When a family wedding beckoned from Chicago, our first thought was to book airline tickets because it’s too far to fly for a weekend. But then Jean and I got to talking.
Think of all the sights to see and friends to visit within flying range of Chicago. And soon, Where shall we go this time? In short order, a weekend wedding trip blossomed into a full-fledged flying vacation to three states and Canada.
Canada! Consider your feelings when flying into a new-to-you state. Now make that destination Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean and you’ve got one memorable trip.
This would be our first foreign border crossing by private aircraft since 9/11, and security procedures would accordingly be more complicated and stringent than before. I might have waited too long to start planning, if not for chatting a month before the trip with pilot Mark Harris who routinely flies into Mexico.
“Don’t linger ordering your customs decal, and enrolling in the eAPIS program you’ll need when crossing the border,” he counseled. “Those can take time.” Immediately, I tapped into AOPA’s excellent “Flying to Canada” web and video resources, and began submitting the requisite applications.
Every aircraft crossing US borders must have a current Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CPB) decal. These annual stickers cost only $27.50, but can take several weeks to receive. In addition, pilots must pre-file crew, passenger, aircraft, and itinerary information for each crossing via CPB’s “Electronic Advance Passenger Information System” (eAPIS) web site. While individual trip manifests can be filed as little as an hour before takeoff, the required pre-registration can take up to a week for email confirmation.
I’d also need a restricted radiotelephone operators permit for international travel, and a radio station license for the Flying Carpet. Canadian charts and GPS navigator database are of course required, and aircraft insurance certificate. Non-aviation planning included current passports, international cellphone and data service, informing our credit card issuers, and medical insurance coverage…
**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, “O, Canada“**
Photo: “Downtown Toronto, Canada, and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (CYTZ, commonly known as the Toronto Island Airport)”
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2016 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!