Sunday, 11 September 2011 Shared Mexican delights!
2011-09-11 08:43:39 UTC+2
Howdy, howdy, howdy…….I wish you were all here! In fact as I was strolling up from the beach to get a beer and then proceed to the business centre, I thought about an idea. It means so much to us that there are so many of you out there that follow our adventure and we experience so many amazing things, that I wish we could somehow share more of these flying and on the ground moments. My idea is to do a trip like this with a small camera with sound and streamed live broadcast hidden on both pilots for most of the time. Of course we should be able to switch it off in the crapper etc. Then no updates would be needed and a whole bunch of fun could be had by all! Anyway, that was just a passing thought from the man who brought the birdsuit to the world!
And now for a reality check! Ripped from slumberland by the hotel phone wake up service early yesterday morning we dressed, had a quick breakfast, a taxi ride and got to our Bullet. Shinning a smile to us in the early morning sun we strolled across the warm tarmac to her and started the morning flight prep ritual. Every morning that I walk up to that beauty I fall deeper in love with her. She just looks like she wants to fly. Far and fast!
So fueled up and ready we hit the sky. The landscape to begin with was the same dry, arid rocky mountains sloping into the calm deep blue sea. Every so often a bay would form where a few holiday settlements had taken root. Most of the way so far, there had been fairly acceptable areas to land in case of trouble. After about an hour and a half we passed abeam La Paz and started crossing open water to mainland Mexico. All systems sweet and well and a slight tailwind the mainland soon appeared on the horizon. We both thought we would be met with the same dry arid landscape entering the blue water.
What a pleasant surprise, tropical forests reaching right down to the waters edge, beaches more perfect than the imagination could create. This is why that tracker line started squiggling along the coast line. To shoot a straight line any distance from that awe inspiring coastline and miss close scrutiny of its unfolding delights would be pure sacralidge. ATC from all the airfields down the coastline was friendly and efficient and we were passed along down to Acapulco with an ease that made us feel welcome. We passed the city bay along the coastline which set us up on a left downwind for the main runway 28. Again friendly ATC welcomed us and we parked, packed and went through the motions needed to get to a hotel.
We have enjoyed the time here in a really cool hotel, had a long walk on the beach and a good swim in the warm sea. Everything else we did here, stays here! Time to join Mike in sleepy land for an early start.
Have an "INDIGO" day!
Fly fast in blue skies!
Saturday, 10 September 2011 Safely in Acapulco
2011-09-10 01:42:29 UTC+2
Jean and Mike left Loreto this morning after spending some time to trace the problem with the tracker not showing live on our website. With them wanting to reach Acapulco before sunset, the guys then left Loreto while checking the problem en-route and fortunately before they even flew past La Paz, they had managed to trace the problem to a faulty wire and fixed it quickly.
Today we saw the guys really doing the tourist scenic route, hugging the coast all the way to Acapulco, and arriving there after 8.5 hours of flight. Hopefully they will have time to write us an update later of the gorgeous views they had along the way.
In the meantime here are some photos from their leg:
Friday, 9 September 2011 Hot as hell!
2011-09-09 09:00:00 UTC+2
Hells bells it's extremely hot here! Our day started as expected, FAA kept their side of the deal and handed Mike the document at 7:30am in Long Beach. Matt drove Mike back to Torrance where Jim and I had the Bullet warmed up and waiting. Mike finalised the flight planning and we had a quick breakfast on the run.We said our goodbyes to our good friends,Matt, Ryan and Derek from the MGL / Airplanefactory, Nancy who so kindly looked after our well being and got us onto the Robinson factory tour at the last minute, and of course Jim who you all know by now was a heaven sent help with all our logistics and preparations. We were rather sad that Jon Thornburgh wasn't there for us to greet and thank. Jon Is a great inspiration and very generously gave us a rather large pile of brand new dollar bills to help us "smooth" our path south. Thanks Jon, they already been a great Greaser!
So with Matt and Ryan to Escort us in a Samba we took off and had a lovely scenic flight down the west coast, from La down to Brown Field. That place is amazing! Other than the vibrant beauty, we saw and flew past and over more serious airports than I think are on the whole African continent, all in about an hour .I hope the pictures give some idea. Clearing Customs at Brown field was effortless and then it was time to finally say cheers to Mad Matt and Randy Ryan ( Maybe that should be the other way around?)
Strapped in, start up, clearance and then off we went to Mexico. Now one thinks of leaving the States and flying to Mexico taking a bit of time. In this case it happened like this. As soon as we were on climb out, still on runway heading the tower told us to change frequency for Tijuana tower and turn left. So this we did and as we looked left there was Tijuana runway just over the border which seemed to be marked by a freeway. South we proceeded, into a very fast warming mass of air. Luckily we were only carrying about 400 litres of gas so the Bullet climbed faithfully to about 2500' in the 37 degree oven. This was so different to the flying I had become accustomed to. Mountains, desert, rock and turbulence and more mountains ,rock and turbulence. It is great to watch Mike flying, tweaking here tweaking there and then looking out at the surroundings with a look on his face like a proud father who is wondering to himself, if this one is so good imagine the next one. James and I raved so much to Mike about the Bullets performance, and have both been really keen to see Mikes opinion after flying her in critical conditions. I think Mike is going to get even more magic from his baby!
Within an hour during which I stole a few catnaps, San Felipe was in our sites. The coastline of the Bay of California was on our left and the rest was desert sweeping up to the first mountain range. Joining and landing instruction from a sweet Mexican lady in the tower amounted to "Yes, Cleared to land, no traffic". The temp had now crept up to 43 degree C . Mike did a perfect job of the landing with full wings, and we slowly taxied to the small terminal building where we were met by three uniformed, polite, non english speaking soldiers. After a quick formality check of licences and bags we were directed to immigration in the small building. We were handled professionally and swiftly with no nonsense and after a few dollars we were sent on our way with all the bits we needed to fly through Mexico.
When we left the airconditioned building the heat outside hit us. It was 45 degrees C out there. We had left the doors of the plane open to try keep things cool. When we got in onto sizzling hot seats and tried to close the doors the heat had caused them to take a new shape( they were not post cured with heat due to time constraints) Well now they are! Of course we managed to close them and off we went. After calling up the tower for clearance the answer was as brief as before, "taxi, backtrack, cleared, no traffic, good flight" was about it. Great place this, so that is what we did. We were both thrilled at the performance of our Bullet in this gigantic oven. The rest of the flight was much better as we joined the coastline as we scooted down to Loreto, the air was smooth and the view was good. The mountains along the coast grew quiet big and required some attention to keep them out of the cockpit.
We landed at Loreto at about 5:45pm local time, which proved to be a good thing because if we got here after six pm, call out fees would have been exorbitant and we may still be there. A quick ride to a brand new very posh hotel got us into good spirits for the evening. Of course the pool filled with a few heavenly bodies and patrolled by a barman did even more to make us a little happier, so needless to say Mike and I sank a few beers in the pool, met a great guy, Bret and his haram of lovely beauties as well as his two sons. After that we decided to hit town for a bite. Well I never, or rather will never tell what we saw. A sort of a festival was going on, we had a fine meal at a stall washed it down with a beer and here we are. Mike is asleep and I need to get some too.
We are planning to wake early tomorrow and head down south as far as we can. Concerning the tracker we only found out just now that it stopped working. We will see what we can do and will probably run the portable one too.
Good night and have a superb ding dong day!
Below are some photos sent through to us of the guys' last day in LA and departure from Torrance Airfield in Los Angeles, as well as the flight to Brown Field Airport before they went over the border into Mexico
The photos and videos were taken from a mobile phone, so it is a bit smaller than normal.
Friday, 9 September 2011 Changing the flight path to Loreto
2011-09-09 01:00:00 UTC+2
Jean and Mike flew very well all the way to San Felipe to do customs and the necessary documentation as this was their first Mexican Airport Of Entry (MAOE).
After watching the tracker standing still for over an hour, Jack McCormick from Bush Pilots International was kind enough to contact the airport Commander just to check up on the guys, and he was informed the guys are finalizing paperwork but should be off soon.
Though after 2.5hours of no movement, Jack was kind enough to again phone the airport just to get confirmation that the guys had left safely but will be heading for the beautiful town of Loreto instead. Due to the fact that they can only fly VFR in Mexico, sunset would be before they reach La Paz, thus they decided to change the route to Loreto. Unfortunately it became apparent then Mike and Jean forgot to put on the satellite tracker at departure from San Felipe.
Thank you Jack for checking up on the guys, we really appreciate your help and advice.
Another thing I'd like to mention is that the team at liveATC.net did a stellar job. While the guys were en-route to San Felipe they contacted us to let us know that they were busy trying to get the ATC feed at La Paz up-and-running as it was currently down. Then shortly after we had heard Mike and Jean had left from San Felipe and were now heading for Loreta…we got another message from the liveATC team saying the ATC feed at La Paz was functional. So thank you guys, your effort definitely didn't go unnoticed, and thank you so much again for helping us share our adventure with everyone out there. The liveATC team is fantastic!
Well, since the guys are going to another jewel in Mexico…below is a 5min video to give you an idea of what they will be seeing:
Thursday, 8 September 2011 En-route to La Paz, Mexico
Jean and Mike managed to leave Los Angeles after fetching the Special Flight Authorization early this morning. After departure, they did a short hop from Torrance, Los Angeles to Brown Field Airport to do the customs and passport run.
The next stop for them now is La Paz, Mexico. To get an idea of this beautiful city in Mexico, we found this 5min video below to give you a good idea.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011 Another day in paradise
2011-09-08 00:10:41 UTC+2
Holy smoke! James is home and we haven't even left Torrance. After dropping James at LAX yesterday morning , Mike hit the laptop to finalise flight planning and with the help of our friends here I set about filling up with gas and packing the Bullet to start heading south. Before Mike could file the flight plan FAA called and informed us that before we could depart we needed to re-apply for a SFA (Special flight authority). However this came about and whether it's good or bad we could debate for ever, but it resulted in us delaying our departure, and here we are.
As always I seek out and lock onto the good in any situation. The first good was that I was able to take Ryan Ruel for a flight in the Bullet. The significance of this is that this very capable and sporty young man is employed by Airplanefactory USA and with Matt Liknaitzky will be responsible for marketing the Sling in the States, so at least now he has flown a Sling, albeit the Sling 4 with full wing tanks.
The other plus is that Mike and I were able to take the Robinson helicopter factory tour. We wished we were allowed to take photos because that is an awesome operation, somewhat like we envision our factory to one day be. Another is that when I flew with Ryan the instrument problem we thought was sorted re-manifested, so we could spend the afternoon attending to it.
We had a relaxing evening over dinner with Matt and Ryan at restaurant called Texas Loosey's eating real good steaks served by spunky lases wearing cowboy outfits, leather chaps and all, just without jeans. Yes, the meat was exceptional! A night in a rather funky groovy hotel rested us well, so with the hope of getting the required bit of papyrus which makes our departure possible, Matt picked Mike and me up at 7 am and we wizzed out to Torrance. At 7:27 a call from the FAA made another day at Torrance a reality.
So in our stride we have repacked the Bullet, Mike has flight planned to the hilt, been to lunch with our new friends Mike Maxwell and Jim Gates (Thanks for the Sushi Jim) and now we are back in Matt's office waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. We hope we will at least get the authority today and still be able to get to Brown field to clear customs and then across to San Felipe in Mexico for the evening. (5 mins later) A call has just come through from the FAA saying they require one more officials signature before sending the authority to Long beach and then we need to drive down and fetch it, about an hour away. So after chatting with Mike now, it looks like the wise thing to do will be to get this bit of paper today, have another night here and then get our butts into the Bullet early tomorrow morning and head south with vengeance.
And so this is how it goes, very frustrating but the best is to try keep moving and for all the rest adopt the Buddhist approach that James and I discovered in Sri Lanka. To quote Lennon, "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans"
So a good nights sleep to you all! As soon as we have paper in hand we will post our plans. Sweet dreams!
Ps.We are missing you James
Wednesday, 7 September 2011 Note sent through to Mike and Jean
2011-09-07 20:39:30 UTC+2
We found this FAA warning and sent it through to Mike and Jean. Although not a very recent update it is good for them to be aware of FAA warnings as they are flying into areas we have had little time to research about.
CAUTION NOTICE: FLYING TO MEXICO
Flying Cessna Single Engine Aircraft to Mexican Locations Should Be Taken With Extreme Caution.
Use of Prop Locks and Other Security Devices Is Highly Recommended.
HOWEVER, AS RECENTLY AS JUNE 2010, THE THIEVES ARE FINDING WAYS TO DEFEAT SECURITY DEVICES AND PROP LOCKS.
Baja Locations Fall In The "Highest Threat" Area. There are indications that popular airports have persons working with the thieves who alert them when a preferred plane arrives.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011 More on the planned trip to Mexico
2010-09-07 8:45 UTC+2
Well, we still don't have the authorization to move from Torrance. We will be calling at 7.30 in the morning and if the authorization is ready we have to drive to Long Beach and collect the original … and only after that can we get out of here. Jean and I have discussed the timing and seeing as we cannot fly VFR at night in Mexico we will just fly as far as we can before the sun sets. Adventure - not knowing what tomorrow brings.
But today … Jean, Ryan and I went for a tour through the Robinson Helicopter factory. Wow, it is impressive to see … one day our factory might look the same. You know how it is … all great things start with a dream.
Time to sleep … lets hope for good news in the morning.