I usually only post about my flight experiences-- but this time, I thought I'd share one of Husband's stories. (If I can wrangle any pics out of him, I'll post those, too!)
Husband's catching up to me in terms of hours of PIC and X-Country time! He flew to Canada and back yesterday for the Red Bull Air Races. I opted out of the trip for sanity's sake (life's been moving just a little too fast lately!), though I kind of wish I had joined him. He did take another pilot friend, K, who also went with him last year to the Reno Air Races.
They decided somewhat last minute to fly to Windsor (Canada) instead of DET in Detroit, so we had to scramble a bit to get together the appropriate paperwork. It wasn't as hard as it seems to do-- all the information you need is easy to get on AOPA's website. The only difficult piece was navigating the site to get the Radio Operator's License-- the web site is hard to navigate. (Thanks, Aviatrix, for your posts on crossing the border-- we read those a few times, as well!) We also were confused about the English proficiency requirement. In case anyone's wondering, the FAA has secured an extension through March 2009 for US pilots. I ended up contacting the AOPA pilot helpline to confirm that piece of information. I highly recommend using the helpline if you have a question. It was really easy, quick, and comforting to be able to ask someone so directly!
Now, Good Dog is all set with a custom's decal and the proper paperwork-- and we've learned more about how to file a VFR flight plan. For some reason, our flight school isn't that big on VFR flight plans-- maybe because of the confusion with filing an ADIZ flight plan? We almost always get flight following, but neither of us had ever filed anything other than an ADIZ flight plan.
Husband had a 30 knot headwind on the way over, but was able to cut time off the trip by going more or less direct to Sandusky. Our experience in the Washington area is that you almost never get cleared through the Bravo airspace. I think I've been offered it twice in two years of flying. Apparently, that's not necessarily the norm for other places, as he was cleared through the Bravo airspace around both PIT and CLE. They had an uneventful landing at Windsor, were quickly cleared through customs (in fact, the customs folks had him taxi directly over to the fuel pump and met him there so he wouldn't have to stop the engine and then restart it to fuel up).
The races sounded amazing (and I mean that literally- I could hear them over the phone!). He and K opted for the "box" tickets instead of just general admission. The seats had not been selling well, so the price was cut in half. No big dramas happened on the course-- though because Saturday's races were cancelled, they ran both the prelim and the finals on Sunday. The US customs people were very accommodating in helping him change his arrival time so that he could stay for the end of the races.
After the races, they headed back out and had an equally smooth transition back into the States. For all the fuss that you usually hear about crossing the border, the customs folks that he dealt with-- on both sides-- seemed very helpful and easy to work with. I was actually surprised when he called around 8:30 to say they were back at JYO-- I thought they'd be gone much longer! His total time away was around 13 hours-- 6.9 of which were with the engine running-- and that was with a 30 knot headwind!