There is always a first time. After flying slightly over 110 hours in Guatemalan skies, it was time for the first international flight. The Ilopango airport is just under 100 NM from La Aurora. Below find extract of the flight preparation and notes from the real flight.
120° heading straight to MSSS. The volcano at San Salvador can be seen from over 50 NM away. Enter the San Salvador valley to the left of the volcano. I chose cruise altitude of 9,500 ft. 1 hour estimated in route with the border being almost exactly half way.
It is useful to program a waypoint at the border crossing in your GPS border. Both Guatemala Radio and Ilopango Radio will ask you estimated time to the border and the waypoint will come in handy. The MEGAL fix (N 14°04.900, W089°44.100) is on the route between la Aurora and Ilopango at the border crossing.
Please find below also the list of communication and navigation frequencies that I took along.
To leave the country with a plane from the Aeroclub de Guatemala you require authorization from the Board of Directors. Assuming you are a member of the Aeroclub de Guatemala and you are authorized to fly their planes, this can be done via email.
Estimados señores de la junta directiva,
Por este medio quisiera solicitar la autorización de volar la aeronave Cessna 172XP TG-XXX de La Aurora, Guatemala (MGGT) a Ilopango, El Salvador (MSSS). La salida será a las
El nombre de piloto es
De antemano, muchas gracias!
After getting the authorization, you will need the original papers for the plane you are flying and you will need to carry them with you on your flight.
I have engaged VIP Dispatch MGGT to help me with the paperwork. They required the flight planning information, pilot information and passenger information and passports. The day before the flight VIP Dispatch received the passports and had them ready the next day already checked through migration. We didn’t have to go through migration ourselves and could take off directly. They also had the international flight plan ready and the return flight plan prepared. I can highly recommend VIP Dispatch MGGT. Great Service!
On arrival in Ilopango, we checked migration, a doctor and then AIS where I handed over the paperwork. Everyone at Ilopango airport was extremely friendly. No issues or hold-ups.
The flight plan indicated 12:00 UTC, we took off 15 minutes later at 6:15 from runway 01 at MGGT. With authorization from Guatemala Tower we made a right-turn and flew right downwind until reaching 7,000 ft and then turned left for heading 120°. At La Aurora the skies were opening up, but once at cruise altitude, it proved to be a perfect day for flying. Guatemala Tower handed us over to Guatemala Radio somewhere between 10 and 15 NM. The volcano straight ahead of us turned out later to be the volcano in San Salvador, pretty much showing is the direction all flight long. We reported fuel autonomy, persons on board, cruise altitude and estimated time to the border. Just before the boarder we were handed over to Ilopango Radio. Again we reported current position and altitude, fuel autonomy, persons on board estimated time to Ilopango. Ilopango Radio asked for estimated in route to Tango Yankee. We were asked to report 15 NM. When we reported 15 NM we were told QNH, wind conditions and runway in use 33 and instructed to fly and report left downwind. When reported left downwind, we were further instructed to report abeam tower and after doing that, we were cleared for landing on 33. The pattern is along the mountains to the right and have to turn base with some obstruction in front as well. The runway appears slightly downhill. We existed the runway at D1 and were instructed to taxi to A. We got a little lost, since there are not many indications, but the tower helped taxi to the international ramp. Here is a map that hopefully helps others to find their way easier.
We flew back around 2:00 PM in the afternoon. We had to pay a parking and administration fee of around 14 $US, check AIS, then migration before we were ready to go. We started from runway 33 heading almost straight out to the right of the volcano of San Salvador. At cruise altitude 8,500 ft we could spot the Volcano Agua soon. No way to get lost. The hand-overs where the equivalent to when we came in. when close to La Aurora we were instructed to wait in the Tanzania area. We did and after an instrument traffic has passed we were allowed direct approach to runway 01. After landing we taxied to the international ramp at La Aurora. At the very left side, our contact from VIP Dispatch waited for us. He instructed us in the morning to leave the engine running, he would take the passports of the passengers and the international flight plan and bring them inside. Then he would give us a sign that we were good to taxi on to the Aeroclub. He did as promised and after a minute or so we taxied to the Aeroclub. The passports were brought to us when we finished fueling the plane.
A very cool experience that calls for more.