Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day Trip To The Martinique Carnaval

On Tuesday, we took a quick day trip from Nevis to Martinique for the carnaval. This fun event provided some interesting flying lessons.

Leaving a Caribbean airport takes much more time than it should. The day prior requires some preparation, like filing a manifest in Caribbean eAPIS. It's unfortunate that the US DHS tyranny is spreading to international destinations. There are fines if it is not used, but none of the individual customs agents we dealt with seemed to know or care. France provides excellent free charts to TFFF in a single downloadable PDF.

The G1000's database was again incorrect in several respects. At TFFF, only one of three ILS 9 approaches are available. The Final Approach Fix was wrong. When flying internationally, it is critical to verify the printed chart again the G1000 encodings.

The following day was the carnaval's last. Nicolas Sarkozy was scheduled to visit (most likely due a succession vote that failed the prior month) so security was especially vigilant. Upon arrival, we were met by a police man who effectively gave me my first ramp check, anywhere. We produced all our documents, and he was glad for my functional French.

Once past this, we cleared customs and immigration in just a few minutes, much faster than the British heritage islands.

The carnaval is mostly a local event, with everyone on the streets dressed in red on this devil day. I've never felt so white and obvious. I took to the moniker of "banane" with endearment.

After paying for fuel in cash, we headed back to Nevis, overflying the Montserrat volcanic ash, and then dropping at 4000' / min for a dusk landing with 6 minutes to spare before the night limit.

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