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Last minute advice?

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I am leaving June 8 for the Caymans and would like some last minute advice. I am departing from Lansing, Il and filing direct to Cross City, Fl, filling up, then filing direct to Key West.

I was wondering if it made a difference when I get the Cuban overfly permit, should I do it now or can I wait until I am in the Keys?

Are there any surprises such as STARs into the keys or is it usually direct routing? I flew to the Bahamas last November without any problems but this trip is different.

Am I going to hit the crab hatch I heard about at this time? Will I have to fly the DME arc if its VMC? Any suggestions would be much appreciated. I have all the PFD's and a raft, electrical tape for big N-numbers for re-entry and a Visa..........Thanks!
I would apply for the permit in a few weeks in advance, in case you run into any snags. You will need to list the permit number in the remarks section of the international flight plan you will file in Key West. Have you considered Marathon Key? It is not quite as busy and does not take you quite as far west and is almost as far south. Also, it would be good to familiarize yourself with the international flight plan before you go to file it. It is more detailed and the equipment suffixes are different. Don't forget that all the altitudes out over the water are flight levels, because the altimeter will be 29.92 as there are no stations to report the a local altimeter setting. There is a VOR and an NDB right next to the airport. I filed to the station and just took a left base into the airport. Unless you are taking something pressurized, plan on operating in a non-radar environment once you get south of Cuba. I also recommend a handheld radio and a handheld GPS in tough plastic bag or some other sort of water proof container. Should you find yourself in the raft, it is nice to be able to give your exact position. Getting handed off the Havana Approach for the first time is a nice little thrill. Take lots of pictures and be sure to let us know how it goes. Have fun.
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The cubans have much more accomodating in the last few years, but they may be fickel, especially since the latest round of rhetoric from Bush and Castro. I'd have a back-up plan. There are also services that will arrange the overflight permit for you - I would not try to do it yourself the first time. I hear the cost can vary as well. One of the services I'm sure is UVair - Universal Aviation which will also help with flight planning.

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