Air Travel with Boats

Misc Article...



Some tips on taking along some of your boats when traveling by air...








Traveling to races or to your local pond to run the boats is simple right? But what if the race you are attending is half way across the country or in another country altogether…now that is a totally different story! Taking along your boats has just become much more complicated. With all the new airport regulations it just isn’t as simple as it used to be, especially if traveling internationally. You also have to take precautions to protect your boat during the trip. In this article I will try to give some tips that will hopefully make your travels easier.



First, some positives of traveling by air:

- it’s fast…less time traveling = more time for racing and enjoying yourself

- you can usually take 2 check-in items for free (this can be your boats) in economy class - 1rst class is usually more

- you can also carry-on some small suitcases or bags on the plane with you (size and quantity varies)

- you can go to locations that would be impossible to get by car (ex: Europe from the US)


Now for some disadvantages:

- the main disadvantage is often the cost

- you are limited to the number of items you can take along

- you are limited by the size of the items you bring

- strict rules and regulations to adhere to for the transport of items

- items can get lost in transit (could be your boat…)

- you must make sure all your things are properly packed and protected

- you have to make plans for transportation once you arrive at your destination (ex: rental car)


Below are a few examples of cases that can be used to take your boats on airplanes as check-in luggage. The first one is a hard shell golf club case. Most of these cases will accommodate a typical racing mono. The one pictured here is the case I use to carry along my mono and its PVC stand. In order for everything to fit in there I have to remove the transom hardware and the tuned pipe. I also have to disassemble the stand of course.





This second case is a custom made case my friend made to carry his cat and some accessories. When taking along a cat or hydro it’s harder to find off-the-shelf cases that will suffice. Some golf cases as the one above are made to accommodate two golf bags. These can in sometimes have enough room for a cat hull to fit in there. This homemade case was built of light ply and reinforced with pine corners. The inside was lined with foam that was cut for the hull to fit snuggly in the case. It was also fitted with roller blade wheels and carry handles.





Some things you should do before traveling.

- remove the gas tank from your boat

- remove all gas tubing

- remove all foam floatation that might have been exposed to gas – replace with new

- wash the inside of the hull fully to remove all traces and smell of gasoline (they actually swab the inside of the boats at the airports looking for traces of chemicals, drugs etc.)

- pack some new gas lines and a new unused gas tank for the races (gas bags come in very handy for this)

- if the tuned pipe and header are smelly you can try cleaning them out. Tape them up (open ends) to reduce chances of odors

- Tape up the carburetor


When you return from the races, you do it all again before taking the plane back home! Discard or wash all items that were exposed to or smell like gas.


This about covers it. Basically you want to make sure the boat does not smell like gas or have gas in it. I actually spray the inside with and odor neutralizing spray after washing it. This seems to work well and it always passed the swab tests at the airports so far.


Depending on the airlines, it can sometimes be difficult to get sufficient insurance coverage on your boats so it’s important that they be packed in good cases and well protected. Another thing you should do (with any luggage) is to make it as easy as possible to identify. This is especially important when using a common case like the golf case. I have used flashy decals and colored tape.


Be ready to get some funny looks from officials at the airport when you tell them what is in the cases! Most people have never actually seen such boats up close and they are a little surprised or doubtful when you tell them you are traveling to go to a model boat race! At the same time it is also pretty neat when you see how some people are actually very interested and want to see the boats and start asking questions!



If you are planning to travel by air with your boats, hopefully some of the tips shared in this article can help you prepare better and avoid problems.




Happy Boating!




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