Recently we made it to Nicaragua. This has been my first time and I absolutely loved it. Below find the cost as a guideline. I have added this to the Central America International Flight Cost page.
Return Flight: La Aurora, Guatemala (MGGT) – Costa Esmeralda, Nicaragua (MNCE)
||Communication and FBO Coordination
||Passenger Departure Tax
||$33 per passenger *
||Agriculture Desinfection Fee
||Agriculture Inspection Fee
||Overflight Permit Nicaragua
||Approach and Landing Fee
||Parking Fee (2 days plus 4 hours)
||Passenger Departure Tax
||International Flight Plan and fees
|Nicaragua & Guatemala
||Fuel for your airplane.
||AvGas not available in Costa Esmeralda airport
||$439 with 1 passenger
Credit cards were accepted for all payments.
A fuel stop in Ilopango, El Salvador (MSSS) added another $5 in fees to the above. Depending on your aircraft, you might be able to complete the return flight without the additional stop.
Construction of a new hangar on the Atitlan runway was completed. Contact me if you are in need for a short term home for your aircraft.
Guatemala City has been the only airport where you could get Avgas in Guatemala. Recently Avgas was added to the Mundo Maya Airport (MGMM). Since Mundo Maya is also an international airport, this makes it a great option to enter Guatemala when coming from the north.
Remember there are landing fees for N-registered aircrafts of 150 GTQ and some additional fees for another 30 GTQ or so. If you land at night, they will charge for turning on the light.
Great news for Guatemala Aviation.
Make sure to show you Aeroclub Guatemala membership to get a discounted rate.
Check out the new Atitlan Runway Information.
It includes (hopefully) useful pilot information from a pilot to pilots and some flight videos taken at the runway.
The Aviation Weather is a great resource for pilots. This website is run by the US government but provides valuable weather information for pilots globally. Some other parts of this webpage leverage the Aviation Weather webpage heavily.
Guatemala METAR visualized gets you to the Aviation Weather webpage with a visual representation of METAR around Guatemala.
Guatemala has some unique features to offer for pilots. Hot and humid coastal areas, high altitude airports, mountainous terrains, windy canyons, multi-language ATC, powerful cloud buildups and yes, active volcanos. So watch out for VA in your METAR (see more locally common METAR codes).
In preparation of a recent flight I found a bullet in my hangar.
It was lying close to the open hangar door, so my first thought that it came in through below the door. Obviously I checked the aircraft extensively including the surfaces of the wings from above with a ladder, no impact was found anywhere, not even a scratch. A friend and I were searching for possible hangar entry points and found a small hole right above the aircraft. We also found a scratch in the floor suggesting roughly a 60° entry and could explain why the bullet would have ended towards the wall, under the door. We searched the entire hangar and this is the most plausible explanation so far.
If true, the bullet came through the hangar roof only slightly slowed down. It could have caused significant damage to the airplane. Damage on top of the aircraft can be hard to identify. How often do you climb on the ladder and have a good look from above?
I will include some checking of the hangar roof and the floor for objects into my checklist.
ALWAYS something new…
The weather in Guatemala is absolutely great all year around. Especially in the mornings, you can almost always find some time to fly. Later in the year, mornings a great and then bad weather starts to build up in the afternoon. Between November and February, it seems like the weather is made for flying all day long. Only cold fronts bring strong winds, sometimes too strong to comfortably fly. The Aeroclub organizes Full Moon Fly-Ins called “lunadas” for instrument rated pilots between November and February. Participants leave Guatemala City to arrive in Iztapa before dark, then fly back later after sunset. Flying at night in Guatemala requires a instrument rating. Its absolutely worth it, great views assured and good practice for instrument flying as well. Check out some pictures below.
Surely this has happened to you. You were very eager to fly, and when you taxi out a loooooong line of planes to get out of La Aurora fighting with the commercial airplanes getting in. This gets much worse when morning fog closes the airport. Then you can almost certainly expect long waiting times.
Its hard to predict human behavior like pilots like you and me. Surely Guatemala weather is usually more favorable in the mornings. But I did look at some hard data of commercial airlines. These are scheduled and I pulled the data for free from http://www.flightstats.com. A little bit of data manipulation and here it goes…
The left-hand side of the graph shows average arrival and departure times. Also the overall activity which is simply the sum of the two. Same information but this time for the week-end is on the right side.
For the early morning guys, based on this you need to get out before or at 6:00 in the morning. The first peak of mostly departures happens between 06:00 and 07:00. Throughout the week this stays more or less high until about noon then drops down a little. So afternoon flying throughout the week looks promising. There is a little peak about 7:00 but then the day winds down.
On week-ends, you can get out very early or wait since between 7:00 and 9:00 scheduled activity drops again. In turn you have the peak around lunch with both incoming and outgoing commercial aircrafts.
Ok. I will admit it, not the huge discovery, but interesting nonetheless.
A new article about a recent Alternator Failure has been added. Check it out and share you comments.
The Sunday of Semana Santa might be one of the busiest, maybe the busiest day of the year on the streets and in the air in Guatemala. It was so busy that it was hard to place a call on the radio. On my first flight coming into Guatemala City I circled outside the 10NM class C airspace at least 3 times before being able to establish 2-way communication with La Aurora Tower (118.10). La Aurora is a class C airspace and you cannot fly within the 10NM before the tower has repeated your call sign. I wish pilots would be more professional in these situations, stop complaining about waiting times, instead remember the correct phraseology and only say what is needed. This was a very challenging day for air traffic controllers and surely at limit of what the frequency can handle at times.
The second flight was even more interesting. Flying back into Guatemala City from Chiquimula, there was a lot of traffic from and to Rio Dulce. We established initial contact with Guatemala Radio (126.90), but Guatemala Radio must have some technical issues and they were not able to respond (or provide a transponder code). This created a lot of confusion on the frequency. We decided to deviate towards the south to be away from the Rio Dulce route. We also started to do Unicom type position reports, assuming Guatemala Radio and all other aircrafts would at least hear us.
Then someone on the frequency “instructed” to change to 121.50 until Guatemala Frequency radio would be fixed. We did that, but when did initial contact where asked if we had an emergency. Obviously this is the emergency frequency and should be used for that. Not sure where that suggestion came from at the first place. Very questionable…
We switched back to Guatemala Radio with no success. Then decided to enter the Guatemala airspace from the south east (runway 02 was the active). We tuned the transponder to 1200 in ALT mode, this is the North America standard VFR code and would allow them to see us on the radar, without knowing who exactly we were. We switched to Guatemala Tower frequency and tried to communicate with them but only at around 12NM we were able to establish 2-way contact. Everything from there on was normal and event-less.
I would love to hear the perspective from Guatemala ATC. What happened that day and what they would have recommended the pilots to do. Generally, on very busy days, what would ATC recommend?
The one thing we could have done differently, we could have tried to connect with La Aurora Control (the radar and IFR frequency). Any other suggestions?