Monday, March 2, 2015

Loreto Whales 2015!

This weekend I did my first flight into Mexico which was also my first international flight.  I took the family to Loreto with the Baja Bush Pilots.  I'm not sure why, but I was a little trepidatious about crossing the border.  It turned out to be easy and no stress.  Here is my quick checklist for crossing the border:

File a border crossing VFR flight plan with Flight Service.  Baja is effectively VFR for me because the MEA's are so high.

File US and Mexican eAPIS

Make sure you have a customs and border protection CBP sticker, which is good for the year.


Air worthiness certificate and current registration

Pilot certificate and current medical

Mexican insurance policy (printed in English and Spanish)

That's basically all the prep.  Once you're there you can buy a Multi-Entry permit and pay various immigration fees.  The multi entry permit cost me about $100 and the fees for parking and immigration were another $150.

I flew to Palomar KCRQ after the kids got out of school so we could make an early run to Loreto in the morning.  Loreto airport closes at 7pm so no night arrivals.  We departed out of Palomar VFR and headed towards the border.  I opened the VFR flight plan with flight service on 122.5, then contacted San Diego approach and then gave me a squawk code, then transferred me to Tijuana approach once I crossed the border.  A little later into Mexico I was 450 miles from Loreto and they tell you to contact Loreto tower on 118.4 and then you're on your own until 10 miles from Loreto, then you call them up and you're cleared to land.

Flying in Mexico was fun, once I got past the confusion of handing the form to the guy who copies the form, then to the guy who does stamp #1, then to the girl who takes a fee and does stamp #2, and so on and so forth... love Mexico and opening it up now by GA is a whole new ballgame.  It never felt unsafe or threatening either in the air or anywhere on the ground.  The airports felt very secure.

Some photos:

Made it home after 6 hours of flying and not a single complaint from the kids. We had a little bit of everything on the trip home.. flight over open ocean, over clouds, under clouds, scud running and low IFR in driving rain and ice pellets and low topped CB. Once I was through the core of the slag I was able to cancel IFR and get out of the bumps and made it the rest of the way VFR in and out of rain showers at 4500 ft.  All and all the best flying trip I've done yet!

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