One of the more unique features to Pine Cay, something that many smaller private islands don’t have, is an air strip. Arriving by private plane is not only somewhat romantic, it’s quite practical and fun. Most of our homeowners and guests arrive via commercial aircraft through Provo, but there are many visitors that prefer to use their own aircraft. We thought you might want to hear about what it’s like to arrive in Turks and Caicos, at our resort, in a different way, so we asked a variety of pilots – of different ages, with different aircraft, and different usage of their planes – about what it’s like to swoop on in to Pine Cay…
How long have you been coming to Pine Cay?
BQ: Oh, about twenty years or so.
ET: I’ve been coming to Pine Cay since I was two months old, which makes it 30 years now.
RG: We have been coming to Pine Cay over the last fifteen years, and the last nine years using our own plane.
How did you originally find out about it?
BQ: I read about it in a travel magazine.
ET: My mother built one of the early homes on the island in the 1970’s.
RG: My wife brought me all over the Caribbean for 25 years. In the early nineties, we happened to visit Pine Cay, and we came back twice more before deciding to buy a house.
Do you always fly?
BQ: Yes, after I bought my plane.
ET: Majority of the time.
RG: Very rarely do we come commercially, unless our plane is being serviced.
What kind of aircraft do you fly?
BQ: Piper Saratoga.
ET: Originally a Mooney M20J, then a Cessna T310R, now a Piper Cheyenne.
RG: We fly a Pilatus PC12 single engine turbo prop (made in Switzerland.) One of the reasons for this plane is that we can leave Michigan, USA at 7:00 a.m. and be on Pine Cay by approximately 3:30 p.m. with one fuel stop. This aircraft is pressurized, flies at 30,000 feet, goes 300 MPH and lands on a short field (Pine Cay.) This plane gives us great flexibility.
With whom do you travel?
BQ: My wife and dog.
ET: Friends and family, or whoever hops on before the doors close.
RG: Our son is our pilot, so always with him, my wife, sometimes other family members, and occasionally a friend.
What do you like most about piloting your own aircraft to Pine Cay?
BQ: Definitely visiting friends on the way from New York, and that the dog can be in the cabin with us.
ET: Freedom to come and go whenever, no lines, and the view is always better from up front.
RG: No schedule requirements, it is our call when to travel. If weather is bad, we can wait and go when we want. We can bring our own supplies for our Pine Cay home.
Which other places do you like to fly to in the Caribbean?
BQ: Bahamas, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, and the BVI.
ET: I live on Pine Cay during the winter, so it’s a great base to make excursions out to the other islands in the chain, as well as the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, etc.
RG: Because of the investment in our home, we generally don’t go anywhere else in the Caribbean.
What do you like about our airport?
ET: Being able to land my plane, immediately go barefoot, and be greeted with a golf cart, hugs, and a rum punch.
RG: It’s quaint, but it also might benefit from some work.
What do you think other pilots would like about Pine Cay and The Meridian Club?
BQ: Well-maintained runway. 11/29 orientation perfect for normal wind direction. Plenty of parking. Easy access to hotel and homes. Unicom is 122.8. Self-announce. Jet A and 100LL both available at PLS, just a few minutes away.
ET: The experience and adventure of landing on a remote private island, likely being the only aircraft there, paired with a world-class beach and a low-key atmosphere.
RG: It is a nice flight down from Florida, it’s beautiful to pass the Islands of the Bahamas, and the waters when you get here are spectacular.
Do you have tips for pilots flying in?
Cancel IFR as soon as Provo is in sight to avoid holds and or DME approaches, ground, clearance, tower, and approach are generally all on 126.0, file local flight plans from Pine Cay by calling (649) 946-4420 and asking for the tower, and definitely head back up for a sightseeing flight — the entire chain can be seen from 1,000ft in about an hour.
It seems, if you want to make your way to a private island resort in the Turks & Caicos, especially if it’s secluded and remote, a private plane is an ideal way to travel.
On the day this article was written, The Meridian Club was named in Caribbean Journal as one of “10 Caribbean Hotels You Can Fly To”.