5 countries, 1 flight

by Aaron on December 30, 2010

We left Tapachula, Mexico the morning of the 28th after a short but fun stay in Mexico.  The flight from there to Liberia, Costa Rica was nothing short of spectacular.

We flew at about 5,500 feet most of the route to dodge a pretty stiff headwind.  We were still fighting a 15-30 knot headwind the whole way though. Charlie Banana’s a pretty stout little plane.  Even with the headwind we were still tracking over the ground at about 130 miles per hour.

Being forced to fly lower to avoid the headwind had a very tangible benefit.  We could see everything in splendid detail as we flew over the Guatemala highlands, the El Salvador coast, over parts of Nicaragua and Honduras, and on to Costa Rica.

We landed in Liberia, Costa Rica and went through customs, which were markedly easier than Mexico.  We literally walked right through.  After refueling and filing our flight plan we were on our way to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano.

This is where we experienced some of the mountain winds Costa Rica has to offer.  After flying low over the land as we departed we began climbing to clear the mountains en route to La Fortuna.

It was to be a relatively short flight but we began fighting a stiff 40 knot headwind as we climbed over the mountains.   The winds were screaming off a nearby mountain ridge as they raced towards the coast and made it nearly impossible to climb at times. We had some pretty intense up and down drafts.

It was pretty wild ride that got the blood pumping.

Needless to say it was nice to simply be the co-pilot and let the professional test pilot with over 5,000 hours man the helm.

Patrick got a pilot report that La Fortuna was socked in with rain and low clouds and made the correct call to turn back.  Patrick will have more on the details of the flight in his post.

Most international independent travel requires constant improvising.  Add in the fact we’re traveling in our own airplane and we’re literally flying by the seat of our pants at times.   Just the way I like it.

We found a little dive town on the coast called La Playa de Coco that sounded like fun and headed that way after landing.

Evidently everybody heads to random beach towns for New Years in Costa Rica so we were pretty lucky to score a room in La Playa de Coco(a room sans A/C and hot water that is).

We went exploring the town that night and found some pretty serious nightlife.  It left us wondering where the heck everyone was coming from. By the end of the night the streets and bars were packed with people.

And supposedly that was relatively calm compared to what goes on there New Year’s Eve.  We were told the entire street gets roped off and Costa Ricans party till the sun comes up.

We soaked up all the fun we could have and called it a night.

The next day we caught a ride back to the airport from a local Costa Rican/American we met at breakfast and hit the “air” to San Jose.

We leave bright and early manana for our 2 day rafting trip on the Pacuare!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Edie Stahl December 31, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Yeah, Aaron flying “by the seat of your pants” is just great as long as your pants stay next to Patrick!

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