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Q: International Flights in Private Planes ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: International Flights in Private Planes
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: sl7-ga
List Price: $200.00
Posted: 18 Jun 2005 08:33 PDT
Expires: 18 Jul 2005 08:33 PDT
Question ID: 534539
I am a private pilot and own a Cirrus SR22.   I live in Miami,
Florida.  I have IFR and commercial ratings and have about 800 hours
of flying experience, but it has all been in the United States. I
would like to fly my plane to a number of Caribbean destinations,
including the Bahamas, the Turks & Cacicos Islands, Jamaica and the
Grand Cayman Islands.  The flights to Jamaica and the Grand Cayman
Islands will require overflying Cuba.  I am aware that there is a
procedure for getting permission to over fly certain corridors over
Cuba but am not aware of the specifics.

I would like answers to the following questions:

1. I am looking for a pilot who has experience in making flights from
south Florida to these destinations and would know the procedures that
I need to follow.  I want to hire that person to fly as co pilot on
several missions until I become comfortable with the procedures.

2. There must be FAA and other web sites that gives the specific rules
for a private pilot to follow to make international trips to the
destinations I have mentioned, including international flight plan
filing procedures, procedures for dealing with US and foreign customs
and specific rules for flights over Cuba. I would like to get
references to those sites so that I can become familiar with the
procedure as they are officially described.

3. I use the site to check weather
conditions when I make domestic flights.  Is there a web site that
would do a good job of providing weather services for flights from
south Florida to the Caribbean destinations I have listed?
Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by byrd-ga on 21 Jun 2005 20:38 PDT
Hi sl7-ga,

I'm also a pilot, holder of a Commercial certificate with ASEL and
Instrument ratings. I'm excited about the prospect of helping you find
the information you want about flying in the Caribbean, and especially
regarding overflight of Cuba.
I saw the previous answer to this question, and your comment on that,
and so I would appreciate a bit of clarification from you before I get
to work on this, so I can be sure of getting you the exact information
you want.

1) Regarding the co-pilot, I saw that the previous answer had given
you names and contact information for several CFIs in the Miami area?
Were these unacceptable? If so, why? Or did you want additional
references? Or do you want non-CFIs? If you could explain your exact
criteria for accepting or rejecting a potential co-pilot, it would be
very helpful.

2) Did I understand you to say you wanted more than references to
sites online outlining the procedures for overflying Cuba, to include
step-by-step instructions on exactly how to plan and fly a trip to a
Caribbean destination that included an overflight of Cuba?

If so, which destination from your examples would you prefer to use,
Grand Cayman or Jamaica? Or did you want step-by-step how-tos for all
the places you mentioned? What exactly do you want included? How much
detail? You know, of course, without current weather, winds aloft,
NOTAMS, etc. it won't be possible to come up with an exact flight
plan. Would a sample one do? Again, if you would be very specific
about your expectations, it would be a great help in knowing how to
help you.

3) Did you want merely an online source(s) for obtaining pre-briefing
weather information about the region, or would you like an official
source that you can use for actual flight planning?

In addition, are you an AOPA member, and able to access the member
sections of

Thank you for your clarification. Please include any other details I
may have overlooked, as I want to be sure I'm heading in the right
direction to give you the answer you expect. You may post a
Clarification while the question is locked.

Best Regards,

Clarification of Question by sl7-ga on 22 Jun 2005 07:40 PDT

Thank you for your request for clarification.  

Since you are a pilot, you can appreciate the fact that pilots like to
do things from check lists. No matter how smart you are, a check list
has a better memory that you do.  The first researcher did a
satisfactory job, I think, of looking for Internet sites from which
basic information could be obtained, but that left to me the task of
researching the source materials to come up with a check list of what
needs to be done. What I would like to have from you is a checklist to
follow for: (1) a flight to the Bahamas, and (2) a flight over Cuba,
for example to the Cayman Islands.  I also hope to fly to Jamaica and
the Turks and Caicos islands, so if the checklist needs to be modified
for those destinations I would want to know.

Based on the information that the first researcher gave me, and based
on my own phone calls to the Miami FSS, the Bermuda customs, and the
US Customs office in Opa Locka, Florida, I have the following check
list for a flight from my home base of Opa Loca to the Bahamas.  It
may not be complete, but it is a start and gives you an idea of the
kind of detail I am looking for. I would assume that most of this
check list also applies for flights to the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and
the Turks and Caicos Islands, however, there would be specific
procedures, deadlines, form numbers, phone contact numbers and payment
instructions for obtaining permission to cross Cuba.  By the way, I
was not looking for you to give me a flight plan, just the things I
must do on an international flight that I don't do when I fly between
domestic airports.

My check list  for Bahamas:
1. Customs in Nassau (242 377-6067) confirmed that you need not
contact the Bahamas authorities before making the flight. Just fly day
light hours and file (and fly) a flight plan with the Miami FSS. [I
would always do this IFR.]
I am not aware of whether any Bahamas Customs Forms must be submitted on landing. 
2. You need not contact US customs before departing the US, however,
you must contact US customs at Opa Locka at 305 687-5475 before you
depart the Bahamas for the US.  You should try to call 24 hours in
advance if you can.  If you don't know 24 hours in advance give them
as much notice as you can.
3. You should prepare a US Customs Form 178 before you depart and
bring it with you. Some of the information will need to be filled in
on landing but most can be completed in advance. You must provide this
form to US Customs upon landing. (I have downloaded this form from the
4. Each passenger will need to complete a US Customs Form 6059B and
provide it to US Customs on landing. You can pick up copies of this
form at the US Customs Office, 4371 NW 150th Street, Building 126, Opa
Locka, FL 33054.
5. You must file a flight plan both coming and going. You file the
flight plan at 800 WXB-RIEF as you normally do before leaving the US.
On the way back into the US, you can file by phone directly with the
Miami center at either 866 347-0316 or 305 233-2600. (I have
downloaded the International Flight plan from the Internet. It is very
similar to a domestic flight plan.)
4. Bring a passport. (Birth certificate is OK for passengers that do
not have a US passport.)
5. Make sure that the plane has the original registration on board.
6. Use 122.8 as the CTAF frequency at all uncontrolled airports. Use
left traffic pattern.
7. If uncontrolled fly over strip at 1000 to observe conditions on
ground before landing.
8. Departure tax of $15 require at airport for each passenger.
9. You may not land or take off between sunset and sunrise without
specific permission.
10. I have XM Radar Weather in my Cirrus. I am not sure how far off
the Florida coast I will receive weather data.  I am not sure what
Internet site would be best for getting graphic weather depiction maps
showing forecast weather for the trip.  This information would
probably be easier to get when leaving the US, however, it is more
problematic as to how I will get this information in the Bahamas
before I return back to the US. My initial trip is to Marsh Harbor,
and I don't know if they have any weather information for pilots at
the field.

I hope this checklist for the Bahamas gives you an idea for what I am
looking for.  If I have made errors or omissions on this checklist
please let me know.

Thank you.

Request for Question Clarification by byrd-ga on 22 Jun 2005 08:21 PDT
Hello sl7-ga,

Many thanks for your clarification. That helps a lot. Yes, I certainly
do understand and appreciate the use of checklists! I think it's a
great idea for making this type of flight, to ensure you don't
overlook any of the myriad details involved. I understand much better
what you're looking for and have enough to get started.

However, I did still have a question about your co-pilot requirements,
and status with regard to AOPA membership. It would be helpful if you
could clarify those points as well.

Thank you,

Clarification of Question by sl7-ga on 22 Jun 2005 12:26 PDT
I am an AOPA member.  I typically do not fly with a copilot, however,
the first time I fly the cross Cuba corridor to the Cayman Islands, I
would like to have a copilot who has made the same trip multiple times
as a private pilot, so that one of us has actual experience with the
process. I have not called the 3 contacts given by the first
researcher to see if they have actual experience making Cuba crossings
in a private plane.  I would assume that in commercial flights the
approvals are handled by someone other than the pilot, so a pilot who
has made the trip but only in a commercial setting might not be
familiar with all the requirements.

Request for Question Clarification by omnivorous-ga on 28 Jun 2005 17:49 PDT
SL7 --

I won't be able to finish work started on this question but there are
two additional aspects of the trip that should be planned:
1.  INSURANCE: most aircraft policies cover domestic flights and
Canada but require riders for international flights, including Mexico.
 In addition, you'll want to make sure that your fellow pilot is
2.  SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT: required on long over-the-water flights,
though it is rentable in Florida.

Best regards,

Subject: Re: International Flights in Private Planes
Answered By: byrd-ga on 30 Jun 2005 14:59 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello sl7, 

Thank you very much for your patience. I'm sorry you've experienced
such a delay and hope you'll find the information presented worth the

If anything isn't clear, or you were expecting/hoping for something
you don't see, please use the "Request Clarification" feature to ask
before rating and closing your question. I very much want to be sure
you have what you need to be able fly safely, efficiently and
enjoyably within the Caribbean region. Of course, I'm sure you
understand the information provided here is for information purposes
only, and not to be relied on for actual flight planning or
navigation. Also, despite care taken, sometimes links don't post
correctly, so if you have trouble with any, try copying/pasting into
your browser, or ask for help in a "Request for Clarification" and I
can try reposting any troublesome ones.

One other note: there are links to numerous PDF documents here, which
require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. If you don't already have it,
you can download a free copy here:


First of all, I commend your prudence in seeking a co-pilot to
accompany you on the first one or several such trips. You'll be glad
to know there are a number of eminently qualified and experienced
pilots who would be happy to help you out. I have directly
corresponded with those listed, and list them (with permission) not
only because of their willingness to assist you, but their
credentials, experience and knowledge of the requirements of flight in
the Caribbean region. You will, however, want to contact them
yourself, I'm sure, in order to see with whom you feel most

CFI, CFII, MEI, A&P, Cirrus certified instructor. 
He has made the flight to Grand Cayman several times, as well as flies
into and out of the Bahamas regularly. He provided much information I
have used elsewhere in this answer, particularly with regard to
obtaining the Cuban overflight permit. He normally works out of
Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (TMB), but that is only 12 miles
from OPF, so should not be a factor. His rate is $250/day plus
expenses. If there should be an extended non-flying layover, I expect
that could be negotiated. He requires advance notice to arrange his
schedule. Contact him at 305-724-7810 or email

CFI, CFII, MEI, Ground Instructor, Designated Pilot Examiner with the Miami FSDO 
He is also experienced with Caribbean flights, and says he would be
interested if David Ward, whom he recommended, is not available. His
rate is also $250/day plus expenses, and he also requires advance
notice to get the time off from his FAA job. Contact by email

He flew Cessna Caravans to Grand Cayman after the recent hurricane and
is familiar with procedures, including the Cuba overflight
requirements. He also flies often to/from Bahamas, and has flown DC-6s
and DC-7s as far as the Virgin Islands. He did not give his rate, so
it may be somewhat negotiable. He is eager and looking forward to
hearing from you. Contact him at 305-321-4757 or by email at

He is President of Endeavor Flight Training, Inc. a flight school and
Cessna Pilot Center at OPF. Their website is here: He did not say that he personally has
experience with the the flights you're seeking help with. But he said
he has instructors on staff who do. He is willing to work out the
details with you according to your requirements. Rates range from
$250-350/day plus expenses. Contact him at (305) 769-2779, (305)
310-0066, by fax at (305) 769-2780 or email at

In addition to being a Flight Instructor, he is a
Firefighter/Paramedic for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Dept. and works at
Miami international Airport Midfield Fire Station on his days off He
is based at Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport (TMB) a few miles south
of Opa locka airport. He says he is experienced in flying to the
islands and would be interested in flying with you. He does need about
a week's notice to arrange his schedule, and did not supply his rates.
He can be contacted at (305)412-2181 or (305)302-7548 or by email at

He did not say that he had personally flown the route, but implied it
by saying that he is from the Cayman Islands, and his family still
lives there. For that reason he says he is happy to make the flight.
He emphasized safety precautions re: flying over water. He also
indicated that he is familiar with Cuban overflight requirements and
did not foresee any problems with that. His rate is $65/hour, which I
take to mean flight hour. Contact him at 305-332-1095 or by email at

CFI, CFII, MEI, Ground Instructor
Although this person has not flown to Jamaica or Grand Cayman, I'm
including him to give you just one more option, as he does have other
extensive experience in Caribbean flying, and is very familiar with
Bahamas and other locations' paperwork. He has contacts with
information for Cuban overflights, and says he is confident in his
ability to assist you due to his other experience, which, by the way,
includes flying co-pilot on a recent trip to deliver a helicopter to
South America. He isn't rotorcraft rated, but says he was selected
because of his other Caribbean experience. His rate is $50/hour for
flight time; other time negotiable. Contact him at Executive Flight
Training, Inc. phone (786)797-6366 or
email .


Here are General CHECKLISTS for both Outbound and Inbound legs of
Caribbean flights from OPF. The checklists can be modified to suit
various Caribbean destinations. Specific in-depth details, as well as
information pertaining to Cuban overflights, as well as procedures and
entry requirements for the US, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Bahamas, and the
Turks and Caicos Islands are listed separately below, so if you don't
see something in the checklist, look there.

I have also provided enough reference material that you should be able
to easily find information for any other Caribbean destinations to
which you may want to fly. Of course, please be sure to verify for
yourself the accuracy and currency of any information prior to using
it for flight planning or navigational purposes.

One note: these checklists are for IFR flights only. There are
procedures for VFR flights, but they are almost universally not
recommended and, since you are instrument rated and stated you always
file/fly IFR, it didn't seem necessary to include them. However, the
only real variant seems to be the need to file DVFR and to contact
Miami radio prior to crossing the ADIZ inbound, which of course is not
an issue if you're talking to ATC and on an IFR flight plan. Also, if
you should land at an uncontrolled field, use the CTAF of 122.8 and
standard VFR procedures, i.e. left pattern unless charted otherwise,
pattern entry at 1000' AGL, etc.

  - Obtain, ensure or renew currency of FCC radio station license for
your aircraft, and a restricted radiotelephone operator permit for
yourself or at least one other person on flight.
  - Obtain or arrange means of getting all required overwater safety equipment. 
  - Ensure currency for: 
      *Instruments, e.g. VOR; ELT; GPS database; 
      *Airworthiness certificate; 
      *Annual inspection; 
      *Other necessary maintenance; 
      *Insurance - check territorial limits
  - Gather all necessary paperwork, including 
      *ARROW (current airworthiness certificate; original registration
 (keep a copy elsewhere); radio station license and operator's permit;
current weight/balance data).
      *Aircraft maintenance records (*Note: Do NOT bring your only
copy of the ac maintenance and/or engine log; rather make a copy.);
include any Form 337s for aircraft modifications, in particular
after-market long range tanks.
      *Personal documents for pilot AND passengers, to include (as
applicable) passport, driver's license, pilot certificate, current
medical; if any passengers are not U.S. citizens, ensure they have and
carry their U.S. Alien Registration Card (green card).
      *Proof of insurance 
      *Customs forms for both destination and arrival back to the U.S. 
      *Carbon paper for copies (photocopiers are often unavailable). 
      *Current appropriate charts and approach plates; 
      *Flight plan forms
      *Not necessary, but nice to do: Register your trip with the U.S.
State Department, here: This is not a
requirement, but a precaution.
  - Contact either a handler or the Cuban government to obtain a Cuban
overflight permit. For weekend flights, be sure to request it no later
than Thursday, preferably before. See below for details.
  - Check/monitor local and destination weather information.
  - Not necessary, but nice to do: check Google Maps or Microsoft's Terra Server to view satellite photos of your
flight path and desination airport(s). Use either place names, or GPS
waypoints or airport coordinates to plot locations.
  - Prepare customs declarations and/or permits, immigration cards,
etc. Be sure to have an adequate number of copies. Photocopy machines
are often not available.
  - Ensure an adequate supply of cash, traveler's checks and a valid
credit card to pay for fees and costs.
  - Call Miami FSS at 1-800-WX-BRIEF to obtain an official weather briefing. 
  - Fill out and file International Flight Plan
Include ADCUS (Advise Customs) in Section 18 under "Remarks."
For Cuban overflight, be sure to put permit number also in Section 18
under "Remarks."
  - Call Customs at your destination to advise of ETA (don't rely
solely on ATC to transmit this information).
  - Obtain IFR clearance if not already done. 
  - For Cuban overflights:
      *Remain at least 26 miles off of Cuban airspace until ready to
cross into one of the corridors.
      *Give your permit number when contacting Cuban radio. 
      *Cuban radio sometimes has trouble receiving from low altitudes.
Use the squelch and be patient.
      *Treat Cuban airspace as standard non-radar environment with
position reports and fix ETA.
      *If Cuban ATC does not respond when you are leaving their
airspace, do not be concerned; this is common.
  - At least ONE HOUR out, contact Customs at your destination to advise of ETA. 
  - Contact island approach for your destination. Again, treat as non
radar environment.
  - Prior to landing close your flight plan with ATC or local radio.
If unable, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF on landing to close.
  - Land at an Airport of Entry
  - Have all personal documents and any customs forms ready. 
  - If greeted on the ramp, follow instructions. If not, disembark
with paperwork and luggage and proceed to terminal. Check in with

  - Check/monitor local and Miami weather conditions. 
  - Call U.S. Customs in Opa Locka at (305)687-5475 or (305)687-8475
to advise them of your planned ETA. If unable, call day of flight. Try
to give them at least 24 hours notice. If unable, call as early as
  - Must depart from an AOE. 
  - Prepare one U.S. Arrival Report (Form 178), as well as Customs 
Declaration Cards (Form 6059B) for each passenger. (Some information
will need to be filled in on arrival; most can be done ahead.)
  - Obtain a weather briefing locally or from Miami FSS. Phone numbers are:
     Automatic routing: 800-WX-BRIEF
     Miami FSS/IFSS: 800-432-4716 or 4717; 305-233-2600 or
     Automated FSS: 866-347-0316
  - Prepare and file International Flight Plan form. File by phone
with local FSS or radio, or directly with Miami center at either (866)
347-0316 or (305) 233-2600.
  - Include ADCUS (Advise Customs) in Section 18 under "Remarks."
  - For Cuban overflight, be sure to put permit number also in Section
18 under "Remarks."
  - Include ETA to both inner and outer Cuban boundaries.
  - Call U.S. Customs in Opa Locka at 305 687-5475 to give, reconfirm
or revise ETA (don't rely solely on ATC transmitting the information).
(*NOTE: Opa Locka Customs hours of 9-5 can be extended until 10:00 PM
if necessary, with advance notice and permission.)
  - Prepare and turn in any necessary local documents.
  - Pay any departure tax and/or other fees.
  - Obtain IFR clearance if not already done. (Note: Miami Clearance
Delivery telephone number is 800-858-5737.)
  - If uncontrolled field, contact Miami ATC on frequency given for
point of departure. See "Airports of Entry - Caribbean."
  - Establish radio contact with Miami Center as soon as possible, and   
give them an ETA with a repeated request that they advise Customs of your ETA. 
     *NOTE: NEVER be earlier than your stated ETA, or a $500 fine may be imposed. 
  - On landing, secure aircraft and proceed to Customs with all forms
and baggage.



First, you will need to do your flight plan and determine the route or
corridor you will be taking across Cuba. This must be done first as
you will need to advise an exact ETA for entering and leaving Cuban
airspace, as well as selecting the route.

   The CAYMAN CARAVAN is a club or guided tour that flies a group of
aircraft from Key West to    Grand Cayman each year. This is what they
say about their route:

   "Cuba allows civil traffic through its airspace via three
corridors, the western Giron Corridor, the central Maya Corridor and
the eastern Nuevas Corridor. The Cuban government requires pilots to
have overflight permits on file in order to use these corridors.

   "The route we fly (G448) takes you from Key West, direct to TADPO,
the handoff point to Havana Center. From TADPO, you'll fly south on
G448 to Varder VOR, through the Giron Corridor, thence to Cayo Largo
Del Sur (a VOR) then to ATUVI, the handoff point to Grand Cayman
approach. ... This route passes just east of Havana, over Cuba's
Matanzas Province."

You may wish to select a different route and/or corridor or not. But
you will need NOS Enroute Low Altitude Caribbean and South America
charts. These show the Cuban corridors. (See below.)

Once you have your route planned out, getting the permit is not an
especially difficult process, but it IS a critical one. There are two
ways to go about getting this permit:
  --You can apply for one yourself by contacting the Cuban government directly, or 
  --You can use a handler to obtain one for you. 

The first option is not recommended. The reason why is that U.S. law,
as part of U.S. sanctions against Cuba,(through the Office of Foreign
Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury) prohibits
payment of overflight fees to the Cuban government without a specific
license to do so. The law states, ""Private and commercial aviators
must obtain a specific license authorizing payments for overflight
charges to Cuba. Banks will ask to see the originals of such licenses
before executing transfers and keep a copy for their files." You might
like to read this document:    

However, if you want to try it, here's the advice I received from an
airline pilot as to how to do it:

Send a fax to Cuba at (011)537-334-579 with the following information
(this is the same information that 3rd party services will need):
1. Your name
2. Your nationality
3. Address of operator 
4. A/C type
5. Registration (tail) number
6. Name of pilot in command
7. Place of flight origin
8. Destination
9. Air corridor or route to be taken
10.Date of flight
11.Exact time of zone penetration
12.Purpose of flight (pleasure)
13.Number of passengers
14.Type and amount of cargo (this refers to freight, not including  
personal luggage, so "none")
15.Statement of liability insurance
16.Radio frequency ("all except HF")

You must give them a return fax number to send your permit number,
which you will need for initial contact with Cuban radio. The fee may
range from $40-190. They can bill you extra if the flight is for
anything other than pleasure, i.e. charter, cargo, business, etc. Pay
the bill in Canadian or British currency. If it is not paid, you will
not be issued an overflight permit again.

As you can see, there are some problems with this approach, especially
if you do not have an established relationship with the Cuban
government, or a license, or means to pay in other than U.S. currency.
Therefore, probably the best way for most people to go about getting
the overflight permit is to use a 3rd party who can handle the details
for you. There are actually quite a few companies that can do this,
but not all of them will work with general aviation. Here are two who
do. I have spoken with them both by telephone, and verified their
availability and these procedures.

Details can be handled either by phone or email. I recommend phone for
initial contact; after that they said they preferred to use email.
Call a minimum of 2 days/48 hours in advance, or by Thursday at the
latest for a weekend flight. They will need the information listed
above, or at least your tail number, type A/C and name of PIC. The
cost is approximately $340 for a round-trip permit. They will invoice
you after the trip is complete to be sure it occurred, and that you
did not incur any additional fees.
Telephone: 877-891-8747

This company is located in Houston, TX with offices in London and
Singapore as well. First you will need to call and talk to their
accounting department to set up an account. Once that's done, you can
request a permit by telephone or email, or using the form on their
website, again with the 48 hours or sooner time frame. However, this
company said that if you require an emergency or instant permit, that
is possible - for an additional fee. Their rates are $245 one way for
Phone: (800) 333-3563

IF you are flying only to the Cayman Islands and back again, the
Cayman Islands Airports Authority can get your overflight permit.
Request forms from the duty AIS officer at the following telephone and
fax numbers:
  Aeronautical Information Service Office
  Civil Aviation Authority
  P.O. Box 10277 APO
  Grand Cayman
  Cayman Islands
  Tel: 345-949-4528 or 345-943-7070 ext 5827  
  Fax: 345-946-3078
 or by email from: Walter Ebanks, Sr. Mgr. of Air Traffic Services at I received a form from Mr. Ebanks in
response to my email for information, and he also provided the
following instructions:

Fill out the forms and fax back for processing. Include a return fax
number. When a reply is received from Cuba, they will fax you back the
confirmation and permit number. They require a minimum of 48 hours
advance notice; more is better.
The website for the Airports Authority is:
However, the site appears to be relatively new and still under construction. 

FAA required equipment for overwater flight is found in:
  FAR § 91.509 "Survival equipment for overwater operations."
  (a) No person may take off an airplane for a flight over water more 
  than 50 nautical miles from the nearest shore unless that airplane
is equipped with a life preserver or an approved flotation means for
each occupant of the airplane.
  (b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person
may take off an airplane for flight over water more than 30 minutes
flying time or 100 nautical miles from the nearest shore, whichever is
less, unless it has on board the following survival equipment:
      (1) A life preserver, equipped with an approved survivor locator
light, for each occupant of the airplane.
      (2) Enough liferafts (each equipped with an approved survival
locator light) of a rated capacity and buoyancy to accommodate the
occupants of the airplane.
      (3) At least one pyrotechnic signaling device for each liferaft. 
      (4) One self-buoyant, water-resistant, portable emergency radio
signaling device that is capable of transmission on the appropriate
emergency frequency or frequencies and not dependent upon the airplane
power supply.
      (5) A lifeline stored in accordance with §25.1411(g) of this chapter. 
         (c) A fractional ownership program manager under subpart K of
this part may apply for a deviation from paragraphs (b)(2) through (5)
of this section for a particular over water operation or the
Administrator may amend the management specifications to require the
carriage of all or any specific items of the equipment listed in
paragraphs (b)(2) through (5) of this section.
         (d) The required life rafts, life preservers, and signaling
devices must be installed in conspicuously marked locations and easily
accessible in the event of a ditching without appreciable time for
preparatory procedures.
         (e) A survival kit, appropriately equipped for the route to
be flown, must be attached to each required life raft.
         (f) As used in this section, the term shore means that area
of the land adjacent to the water that is above the high water mark
and excludes land areas that are intermittently under water.
[Doc. No. 18334, 54 FR 34314, Aug. 18, 1989, as amended by Amdt.
91-280, 68 FR 54561, Sept. 17, 2003]

If you abide by this regulation, you should be covered for any other
country's regulations as well.

In order to fly to a foreign destination, you are required by U.S. law
to have a radio station license for your aircraft, and a Restricted
Radiotelephone Operator's Permit for at least one person aboard the
aircraft. You will have to fill out and submit several forms, and the
total cost will be between $50-100. There are provisions to fly with a
temporary permit before receiving your official documents, which can
take up to 90 days. Once issued, the permits are good for 10 years.

Information, including download links for required forms, is available
from the FCC here:
There is also a telephone number for more information: (202) 418-0680 

For all flights returning to the U.S. you will need: 

U.S.Customs Form 178 "Private Aircraft Enforcement System Arrival
Report" available here:

U.S. Customs Form 6059B for passengers returning to the US: sample
only available on Customs website, w/instructions.  

**You can pick up copies of this form at the US Customs Office, 4371
NW 150th Street, Building 126, Opa Locka, FL 33054.

AOPA also recommends US Customs Form 7507, "General Declaration
(Outward/Inward) Agriculture, Customs, Immigration and Public Health,"
to be completed for the flight by the PIC. Downloadable copy here:

OPF - Miami, FL, USA - Opa Locka IS a landing rights airport.  See:  
"U.S. Customs (Landing Rights Airport) 9:00 am - 10:00 pm, daily. One
hour advance notification required, through ATC (Extended hours
available upon advance request)."

FAA Form 7233-4, International Flight Plan can be obtained from several sources:

Detailed instructions for filling out the ICAO Flight Plan form: 


Here is information specific to the destinations you mentioned. It
includes entry requirements re: equipment and paperwork/documents;
frequencies; telephone numbers; specific procedures, and any other
locally pertinent information. Though you'll find some to be
redundant, most is the information that changes depending on your
destination. This is what you'll need to look for when customizing
your checklists for other places.

GRAND CAYMAN: OPF/KOPF (Opa Locka, FL) to GCM/MWCR (Owen Roberts
International Airport, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands)
1.All private and nonscheduled commercial aircraft overflying or
landing for commercial or noncommercial purposes must obtain prior
permission from the Director of Civil Aviation, Box 277 Grand Cayman,
Cayman Islands B.W.I. (Telegraphic Address: CIVAV GRAND CAYMAN; Telex:
260 CAYMAN GOV CP, ATTN: CIVIL AVIATION DEPT.) at least 24 hours prior
to departure. All requests must include:
       a. Name and address of aircraft operator.
       b. Aircraft type and registration marks.
       c. Point of departure and final destination.
       d. Complete inbound and outbound route of flight.
       e. Purpose of flight.
       f. Number of passengers and type and amount of cargo.
2. Proof of U.S. citizenship, photo ID, onward/return ticket, and
sufficient funds required for tourist stay of up to 6 months. Consult
the British Embassy for further information (202/588-7800).
--From the FAA Internat'l. Flight Information Manual -- Cayman

See U.S. State Dept."New requirements for travelers between the United
States and the Western Hemisphere"

Owen Roberts International IS an Airport of Entry (AOE)
IATA Identifier: GCM
ICAO Identifier: MWCR
Frequencies:  Grand Cayman App: 120.2
              Tower 118.0
              Ground 121.9
Hours: 1130 to 2330 Z
--From World Aero Data: 

I was unable to find downloadable customs forms online for Cayman
Islands. You will be able to obtain them on arrival. Good idea to ask
for extras for future trips.

Liquor -- 1 litre of spirits or 4 litres of wine or 8 litres of beer
Perfume -- reasonable for personal use 
Cameras -- no restrictions
Film -- reasonable for personal use
Agricultural items/currency/gifts -- refer to consulate
Note: pet owners require a permit from Cayman Island Dept. of Agriculture 
Prohibited: narcotics, firearms, live plants or plant cuttings and vegeteables 

FAA & NIMA IFR Caribbean and South American Low Altitude Enroute
Charts L3/4 and possibly L5/6.
  - One source is:
FAA VFR World Aeronatical Charts (WAC): CH-25, CJ-26 and possibly CJ-27. 
  - One source is:

--NOAA weather for Cayman Islands: 
--Cayman Weather:  

--U.S. State Department Consular information sheet - Cayman Islands:
--Check AOPA's International Airport Directory for a listing of
Airports of Entry (AOE):
--Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority 

JAMAICA: OPF/KOPF to MBJ/MKJS (Donald Sangster Internat'l.Airport,
Montego Bay, Jamaica)

"Passport or original birth or naturalization certificate and valid
driver's license or state-issued photo ID, onward or return ticket,
and proof of sufficient funds required."
--From FAA Internat'l. Flight Information Manual - Jamaica:

See U.S. State Dept."New requirements for travelers between the United
States and the Western Hemisphere"

Sangster International Airport (Montego Bay) IS an Airport of Entry  (AOE)
IATA Identifier: MBJ
ICAO Identifier: MKJS
  ATIS 115.6 
  APC 120.20 
  Tower 120.20 
  Unicom 123.0 
  Ground 121.9 
  VOR 115.6 GCM 
  NDB 344 ZIY 
Hours: 24 hour operations
From: and

- Jamaica Customs Dept. homepage:  Here
you can find the regulations and procedures, as well as download
forms. "CASE" stands for "Customs Automated Services Online."  It
works best with Internet Explorer, but if you use Netscape or Mozilla,
try this link instead:
- Landing fee $10.00 for aircraft < 4k lbs.
- Departure tax of $29.00

FAA & NIMA IFR Caribbean and South American Low Altitude Enroute
Charts L3/4 and possibly L5/6.  One source is:
FAA VFR World Aeronatical Charts (WAC): CH-25, CJ-26 and possibly
CJ-27.  One source is:

--NOAA weather for Jamaica: 
--Aviation meteorology information (including NOTAMs) is provided by
Aeronautical Information Services of the Civil Aviation Authority.
Call (876) 929-3552 or email

--U.S.State Department Consular Information Sheet - Jamaica:
--Check AOPA's International Airport Directory for a listing of
Airports of Entry (AOE):
--Jamaica's Civil Aviation Authority: 

BAHAMAS: OPF/KOPF to MHH/MYAM (Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas)

"Private aircraft overflying or landing for noncommercial purposes
need not obtain prior permission; however, prior notification is
required to the airport of arrival and a flight plan must be on file."
"Proof of U.S. citizenship, i.e., a passport (if you are using an
expired passport it cannot be expired more than 5 years) or original
or certified copy of a birth certificate with a photo ID, and
onward/return ticket required for stay of up to 8 months. Passport and
residence/work permit needed for residence and business. Permit
required for firearms and to import pets."
--From FAA International Flight Information Manual - Bahamas:

See U.S. State Dept."New requirements for travelers between the United
States and the Western Hemisphere"

Marsh Harbour IS an Airport of Entry (AOE)
IATA Identifier: MHH
ICAO Identifier: MYAM
   Unicom - 122.8
   Nassau Radio - 124.2
   Nassau App 128.0
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset
--Uncontrolled field: use standard procedures, i.e. enter pattern at
1000' AGL, left pattern unless otherwise, indicated, etc.
--Close flight plan on the ground with Miami FSS 800-432-4716 or 4717;
or 305-233-2600 if not in the air when frequency change approved by

Bahamas Customs procedures can be found here:
--The "Inward Declaration and Cruising Permit for Private Aircraft
Entering the Bahamas" (3 copies needed inbound) can be downloaded
here: or here:
--The "Aircraft General Declaration (Outward/Inward)" (1 copy needed
outbound) or "Immigration Card" is also needed for exit. Although the site says all forms are availble for download, this one
wasn't, so expect it to be given to you to fill out and turn in prior
to departure. Good idea to ask in advance.
--Marsh Harbour Customs telephone: 242-367-2522 or 242-367-2525 
--Departure tax of $15.00 must be paid at airport. 

--FAA & NIMA IFR Caribbean and South American Low Altitude Enroute
Charts L3/4 and possibly L5/6.  One source is:
--FAA VFR World Aeronatical Charts (WAC): CH-25, CJ-26 and possibly
CJ-27.  One source is:

--NOAA weather for Bahamas: 
--Abaco weather information: 

--Must file and cancel your flight plans at altitude with Nassau Radio
on 124.2 or 118.6
--U.S. State Department Consular Information Sheet - Bahamas:
--Check AOPA's International Airport Directory for a listing of
Airports of Entry (AOE):
--Much information about flying into Bahamas is provided here:
--"Flying by Priate Aircraft in the Bahamas" 
--Here you can purchase ($59.95) a "Bahamas Trip Kit" that contains
all the forms, both US and Bahamas, as well as charts and other
information you need to fly to Bahamas:

Turks and Caicos Islands)

"All private and nonscheduled commercial aircraft overflying or
landing for noncommercial purposes need not obtain prior approval;
however, a flight plan must be on file."
"All international traffic must clear customs at an international
aerodrome of entry before proceeding with the flight."
--From FAA Internat'l. Flight Information Manual - Turks and Caicos

See U.S. State Dept."New requirements for travelers between the United
States and the Western Hemisphere"

--Providenciales IS an Airport of Entry (AOE).
IATA Identifier: PLS
ICAO Identifier: MBPV
   Approach - 126.0
   Tower - 119.9
   Ground - 121.9
Hours: 1100 - 0100 Z
  --From World AeroData:
--More information: 
--Airport website: 

Turks and Caicos - Providenciales Airport Customs information and
contact numbers:

FAA & NIMA IFR Caribbean and South American Low Altitude Enroute
Charts L3/4 and possibly L5/6.  One source is:
FAA VFR World Aeronatical Charts (WAC): CH-25, CJ-26 and possibly
CJ-27.  One source is:

--NOAA weather for Turks and Caicos Islands:
--Local weather page with links: 

--U.S. State Department Consular Information Sheet - Turks and Caicos
--Check AOPA's International Airport Directory for a listing of
Airports of Entry (AOE):
--Turks and Caicos Islands (part of UK CAA): 


--Landings weather page. "Every Weather Link Known ... Aviation
Weather for Pilots:$pass*74013046!
--Landings Caribbean weather information page:$pass*73843568!
--USNavy Caribbean Weather:  
--Caribbean Hurricane Network:  (storm updates)
--NASA interactive satellite images (international):
--NASA Global Hydrology and Climate Center homepage: 
--Wind finder:  <-shows Cuba

     Main page:  
     Country listing:  
   - CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (CBP) "Guide for Private Flyers:"  
   - DUATS: DUATS (FAA's Direct User Access Terminal Services)
requires registration, and an access code and password, but is free to
all U.S. certified pilots. "This service provides direct access to
weather briefing, flight planning, and flight plan filing information
to allow pilots to obtain a self briefing and file a flight plan prior
to flying." If you do not have a DUATS account, I strongly urge you to
get one, as this is an invaluable service.  
You may also register for an access DUAT via AOPA's website, here:

   Main page: 
   Miscellaneous documents and forms:

   Main page: 
   Virtual Flight Bag: 
   International operations:

   "Airports of Entry - Caribbean"  This contains Miami Center
frequencies for uncontrolled airports as well as a lot of other useful

AIRPORT CODES - IATA (3-letter) ICAO (4-letter)
   IATA Codes for Caribbean airports:   
   ICAO Codes for Caribbean airports:
   Overview of Caribbean airports: 

   -Jeppesen: Click on "products and services"
and then enter "caribbean" as a search term to see their line of
   -FAA National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO):

   - The "bible" of Caribbean flying is the Bahamas & Caribbean
Pilot's Guide by John and Betty Obradovich, published every November 1
by . This contains photos of every airport
that are very helpful when ATC calls to ask if you've got the airport
in sight. The guide has useful frequencies and phone numbers as well
as some tourist information and advertisements.

   - Personal advice from a seasoned flyer - covers Bahamas, Turks and
Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands (St.
Thomas), British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St.Martin/St.Maarten, Key
West, FL,  

This site has very good, useful information on flight planning for
international destinations in general: 

Global Operators Flight Information Resource is geared toward
commercial and charter operators, but has a lot of good information: 


Search strategy:

I made use of both personal bookmarks, and targeted search terms to
include all the listed destinations, "Caribbean," such as
[Cuban overflight permit]
[flight planning]
[private flying]
[entry requirements]
[aeronautical charts] and so forth, combined in turn with "caribbean"
and each country, using "OR."

I searched the FAA website in depth for information pertaining to
international flights in general and the Caribbean in particular.

I used AOPA's flight instructor database to locate CFIs in the Miami
area, then emailed them all. From among the replies received, I
obtained additional information, telephone numbers for more
information, as well as several possible co-pilots who met the
requested criteria. I did the same with flight schools.

I called a number of leads for Cuban overflight permit handlers,
eventually locating those listed.

I read the International section on AOPA's flight planning website,
including the "International Landing Facilities" document, the
International Flight Plan Form, and other documents.

Then, for weather sources, in addition to those I either already had
or found by the above means, I used additional search terms:
[aviation weather caribbean]
[real time weather caribbean]
[aviation weather graphics caribbean]

Clarification of Answer by byrd-ga on 01 Jul 2005 05:39 PDT
Dear sl7-ga,

You're most welcome! And thank you for the kind words, five stars, and
very generous tip! What a nice way to start my day!

There are just a couple of things I'd like to add. First, I would have
done so before, but didn't receive permission until the answer had
posted, so I'd like to belatedly, but gratefully credit Captain Luis
Rodriguez of Merlin Airways for the valuable information he so
graciously and freely shared, especially with regard to Cuban
overflight procedures and dealing with U.S. Customs. He was one of the
CFIs I emailed and, though he's not currently available for private
work, he nevertheless took the time to reply, which was very generous
of him.

And one more thing: although I have posted the link in several places,
I feel like I ought to doubly emphasize the importance of being sure
that you and any passengers do have U.S. Passports when traveling out
of the country. Our laws have changed since 9/11 such that, even
though another country might not require a passport, and would be
happy with some other proof of citizenship or identity, the U.S. now
requires a passport in order to get back into the country. Please be
sure to check the revised U.S. State Dept. "New requirements for
travelers between the United States and the Western Hemisphere" I sure wouldn't
want you or anyone else to get stuck in some sort of bureaucratic
limbo due to traveling without a passport.

Thank you again for your generosity, and happy flying! 

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by sl7-ga on 01 Jul 2005 07:03 PDT
This is not a "clarification request", you did an amazing job
answering my question, but I though I would ask you if you could help
me with a related issue.  You did a terrific job finding local pilots
that could fly copilot with me in my Cirrus SR-22 on my initial
international flights.  I also am rated in and own a Citation 501-SP,
which is a small business jet that is rated for single pilot
operation.  I am rated to fly the Citation 501-SP single pilot but all
of my training experience has been with a copilot or on a Flight
Safety simulator.  Since I trained out of state, I wondered if you
could help me find several pilots who would be willing to fly training
missions with me out of Opa Locka in a Citation 501 and who are rated,
current and experienced in the Citation 501. I would like to make this
a $100 question, but I would like to have you answer it rather than
putting it up for auction, because you did such a great job with my
other flight related question.

Clarification of Answer by byrd-ga on 01 Jul 2005 07:49 PDT
Hi sl7-ga,

I am honored by your confidence in me, and would be delighted to
assist you in finding someone to fly with you in your Citation.
However, due to the constraints of this service, I believe you will
need to open a new question, as I'm fairly certain you cannot add
anything extra to this one by way of payment.

But what you can do is to open another question, and put in the
subject line, "For Byrd-ga only" or similar wording. Although that
doesn't absolutely prevent another Researcher from locking the
question, it does make it very unlikely, as we are instructed and
expected to honor such requests and not lock any question so
designated for someone else. If you want to see who has your question
locked, you can go to the main answer board, and hover your mouse over
the little lock icon, whereupon you'll see a little popup identifying
the holder of the lock.  So if you'd like to go ahead and do that,
I'll be watching for it.

If/when you do, could you please elaborate a bit as to hat type of
training missions you have in mind? Were you wanting to fly for, say,
an hour or two at a time, or did you also want to do longer
cross-country trips, or both?  And how often would you be wanting to
fly -- once a week, or more or less?

Thank you again for the further assignment. I'll get started on it
right away, and watch for your question to be posted!

sl7-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $100.00
Thank you Byrd-ga for a masterful answer.

Subject: Re: International Flights in Private Planes
From: omnivorous-ga on 18 Jun 2005 09:02 PDT
Sl7 --

You may be interested in the following FAA document:

"North Atlantic International General Aviation Operations Manual" (2004)

Services have changed quite a bit (with Jeppesen leaving the business
of supporting international flyers with a document & weather service)
but these two pilots' accounts about flying around the world in a
Mooney are particularly interesting.  Reed Prior had some particular
problems with flying from the Carribean which he doesn't document in
the website:

Flemming Pedersen

Margrit Waltz is an international ferry pilot and I wrote this linked
account of a presentation of hers.  I believe that she's located in
eastern Pennsylvania but could not find her in a Google search.  (You
might want to try aviation-specific databases.):

Best regards,

Subject: Re: International Flights in Private Planes
From: byrd-ga on 20 Jun 2005 17:54 PDT
Hi Sl7-ga,  

Just a couple of extra tidbits to add here: 

I have a pal who's flown with the Cayman Caravan for a number of years
now. The way they describe it is, "It's a highly organized fly-in from
Key West to Grand Cayman." The Caravan goes every year in June to
coincide with International Aviation Week, meaning it's too late to
join this year's. However, there is a lot of information on their
website about not only the caravan, but flight in the region as well.
Sections of their website include this page on overflying Cuba:  If I were going to attempt
such a flight, I think I'd want to at least check in with them - these
folks know what they're doing!

Also, if you're an AOPA member, don't overlook their services. They
have quite a bit of info on the site in the Members section. For
example, they keep a current file of trip reports from pilots flying
in the Caribbean.

Headline on today's page says,
"AOPA has received reports from members who have received "flight
information region (FIR)" bills from the International Handlers
Association. The bill states that the International Handlers
Association is authorized by Cubaņa Airlines to charge the air
navigation fee since a U.S. citizen cannot send money directly to
Cuba. The fee (usually U.S. $190.66 for a Cuban overflight to/from
Mexico) is sent to aircraft using air traffic control services to
overfly Cuba or for flying oceanic routes assigned to the Republic of

A search will bring up more info, plus your membership buys you online
and telephone phone flight planning assistance for destinations both
international and domestic, including the Bahamas and General
Caribbean. Check it out here:

Blue skies and tailwinds,
Subject: Re: International Flights in Private Planes
From: jbf777-ga on 21 Jun 2005 08:43 PDT
sl7 -

In the future, you can use the clarification request process before
rating an answer.  A researcher will always be glad to further look
into a question and rectify any issues (within reason).  I will take a
look and see if I can distill overflying Cuba into a 1-2-3 process.


Subject: Re: International Flights in Private Planes
From: jbf777-ga on 21 Jun 2005 08:47 PDT
Take a look at the bottom of that one link I provided on Cuba:


From what I can see, instructions and requirements for overflying Cuba
are enumerated as you request.  Let me know if there's anything



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