the BZIM at Port Everglades

After departing London, the Philadelphia express’s first port of call was Charleston, South Georgia. This journey should takes 8 or 9 days, arriving Thursday. Two days later, the BZIM should have arrived in Port Everglades on Saturday 17th February.


At this point, 3 different agencies have been involved in the process

KRL Logistics, Pentalver and Hapag Llyod.

On the U.S. side, Karla at the KRL-New York office took over the handling of the shipment. Karla would work between myself and the clearing agent (who handled all the importation paperwork and US customs clearance declarations). Karla would liaise with a  trucking company, ensuring the timely uplift of the container from the dockside, positioning it for storage, or delivery. With timings changing, none of these processes are put in place until each in turn is ready to be action-ed, something that would be difficult to follow through on, unless experienced, with contacts.

As the ship approached the United States, Karla had received requests from the clearing broker for POA (Power of Attorney) forms to be completed. This allows a US company, to accept ‘ownership’ for the goods, as I was not travelling with the BZIM. This is when having a company like KRL is essential. The agent was seeking copies of company invoices for the container contents. Explaining the situation to Karla, she advise ‘leave it with me’. She came back saying that I would become the ‘importer’, as a private individual. However, this required an IRS or SS number, neither of which I had, as I wasn’t a US resident. Karla came back after a short delay saying the clearing agent agreed to use either his own bond, or KRL’s bond would be used to get the container offloaded.

A late arrival into Charleston resulted in the the ship being delayed over the weekend due to the Presidents Holiday on Monday. Whilst docked at Charleston, I was requested to fill in CBP (Customs and Border protection) forms to ensure that the shipment was going to be duty and tax free. For this, I also had to provide copies of my Passport and VISA.

Tuesday 20th February, the BZIM arrived in Florida.


The BZIM on the Philadelphia express, arriving at Port Everglades Florida

A final query from US customs, via the clearing agent, via Karla at KRL, was about whether a microlight is in fact a vehicle. This I believe stems from an ultralight ‘aircraft’ in the US, being defined as being a vehicle, and therefore is subject to duty and tax as a vehicle would. After explaining clearly a microlight was in fact an aircraft, on February 22nd I was informed, everything was fine, and the BZIM was waiting my arrival. It was still on the dock area at Port Everglades. The original plan was to have the BZIM taken to a storage location, for me to collect myself, but the delay arriving meant storage was no longer required. Not only that, but I no longer needed to hire a van to collect the BZIM.

The BZIM was going to be delivered to Homestead at no addition cost to the fee’s already paid. Fantastic news!

It was obvious at this stage why a company like KRL is an absolute necessity. They have the knowledge of the whole process, the contacts  and the solution for when that unexpected inquiry comes from an official. Large fines and importation delays are the common for goods arriving in the USA without the correct paperwork. I was surprised how most of this paperwork was only created, once the goods are en-route.

Arrival at Tiburry docks


The BZIM arrived at Tibury docks around 10am. Delivery was to Pentalver Transport Ltd, a company employed by KRL to ‘lash and load’ the BZIM into its ‘own’ 20ft container. I had been expecting to do this loading myself, however after discussing safe securing points with the loaders, I left the dockside, happy knowing Pentalver would look after the BZIM.

Once loaded, the container was taken to London Gateway Port, by Pentalver. On February 7th, the BZIM was  loaded onto the Hapag Lyod ship, the Philadelphia Express. This ship is one of number of container ships offering a weekly service to the USA on the ‘Atlantic loop 3’ (AL3) service.

The AL3 service routes London Gateway > Charleston> Port Everglades > Houston > Savannah > Norfolk > Antwerp > Bremerhaven > London Gateway.


The BZIM departed London Gateway port on February 7th 2018. Scheduled transit time to Port Everglades is 10 day, so arrival should have been on the 17th February. This would mean the BZIM would have to be stored for up to 9 days before my arrival to collect it.


The journey begins

The journey for the BZIM began with it’s departure from Strathaven to Tilbury docks on Monday 29th January, at around 10pm.

400 miles later, the BZIM was arriving in Tilbury

Thanks to Graham McNally at Strathaven, for the loan of the trailer.


I’m going to fly across America!

With no previous experience in shipping items abroad, or customs regulations, the process and procedures looked daunting. I contacted a number of shipping companies and agents. The temporary importation, with temporary storage, for a personal aircraft, by a private individual (not a company), appeared difficult to quote for. Making inquiries, a year in advance, probably didn’t put my request to the top of any lists, but only two companies responded. When details were confirmed about what I was planning, both companies were unable to offer a complete service.

Only KRL Logistics, confirmed they could do what I wanted

KRL also offered a rough ‘guide price’ of how much it might cost, a year before the shipping date. It was stressed, many factors can cause the price to fluctuate (fuel costs, exchange rates, war etc). Sending the BZIM, in a 20ft container, with no other contents – a FCL (Full Container Load) – from Grangemouth to the port of Miami would cost roughly £3000, one way. This amount was identical to a figure given to me by another person who worked for a company shipping containers to America. It was apparent later, this £3000 figure was an ‘all in port to port’ price. Additional costs would be added later.

A cheaper option would be for the BZIM to be sent in a container with other items; as a LCL (Less than container load) shipment. However, this option cannot offer a firm transit date. Only when the container is full would the BZIM be shipped to America. To ensure everything arrives in the USA, for when I needed it, I chose to send the BZIM by FCL. Had two or three aircraft been sent in the same container, the cost for the container remained the same, but individual costs would be shared between the aircraft owners.

One year out I had decided KRL-Logistics would ship the microlight to and from the USA.

Jordan, from KRL’s Manchester office, was my point of contact with the company. He was very patient with my questions and concerns. Jordan in contrast had no concerns about the challenge and advised me to contact him a month or so before the required shipment date.

Due to my complete inexperience and over-concern about something going wrong, I decided to ship the BZIM to Florida ahead of 9th April 2018, the starting adventure date. I would travel to Florida during February, collect the BZIM, transfer it to an airfield and test fly it, thereby ensuring everything was ready for April. So the BZIM would now have to leave Strathaven late January, to arrive in Florida in time.

One year out, quickly became 6 months, then 3 months…

Time to contact the FAA, Miramar office. After submitting my SFA request along with photocopies of aircraft ownership, Permit to Fly validity, radio licence, passport and following a number of emails, in December, I received an email confirming my SFA was ‘all typed up’, ready for my arrival in the country. There would be no show stoppers from the FAA! They did suggest, I start my adventure from Homestead General Aviation airport, surrounded by lots of uncontrolled airspace and located in a lower populated area. Homestead was already my airfield of choice, due to the proximity of Port Miami and the Florida Keys.

Reaching out to Roberts Air South, Homestead, the family run FBO (Fixed-base operator), John and Diane Roberts kindly put me in contact with a fellow trike pilot, who would allow me to squeeze my microlight into an already full hanger, so that was another problem solved!

Early January 2018, contacting Jordan at KRL, I was offered options for the shipping dates and locations. Rather than ship from Grangemouth to Port Miami, as previously discussed, Jordan advised shipping would best be from London Gateway Port to Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale). Transit time was greatly reduced, and so was the price. The ‘all in rate’, for the container shipment, of the BZIM, by Hapag Lyodd, from London to Port Everglades was (to be revealed later…)

Although called an all in rate, two additional costs were to be added. The ‘load/lash/lift’ fee’s, and charges at the destination. The destination charges were for the employment of a customs clearing agent at the port, port fees and trucking fees from the port to either the final destination, or a storage location. I was expecting the container  to be stored after its arrival at a warehouse. I would hire a van to collect the BZIM and take it to Homestead, paying extra for the storage location and van hire.

The total cost paid to KRL for organizing all aspects of the transportation, employing all third party companies, including loading and securing the microlight in the 20ft container, shipping from London to Florida, all port fees, custom charges, with delivery of the BZIM to Homestead General Aviation airport was (to be revealed later…)

A thought evolves

A journey follows a plan, created from an idea, after a thought, often inspired by others.

Add a tent, camp under the wing, that journey becomes an adventure!

Colin McKinnon, Strathaven airfield owner (and Grand Designs house fame), during 1996, flew his Flash 2 Alpha microlight across the United States. Colin wrote a book of this trip called “On a wing and a Prayer”. Having read the book numerous times and listened to Colin speak enthusiastically about his adventure, a thought in my head began to grow.


At the ‘Flyer Live 2015’ at Telford,  a company called ‘KRL Logistics’ was in attendance.  A brief talk with the sales manager, around the feasibility and costs of shipping my microlight to the US, left me realizing my thought had just became an idea.

I made contact with the UK’s CAA General Aviation Unit to ascertain what, if anything, they could advise, about my evolving thought. They advised permission from the FAA might be needed, but from their perspective, they had no concerns.

Contacting the FAA office, where my microlight would enter America, I was forwarded documentation which laid out that I must obtain a “Special Flight Authorization”. This is because a UK microlight does not conform to ICAO Certificate of Airworthiness Annex 8, which is used in relation to U.S. regulations for “foreign aircraft operating in the United States”. I am advised by a FAA inspector to submit a formal request, for the Special Flight Authorization, closer to the time, giving a number of months lead time to process the request. The latest version of the document pertaining to this SFA is “FAA Order 8130.2J” Chapter 22 being of main interest.

So after returning from the Alps in 2016, and asked “wheres next?”,

My answer was “The U.S.A. in 2018”.

The more people that asked, the more real and certain in my mind, my idea was becoming a plan.



A new life.

Thanks for joining me!

I start to write this blog, 11 days before my big adventure begins. Start date being 9th April 2018. But the journey started a long time prior, and as such I will spend the days before the start, catching up with the journey so far.

Only a few months after my fathers death, I read the words somewhere “Everyone dies, not everyone lives”. I had always dreamed of becoming a pilot, but there was always an excuse. I remembered reading Brian Milton’s book “Global Flyer”, where he recounts his record-breaking flight around the world in 1998, and decide, it’s time to stop finding excuses and start living. Three months after his death, on my 40th birthday, I took my first ever flight in a microlight, with microlight instructor Graham McNally at Strathaven airfield. That was in August 2012.

  • October 2012, at 6 hours, I fly solo.
  • December 2012, I purchased G-BZIM

The BZIM in its original colours, after its first flight at Strathaven airfield. Microlight instructor Graham McNally at the controls

  • On 24 January 2013, with 23.8 hrs logged, 5 months after my first flight, I pass my GST flying the BZIM.
  • June 2013, I take part in the Round Britain Rally, flying the BZIM, winning the novice category and finishing close behind the overall winner.
  • June 2014, I fly solo to the Faroe Islands in the BZIM, 280 miles north of Stornoway.


    The BZIM at Vagar, Faroe Islands

  • June 2014, I fly from Strathaven to Lands End and return, on the same day. Over 900 miles, 16.5 hours in the air, flying sunrise to sunset in the BZIM.
  • June 2015, I venture solo around southern France in the BZIM.


    the BZIM in the Pyrenees

  • August 2015, the BZIM has a sail tear, whilst off-shore Kirkwall, Orkney Islands. This leads to the BZIM’s new colours.


    Sail torn by stray leather glove

  • July 2016 I venture solo into the French Alps in the BZIM.


    Courchevel altiport and the BZIM

It became a common question at Strathaven, “Where are you off to next?”.

If I were ever to say “nowhere”, have I stopped living?

Probably not, but its probably time for another ‘new’ life.