WOW, When can I do that again?
(Can you spot the lighthouse?)
That is what I said after I landed back home after a great 5 day trip to the Baja with friends.
Two weeks previous to this trip, I heard about a group going down to the Baja and they asked if I wanted to go.
Let's see, what would I need?
Customs Sticker: Expired
eAPIS: Never Used It
Procedures: No Idea
Yup, I'm in.
This was a guys trip so I called a couple of friends and they both said yes before I asked the question.
Our plan was to go and see the gray whales at San Ignacio Lagoon and stay two nights at Alfonsinas and two nights at Mulege.
I expedited the renewal of my passport and had that back in four days, my customs sticker came the next day and I did the AOPA online eAPIS training to become familiar with it. I was starting to feel more ready for this trip.
The preparation of this this trip was actually quite easy, there are many good resources out there.
The one area I had some confusion on was the insurance. I understand that you used to have to buy insurance from a company located in Mexico but that changed a couple of years ago to read that your insurance only needs to cover you in Mexico. But there are some people in Mexico that do not interpret it that way. You can purchase insurance for around $60 for a trip to Mexico which is what I did just to be safe.
I filed both flight plans (down and back) through eAPIS a couple of days before and really had no problems with that.
I made sure I had my pilots license, registration, medical, insurance, passport and if your plane is registered to a corporation you need to have a notarized letter authorizing you to use the plane.
For the plane, I purchased a prop lock, brought my tie-downs, cover, 2 quarts of oil and put together a small tool kit.
Since I have no locks on my plane I installed my stock handles which easily remove with one bolt.
About two years ago I purchased the book Air Baja.
It was a great resource for the trip. I was able to program all the airports into my Cheltons, G-430 and 396. I also purchased a new WAC-22 chart before leaving even though I had an older laminated one that came with my Air Baja book.
I shot both pictures and video (for the first time) on this trip. I used a FLIP HD camera and bought a Panasonic LX3 that has HD video built in. The problem I have with the FLIP is the prop causing lines. The Panasonic did not have the lines so once I figured that out I tried to shoot more with the Panasonic.
We left on Wednesday February 10th from Salt Lake and had a beautiful flight down. We picked up a little rain about 20 miles out of Mexicali but it was very easy to get under. The day before two C-185's flew down and I went with a couple of friends that own a 1963 C-210. We had a 10 knot tail wind and I ran LOP. Our first stop was Mexicali to check into the country. Flying with the C-210 allowed me to pull the throttle back more than I ever have before. The flight took about 3 hours and 40 minutes and I burned 31 gallons of gas, which cost me $112 dollars in Mexicali. We were pretty happy about the first fuel stop.
Flying into Mexico was easy. You really do not have to do anything other than your eAPIS unless you are flying over water. The AOPA video said you could call FSS and update your border crossing, as we were about 30 minutes late. I found out that they have no access to that system which makes me wonder what it is for? We were with Yuma approach control and they told us to squawk 1200 10 miles before the border. Once we were in Mexico we called Mexicali and landed very easily.
I read about the process being very slow once you landed and it was but it was no big deal. There is an office fee and landing fee that was $51. You only pay the office cost once where they enter your pilot, passenger and aircraft information into their system. There is also a $20 fee per person for a 6 month VISA. You also need to file a flight plan to your next destination with another person. None of it is a big deal, but you end up going to about 3 or 4 different places. It took us about 45 minutes to complete.
The next time I go I plan on flying directly to San Felipe, it is on a more direct route to our first night destination. Here is a link to their website.
The flight from Mexicali to Alfonsinas was magical.
We flew for about an hour to get there and enjoyed the blue water and coastline the whole way. At one point our C-210 friends made fun of us for not being able to catch them (we took off a couple of minutes behind them). The video later on shows the pass
Flying with the C-210 was great. It is a good plane with decent speed. It is not turbo charged so we were able to fly a little faster and the fuel efficiency of the RV-10 is far superior.