We visited Playa del Carmen, nearby Cancun in December 2022. Playa del Carmen has become a pretty popular tourist destination with large number of restaurant choices and shops. There is a little runway in walking distance from the pedestrian zone called Quinta Avenida.
The runway with local Mexican identifier PCE was not to be found in my Garmin devices so I added the runway manually via GPS coordinates (20.622788, -87.082212 | 20°37’22.0″N 87°04’56.0″W).
The 2,175 ft long (50ft wide) concrete runway (11-29) is a well maintained and has additional overflow area to the west of about 350 ft and to the east of about 200ft. The eastern side of ths area is used for parked airplanes and boarding passenger and sky divers. The western end of the runway is limited by a fence and a highway, the eastern side has some buildings at the end. The biggest watch-out are the Sky Divers who are frequently jumping slightly to the south near the beach.
View towards the east. Note towers both left and right.
View looking towards the west.
Prevalent winds are from the east and runway 11 is in use. I was advised to fly a wide standard left-hand pattern to runway 11. There are antennas in proximity. I came from the east from Cozumel (MMCZ) and due to the wide pattern had trouble finding the runway at first, but you can use the larger (further to the south) of the two docks in Playa del Carmen as an extension of the runway for guidance.
The airport has a local administrator. He was very responsive via WhatsApp and can provide his contact upon request. He provided the following information:
- Runway 11-29 (668m x 15m)
- CTAF 122.50
- No control tower, no fuel
- 24-hour security
- only daylight operations
- $234 Mexican pesos per overnight stay (~$12 USD)
- $136 Mexican pesos per operation | landing (~$7 USD)
- $110 Mexican pesos TUA (The Airport Use Fee (TUA) is a payment that Mexican airports require for using their facilities) per passenger (~$6 USD)
There is also a small office for the local authorities. They checked aircraft (US registered N) documents and pilot certificates and submitted the flight plan for the return flight. We brought a template of the international ICAO flight plan which was useful.
Everybody at this small airport was very friendly. We would definitely go back. There is not much parking available, so it might be a good idea to contact the administrator beforehand. As mentioned above, I can share the contact that was given to me upon request.
Check out the Guatemala Nicaragua pilot briefing inclduing route information navigation and communication frequencies and other relevant comments.
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.