I must admit that the idea of sending a fairly large sum of money to a small aircraft factory in Slovenia made me
a bit uneasy, but all of my contacts with the dealers in the US, with Michael Coates at Pipistrel USA in Australia, and with
Ivo Boscarol at the factory were professional and reassuring. I wasn't sure how best to arrange the funds transfer,
but was referred to Custom House of Canada as an intermediary to convert the funds and manage the transfer.
So, I contacted Custom House, got an account application by e-mail, faxed it back, and thus established the ability make
the transfer. That took only a day or two. At that point, it was simply a matter of contacting the funds trader
at Custom House, getting a quote on the exchange rate, wiring the money from my bank to the Custom House account in San Francisco,
and faxing the Pipistrel bank account information to the trader at Custom House. The trader then took care of exchanging
dollars for Euros and moving the funds. It was very painless once I understood the process. The reason for using
an outfit like Custom House, by the way, is to get a decent exchange rate and avoid the additional fees that you would have
to pay your own bank to do the transfer.
I made one funds transfer for the deposit on the kit, and another for
the final payment upon shipment.
Arranging shipment was its own saga. Initially, I assumed that the cost
of shipping from Slovenia to Seattle was going to be pretty expensive, and I really had no idea how to get it done.
Vance Turner and another Pipistrel dealer explored various possibilities for putting my kit into a shipping container with
one of the factory-built aircraft that they had on order, but getting the container partially unloaded and then shipping it
on to me in Seattle with my kit inside was simply not possible. The rules for import shipments apparently demand that
the container be completely unloaded and passed through US Customs, and once you do that, the cost of repacking and shipping
the kit to Seattle was running into many thousands of dollars. I even checked into the possibility of renting a truck
and driving the kit from a Florida Pipistrel dealer to Seattle, but that was going to be prohibitively expensive and I never
did find a truck rental company that would rent me something big enough to handle the Pipistrel wings.
by the way, has to be shipped in a 40-ft container, because the next size smaller (20 ft) won't accommodate those long
wings. Finally, after wasting three or four weeks, I simply asked the Pipistrel factory to get me a quote on shipping
my kit all by itself in a 40-ft container directly to my home. To my surprise, that cost turned out to be what I consider
very reasonable, particularly after exploring the alternatives. The door-to-door costs of shipping came to about 3,800
Euros ($4750 at the time), which was less than half of what it was going to cost me just to ship it from some US location.
When the kit arrived, it was apparent that at least two Pipistrel kits could be packed into one 40-ft container
with a little imagination, thereby lowering the shipping costs even further if future Pipistrel builders can coordinate things
The kit was very well secured in the container by the factory, and everything came through just
fine. The packaging of the kit components is very well done, and the inventory was accurate. The agent at Continental
Van told me the the factory had handled the export/import paperwork perfectly, and had done everything exactly right.
This made the whole customs process go very smoothly. Customs and port fees totaled just over $500.
component of this whole process is to have a competent receiving agent at the port of entry. I called the lady at Continental
Van in Seattle who handled the shipment of our household goods when we moved home from England two years ago. She was
completely knowledgable and made everything go like clockwork on this end, keeping me informed of the state of the shipment,
coordinating with the factory on the paperwork, and shepherding the container through US Customs. I'd use them again
in an instant with complete confidence.