We took (3) days on the trip down to LePaz and (3) days returning. Total flying time was 26.5 hrs which was very evenly divided 13.2 down and 13.3 back. Typically, one can expect a tail wind on the way down and a head wind on the way back. Our experience was a slight head wind on the way down and a combination of high head wind and good tail wind on the last leg into San Francisco .. "go figure" as the expression goes.
We typically flew 2 to 3 hour stretches which makes for very comfortable flying and very conservative fueling. The exception to that was on day 2 on the return trip in which we were supposed to fly from Punta San Franciscito to San Felipi to sigh out of Mexico. As it turned out San Felipi was enjoying a 35mph gusting 40 degree cross wind and I elected to hone my crosswind techniques elsewhere. That meant Mexically which was another 1.5 hours North, or would have been if not for the 35 mph headwind out of the North. Watching our GPS record 75 to 80 mph ground speed and thinking about just how many hours we could fly certainly kept us from getting bored. We elected to skip Mexically and go direct to Calexico with permission from San Diego Radio. Fortunately, they were only reporting 18 to 20 mph cross wind conditions which at the time seemed like a summer breeze. I kind of missed my first approach to Calexico, and hoped the people at that uncontrolled strip thought I was overflying the airport to check the wind direction.
|Really Boring Information
We few at about 115 mph and covered approximately 2700 miles in 26.5 hours. Our fuel burn was a tad over 7 gph, and oil consumption held steady at about 1 qt / 5 hours.
The first Mexican people we met were customs agents in San Felipe. They were courteous and helpful, possibly due to the fact that they had plenty of people to handle the paperwork load.
The people we met in Punta San Fraciscito were great with a typical "can-do" attitude.
|Weather / Seasons
Well, there really isn't much in the way of weather reporting in Baja, probably because there isn't much in the way of weather. Sometimes you have a high overcast, and sometimes as we discovered you can have wind .. usually from the North off the Pacific or straight down from the four corners. We scheduled our trip for the first of February to meet our respective schedules which is slightly prior to the most popular tourist season. January / February are the primo wind surfing months in southern Baja, which should tell one about the winds. Winds there are defined by the size of wind surfer sail, with a 4.0 equating to about 30 mph winds, 4.5 20 to 30 and 5.0 a meme 15 to 20mph.
|"Papers, we got papers"
As you might expect, the USA and Mexico have different views of the necessary papers. We seemed to have had the right amount and type to satisfy both sides and were really well treated on both side of the border. I suppose this might have been somewhat of a different experience had we not had the correct paperwork.
When crossing the border either way you must be on a U.S. flight plan.
San Diego Flight Service is on 122.4 (near Calexico), 122.5, or 122.6 along the Pacific. Helpful hint .. if you are flying the Pacific side and cannot get San Diego Radio on 122.6, try ground at Brown Field.
Your first landing in Mexico needs to be at one of the (7) airports of entry. Skip Tijuana and land at Ensenada on the Pacific side or try San Felipe on the east side.
Every port of entry airport in Mexico insists you file a flight plan for subsequent flights. They typically charge a small fee to do that and sometimes a landing fee for good measure. These fees are typically $6 to $10, and the controller will ask if you have your flight plan prior to departure. In reality, you needn't close your flight plan or even go to your destination since no one will come looking for you if you don't follow the plan. Still, I guess it keeps people employed, including the forms manufacturers.
On your first stop into a port of entry you will fill out an emigration form, good for 30 days to 6 months to longer. On the way out the airport will collect that form to add to the rest of the paper trail of your visit. We missed saying good-by in Mexico, so may be permanent residents by now.
Probably the most important procedure you need to observe is to have an active U.S. flight plan for re-entry into the U.S. and you must be on-time. Crossing the border ahead of time can lead to a $5000 fine, and if you're more than an hour late you may drop out of the system, requiring a new start. Remember, you flight plan must be in the U.S.computer system 24 hours in advance and must be completed on the day scheduled. It is common practice to file the return leg flight plan on the way into Mexico. If you need to change, call Flight Service in the U.S. and make the change in advance. You can make minor changes in the plan in the air when in radio communication with San Diego Radio.