Ever since I realised that the island nation of Bermuda lies just 600 nautical miles from the US east coast, I had been fascinated with the idea of flying there. 600 nautical miles is well within the range of many single engine light aircraft. However, there are some factors which complicate a potential visit.

The main issue is that there is no Avgas available on Bermuda. In fact, the AIP specifically states that storing or dispensing Avgas on the island’s airport is prohibited. The reasoning behind this is unclear. In 2016, before any such restriction was mentioned, an Aerostar owner shipped some barrels of fuel out to the island to facilitate a trip in his aircraft, and refueled from them on arrival. A ramp check was conducted by the Bermuda CAA which raised concerns around fueling, that they subsequently shared with the airport authority.

A NOTAM was subsequently issued: “TXKF L F WADE INTL A0143/16 – AVGAS 100LL WILL NOT BE STORED OR DISPENSED ON THE AD. 25 NOV 21:20 2016 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 25 NOV 21:18 2016”. This was later incorporated into their AIP.

I reached out to the Bermuda CAA and the airport management at L.F. Wade International to enquire about the details around this restriction on Avgas, and they were kind enough to look into it and respond. Their reasons for prohibiting Avgas are primarily around safety; the fuelers there do not have training or protocols in place for working with Avgas. They also stated that to “prioritize safety and regulatory compliance”, the airport prohibits individuals to bring Avgas onto the airfield, stating that this is to “mitigate the risks associated with unregulated handling and storage of such fuel at the airport premises.

Personally, having refueled from barrels many times myself, I don’t agree that dispensing Avgas in this manner is particularly risky when proper procedures are followed, but I do recognise that the airport cannot be certain that any operator knows what they’re doing without putting in their own oversight. I suspect that putting the required training and/or oversight for Avgas into place is just too much hassle to bother with given the extremely limited quantity of traffic who would likely benefit.

The results of all is are that one must carry sufficient Avgas to fly to Bermuda and back again, plus reserves, without refueling on the island. The ferry fuel installation which I had acquired for my flight around the world meant that I could meet this requirement with fuel to spare, and the first hurdle was overcome.

The second challenge is the requirement to carry HF radio. This is certainly possible; I had fitted a temporary HF installation for the Pacific crossing on my flight around the world, for example; but it is not straightforward. Thankfully this turned out to have an easy solution; I contacted New York’s ATC center, who are responsible for the airspace between the US mainland and Bermuda, and requested an exemption. After responding to a few questions this exemption was granted.

The third big challenge is safety. Six hundred nautical miles over open ocean is not a trivial flight. Fortunately I still had all of my oceanic safety equipment from the flight around the world including life raft, life jackets, and satellite emergency beacon. I was all set to head to the island.

Click here to read about the flight to Bermuda.