Mexico Trip Report 2005

by Paul A. Rosales

Having traveled to Mexico many times as a youngster (the Grandparents lived there), it's been on my gotta-fly-there list. And when Dan Checkoway, a fellow RVer who has flown in/out of Mexico before, put out an invitation to join him and his wife Jenny on a day trip, Victoria and I jumped at it! Dan put together a webpage that had all the information needed to fly into Mexico in one place, so I got started getting all necessary things together including 12" N numbers for the airplane. The night before departure, I filed my flight plan with San Diego FSS who were very friendly and helpful. We departed Rosamond on Saturday morning, February 26th at 8am and met up with Dan & Jenny over Julian (JLI) VOR, just north of San Diego, at 9am. Our final destination in Mexico was Puerto Peñasco, about an hour flight across the border. The route of flight Dan planned out was; Julian VOR - KUMBA intersection - Mexicali VOR (MXL) - Puerto Peñasco (MMPE) I opened my flight plan over Julian, and FSS told me to contact them 10 miles from the border to get my squawk code. Dan called first to get his squawk code then I called in and got mine, 1241. I flew off his left wing in cruise-spread (about 5 ship-lengths). Just north of the border, Dan called Mexicali Tower and announced his position, point of departure, and destination. He also requested that they notify Customs at Puerto Peñasco and that he report over Mexicali airport. I called in and got the same instruction. We were told to give position reports at 20 then 50 DME out of Mexicali, which we did, and where then instructed to change to Puerto Peñasco's frequency, 122.8. The scenery was desert...lots of desert with sand dunes that I come to find out is actually called the 'Desierto del Altar'. It was a nice flight, and we chatted on Channel 3 while monitoring 122.8 Dan called out a peninsula in the distance at about 50 miles saying "That's where were going..." I didn't believe it was that far but got there in no time at all. After a short flight along the coast line, we landed in trail and taxied to the ramp. Here are pics of the flight starting with the flight over the San Gabriel Mountains (over the overcast), into Mexico, across the desert, along the coast and following our landing;

After meeting with the very-young gun-toting soldier who checked our license and registration on the ramp, we entered the FBO only to find it pretty much deserted. The Comandante, Alonso, finally walked in and took quite awhile checking out our paperwork, and filling out his paperwork. Alonso said that we needed to fill out some paperwork for our multi-entrance authorization (Dan and I plan to travel back to Mexico this year), and that he'd get the paperwork started while we were in town. I asked Alonso if he could call into town to arrange for a cab which he did. Our cab driver, Aurelio, was loads of fun to talk with, and he drove us to a nice eatery for lunch. Amazingly, he did not want any money now but that he could pick us up at a designated time to get us back to the airport and we could pay him then. Try that in America... After a GREAT lunch, we walked around for awhile checking out this 'tourist' seaside town and even bought a few souvenirs for my future hangar;

Since this was just a short daytrip into Mexico, it was time to head back to the eatery where Aurelio was to pick us up at 2pm (he was right-on-time :-) We had another fun conversation back to the airport, and we have his phone number for the next time we visit town (I'll lead that flight into Mexico!). We arrived back to the airport to find Alonso had not even started our paperwork so we had to wait another hour or so to get that taken care of... oh well. The landing fee was $5 and we paid another $50 for the multi- entrance pass. Hoping to grease the skids for the next time we visit, Dan/I gave Alonso $10/each which put him into the "Oh, I'm sorry it took so long this time" mode and offered that next time we'd be in/out in less than 3 minutes... The departure out was painless, and it was a repeat of the trip in; Report to Mexicali when 50 then 20 DME out, etc. We got the same squawk codes back into the USA, and upon crossing the border, we were squawking 1200 for the short ride into Calexico to clear US Customs. After landing, we were instructed to follow the white line to Customs but it splits into two white lines...take the one that puts you near the Customs building! We stayed in the planes until two Customs officers came out. They asked us where we had departed, looked at our passports, and took our 178 forms (which we had filled out ahead of time). I think it took less than a minute to clear US Customs, cool! Dan had to get Jenny to work so he took off first and we followed after taking a picture on the ramp at Calexico International;

We departed Calexico about 4:30pm, and we had a nice flight above some beautiful clouds and arrived home around 5:30pm watching a nice sunset;

I can't thank Dan Checkoway enough for all the legwork he did to make this trip happen! I know I wouldn't have made the flight on my own. Thanks so much Dan!

RVs are FANTASTIC flying machines; Keep poundin’ them rivets! Paul & Victoria

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