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  #1  
Old 02-19-2010, 10:58 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

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?
Passport: Expired
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.
http://www.flyidaho.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=1_3
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.

Day 1:
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.
http://www.sanfelipe.com.mx/getting_here/flying.html

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.









__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-21-2010 at 10:10 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2010, 10:58 PM
ScottSchmidt's Avatar
ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

I went with my long time friend Bob (back seat) and Sean who is currently building an RV-10 in Salt Lake. Bob and I have ridden our motorcycles together for the past 10 years all over the Western US and Canada. He loves the RV-10 and has also had some fun adventures with me in the RV.
Sean learned why he is building one of the greatest 4 seat planes in history.


Our first stop was Alfonsinas, a small fishing town. They have two runways near the town but the one you want to land on allows you to taxi right up to the resort. I had reserved rooms here before I left on their website.
http://www.alfonsinasresort.com/eng/index.asp

You have to make sure the tide isn't flooding the runway. Your portable Garmins have a great tide page on it. They say that even if it is flooded it will be good enough to land on in a few hours as it drains the water quickly.
We thought we were in paradise as we approached it.



Runway In Sight








We landed and tied the planes down. You can see our other friend's C-185's pushed right up to the hotel. I have a video of landing at this airport on the second flying video towards the end of this report.


__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-21-2010 at 09:46 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-19-2010, 10:59 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

I had read about the Mexican Army approaching you after landed and sure enough here came a Hummer with 8 men with automatic weapons. I had read a trip report about a pilot who brought some candy with him and handed it out. These men/boys have to make sure there is nothing illegal happening and once they see that you are here on vacation they completely relax. I handed out lots of candy to them and they immediately changed their attitude and were all smiles. We filled out their binder with our names, pilot information, and registration card and they were on their way. They are also there to protect the planes from being stolen but I will talk about that later. Unfortunately I forgot to take some pictures, I was too busy handing out candy, laughing with the them and showing them the plane.

The sun started to set as we tied down the plane and took our bags to the room which was a long 20 yards away.






This was the view from my room.
Front Door


Back Window




That night we had a family style meal with fresh fish, tortillas and margaritas that were out of this world. The rooms were just OK but the beach and views were the best of the trip.
Our friends with the C-185's stayed here the whole time and brought inflatable kayaks with them for some exploring.
There are many people there on motorcycles and ATV's.
__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-21-2010 at 11:42 PM.
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  #4  
Old 02-19-2010, 11:00 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

Day 2:
The next morning we woke up and had reservations at San Ignacio at 11am to see the whales. We again had a family style breakfast with chorizo eggs and tortillas. They start serving coffee at 7am and breakfast at 7:30.


The Baja 1000 runs very close to this town and it is evident with all the stickers in the entry.




Here are some pictures of the beach that morning.




Alfonsina's Resort from the beach


Looking down the runway.


We had about an 1 hour 20 minute flight to San Ignacio but the C-210's fuel pump decided not to work, luckily our airports top mechanic was with us and had it fixed in 5 minutes.


We departed Alfonsinas and were on our way to see the whales.


__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-21-2010 at 11:43 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2010, 11:01 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

The flight down was great, we could see both sides of the baja.
We also spotted Agave fields on the way.

One thing we forgot about was the time change that occurs about half way down the Baja. We arrived one hour late.

Here is a picture of the bay as we approached the airport. The whales are located at the entrance of bay. They are very strict about over flying the water less then 3000 ft.


The runway is very soft. I have this runway on video and I was advised to land about 1/3 of the way down. You can see on the video how soft the first part of the runway looks. It probably isn't the best thing in the world for your prop but the whales are worth it as you will see in the video.






This whale watching adventure is in the book "1,000 Places To See Before You Die". Pacific gray whales make this 5,000 mile trip from the Arctic to the safe waters of this bay for breeding and calving.
Gray Whales can reach 52 feet, weigh 36 tons and live 50-60 years old.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_Whale

There are many guides you can use to take you out in a panga. Since we were one hour late we went with whomever would take us. The place they took us was very nice and offered us fresh scallops for lunch when we arrived back from our trip. If you Google "Laguna San Ignacio" you will find all the whale guides.

The whales were the highlight of the trip for me. We felt they were watching us more then we were watching them. They would come over and bump the boat softly.
Here are a couple of videos I put together from my camera.
Pretty amazing.


Whale Video 1 Click on the picture below and it will link you to the video


Whale Video 2 Click on the picture below and it will link you to the video
__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-20-2010 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:11 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010



After our three hour tour we had fresh scallops for lunch in a hut that overlooked the bay. The walkways were lined with thousands of seashells.




The second night we had reservations at Mulege at Hotel Serinidad. The runway is called Hotel Serinidad on the WAC chart.
The mountains were rugged across the Baja to Mulege with smooth air. We had fun shooting some air to air pictures and video before landing.




Video from the first half of the trip. Click on the picture below and it will link you to the video
__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-20-2010 at 12:12 AM.
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  #7  
Old 02-19-2010, 11:12 PM
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

You land at Hotel Serinidad to the north. The hotel is on the right with all the trees near the wide part of the runway.


Again we were greeted by the army with no problems.


The planes were tied down at the entrance of the hotel.


These two kids were very helpful grabbing our bags and taking them to the room.


This is what was waiting for us after we checked in to our rooms.


Our cell phones were working at Mulege but did not work at Alfonsinas. We brought a satellite phone with us, thanks to Sean, just in case.
The hotel was not crowded and was an upgrade from Alfonsinas. We had heard about a B&B just around the corner and decided to stay at Hotel Serinidad the first night and Casa Granada the second.


__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-20-2010 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:13 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

Day 3:
The next day we just relaxed around the hotel and flew south to Loreto to get fuel. There was no fuel at any of our stops except the controlled airports. Loreto was around 75 nm south and required a $27 landing fee.



Flying into Loreto for fuel


We were going to head into town at Loreto but decided to just head back to Mulege. The wind was really blowing at Loreto that day.

Casa Granada was around $55/night which was about the same as Hotel Serinidad. Lena & Kristian Peschmann manage the B&B and are from Russia. They were very nice and have 6 rooms if I remember correctly. It had better rooms and beds but did not have a restaurant or bar. It is only 50 yards from the end of the runway. We would just take a cab into town for dinner at night and always had a great meal. Chevy Chase had a great quote in the movie Three Amigos that I used at about every meal, "Do you have anything other than Mexican Food?"
http://www.casagranada.net/home.shtml

Here are a couple of pictures of the B&B.




__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-20-2010 at 12:04 AM.
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  #9  
Old 02-19-2010, 11:13 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

Day 4:
All we had to do this day was fly up to Alfonsinas so we decided to fly across the bay to check out a very nice resort, then land at Punta San Francisquito before arriving at our final destination.

Across the bay from Mulege is Punta Chivato with a resort called Hotel Posada de las Flores. They have a very smooth dirt runway and you can taxi very close to the hotel. For the guys out there this is where you want to take your wife/girlfriend.
http://www.posadadelasflores.com

Picture of the hotel from the air.


The runway is the far strip, then you taxi to the area just off the wing tip.


What an amazing hotel this was. The rooms are around $180 - $300 and include all your meals. We had chips and salsa, fresh scallops and espresso with ice cream for dessert.

Here are some pictures from our quick lunch stop. I will be back here someday.














__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-20-2010 at 12:47 AM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:14 PM
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ScottSchmidt ScottSchmidt is offline
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Default RV-10 Adventure: Baja Flying and Whales - February 2010

Next stop was Punta San Francisquito.
There is not much at this stop but apparently they do have a place to stay here with food and drinks. They have put in a new dirt runway that is just east of the published runway. I landed on the published runway but it was more rough than the new dirt runway.






Whale bone


Looking back at Punta San Francisquito. You can see both runways on this picture. The one on the right is the older one.


We then flew back to Alfonsinas for our final night.

Nice bay on the way back.


It was another great night at Alfonsinas with more seafood.





I woke up early the next morning to watch the sunrise.
Don't miss it when you go!

SPOT track of 3/4 of the trip


Video from the second half of the trip Click on the picture below and it will link you to the video


Safety:
I know the media has made everyone scared of flying in Mexico but I never worried about my safety or my plane one time. Everyone was so helpful during the trip. People also are worried about their planes being stolen, but the data shows there were twice as many planes stolen in the southwest US than the Baja over the past few years. We talked to some locals about this issue and they did say that a plane was stolen at Alfonsinas about 14 months ago, a 182. The most popular plane for the drug runners is the 206, 210 and 182 respectively. I brought my prop lock but never used it. Everyone told me that it will do nothing as they are prepared for just about everything. They rarely steal low wings because they cannot land on roads with them.
__________________
Scott Schmidt
Salt Lake City, UT

RV-10 N104XP (1280 Hours)
RV-12 N321UT (Sold)

Last edited by ScottSchmidt : 02-20-2010 at 12:48 AM.
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