• This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn more.

Flying in Mexico. Stamp land.


Han Solo is NOT dead!!
Hi. Again, new fella here, so I thought I might as well add my take on this.

So, immediately after I got my commercial, I landed a job flying a 182 from KSAT to MMAN back and forth. After that job ended, having 450 hours My job options in the States were limited, so I stayed in Mexico, now for 2 years. So how has it been?

On the scale of 1-10, I'd say an 8. There are plenty of jobs here, paycheck is ok, and the huge majority of jobs are either corporates or private fellows who need pilots. Given the proximity to the US here, 90% of my flights are into TX. MMAN is 110 NM SW of KLRD and W of KMFE, and 240NM SSW of KSAT so maintenance shops and and parts aren't that much of a problem.

For starters, remember to always have both original and photocopies of every document that might be relevant. Particularly ARROW, Insurance, and your licence/passport/medical exam. IF you can, try to have it be a first class. One day, Someone, somewhere, will try to bluff you into tangle you by saying you're flying illegaly with 2nd or 3rd class exams.

Now to the Problem here, which is bureaucracy - both the lack of consistency between authorities from airport to airport - and the stupid stamped seals that seem to have to be on every document you're asked for. IE your flight plan must have the Comandancia's stamp on it. In MMAN that is enough, but in MMIO, 50 NM W, you need Immigration's, Aduana's (IRS), Environment Protection and the Airport's administration office's stamp as well.

IF the place you're flying to has an FBO, take it. They will most definetly help you out with all of this bureaucracy, but they charge for service. They must, since fuel is sold by a government supplier. Same reason why most airports charge for landing and parking fees. They must survive on something. I know only a handfull of places that sell gas independantly (abeilt at a higher price obviously). BTW, in airports that are not GA exclusive be prepared to be fueled only after airliners are. Sometimes there's enough personnel to fuel you and them at the same time, but don't push your luck. Always tip the fuelers so next time you're around things can go a little faster. In any case, come to terms to the fact that refueling in Mexico: from the moment you call them to the signature on the recepits takes usually over an hour.

The place that could definetly need some help is Dispatch Offices - the equivalent of Flight Service Stations. Why? Lets start by You cannot file flight plans online here. There is ONE portal that supposedly allows you to, but even if you get a confirmation e-mail that the flight plan is on file, somehow when ready to copy there's a "no flight plan on file sir. Please go to the Dispatch office to clarify" . So again, if the place you're going has an FBO, take it. They will help you out with this too.

However, if you're stuck without one, on to collect your stamps. Pray so that the guy behind the counter doesn't go "sorry I don't take flight plans written in black pen" (that actually happened to me), or "sorry, but you cannot fly that route. It has to be so and so and so. You'll need another flight plan form, I don't take scratched out ones." And start over. Just remember every dispatch person for every airport has its own set of rules. Problem is, they aren't an authority, so, if you think you got the hold of it - wrong. Again, just take the FBO whenever you can.

Also, most of the weather info you'll get are METARs and TAFs. Forget about FAs. Your best source of WX here is also aviationweather.gov. Sometimes if the guy knows about it, they'll show radar images from intellicast.com. But the thing that irks me is the apparent non existing SPECI report. I've been at a field where the Wx went from 5SM and OVC130 to 3/4 SM and OVC030 and then to 1 SM and OVC040 in less than an hour and no SPECIs to show for it. Also, TAFs are generated apparently in Mexico City for the whole country, so they're not THAT accurate for airports away from it, except on big ones.

Lastly, Sometimes ATC complicates itself too much. Try asking for a Direct, you'll get it about half the time. When getting close to most airports, you'll notice most don't have an ATIS freq. And the thing that makes me scratch my head regularly, is this: whenever you're about to cross a. Rwy at a busy airport, most likely you'll hear "hold short of runway 4, traffic 10 mile final a Cessna 172". Seriously. By the time he arrived, you could have crossed a dozen times. So be patient. This is particulalry needed on hollidays. I've waited in line for takeoff for 45 minutes because of things like this. I'm not saying ATC is bad. I'm saying things could be more efficient.

Again, I'd give this place an 8. Once you develop a comfort zone, Sight seeing is absolutely fantastic, food is great, and if you're an IFR lover like me, procedures are both demanding and enjoyable. Again, just keep an eye out for your situational awareness and terrain.

So. I guess that's it. If I may be of any help, feel free to drop me a line. Thanks for reading,

Take care and happy flying

The Gardener

Terrafirma Phobic
Good post. I do a couple dozen trips a year into Baja and a bit beyond. You've got some good advice here. For weather I also use a lot of non aviation weather info as well. At least on Baja the weather is either clear or scattered thunderstorms.

I also use handlers/FBOs when able and most all of them are good. As a general rule I tip all the non gub'ment staff well, but as a habit I refuse to tip gub'ment employees. It seems that doing so puts a mark on you and you'll end up getting shaken down at every turn from there on out. The Ferderalies appear to be scary but usually they are very friendly but speak little to no English. A smile and offering them a cold drink from the cooler goes a long way.

Things go slow, and I try to be at the airport 2 hours prior to a departure instead of my normal 1 hour and I get fuel as soon as a land if at all possible to avoid a wait later. I think the worst thing about flying into Mexico is having to come back into the US. The Mexican's are a bit disjointed and convoluted but they are friendly. The US CBP think they are organized and they are rude and impersonal nearly always.

Accommodations are usually as nice, if not nicer in Mex for less money. The food is insanely good and ultra cheap at most destinations (short of the resort cities).

Always as taxi drivers what it'll cost before you get in and always carry plenty of change everywhere you go and pesos are best otherwise you'll quickly learn what no cambio means. Finding an ATM can be a task in some towns but you can get pesos prior to heading down.

All and all, I love nearly everything about Mexico. If I could do nothing but Mexico charters I would. That said, I'd love to one day have a second property on the Sea of Cortez.


Han Solo is NOT dead!!
3 years later and what has changed? Online Flight Planning works now, but only on their government portal - if you don't have a Mexican License, you can't file. Sad.


Han Solo is NOT dead!!
As I understand to fly for a Mexican company you need to be a Mexican national, and not by marriage correct?
Only XA's are off limits to non-born mexicans. XA's are the equivalent of 121 and 135's. Anything else you can, as long as it is XB tail number and you have a DGAC Private Pilot ticket