Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Florida and the Bahamas from sea level to 1000 feet, Part 4

On part 4 of the series, we will be slowly heading back towards our departure airport in South-Florida. The trip is far from over yet, since we still have 2 more flying days covering about 1000 km back to the mainland US. 

2011 Pic(k) of the week 46: It is better in the Bahamas
Leaving Long Island on a North Westerly course we initially headed towards the Exumas, a more than 200 km long island chain, consisting mainly of tiny little islands or "cays". 

Exuma waters
The turquoise colored waters make the Exumas the most scenic region of the Bahamas for aerial photography.

Heaven in the Exumas
Without doubt is must also be heaven for sailors and motorboat fans. The water is so clear that the bottom of the ocean (20m to 30m depth) can be seen from 1000 ft. A sight not to be forgotten!

Staniel Cay airport, Exumas, Bahamas
We stopped for coffee at Staniel Cay where we had a look around the Staniel Cay Yacht club.  A place which was recommended to us by several GA pilots, but where there unfortunately was no place to accommodate us for the night...

Staniel Cay Yacht club, Exumas, Bahamas
The colorful cottages surely look interesting. If only we had more time...

For lunch, we stopped at Norman's Cay; a small island in the North part of the Exumas, with plenty of "drug smuggling history". Carlos Lehder, co-founder of the Columbian drug cartel Medellin, setup his cocaine transport empire at this Cay in 1978. With armed guards, Dobberman attack dogs and even a radar station, he completed occupied the island. In 1982, under pressure from US law enforcement, and despite years of turning a blind eye, the Bahamian government began to crack down on the activities at Norman's Cay, ultimately confiscating Lehder's land. His life sentence plus 135 years, was reduced to 55 years after he testified agains Manuel Noriega and he is still in jail today.

Ditched Curtis C-46 near Norman's Cay, Bahamas
Just East of Norman's Cay, I photographed this Curtiss C-46 which ran out of fuel in 1980. The full story was part of my Pic(k) of the week 47 and with now over 13.000 (yes) views at my 500px site has without doubt become the most popular image of the trip!

Delivering goods at Norman's Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Now that Norman's Cay is a safe tourist heaven again, small aircraft like this Beechcraft Barron, fly in food and supplies from the US. 

Our last 36 hours on the Bahamas and some closing thoughts will be in part 5 of the series.

Till then click that shutter,

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