With passports and paperwork stamped, and our flight plan closed out (we paid $1.60 for the call because we’d lost Miami approach about a hundred miles into the flight), we headed back out to the plane. The big Lycoming had burned about 1/2 a quart of oil so far; I had brought plenty extra with us, and topped her off to 10 quarts.

After an anxious, prolonged hot-start procedure, we were off once again. (To read part one of this story, click here). 

The flight to Providenciales or “Provo” was uneventful with the exception of some minor comms issues I think were related to an electrical short on the copilot side. It was an annoying screeching sound that reminded me of my time in Navy SERE/POW school, and it had John mumbling to himself like an angry homeless guy. A sound that seems bearable at first transitions to pure torture after an extended period. We finally just turned off the intercom and used hand signals and an iPhone keypad to communicate with each other. It was a welcome break from John’s homeless ranting. 

Navy SEAL flies Japanese warplane through the Bermuda Triangle to Puerto Rico
Fuji on the ramp at Provo Turks and Caicos

I ended up isolating comms to the pilot side only and handling all the radio calls during the final approach to Turks and Caicos. Other than a stiff crosswind I had superbly underestimated (they give wind speed in knots in Turks and Caicos, note to self!), we landed. We were in the Caribbean and over halfway to our final destination of San Juan.

Navy SEAL flies Japanese warplane through the Bermuda Triangle to Puerto Rico
John makes a steep right turn on departure out of Provo

Provo airport is a great place to stop over: They’ve plenty of gas and support services. The island is a major resort destination with plenty of commercial and general aviation activity. 

After a quick weather study and a glance skyward at the building nimbus clouds, we decided to call it for the day rather than push our luck with another leg to the Dominican Republic. An ocean dip and a cold beer seemed like a good idea. How does the saying go? Eight hours bottle to throttle, and 10 minutes the other way around? 

Anyway, I’d always imagined myself here with some half-naked female companion, but I had to settle for John and a cold Red Stripe this time around. 

One thing about flying in the Bahamas and the Caribbean that I’ve come to learn is that flying in and around large thunder clouds is part of the game. You just have to get used to it and fly smart around these formations, with plenty of gas. Most big formations form over hot land masses during the afternoon. This also makes it easier to identify land farther out. I’ve found that you can usually safely avoid large formations by staying out over water, then later ducking in and under the lighter cloud formations.