond the resort where they stay.

Each out island should have a -for profit- tour system, with a guide, with access to transportation, to “feed” interested people into the local villages, and sites. Rates should be clear, along with add-ons, like food, or crafts. Clifford “Snake Eyes” Fernander of San Salvador is a good example of this direction. He has a tour bus, and knows local history. It would not be much of a jump for him to also sell the herbal teas he knows so much about, and coordinate with the island craft people on his tours. Bernard Ferguson of Crooked Island might visit him and go on a few of his tours, and bring that model back on his island.

Another idea would is a “non-resident homestead lease” based on improving an abandoned generational property. Generational land is a nice idea, but all the discarded homes “junk-up” an island, and increase the sense of a not cared for environment. This does not attract new visitors. If anyone can fix up a place lying empty, after giving proper notice to all concerned, they should be allowed to use it for a fixed amount of time, say 20 years. After that it would revert back to the original family, or a new lease could be offered from the family, or island government. When artists discover an area, values rise, because they work on a grass roots level to improve their environments, and often see beauty and opportunity that others have missed. It’s not hard to reach artist communities in the US with a targeted marketing effort.

One Bahama rule that makes a longer stay impossible is no camping. I could imagine folks in Land-rail Point, Crooked Island, or other villages allowing modest camping use, by offering services, bathroom, water, etc, at prices far lower than resort costs. This would put the Bahamas on the map for many younger people who roam the world, but have limited funds, as well as hikers and Kayakers. Countries like Iceland host thousands of “backpackers” who add to the local economy and use local services. They might not spend money like a large boat or aircraft visit, but these people often have ample funds, as you can see from their fancy hiking gear. They visit the parks all around Iceland. Every island could have a nature park like this, with basic services, and soon local businesses will develop to support them.

With a better flow of outsiders, local products could be sold, like herbal teas, produce, and crafts. There are a number of bush products similar to the cascarilla tree bark, used in Campari. Local people should understand, visitors like to take home a “piece” of there trip, like teas, crafts, and even local harvested salt. Organic sea salt sells for high prices in Hawaii. It just needs a simple package and label, a little home-brew hype. Often travelers would rather buy “art” than tee shirts. In the Canadian arctic, whole native Inuit villages live off their painting and drawing income, having galleries through the US. Good artwork can sell in the high thousands, but MUST be authentic, not “made for tourism”.

The key for new, longer staying visitors, is to lower to bar with the cost of their stay, and offer more choices and chances to connect. Some out islands could benefit from a different, approach to short and longer term visitors.

Craig Peyton, 02/2012

Posted by: bahamasaviator | August 2, 2011

Oshkosh 2011 was jumping

Hit the ground running with Socata celebrating 100 years in business. Here are two videos posted while there: news conference, and party:

Had a chance to hang with the president off Pipistral, Ivo, who has an amazing 4 seater electric hybrid on the way…which will fly 200kts!!

Working on a video of the TBM850 racing a P-51 Mustang. I was very happy the metal tape holding the gopro on the wing was strong enough to handle the g loads during the race. The shots look good, and looking forward to editing.

Camping had the usual mega rainstorm, causing me to wonder if suffering is a bit overrated. Might be forced to spring for a hotel next year, as editing in a wet tent is not fun.

As I was leaving I got stuck over holding for an IFR departure. The the field went VFR, and I taxied under the wing of a G4 to get to the departure end of 27. Cleared to go, I was passing 50 kts in the Mooney when I heard ABORT, ABORT. Slammed to a halt, and then was cleared to continue take off. Glad to be off the ground and heading home. The f16 overran just after closing the airport, so glad I made it, for an easy 4:30 hrs back to 44N.

Posted by: bahamasaviator | July 19, 2011

Paris/Madrid Green Air Race

Heading to OSH next week. Camping again, can be miserable, but is really the most efficent way.  Hope it doesn’t rain, and the folding bike is a lifesaver…

Check out this recent gig in Europe: Big fun, although it had some scary moments…

Paris-Madrid Air Race 1911-2011

by DEAN SIGLER on 07/06/2011

100 years ago, the idea of flying an 800-mile cross-country anywhere was a grand and dangerous adventure.  With aerodynamics not yet a science and aircraft powered by the self-destructive engines of that day, it took a brave pilot to even make the attempt.  The Paris-Madrid race of 1911 was a disaster from the start, and yet one man managed to achieve triumph despite the tragedy.

21 aviators were motivated to sign up in hopes of winning the 200,000 franc prize, but between May 21 and May 26, 1911, only six actually started, and only one flew the entire course.

According to Transpress, a New Zealand blog, “After a full year of airshows, advertisers had become bored with seeing flying machines going in circles on a racetrack: they wanted city to city races, as was happening with automobiles. Funded and supported by the newspaper Le Petit Parisien, the international aviation race Paris-Madrid, despite the risks, attracted twenty-one competitors. The announcement of a 200,000 francs prize on the poster was actually the total prize pool: the first three airmen sharing 50,000 francs, the rest going to the teams.

“The race included three lengthy stages: Issy-les-Moulineaux to Angoulême (Charente), on 21 May, starting at daybreak, 400 kilometers that competitors should be able to cover in seven hours; Angoulême-San Sebastian (Spain) on 23 May, starting at daybreak, a stage of 335 km designed to circumvent the Pyrénées mountains in a six-hour flight; and San Sebastian-Madrid, on 25 May, starting 6 am, a long stage of 620 km and a real challenge, it traversed a pass that the best had to travel over in less than eleven hours. In all a total estimated 24 hours of actual flight for the whole race. “

“The race began with tragedy. The airplanes were overloaded with fuel.  The French War Minister, Maurice Berteaux, only in office since 2 March 1911, had come to Issy-les-Moulineaux to salute the French pilots’ performance. He was struck by the airplane that Emile Train, weighed down by a passenger, Marc Bonnier, was struggling to lift off the ground. The Minister of War was killed instantly. The
Interior Minister, Monis, Deutsch de la Meurthe and several other people including a child were seriously injured. The crowd broke through the barrier and flooded onto the field. Marshalls charged from sides to try to contain it.

“The race was stopped: only six pilots had been able to start before the abandonment of the race.”

“Only Jules Védrines finished. He covered the 1,360 km between Paris and Madrid in fifteen hours of flight at an average speed of 80 km/h. His monoplane, which peaked at 125 kilometers per hour, was only powered by a 50 horsepower Gnome Omega engine.”

Craig Peyton flew this year’s Paris-Madrid Green Race, sponsored by Morane-Saulnier (winner of the original event) and honoring the pioneer aviators 100 years ago who first flew that route.

Craig says of his vocation, “With my production name, EarthFlight, I’ve been producing aviation videos and shooting stills for 20 years now. I work from a Mooney M20-J. Clients are Socata, Bahamas, JPI, etc. Many videos are here.”  Craig is also a musician, and has provided background music for TV and films.

Several electric teams had initially indicated they would compete, but all withdrew before the start of the race.  In response to this editor’s comments about some of the terrain over which the race was flown, “I was sad that the Paris/Madrid had no electrics, but agree it would have been a very tough race over the mountains for any electric.  I made this video to help pilots see there are ‘real world’ machines out there right now, that are efficient and safe.”

The contest, as noted by Pipistrel, used these criteria for a final result: “Speed, Payload Capability, Fuel Consumption, Range distance, Noise Emissions and Safety Features.”

Pipistrel won first and third places in the event, with pilots of a Sinus (seen us) and a Virus (vee rus) sharing the winner’s podium.  One impressive performer was the Jodel D-119, a 60-year-old design that managed seventh place, and may have been the only airplane not flying with a Rotax engine.

Thank you, Craig, for a great video of the event.

Posted by: bahamasaviator | April 21, 2010

Dream Flight

Got a call a few weeks ago to pack my bags and go to France to make a video promotion of the TBM 850. Here’s the resulting flight from Tarbes France to my airport 44N, where we did some air to air from the Mooney:

Here some travel notes en-route:

The travel from France to Scotland was hard IFR, with the landing in Scotland very edgy. The wind was gusting to 60kts in blowing snow and ice, as we came in over the ocean near Glasgow.  Even the camera freaked out, with the overheat light blinking. The ocean flight to Iceland was much easier, and Iceland was in the clear! I got good shots coming in…thank god I bought the second battery.

In Iceland I hit the ground running.  First an outdoor swim in a geo thermal local pool…not a tourist in sight…but a pile of Icelanders soaking like seals in tight groups. Reminded me a lot of being in Sweden, looks and attitude-wise. It was fun to talk to cab drivers about the economic hardships, and big changes the country is going through. Still, in spite of devaluation, it is very expensive here…double NYC.  We then went to the Pearl restaurant, on a hill-top overlooking the city. It looked like a moon base, perched on the hill, with this huge glass dome, between 4 huge water tanks. The restaurant revolved with an amazing landscape as the sun went down…while we ate a major upscale 4 course dinner…  as the sun went down, Socata test pilot Stephan opened up, and spoke of his career as a test pilot. He has lost 35 friends flying!!  He has a spiritual, live fully in the moment attitude…his accomplishments are Chuck Yeagar level…clearly one of the top French pilots, and is heading the developing EADS space program. We had a dinner I will never forget…almost dreamlike in clarity, and wonder of how I got to that moment.

Back at the hotel I was having computer upload problems.  By now it was dark, and Stephan had gone to sleep, but I took a cab back into Reykjavik to see the down town. Walked around in the 15 degree night chill and got a small sense of the place…very cozy, interesting, upscale and artsy…worth coming back to, but I’m more interested in the nature then the famous binge drinking strip.  The volcano was active, but not yet a major air problem.

As we descended over the ocean in Greenland, it felt like landing on another planet…dramatic ice cap, mountains, and sharp crevasses, mark a barren landscape. Our luck help out and we had beautiful weather. The airport in at the end of a long fiord, and much has been written about how scary and hard it used to be to find.  We could see it from far out, but was still a dramatic landing.  After shooting the ground, I interviewed Peter, who runs the airport FBO. A stoic Swede, was amusing and filled with information…he loved the place, and clearly hated western civilization…my kind of guy. When I mentioned I was married the first time in Sweden, but it lasted only 7 years, he said…that’s very long, I’m impressed!  He is married to an Inuit woman, and lives in semi native fashion. We went outside, and he pointed out where Leif Eriksson had a settlement there. Every person walking by was interesting looking, and it was tough to leave so soon…but Stephen had a departure surprise… A high-speed fly by down the runway, while I filmed, and he took the gloves off, and flew like a fighter pilot. The high speed pass in Greenland splendor was another unforgettable memory.

Posted by: bahamasaviator | June 30, 2009

Bahamas at Oshkosh 2009

Besides flying to the Bahamas, late July is time to change the oil, and head the Mooney towards OSH. I’ll be hanging out with Greg Rolle at the Bahamas Booth on that Friday, (31st) and Sat.
They’ve got some good fly-ins lined up, and many of the resort vendors will be there to answer your questions. Greg will be happy to answer your eAPIS and customs questions.
If you get a chance, The Bahamas also have a good booth in the FAA/Government building. The booth has reps from Bahamas Civil Aviation, and US Customs is near-by…check it out.
My friend, MayCay Beeler has published “A Return to Normans Cay” DVD on Amazon:
It’s a tell all DVD about Coke Dealing from Norman’s in the 70’s, with a story about a GA crash landing there…re-visited 30 years later. It’s cool, and has a bunch of my aerials over the Exumas and Normans.

You can view a clip here
Safe Flying,
Craig Peyton

Posted by: bahamasaviator | June 9, 2009

Bahamas, eAPIS, and the Recession

The wonderful economy has slowed my travel to the islands this spring.  How’s it effecting your GA travel plans? I also would like to hear some first hand experiences using eAPIS.  With GA on life support, it seems all we need is another layer of headaches. Although I’ve never had a problem with US customs, I always sense when making the call one hour before leaving, that things could get difficult, if I made a mistake, or had to divert because of weather.

The Out Islands depend on us for return business. I will try to post good deals, and link resorts that are working hard to keep pilots coming in.  Let me know your thoughts on this and other concerns for the Bahamas bound pilot.