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Sun & Fun
Sun & Fun
2001 Bahamas CFO Flyout
Since CFO started we have been talking about doing a fly-out, where we all get together and go somewhere interesting, rather than the usual fly-in where we all come to someone's favorite spot. The place we always had in mind to try this theory was the Bahamas. |
Note: the picture to the right is the first sign of land as you fly to the Bahamas.. you see this with a sense of relief about 30 minutes after leaving the Florida shoreline.
The nice thing about the Bahamas is that it's a bit of a pilot's secret. The commercial airlines go to the big Bahamian cities, which as a result are fairly crowded. The boaters have found the Bahamas, but they stick to the inner islands, closer to Florida as the boat floats.
But pilots can spend an extra 15 or 20 minutes and get to the out islands, where the crowds thin out, the atmosphere gets more relaxed and the only boaters are the long-term, laid-back ones. Or very rich.
Finally Palmer took the bull by the horns and suggested a time and destination. He even flew over ahead of time to work out the details, and we put a signup page on the web. The location he recommended was the Abaco Beach Resort at Marsh Harbor.|
In all 19 people and 6 aircraft made the trip. The aircraft flown ranged from a '68 fixed gear to two couples who had to stoop to a 310 for the trip. At least it was still a Cessna, so we welcomed them in spite of their defection.
Jimmy Honeycutt sent a nice report to the digest shortly after returning. I've taken the liberty of adding a few pictures to his report:
We had a great time! The weather was good, the hotel was excellent, the
food was great, and the company was outstanding. I counted 21 people that
arrived in 6 Cardinals and one nice Cessna 310. My count is probably off
because we let our 4 neighbors in the 310 join us...IF.. they bought us
drinks...Who can count after that!!! |
Our neighbors are very impressed that Cardinal people are so loyal to their
planes, and so anxious to get together for fly-ins, and want to talk about
their planes so much. It was great to see all those Cardinals sitting on
the ramp at Marsh Harbour. Maybe next time we can have a whole ramp full!
Palmer put together a very laid back agenda, and Sandy and I and our 4
neighbors in the 310 stayed 2 days extra. By the way, Palmer, we got a good
look at your departure...very professional! |
Saturday night we had a big banquet at Mangoes and everybody ate too much,
but none of us were sorry. We feasted on roasted Grouper, and especially
Conch, pronounced "Konk." That's the local fare and we ate it roasted,
grilled, deep fried, steamed, and pounded (makes a hell of a sandwich.)
Conch soup is a good way to start a Conch meal. Next time we'll eat more.
On Sunday, some of us took the ferry to Hope Town, on Elbow Cay, and had
the Sunday Champagne brunch. If you go to Marsh Harbour, please go to Hope
Town. It's worth the visit and the lighthouse still works and is very
pretty. Some of us left Sunday, and our departures were all staggered, and
Sandy and I "put out the lights," by being the last plane off the ground on
For any of you that have "reservations" about flying overwater, I highly
recommend that you revisit your thoughts. The distance from Palm Beach
shoreline to the western Grand Bahama shore is only about 50 miles. (This
is land to land...not VOR to VOR, etc.) A Cardinal is only overwater for 23
minutes or so! Island weather prevails, and the clouds are usually
scattered puffy cumulus type. Next time we want to stay longer.
Jimmy and Sandy Honeycutt 76 RG N177BS
The Marsh Harbor airport was a normal Bahamian airport, in fact it was not unlike any airport in the states. Perhaps the pavement was not quite as smooth, and there was a shortage of paint strips and runway lights, but they don't fly at night in the bahamas anyway. |
It was a bit crowded when we arrived, we were hard pressed to find a place to park. But by the time we departed and took this picture it had thinned out quite a bit. Honeycutt's airplane is still visible in this picture if you know where to look.
The resort also shows well from the air. There were a number of boats in the harbor, we were told that the fishing contests were just about to start so most of the boats in the area were serious about fishing.|
There was a small beach, a lot of docks and a pool area with a bar. You can guess where Palmer suggested we all get together. :-)
Everyone in the Bahamas was very relaxed, so the pace of arrival was gentle, well in keeping with the theme of relaxation. As we checked in the clerk mentioned CFO and
gave us the special group rate. Palmer had done a great job!
Once we got to our room it started to sink in.. we were really in the Bahamas now. The porch looked out over this nice view, and we could hear the surf washing up on the beach and the wind rustling through the palm trees. It was a mixed blessing.. nice to hear the tropical sounds but distracting enough to make sleep light. We'd love to be able to spend enough time there to get used to it. |
Along the way we learned more about the hurricane that had passed through this part of the islands a couple of years ago. It had removed the roof from this hotel and flattened much of the rest of the island. The Bahamian government had responded by removing the duty on imported building materials, leading to a rebuilding boom that was still underway.
As a result there were many new buildings going up and a lot of fresh paint on the island. And the trees and natural elements that made this the bahamas remained, in some cases growing at an angle but generally quite normal looking.
As planned, there was a group of Cardinal Flyers at the poolside bar. Palmer explained to everyone that he was protecting us all from a bad batch of rum by consuming it all, and the rest of us compared notes on the trip. |
Of course the conversations quickly turned to all the little details we got to thinking about in our flight.. the new radio we'd like to have, or how nice our new interior feels on long trips. It was nice to sit and relax and just chat about things, nowhere special to be. Quite a change from 'normal' life. |
Presently we gathered ourselves and moved to the restaurant for supper. The menu was varied but tended toward seafood, with conch ever present as the local staple. We ordered and ate at the same relaxed pace while the sun set outside the windows that surround us on three sides. |
I had the feeling that the other folks in the restaurant wondered which of the many huge yachts in the harbor we had all come over on. This was clearly a unique hideaway that we had gathered at.
Our morning started with the passage of the cold front that had been dealt with by several of us the day before. It's passage was rumored and speculated about.. my last contact with Flight Service had included their prediction that it would never drop down far enough to affect us. |
In the end it was only a rain shower, quickly passing and leaving only fresh air and sunny skies behind. We spent a little time enjoying the pattern of the raindrops on the water and indulging the locals who were very pleased to get water for their grass and trees.
Many of the group headed into town to check out the shopping and restaurant options. A few of us walked over to Mermaid Reef to check out the prospects for some snorkeling. Along the way we learned that the Bahamians have quite a sense of humor.|
Perhaps it is an indication we've been up north too long, but it took us a minute to realize that this sign didn't belong there.
When we returned we learned that the shopping crowd had found a great restaurant for supper and made reservations for 19 at Mangos. |
As became our routine, we gathered near the pool and walked over as a group once everyone had arrived. We had the full range of ages, from our 10 and 12 year olds to a smattering of teenagers to the rest of us, all teenagers at heart.
Mangos was another great place to get a great meal, again with Conch as the featured item. Someone said they had seen a lady down the street selling Conch out the back of her pickup truck, people hauling it away by the bucketful.
The meal sped by as the conversation continued. We learned that these were not the kind of people that one grows weary of quickly. Perhaps the initial common element of owning the same aircraft was the key, but we found many areas of similarity and mutual interest. The talk ranged widely and it took a little resolve to push back from the table and start the short walk back to the hotel. |
One topic of conversation was the little details we noticed about being in a nautical culture. In fact, take a close look at the picture to the right.. notice the brilliant white spot near the upper right corner? This kind of thing happens in snapshots, I forget to look for mirrors or windows that reflect the flash. With digital images I usually paint them out, in fact I painted several such defects from the pictures show in this report.
But this is not a mirror or window, it is the collar of the fellow at the next table. It is coated, or lined, with a highly reflective material of some sort. It looked normal in the room, but every flash picked it up like a searchlight. |
You can imagine how handy this could be if you were looking for him in a dark ocean. It makes me wonder what sorts of details we should be prepared with or items we should be carrying as we traverse the same environment, albeit at much higher altitudes.
Perhaps we shall learn this at the CFO convention in North Carolina in July, which will have a survival equipment theme.
One of the local dishes put the ubiquitous conch into that most American of meals, the Hamburger. This is a Conchburger and Fries, available for lunch at most places at a cost of around $9.
By the way, the bahamians would accept either Bahamian or US dollars at a 1:1 exchange rate, but we noticed that we always got change in Bahamian dollars. Somehow I have to think that the exchange rate was not quite as equal as we were led to believe.
Most people left the next day, but we, like Honeycutts, chose to stay an extra day. It was great fun to watch the Cardinals fly over the resort as they departed. I wish I'd had my video camera ready to capture it.. the Cardinal is a pretty airplane in any setting but they really added a nice touch as they played hide and seek through the palm trees overhead.|
Just as the Honeycutts took a side trip, we took the ferry over to Guana Cay to experience the pig roast at Nippers, the famous bar there.
In fact that's about all that is on that island, but we enjoyed walking around the little houses and chatting with one couple that were recommended to us by Jose Latour. The final details of his recent repairs kept him from being there as planned, but we enjoyed visiting and learning how the hurricane had impacted this couple and their island. They said there was not a stick standing after the big blow, but it had all sprung back quickly.
Of course this may have explained the prices.. the Bahamas were not inexpensive. It cost $60 to close out the tab from our family of four at Nippers, just lunch and a few sodas. We wandered down the beach and got in a good afternoon of family beach time. The kids learned to outrun the waves, build sand castles and bargain with the locals for Conch shells. A good time for all.
All good things much end, and this is especially true of vacations. Our flight home was uneventful, and our adventures with US Customs were painless.|
We did enjoy this combination of signs, an indication perhaps of how well our various government regulations fit together.
Overall we had a great time, well worth our trip down from Illinois. We appreciated the help in making the jump over to the islands, the motivation of the group doing it together and the research that Palmer did to make it go so smooth logistically.
We also learned a few things that we intend to incorporate into future CFO fly-outs. Yes, we will be doing this again, and spreading it out as well.
We've already been talking with Tony Williams about making the Baja trip an annual CFO fly-out and and it would not surprise me if the Bahamas trip might do the same. After that, who knows? Various Cardinal owners have expressed an interest in leading a group to Alaska, or Costa Rica.. who knows?
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