Friday, 16 August 2013

Battle plans part 2

The scope of what we are attempting finally hit me when we got our delivery of US sectional charts. Once we cross the border into the US we are literally flying from one edge of the chart to the other.

I repeat, GULP!
Taking it one step at a time, we start off by looking at the initial Canada to US stage. The navigation here is not too onerous, basically following the shoreline around. Our first stop is in a town called Waterton, in New York State. Chosen because it has an airport(!) and is just over the border.

Flying into the USA is perfectly doable, it just requires some preplanning and paperwork. A month or so ago RTH did a flight with his instructor to Buffalo, NY in order to get some experience of the process. I’m probably forgetting half the stuff but here is what I remember

1)      Your plane has to have a US customs Decal – this means we are taking GSAR as it is the only one that currently has one.

2)      You have to clear customs at your first point of landing – this is why we picked Waterton (ART), as it has full US customs. You should clear customs ASAP after crossing the border, in case you have to make an unexpected landing

3)      You need to file a flight plan, with Both Canada and USA, giving the time and point where you will be crossing over

4)      You have to fill in something called eAPIS, stands for something like Advance Passenger Information System. You can do this online. You create an account with your profile and just submit it whenever you fly crossborder.

5)      You need to let US customs know you are coming.

On paper it looks like a lot but I’m reliably informed by both Bob and RTH that it isn’t. The most important thing to remember is that once you land in the US, you stay in the plane until they tell you otherwise!
Getting as far as the US border, as I’ve said, isn’t going to be a major navigational feat. We’ll file a flight plan and pick up flight following as soon as we are airborne, our rough route is marked in green in the picture. The only potential hiccup is around Trenton, ON.

Trenton is both a good and a bad place for General Aviation. It is where the Joint Search and Rescue facilities are based; if you go down (or forget to close your flight plan) this is where the action starts! It is also military restricted airspace. Depending on what’s going on at the time it is possible they may just clear us through their airspace; otherwise there are two standard routings you might get given. These are marked in blue on our chart.

I’ve taken the time to study our route carefully and I think I’m fairly OK with this leg as far as Waterton.

The next phase is going to be far more interesting!

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