In our next holiday, my wife and me want to combine some flying with discovering a new country. We had originally thought of a flying safari in South Africa, but postponed this since the costs of aircraft rental and lodges simply exceed the budget. We are now thinking of 2 weeks in and around Florida in spring 2016 (most likely April).
Does anyone have experience with aircraft rental there? I have so far sent an email to Florida Flyers, who seem to have attractive planes at attractive prices, but have not heard back from them.
Do you have special recommendations for destinations?
One thing I definitely want do over there is a P51 ride at Stallion 51.. I’ve dreamed about this since building 1:48 scale Mustangs when I was a boy …
I can heartily recommend http://atlasaviationinc.com in Tampa. I rented a PA28 from them in 2012, going Bahamas – Puerto Rico – St Maarten – St Vincent – Curacao – Dominican Rep – Bahamas – Tampa over three weeks. We agreed a dry rate of about 90 UsD or so. You will want to speak to Deric Dymerski. Tell me if you need an intro. As a general note most FBOs require the IFR ratings for Bahamas flights. I can help with Bahamas ideas and general organisation if needed.
If you want to reconsider South Africa, I can also help with where to rent and where to go without going thru an organised safari. It’s actually quite easy. This is a short vid of one of our adventures:
In wich part of Florida you are looking to pick up the aircraft ? I might be able to give you some tips in Miami Area.
We will most likely fly to Miami since there are direct flights from Vienna.
Sorry if this is unhelpful, but I find the scenery in Florida quite boring. Especially on the east coast; the west coast has some more interesting bits and pieces. But generally, after a couple of hours, it will all repeat itself again and again. Same on the ground.
You might want to consider Arizona (Phoenix) instead. There you have the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, Lake Mead, Sedona, Payson, Meteor Crater, etc. all within a few flying hours. California is also interesting, but the weather is more challenging.
Re renting in in the US in general, my impression is that the situation has gone downhill dramatically over the last 10 years:
-lots of rental places have gone bust
-those that remain tend to have very boring, uniform fleets nowadays. In earlier days, a flying holiday in the US used to be a nice occasion to fly something interesting, like, say, a Mooney, a Bonanza or a 182RG. Very rare nowadays.
-few places seem to be keen on renting an aircraft to unknown people for multiple-day trips nowadays.
Also, with the dollar up, and considering that
-you will have to pay sales tax on your rentals
-you will want to take out renter’s insurance
are you sure it’s going to cost so much less than going to say SA? (Maybe you would just have to skip the most expensive lodges).
Arizona and Utah are beautiful if you like awesome scenery e.g. Grand Canyon, even more so Bryce Canyon, and the various other stuff up that way. Never flown there however other than doing the FAA IR at Phoenix KCHD.
@boscomantico : Thanks for your input.
Re aircraft types, my wife doesn’t care at all and I am perfectly fine with flying around in a (reasonably new) C172 or SR20 on this trip. Trying various rare types would be great on a holiday together with other pilots, but this is not primarily an “aviation holiday”.
Re scenery, aren’t the Keys nice from the air? The idea is to fly to other Soutern states too – not too much flying however, I guess we would not do more than 2 or 3 hours per day on average. I’m aware this would put us close to the minimum utilisation requirements of some rental companies.
Re South Africa – well, during my internet research I have seen prices of 450 to 650 Euros per night and person in various lodges! That’s way above what one pays for 5 star hotels in Europe, while in the US hotel prices are said to be generally lower than in Europe. And aircraft rental prices in SA seems to be at least as expensive as at home, with generally older airframes.
And while I would have a hell of a time blasting around at low level like @Shorrick_Mk2 did in his video, I am quite sure my wife would hate it .
@Blueline, first of all – have a look at the wx in Florida. April is not the best time of year to fly there. Agree with others, the scenery is extremely boring. Essentially a flat swamp with a coast lined by 20+ story hotels.
If you want scenery, then the West Coast is much nicer, in April you also have decent wx out here. I admit to being biased, but it is spectacular scenery and fabulous flying. I do it all the time As Austrian you are used to mountains (although they are a bit higher here), just make sure you do your DA calculations. There are plenty of places to rent from, but do make it clear you want a multi-day rental as some have rather onerous minimum hours / day (that said, if you guarantee, say, 20 hours, this can usually be negotiated down).
Re southern Africa. I’ve flown there and traveling from lodge to lodge it is perhaps the most amazing flying you can do in your life, worth every Euro/Dollar/whatever. Be aware, though, that you need a license ‘certificate of recognition’ which typically involves a written (air law, radio) and a flight test and, of course, your license issuing CAA (Austrocontrol?) will need to certify that you are in good standing. I did that in Namibia and the whole process took about a week, most of which was due to the UK CAA. Btw, check with your CAA if you need to supply any ‘release of information’ forms and pay some money (the UK CAA charge for this service).
If you want more info re West Coast flying feel free to contact me off list.