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Outside the U.S.A.

Float flying in Mexico
Author Last Post
Amphibs to Baja

Here’s an update on my trip.

Great trip – wonderful to see so much country. Tail winds both ways (!) and CAVOK after first day.

All together it was about 7,000 km/4,500 miles, 30 hours of flying over 8 days and several gallons of avgas.

US border crossing eAPIS filings were easy although the site is very cumbersome to use.

US airspace crossing & customs (1 hour advance notice) were straight forward

at Oroville and Calexico, having form 178 filled out in advance makes it easier.

Lots of MOAs and restricted areas to navigate – Garmin earns its keep just there.

Mexican entry at San Felipe was easy – with Rick Gardner having paved the way.

The airport personnel filled out all the forms and were very nice to deal with.

Copies of all the aircraft & personnel information on one page in Spanish is helpful,

especially for military who typically have very little English. I received a calendar year entry

permit for the aircraft and 180 day tourist visas My own insurance was fine (the policy explicitly

states coverage is valid in Mexico). If you’re not the aircraft owner make sure

you have notarized letter from owner or company documenting lease or

permission to use aircraft. Have several copies of all documentation – C of R,

C of A, passport(s), pilot licenses, insurance policy, lease/permission.

With Rick Gardner’s help I was able to get permission for a water landing

but unfortunately it was gusting 20+kts so a remote water landing didn’t seem

like a good idea in those conditions. The approval is not easy even

with Rick’s help and be prepared for lots of attention (I had a 3 hour drug

search by very friendly but serious military personnel at Guaymas). The ocean is so beautiful

in the Baja that it would otherwise be a float plane paradise. Also I tried to fill up some

auxiliary gas tanks and the avgas personnel reacted in horror at the idea of

filling gas cans. Avgas can only be put into the wings and if the military

checks and finds you carrying extra gas you’re in for extreme scrutiny.

The upside of all the military presence is that security was very good

at the main airports.

We stayed at Real Fiesta in San Carlos (ocean front hotel in a beach town near Guaymas)

while dealing with a mechanical – a separate story but my strong tip of the trip

is to replace your starter solenoid if you don’t know when it was last replaced(!).

On the way back we finally got the floats wet in Lake Mohave. Desert flowers

in bloom, nice beaches and water was already a pleasant if brisk swim.

The Grand Canyon was great but Lake Powell was incredible. A must do for

any float plane pilot. A huge area to explore and you’d always be able to find a

protected arm for landing. Mostly rock straight into the water but several nice beaches

and the swimming was still a bit chilly. Warms up by early summer but judging from

the number of houseboats tied up in storage the lake would be packed then with boats/jetskis/etc.

So all in all friendly people, cheap gas and beer and lots of sunshine.

Avgas - average cost

$US/gal $CAD/litre

Total $3.60 $1.21

US $3.71 $1.25

MX $3.25 $1.09

Next spring we will try to take in the whales at San Ignacio and a

revisit a Mexican water landing.

Some resources below that I used and I’m happy to answer any questions.
And thanks to everyone for the useful information posted on this forum.

Cameron Fraser

Web Sites: – US airport info & fuel stop planning – US & CAD trip planning with ETE based on winds – java flight path tool – superb interactive tool with winds aloft, Metars, terrain etc. for NA – NA current weather, forecast - MEX airport info - US airport diagrams CAD airport diagrams digital US charts - download & DVD US Customs form US airport info & online sectionals Canadian airport (land & water) waypoints from Canadian Flight Supplement Google Earth – good visuals for creating waypoints and then exporting to Garmin

& measurement tool for water landings,


Safetycell – headset to cell phone or Iridium phone adapter or portable radio –

very useful to call customs to adjust arrival time (Aircraft Spruce has a brand as well).

Iridium phone – remote customs & FSS calls. What didn’t work was using the data kit to do eAPIS filing

– just not enough bandwidth to handle that site ). There is Wi-Fi at technical school beside

Guaymas airport.

Fugawi - use with digital sectionals on laptop for moving map display

- there are lots of equivalent freeware programs such as

Gartrip – – loading/retrieving waypoints (manually or from Google earth) from/to Garmin

Resources: Seaplane Pilot Association- water landing directory very helpful and forum is good resource Rick Gardner – very effective at negotiating bureaucracy in Mexico & Central America – forum is useful for current conditions in Baja

Does anyone have experience getting permission from local authorities for water landings in Mexico? I understand that in general off airport landings are not permitted. I'm especially interested in Baja. Email direct if you prefer.
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