- Jim and Jimmy -- FBO co-owner and his son
- Pete and Doug -- Flybuddies
- Tom and Diane -- New pilot and his wife
- Grant and Leslie -- Flying couple
- Ben and Pam -- The Boating set
- Ken and Matt -- Ringers
- Grady and Jim Z -- Rotorheads
Jim, Grant, and Pete were looking at potential islands and places to stay right up until a week before we were to leave. What is it about pilots being totally indecisive when on the ground? We'd each break off on our own, investigate, check things out, then get together and not be able to remember who told us what! At the end, though, it all came together into a pretty good plan. Of course, we must be flexible, because things can change at the last moment!
The Trip Down
As with many of our trips, plans were fluid until the last minute. So much so that we didn't know for sure that Ben, Pam, and Matt were definitely joining us until the Thursday morning when we left. And we only had reservations through the first weekend. We had expected to have Grady and Jim Z. with us in the R44, but they opted to put off launching so that Jim Z. could take his private pilot checkride that Saturday. (He passed. Congratulations!) So there were five planes launching from Clow on Thursday morning. Determined to be first to Fort Pierce, FL, our designated jumping-off point, Pete and Dougie launched at about 6AM in the Skyhawk. The trip down was wonderfully uneventful. We had good tailwinds just about all the way to Florida. We almost hit 200Kt in the 182 on the descent into Athens Ben Epps in the Atlanta area. In Florida, we headed south along the Atlantic coast, which afforded a good view of the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.
When we got to Fort Pierce, the FBO (Volo Aviation) is attached to the Tiki Hut, actually a bar & restaurant. The folks at the FBO are very helpful. We ordered fuel for the planes, and they called the Sandhurst Hotel, which sent out Sam in his taxi to pick us up. In Ft. Pierce, they were having the annual Navy SEAL Muster at the US Navy SEAL Museum. We got to talk to some of the former SEALs at the hotel.
Most of us were there in plenty of time for dinner. Sam, the folks at Volo Aviation, and the folks at the Sandhurst agreed that Chuck's was the place to go. It was just a little down AIA, but there was construction along there, and we felt better taking a taxi. So the hotel called Sam, and he came and shuttled us over to the restaurant. Ken, Tom and Diane joined us just before dinner. Afterward, we headed over to the Tiki Bar, where Matt, Pam and Ben joined us hoping to get a bite to eat. The kitchen had already closed, but they were able to get some appetizers. We helped close the bar, along with some of the SEALS who had jumped at the Chicago Air and Water show the year before.
After that late night we were still planning to get to Cat Island by noon, so we headed back to the hotel, and launched for the airport at 8AM.