The Bahamas’ exhibit at the 65thAnnual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Fly In and Convention, held July 23-31, 2017 at the Wittman Regional Airport in OshKosh, Wisconsin was incredibly successful”, says Greg Rolle, pilot and Sr. Director, of Sports and Vertical Markets, Ministry of Tourism & Aviation.

According to organizers of EAA, the weeklong event, which included over 500 industry exhibitors, more than 500,000 aviation enthusiasts, and in excess of 15,400 airplanes, exceeded all previous years records.

Once again, the Islands of The Bahamas, made up of representatives from the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, the Department of Civil Aviation, Bahamas Customs, Royal Bahamas Police Force and Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board, was prominently and exclusively featured at the International Federal Partnership (IFP) Pavilion, alongside 12 other U. S. government federal agencies.

Captain Rolle, who is the only non-North American to have ever served as Chairman of the influential IFP body, said, “the Bahamas plays a vital role and is a well respected member of the organization”. 

The number one Caribbean destination for general aviation (GA) flights, the Bahamas produces  $387 million dollars per year in GA revenue. 

“Each year we have seen continued interest in The Bahamas, pilots confidence, growth, renewed vigor and touristic opportunities for our country, as a direct result of our participation at OshKosh”.

“Year after year, we continue to build on and enjoy a great working relationship and strong partnership with our U. S. counterparts, which, have resulted in our countries benefiting substantially from it”, says Rolle.

Located just 55 nautical miles off the coast of Florida, The Bahamas is well positioned for the millions of visitors that frequent our shores; 85 % of which comes from the U. S. A.  Therefore, it behooves us to continue to work closely with our U. S.

partners; our geographical locations demand that we do and the tremendous success that we have had is a testament to our strong relationship”.

“Additionally like the U. S., we share similar challenges and endeavor to maximize operational resources and effectiveness, in our territories”, he said.

“In bringing our police, customs and civil aviation teams together, at such a major event, like OshKosh, we demonstrate a unified front and send a clear message, internally and externally, of our commitment to bettering our tourism and aviation industry, in the areas of training, safety, surveillance, rescue and overall operations” said Rolle.

The Islands of the Bahamas was also featured during radio broadcasts with WEAA Radio, EAA P.A. system and on Florida Aviation Television Network.  Thousands of visitors stopped at its booth to receive additional information about the 700 islands destination. 

Some 300 plus pilots, most of whom, are scheduled to fly into the Bahamas, attended “Flying Into The Bahamas” seminars, which were conducted by Captain Rolle and Bahamas flying ambassador, Rick Gardiner.

“Events such as EAA AirVenture OshKosh provides us with an opportunity to learn first hand, in advance, of any new changes and or regulations planned for the industry.  It also provides us with an opportunity to carefully plan, strategize, implement and execute quickly the necessary programs to circumvent fallouts, ensure efficiency and maximize effectiveness”, he said.

“In 2005 when the FAA changed its regulations for pilots flying experimental aircrafts into the USA, we quickly adopted those regulations, and was the first international country to allow experimental aircrafts, bearing air worthy certificates to fly into The Bahamas.  That decision has benefited our family islands, its hotels and people incredibly well”, said Rolle.

At OshKosh last year, news of the impending changes to pilots’ BasicMed set out by the FAA was one of the key concerns expressed by pilots. In May 2017, the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) announced that The Bahamas had become the first international country to adopt the FAA regulation and welcomed pilots with BasicMeds.  Given to non-commercial pilots flying no more than five passengers per aircraft, with a takeoff weight of less than 6,000 pounds, pilots are allowed to serve as chief pilot without a third class medical certificate.  This decision has allowed AOPA’s 400,000 member pilots to continue flying to the Bahamas for vacation.  AOPA will conduct a fly in to the Viva Wyndham Fortuna Resort in Grand Bahama and Fernandez Bay Village in Cat Island, October 27-28, 2017.

Pilots at this year’s OshKosh show have expressed concerns over the FAA’s impending changes that aircrafts operating in most controlled U. S. air space be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) system, to transmit surveillance information about the aircraft in flight or while on the ground. The regulation is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2020.

At the 2016 OskKosh Conference, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded The Bahamas the first “Weather Ready Nation Ambassador”, a designation given to countries committed to the education, preparedness and protection of its citizenry, visitors and communities during weather conditions. 

NOAA is currently working on plans to train, educate and provide resources to meteorologists in the Bahamas. 

Media Contact: D. Earnestine Moxyz | Bahamas Ministry of Tourism | | 954-236-9292