Young Eagles

Yesterday was the third Young Eagles event I’ve helped with in Mexico. The first was about four years ago at the airport in San Miguel de Allende. I was ground support for that one. The second and third were both in Celaya. Yesterday we had 52 kids and 4 airplanes.

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One of the boys that was excited to do maneuvers

I also had two of my favorite Young Eagles flights of all time. On the first I had three boys who were super excited to be flying. We took off and I could hear them laughing and yelling as we started to climb. Then when I turned toward the mountains I got another set of cheers as they could look out the side of the plane and see the ground. They loved doing maneuvers. So we did some steep turns and flew around a nearby volcano so they could take pictures out the side…

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Handout girl getting ready to fly

The other really cool flight for the day was with an older girl who seemed really into everything. Before every event we have one of our pilots do a ground school to teach the kids some things about aviation. As I started to taxi this girl got out her handouts from the classroom session and started to inspect the plane and compare her notes to the the actual plane. She was a bit more nervous, but calmed down and never stopped being fascinated by the whole affair.

Even the ride to the airport was fun with Carmen translating the dad in the back seat for me. His daughter got to fly with us at the previous event. His son wanted to go, but dad said the boys grades weren’t good enough. So the kid buckled down, got his grades up and was sitting in the back seat on his way to enjoy his hard earned ride.

The three excited kids, after their flight

The three excited kids, after their flight

Waiting for the next crew

Waiting for the next crew

Carlos was one of the volunteers assigned to my plane

Carlos was one of the volunteers assigned to my plane

Three of my young eagles

Three of my young eagles

 

Llano to Celaya

flight homeStopped at McCreery Aviation (I really need to be better about mentioning those people, good outfit. They are busy enough to be a full service FBO, but still have prices that make it reasonable for normal people) in McAllen for fuel, then Tampico gave me their typical good level of service. The bit of a challenge came after Tampico (click the flight plan above for a larger view). The issue was that the coast was pretty hazy with scattered as low as 2,000 feet and no other weather information available until deep into the mountains (Bienvenidos a Mexico!). So I launched and headed into the hills and was able to pick my way through until the rain rain shadowshadow effect kicked in and it was clear sailing from there.

Saw an absolutely beautiful waterfall that I hadn’t noticed before. Makes me want to get a group of local friends together and do some camping, but it’s pretty far from home. I have discovered in the process of writing this note that it is called Cascadas de Tamul (http://is.gd/42dcuL).

Lone Star Maule Roundup

IMG_1589-smI’m starting preparation for the Lone Star Maule¬†Roundup today. It starts a week from tomorrow, so you might be wondering why someone who sometimes posts photos of an empty suitcase 15 minutes before catching a ride to the airport is starting so early.

In 2013 when I attended the first Maule Roundup I shot a video of the event. The organizer and I have become friends since and we recently did a formation flight to take photos of his Beaver. He was also kind enough to buy some Plane Perfect to raffle off and we matched his donation. He asked if I would do video again in 2015 and I agreed. Which is why I’m getting ready for the event a week ahead of time.

Tomorrow I will fly the Maule from San Miguel de Allende, GTO to Austin, TX and leave it there while I go to Chicago for a few days of work. Since I’ll be flying commercially to Chicago I can’t bring all my gear along and need to get things ready today.

I’ll be bringing three gopros, two video cameras, two video lights and a still camera. Between them I have nine batteries that need to be topped off.¬†Overnight I downloaded the latest US charts and approaches into ForeFlight.

I’m also excited to see Mingo Fishtrap Saturday night. Haven’t seen those guys in a bit over a year.

Flying to Mexico 2015

Weather was fabulous. In eight days of calendar and sixteen hours of flying I was delayed once for a few hours by weather and had smooth skies for all but 45 minutes. Just ridiculously good luck.

Chicago: Start of the journey and where we are from.

St. Louis: Hanging out with new friends who organized a demonstration of our detailing products to their community.

Nashville: Hanging out with old friends and a new friend, the latter of which will be coming to Mexico in a few weeks to play our music festival to raise funds for a local children’s charity (http://magictownmusic.org/?page_id=74)

(insert 6 hours of weather delay here)

Dallas: Friend got a new Beaver and we went flying to do some air to air photography so he had something nice to hang on his wall. Also got to have dinner with a Nicaraguan expat friend I made online who has been tutoring me in spanish and took him up for his first ride in a little plane.

McAllen: I know no one in McAllen and didn’t have time to fly all the way to my final destination without flying in the mountains at night. I’m not going to do that, so option 2 would have been flying into Tampico and staying there for the night, but Tampico is a super industrial city in Tamaulipas, which has a crime problem*. Stopping there for fuel doesn’t pose a risk, the military keeps things under control on-campus. I wouldn’t want to go walking around outside the fence though.

Tampico: Fuel stop and clearing customs. The staff here was fabulous. Unlike some Mexican airports, all the offices you need to deal with to come into the country are in one hallway just steps from each other. Everyone was helpful and got me on my way pretty quickly.

(insert 45 minutes of bumpy flying, at midday, in the mountains, here)

Leon: My airport in Celaya is closed for maintenance for the moment, so I stopped instead in Leon for ten days or so of parking. My buddy Rusty picked me up and drove me to San Miguel de Allende where we’ve spent the bulk of the past couple years.

* Sad story: http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/jun/02/the-tragedy-of-tampico-mexico-a-city-of-violence-abandoned-to-the-trees