27 April 2004

Cayman Islands by way of Cuba

This trip was a routine flight (If you can call flying to a tropical island routine!) except for two things. This would be the longest over-water leg with no intervening islands (150 miles) and we would get to fly over Cuba. Getting a permit to fly over Cuba was easy. I had to get a form faxed to the house. It was returned to Miami Dispatch with a money order for $160. Two days later a permit number was faxed. That number would be placed on the IFR plan from Key West, FL to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. (Only IFR flights are permitted to fly over Cuba.) The flight was about 325 miles. It started with 100 miles over the Florida Straits then 50 miles over the the swamps of Cuba and just west of the Bay of Pigs. Cayo Largo (a small resort island) was another 30 miles south off shore then the last 140 miles over the Gulf of Mexico brought us to Grand Cayman. We broke out of some rain showers 2000 feet above the North Sound of Grand Cayman. We could see the dive boats in "Stingray City." This is a famous area where divers and snorkelers can swim with the five-foot wing span Southern Stingrays.

Later we flew 70 miles northeast to Cayman Brac. The east end of this ten-mile-long island has 200-foot cliffs. The best view was from the plane! The longest over-water leg (150 miles) was from Cayman Brac back to Cayo Largo.

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