I'm considering a trip to Nova Scotia from New York in a Cessna 172 or a Piper Archer. The trip is about 3.5 - 5 hours long and could involve some small open ocean portions. Since Nova Scotia has variable weather, high wind, and is pretty rural, I'm interested in knowing if anyone has any recommendations, warnings, or resources for flying to Nova Scotia or Newfoundland.

I know this questions is pretty broad, so I welcome any suggestions for narrowing the scope. I've just had a hard time finding anything on the internet about making a trip to the area.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you instrument rated? You may be stuck if fog rolls in. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Jun 17, 2015 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Nope. Going to start in the fall. That's a good point though. $\endgroup$
    – Arel
    Jun 17, 2015 at 20:26

3 Answers 3


Plan for unexpected weather amid limited options for dealing with it. I've flown a number of times between Newark (EWR) and Halifax NS (YHZ), Moncton NB (YQM), and St Johns, NL (YYT). It can be quite foggy and windy and in the cold months braking action can become a factor. A lack of options can be problematic. When we flew EWR-YHZ we often chose EWR as an alternate and I've turned around as late as talking to Halifax approach as braking action become NIL and we didn't have gas to wait it out. Going out to YYT we'd only have enough gas to get to Gander (YQX) if we couldn't get a good approach in at St Johns. I flew a capable jet under IFR with Cat II approach capabilities so your concerns will be slightly different down low and VFR.

Although you are VFR, I'd play by IFR rules as alternates and fuel is concerned. Plan enroute alternates and carry enough gas to get to your destination and get to your second choice with some gas to spare. The weather can turn quickly and the fog in any of the maritime airports can be thick enough to turn even IFR GA planes away. Have a plan to be able to get on the ground somewhere else. Also consider how fatigue will play into your decision making once you are out there.

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    $\begingroup$ Great answer! Thanks! I've decided based on these answers to just wait until next summer when I'm instrument rated and have another years worth of experience to rely on. $\endgroup$
    – Arel
    Jun 18, 2015 at 1:19

If you are heading out over open water many people will tell you take a twin engine plane. But that may be impractical or not possible if you are not rated to do so. You may want to consider investing in or renting (if you can) an EPIRB if you are worried about the open water section. Some type II PFDs are cheap and may provide a piece of mind. Depending on where you are the north atlantic is very cold so ditching is more of a time issue than anything. No need to go crazy with it and useful load may prevent it but you can always get a life raft.

- Edit

As listed here the area can see thick fog roll in from the ocean. This will pose 2 issues for you, one is substantial worse than the other. On the safe side you may be stuck on the ground when you need to get the rented plane back. This may be no more than a monetary issue (if they charge you some late fee or something). The far worse case is being stuck in the air and having to divert (potentially far) to land safely under VFR. Keep in mind that even under IFR there are minimums and ground fog may knock out even an instrument approach. Either way it still gives you a solid other option.

You should really get to know the emergency procedures for open water ditching and rescue as per my earlier notes as well.

I assume you will plan a fuel stop somewhere in Maine (right before you turn out over water). That is a leg I would want to tackle with full tanks any way. Keep in mind 3.5-5 hours in an archer or 172 can be a grueling task. There are lots of fatiguing factors here. I would try and get the plane and just fly in your area for 3.5 hours (if you have not already) to make sure you feel comfortable being up for that long.

If you use anything digital like an iPad etc, backup batteries are a must. I would even being back up paper charts for this journey. GPS could be a life saver too.

I would think customs is some how involved but I have never flown out of the country so I don't know, if you have not you should look into it and make sure there is nothing you need to do ahead of time.


Make thorough backup plans for any kind of weather problems such as low visibility or high winds. Always have a place to land and stay over.

Make sure your emergency locator thingy is new and working.

Have a small survival kit which includes matches.

Make sure you have a backup radio and GPS.

Personally, if I was flying over the Bay of Fundy I would bring a size A or B oxygen tank and fly at 15,000 feet during the middle part. If you do that, you can pretty much stay within gliding distance of land the whole way. (You know the best glide speed of both aircraft, right?)

By the way, the neck off St. Mary's Bay looks pretty bad for off-field landings so you definitely want to pick a spot beforehand.

...and remember, the engine always runs rougher over water :-)

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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't fly a plane on my own if I didn't know the best glide speed, and I literally laughed out loud at "the engine always runs rougher over water" I like that one. $\endgroup$
    – Arel
    Jun 17, 2015 at 20:52

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