Flying trip to Central American           1/22 - 2/14/2004


Los Mochis



Flores / Tikal
Guatemala City


El Salvador

San Salvador

Costa Rica

San Jose


Panama City
Panama Canal
Bocas del Toro


La Masa


Mexico Guatemala El Salvador Honduras Nicaragua Costa Rica Panama Belize
Trip statistics; 77.9hrs of flying over a great circle distance of 3000NM ( nautical miles). Total trip distance of approx 7500NM  in 24 days

One of my earliest memories is of my father talking about his geological explorations and mining operations in Mexico and Central America. I can remember exotic sounding names of places like Chihuahua, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Guatemala and Honduras. I also remember 78 RPM records of Central American dance music which he would bring back from his travels..

In my 35 years and nearly 1500 hours of General Aviation flying almost 200 hours have been spent south of the border in Mexico. Most of my Mexican flying has been  for pleasure with family and friends but I also participate in missions with Los Medicos Voladores, the Flying Doctors. This trip, however would be my first venture south of the southern Mexico boarder.

The aircraft of choice was my Cessna 182P; the 1975 model four place, high wing, O470 Continental powered, 230 hp, 155 mph (130Knots), station wagon of the air with extended range (79 gallons) fuel tanks. I've flown this a/c for the past seven years and its large load carrying capacity, short field performance, general flight stability and endurance make it an excellent choice for this kind of flying. (Of course it would be nice if it flew a little faster.) The only piece of special gear is the Garmin 530 moving map GPS. I can't say enough nice things about the Garmin.

While the 182 is a true four place plane, it only carried two on this trip; myself and my long time friend Travis Fretter. I had met Travis in high school in 1955 and we have been friends ever since; sometimes working together, other times neighbors, and raising children of similar ages who themselves were friends. I was concerned that Travis had little 'small aircraft' flying experience but his love of travel, adventure, and languages (he speaks several, fluently) plus fifty years of friendship won the day and he turned out to be the perfect companion.

   Travis & John                                                                                                                                           John & Travis

The idea of the trip was, loosely, to fly south in a survey mode and then return at a more leisurely pace visiting places and people that fortune place in our path. For most of the trip we set no schedule to follow. The only deadline was one of our own making; we wanted to be home in time for Valentines day, 24 days from our departure.