A Journal, with Pictures


Maine 2021

by on Oct.20, 2021, under Flying

Joyce and I flew to Rock­land Maine, on Tues­day, Octo­ber 12th to vis­it one of our favorite places and see the fall col­ors. The flight up was inter­est­ing in that weath­er forced us inland with a fuel and lunch stop in Mar­tins­burg, WV. We did an instru­ment approach, refu­eled had lunch then con­tin­ued to the Rock­land air­port. Head­winds all the way so the total fly­ing time end­ed up being 7.7 hours. We picked up a rental car and drove up the coast past Cam­den to our favorite B & B the Inn and Sun Rise Point. Matt and M.J. the own­ers wel­comed us, made a din­ner reser­va­tion, and made us com­fort­able. A glass of wine and din­ner and we got a great night’s sleep.

Wednes­day, after a fab­u­lous break­fast we head­ed back to the air­port to meet our friends Harold and Ellen Yanof­sky who flew over from their sum­mer home in New Hamp­shire. We had a delight­ful lunch at a restau­rant on the water in Rock­port and after drop­ping them off at the air­port did some leaf-peep­ing in the area south of Cam­den. Beau­ti­ful! The peo­ple at the Inn made a reser­va­tion at a restau­rant in Cam­den, called Natal­ie’s, which turned out to be out­stand­ing. Oys­ters, lob­ster, decon­struct­ed choco­late cake, yumm.

Thurs­day after anoth­er spec­tac­u­lar break­fast, we drove north up the coast to the town of Belfast to view the fall foliage and coast­line. We returned to Cam­den for a lit­tle shop­ping and sight­see­ing. We returned to the Inn to relax then were off to a local restau­rant for our last lob­ster and oys­ters of the trip.

The fore­cast for Sat­ur­day was pret­ty ugly so we decid­ed to leave Fri­day morn­ing. We took off and climbed through a low ceil­ing to enjoy tail­winds all the way. We stopped for fuel and lunch at George Town, Delaware, and were home in Hilton Head by 4:00 PM. Great quick trip in our mag­ic carpet.

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COPA Bedford, PA Weekend Fly-In

by on May.24, 2021, under Flying

COPA region­al week­end fly-ins are back in busi­ness. Rhon­da Tom­lin­son, NE Region Gov­er­nor, assist­ed by Bethany Wardrop­per and their spous­es, orga­nized a week­end get­away at the Bed­ford PA, Omni resort. It was attend­ed by over twen­ty COPA mem­bers, who enjoyed per­fect weath­er for the event. There were all Cir­rus mod­els rep­re­sent­ed includ­ing an SF-50, with par­tic­i­pants from as far away as Flori­da as well as many from the North East.

The group flew in on Thurs­day, with two local cou­ples join­ing the group for a wel­come recep­tion that evening. On Fri­day morn­ing the group board­ed a bus and trav­eled to the Flight 93 memo­r­i­al in near­by Shanksville. The memo­r­i­al and muse­um were very inter­est­ing and extreme­ly mov­ing. After the tour, the group had lunch at a local Inn, the Lin­coln Cafe. This was fol­lowed by wine tast­ing at the Bel­la Ter­ra vine­yard tast­ing room, then shop­ping, and brows­ing in his­toric Bed­ford. That evening the group dined at the his­toric Jean Bon­net Tavern.

Sat­ur­day, we took advan­tage of the Omni Bed­ford resort, some played golf at the Don­ald Ross golf course, some enjoyed the Spa, some went back into Bed­ford for more shop­ping and lunch, some did some hik­ing, but all had a great day. That evening we had the final recep­tion and din­ner at the hotel.

Sun­day, morn­ing the group scat­tered across the coun­try either back to their home air­port or extend­ing their trip. It was anoth­er great region­al event with friends get­ting togeth­er again and new COPA friends being added. Rhon­da received a lot of ideas and vol­un­teers to orga­nize more get-togeth­ers in the near future. It was obvi­ous, that these COPA mem­bers missed the per­son­al COPA gath­er­ings and thor­ough­ly enjoyed them­selves at this one.


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COPA Mayan Adventure, Gautemala

by on Mar.30, 2019, under Flying

This year COPA Cen­tral Amer­i­ca Adven­ture Trip focused on explor­ing Mayan his­to­ry and cul­ture and includ­ed vis­its to two UNESCO World Her­itage sites, the first in Tikal, Guatemala. We again had Caribbean Sky Tours (CST), orga­nize and escort our trip. We had a full com­ple­ment of COPA air­craft this year includ­ing an SF50 Cir­rus Jet along with Cir­rus SR20 and 22’s. Groups depart­ed the U.S., one from Brownsville, Texas the oth­er Key West, Flori­da. Joyce and I flew with the five planes fly­ing the 650 miles across the Gulf of Mex­i­co land­ing in Guatemala, near the vil­lage of Flo­res. The Key West group met for din­ner at a COPA favorite restau­rant, Louie’s Back­yard for a great din­ner under the stars. The next morn­ing, Sun­day, March tenth,  we flew to the north of Cuba, then over Cozumel, down to down to Belize City then west to Flo­res. We are met by CST han­dlers whisked through cus­toms and immi­gra­tion into vans and off to our hotel.   Our hotel is the fab­u­lous Las Lagu­nas resort with rooms over the water and the cen­tral build­ing over­look­ing an infin­i­ty pool and the lake. We start our vis­it with a cool cerveza, relax then meet with our total group for our inau­gur­al cock­tails and dinner.

The next morn­ing we enjoy a great break­fast pre­pared to order with a stun­ning view of Quex­il lagoon. We meet our guide then depart for the one hour trip to Tikal Nation­al Park a mag­nif­i­cent arche­o­log­i­cal site. This was the cen­ter of the Mayan civ­i­liza­tion. There are 4000 struc­tures iden­ti­fied, most remain cov­ered by the jun­gle. We will vis­it the cen­ter and most impor­tant struc­tures. Our guide reminds us that the Mayans built these struc­tures with­out met­al tools or any ani­mals to assist them. We explore the ruins with our guides in a trek through the jun­gle end­ing with an out­door lunch of local dishes.

In the after­noon there are lots of options includ­ing the spa, a muse­um at the hotel, the pool or the hot tub in your room over­look­ing the lake (our choice). We meet for cock­tails and anoth­er great dinner.

The next day there are a num­ber of options includ­ing explor­ing the lake and vis­it­ing mon­key island. Being inter­est­ed in nature pho­tog­ra­phy I had a great time pho­tograph­ing mon­keys. After the boat tour, the major­i­ty trav­el into the vil­lage of Flo­res which is on an island on the near­by lake Peten Itza which is acces­si­ble by a cause­way. This is our sec­ond vis­it so we just enjoy the muse­um, resort pool and our hot tub after a great lunch at the hotel.

That evening after our flight brief­ing by Rick Gard­ner, our leader from CST we have cock­tails and yet anoth­er great din­ner at Las Lagu­nas. In the morn­ing we are off to Campeche, Mex­i­co. With all of our air­craft togeth­er its a pret­ty impres­sive flight line, with the SF50 right up front.












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COPA Mayan Adventure, Mexico

by on Mar.30, 2019, under Flying

Wednes­day morn­ing we bid farewell to Los Lagu­nas, after anoth­er great break­fast over­look­ing Quex­il lagoon. Our han­dlers have us through depar­ture quick­ly, flight plans in hand for our first leg to Cozumel where we will clear Mex­i­can cus­toms. Its a beau­ti­ful flight along the coast on the route we were sup­posed to take com­ing in. We see the inlets where fresh water from under­ground rivers mix­es with salt water that was used by pirates as a hid­ing place dur­ing the Span­ish peri­od. Cozumel turn around is unevent­ful and we are on to Campeche, where no ATIS, gusty quar­ter­ing winds, plus low-lev­el wind shear make for an inter­est­ing land­ing. We are quick­ly off to the Hacien­da Puer­ta Campeche which is inside the old walled city and very quaint. We meet for din­ner after set­tling in and cock­tails in the hotel bar.

Thurs­day after break­fast we meet our guide Felix who starts his descrip­tion at the city land gate across the street from our hotel. We then take the one hour trip to the Edz­na Mayan arche­o­log­i­cal site which dates back to 600 BC and was a cen­ter for cer­e­mo­ny and trad­ing for the area. Unlike Tikal, this site was built in an arid region and did not have to be exca­vat­ed from the jun­gle so it is bet­ter pre­served. We make a brief stop to taste local corn­bread made in a char­coal oven, very tasty. The Edz­na ruins are very impres­sive and Felix edu­cates us about all aspects of Mayan his­to­ry. After the ruins, we stop for lunch at the Hacien­da Uaya­mon an estate dat­ing back to 1700. After we return we have time to explore Campeche on our own or relax at our hotel, before din­ner on our own. In our case, we dined at an excel­lent local restau­rant, Mar­gan­zo, serv­ing tra­di­tion­al region­al cui­sine and Mayan dishes.

Fri­day after break­fast we do a walk­ing tour of Campeche, walk­ing through the local mar­ket, not nec­es­sar­i­ly your super­mar­ket at home. We also vis­it church­es, the square, and both his­to­ry and arche­o­log­i­cal muse­ums. We have lunch at a local street restau­rant and then relax, pack, before the brief­ing for our flight back and our final din­ner together. -

This was a great group of COPA pilots and part­ners from all over the unit­ed states includ­ing Ore­gon, Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, Wash­ing­ton DC, South Car­oli­na, and Flori­da. We had a great time, saw some amaz­ing things and beau­ti­ful places. The first group depart­ed for Brownsville, Texas and beyond and the sec­ond to Key West back across the Gulf of Mex­i­co. In our case, after clear­ing cus­toms, we overnight­ed in Fort Laud­erdale to cel­e­brate our old­er daugh­ters birth­day before return­ing home on Sun­day. Real­ly an out­stand­ing trip thanks to COPA, Caribbean Sky Tours, a great group of COPA peo­ple plus the excel­lent warm hos­pi­tal­i­ty of Las Lagu­nas in Guatemala and Hacien­da Puer­ta Campeche in Mexico.

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2018 October Flying trip

by on Oct.27, 2018, under Flying

We had planned a fly­ing trip in August but Joyce had an acci­dent that side­lined us, so we made up for lost time with a trip to the Green­bri­er in West Vir­ginia and then on to Williams­burg, Vir­ginia. Hur­ri­cane Micheal blocked our return to Hilton Head so we made an unplanned trip to Day­ton for two days before return­ing home. It all worked out just fine. We start­ed by join­ing our fly­ing friends at the 2018 Green­bri­er COPA fly-in. This was orga­nized by Rhon­da and Mike Thom­lin­son of the COPA NE Region and was well attend­ed. Joyce and I toured the cold war bunker on Thurs­day, Octo­ber 4th, there was an open­ing cock­tail and din­ner par­ty, lots of things to do, includ­ing a cave tour, plus the great ameni­ties of the resort. We took advan­tage of the gym to counter the ample calo­ries being con­sumed and just enjoyed the cama­raderie with oth­er COPA pilots. The weath­er was beau­ti­ful and a good time was had by all.


On Sun­day we flew on to Williamburg, Vir­ginia and stayed at the fab­u­lous Williams­burg Inn. The colo­nial town of Williams­burg has been restored to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion and peo­ple in peri­od cos­tume tell the sto­ry of life in those times. It is extreme­ly well done and you expe­ri­ence that time in his­to­ry, on loca­tion in the tav­ern, tin­smiths shop, shoe­mak­er, bar­ber, sil­ver­smith shop and all the places of dai­ly life.  We then viewed oth­er parts of the town includ­ing the armory, where a can­non was fired, and the local fife and drum unit march at sun­set. We also vis­it­ed the Colo­nial Gov­er­nors man­sion and the then Colo­nial Cap­i­tal of Vir­ginia. Over­all it was inter­est­ing, edu­ca­tion­al two days with a lot of walking.

On Wednes­day morn­ing we decid­ed that the weath­er in South Car­oli­na due to then trop­i­cal storm Micheal was­n’t going to be fun so we flew to Day­ton, Ohio to vis­it friends and hang out while the weath­er past. On Fri­day we flew back to Hilton Head with a good tail wind and beau­ti­ful weath­er. It was a fun week and due to our mag­ic Cir­rus car­pet, we did it in com­fort and style.

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COPA Bahamas 2018

by on Apr.30, 2018, under Flying

The COPA annu­al Bahamas fly-in again was a great suc­cess. This year we returned to Har­bor Island, April 26 through 29, and enjoyed the pink sand beach­es, sun, and Bahami­an charm. The weath­er was good and fly­ing was  great fun. THANKS to Joe McMonigle and Jim and Nan­cy Knol­len­berg for orga­niz­ing anoth­er great event.  This was one of the largest COPA Bahamas trips with 80 par­tic­i­pants and 35 planes. They include the open­ing recep­tion, the gala din­ner and cock­tails on one of our mem­bers boats, the ramp as well as before COPA din­ner pic­ture. There was lots of sun bathing, social­iz­ing, tour­ing, shop­ping, din­ing and gen­er­al­ly hav­ing fun. Sor­ry with so many par­tic­i­pants and so much going on we could only get images from part of the activ­i­ties, sor­ry if we missed you.

The First Day:

The COPA Dinner:

Cock­tails on the Impulse:


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Central America Panama Adventure Starts

by on Mar.19, 2018, under Flying

This trip actu­al­ly start­ed on our first Cir­rus Own­ers and Pilots Asso­ci­a­tion (COPA) trip to Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, sev­er­al years before. We were very close to Pana­ma, but the logis­tics, sched­ule and cost pre­vent­ed us from even doing a flight from Cos­ta Rica over the Canal. Caribbean Sky Tours (CST) had orga­nized the first unac­com­pa­nied trip, which was great. When I heard they did a Pana­ma trip in 2017 I con­tact­ed them and then met with the prin­ci­ples at Air Ven­ture in Oshkosh in the sum­mer of that year. We orga­nized the trip, using what we learned from the first trip and added rep­re­sen­ta­tives (the prin­ci­ples) accom­pa­ny­ing us.

About CST, they are a 15 year old com­pa­ny man­aged by Rick and Pia Gard­ner, founders, who spe­cial­ize in orga­niz­ing and man­ag­ing flights to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Cen­tral and South Amer­i­ca. Their pri­ma­ry busi­ness is plan­ning, orga­niz­ing and sup­port­ing cor­po­rate flights in this region, but they also do trips for groups. They are the pre­mier qual­i­ty sup­pli­er, who have the infra­struc­ture to plan and sup­port flights in this dif­fi­cult part of the world. Such things as over flight per­mits, cus­toms and immi­gra­tion require­ments, local avi­a­tion reg­u­la­tions, facil­i­ties, routes and on and on, are what they know. CST col­lect­ed a huge amount of data and doc­u­ments from us to make sure that we were good for any for­eign avi­a­tion or immi­gra­tion require­ment. They have a net­work of agents and an in house com­put­er sup­port­ed group of flight coor­di­na­tors who not only plan, but also track every flight. As an exam­ple when our 12 planes where com­ing back to the U.S., CST was also man­ag­ing 18 oth­er flights in the region. The local knowl­edge CST has, plus the orga­ni­za­tions infra­struc­ture makes under tak­ing a trip like ours not only pos­si­ble but by Latin Amer­i­can stan­dards has­sle free.

So with CST’s help we announced our Adven­ture on the COPA web site and it sold out in less than 15 min­uets, with a long wait list. COPA does­n’t like to dis­ap­point mem­bers, so we asked CST, could you do a sec­ond trip, they came back and said yes, so again we sold the sec­ond trip out in 15 min­uets. So we had two trips, at max­i­mum capac­i­ty, which is gov­erned by how many planes we can get though cus­toms, refu­eled and achieve out des­ti­na­tion in a fly­ing day, which turns out to be 12 with a rea­son­able mar­gin of safe­ty. In the months lead­ing up to the trip the par­tic­i­pants received a num­ber of emails with plan­ning infor­ma­tion. Sev­er­al months before the trip the flight plans and rout­ing were sent and a month before the trip we had a tele­con­fer­ence call to go over the mate­r­i­al and answer ques­tions, so if you read the mate­r­i­al and did nor­mal con­sci­en­tious trip plan­ning there would be no need for changes after the trip began. We were in good hands and should be prepared.

So now with all of this, plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion now its time to fly to our U.S. jump­ing off air­port, in our case Brownsville, Texas. A look at the fore­cast and on the day of our planned depar­ture, morn­ing fog fore­cast at Hilton Head, and also the day before. The deci­sion fly Mon­day the 20th of Feb­ru­ary a day ear­ly. At least we could get half way if we left late, which is what hap­pened, so we spend the night in Ham­mond, LA, just north of New Orleans. This is an adven­ture trip so we start with an adven­ture. As usu­al Ham­mond, turns out to be an inter­est­ing place and we have a fun evening made pos­si­ble by a great FBO, Pierce Avi­a­tion. Next morn­ing we fly on for the sec­ond four hour plus fly­ing day to Brownsville TX. Head winds the whole way west and 30 knot gusts upon doing the instru­ment approach into our des­ti­na­tion air­port. Yes, it is going to be an adven­ture trip.

That evening we meet Rick Gard­ner of CST and orga­nize our first meet­ing at the hotel. We have our first brief­ing of the group and then go to local restau­rants for din­ner. The inevitable bound­ing of fel­low pilots and adven­tur­ers starts. Tomor­row we are off on our adventure.

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Brownsville, TX to Veracruz, Mexico

by on Mar.19, 2018, under Flying

Our first day of fly­ing on the COPA Cen­tral Amer­i­ca Pana­ma Adven­ture start­ed with 6:30 break­fast at our hotel in Brownsville, then to the air­port for a 8:30 depar­ture for the three and a half hour flight. Part of our group (Flori­da res­i­dence) were com­ing from Key West Flori­da and would meet us in Ver­acruz so we had eight planes in our squadron. We left on time with the tur­bo charged planes going first so they could wait for the rest of us at our des­ti­na­tion but not have to wor­ry about sep­a­ra­tion. The flight was easy down the coast with scat­tered clouds, and we got intro­duced to Mex­i­can, real­ly Cen­tral Amer­i­can ATC. Radar is spot­ty so we were required to report our posi­tion peri­od­i­cal­ly rel­a­tive to a way point. We made a VOR approach into Ver­acruz and got intro­duced to Mex­i­can cus­toms. CST had their agents there to help us and we got through fair­ly quick­ly by Latin Amer­i­can stan­dards. We were off to the Hotel Empo­rio Ver­acruz which is on the water. After check in we did a walk­ing tour on our own of the very scenic old city. A cold cerveza  on the square, a look at the old fort which has a rich his­to­ry and then it was time to meet for the brief­ing for tomor­rows flight to Guatemala City before cock­tails and din­ner at the hotel. Ver­acruz is a very pret­ty, scenic sea coast resort city and a good choice for our first stop.

Our first brief­ing by CST with the whole group took place in Ver­acruz. What was clear was we had no excus­es of not being pre­pared. Pia Hilbert Gard­ner, gave a us a “Pas­sen­ger Itin­er­ary” the gave us every detail you would want to know and just in case you could­n’t read she went over the next days activ­i­ties and sched­ule. Rick Gard­ner, then briefed us on the upcom­ing flight, what to expect and do in cus­toms, in the air, on the ground as well as the fore­cast­ed weath­er. He pro­vid­ed a pilots guide with every pos­si­ble detail includ­ed and then cov­ered the next days depar­ture, flight and land­ing. We were in good hands, so we could relax and enjoy our jour­ney. We had a jol­ly din­ner and start­ed the process of mak­ing new friends.

Tomor­row we fly to Guatemala City, we are off to a good start with a con­ge­nial group.

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Veracruz Mexico to Antigua, Guatemala

by on Mar.19, 2018, under Flying

After our short stay in Ver­acruz we fly the three and a half hour flight to the Guatemala City air­port. This is a very inter­est­ing flight from a num­ber of points of view. First we have planned our route so that we don’t need oxy­gen, and over the most hos­pitable ter­rain, some elect to change to a short cut route which is fine, but then a MOA goes hot and ATC tries to route every­one over the high­er ter­rain. One hour lat­er, while sit­ting on the taxiway,  we get this fixed and the rest of the planes leave. Last minute changes in these coun­tries proves to be a bad idea. The flight itself is over very inter­est­ing ter­rain and we fly along the east coast turn west and tra­verse the low point of the moun­tain spine of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca to the west coast, past Tapachu­la where we will vis­it lat­er and final­ly we turn in-land to Guatemala City. We are fly­ing between vol­canic moun­tains, one of which is active. As we turn toward the moun­tains we are in the clouds, and Guatemala approach has it hands full with reg­u­lar com­mer­cial traf­fic and a swarm of 12 Cir­rus. Lots of vec­tor­ing and then an ILS approach to the air­port that is 4950 above sea lev­el, with ter­rain all around. Because of the ter­rain and traf­fic, approach keeps us high until the last min­uet then its dive for the run­way, best land­ing I made on the whole trip 140 knots over the fence (yikes). We then taxi to cus­toms, where we are met by about 25 Guatemala and US drug agents in train­ing. After cus­toms, we taxi to park away from the ter­mi­nal, where there are a num­ber of con­fis­cat­ed drug planes, with more parked on the oth­er side of the air­port, includ­ing a Gulf­stream, Embraer and oth­er expen­sive big iron. We then leave Guatemala City for Antigua, which turns out to be an absolute­ly charm­ing colo­nial cap­i­tal city about an hour and a half dri­ve into the high­lands. We arrive at Hotel Camino Real, which is very nice and its time for a Cerveza, shower,  then we recon­vene for a group dinner.

Our first full day in Antigua we do a walk­ing tour of the city, which is sur­round­ed by vol­canic moun­tains, one active. The city was the third cap­i­tal of the King­dom of Guatemala, that at that time includ­ed Belize, Guatemala, El Sal­vador, Nicaragua and Cos­ta Rica under Span­ish Con­quis­ta­dor rule. It is known for its well pre­served Baroque Span­ish archi­tec­ture and many church ruins and retains the cob­ble­stone streets.

We have lunch, in our case with our guide in a local restau­rant for native food, very dif­fer­ent but very good, of course with a local cerveza. We explore the city on our own for the rest of the day then recon­vene for cock­tails before a group pic­ture in front of the hotel, then off to a local restau­rant for dinner.

The sec­ond day we have the option to select one of sev­er­al tours. We select a tour of sur­round­ing vil­lages, that spe­cial­ize in dif­fer­ent crafts, oth­ers choose to climb to the top of one of the vol­cano’s, the one in the pho­to cov­ered by clouds. We view the city from a hill then we see locals doing laun­dry, a tex­tile weav­ing vil­lage, a jade pro­cess­ing fac­to­ry and a Macadamia nut farm before return­ing to Antigua.

Since its Sat­ur­day we then go to the farm­ers mar­ket on the edge of the city, where locals do their week­ly shop­ping. My only fear was get­ting lost in the mar­ket which was team­ing with buy­ers and sell­ers crowed in nar­row aisles around acres of stands. It was chaot­ic but fun. After the tour we wan­dered off to a local restau­rant for lunch and did some more tour­ing and shopping.

It was cock­tails and din­ner at the hotel after the brief­ing for the flight to Pana­ma very ear­ly the next morn­ing. Antigua proved to be a high­light of the trip and wor­thy of being des­ig­nat­ed a World Her­itage Sight.

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by on Mar.17, 2018, under Flying

On Sun­day, Feb­ru­ary 25th, we did the most demand­ing day of the trip. Because of the dri­ve from Antigua to Guatemala City and cus­toms uncer­tain­ty, plus a refu­el­ing stop for 12 air­planes we had to leave Antigua very ear­ly in the morn­ing (6:00am depar­ture). When we arrived in Guatemala City in the morn­ing we had to re-posi­tion our planes to cus­toms, clear cus­toms, then take off. We flew two and a half hours to Liberia, Cos­ta Rica, did the approach, had the nor­mal 30 knot gusts, land­ed, refu­eled and with the help of the great han­dlers were back in the air for the two hour and forty minute flight to Pana­ma City’s GA air­port. The FBO and cus­toms in Pana­ma were very good (cus­toms in the FBO) and we were off to our hotel in the cen­ter of the old city. The first full day we went to the canal exhi­bi­tion site to view the orig­i­nal canal Miraflo­res locks (first Pacif­ic side locks), in the dis­tance we could see the Pedro Miguel Locks (Lake lev­el). The exhi­bi­tion cen­ter includ­ed a muse­um that told the his­to­ry and the oper­a­tions as well as infor­ma­tion about the new larg­er locks that oper­ate in par­al­lel to the orig­i­nal canal. The his­to­ry is very inter­est­ing and the engi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion are clear­ly an amaz­ing human accom­plish­ment. The French tried and failed in the 1880’s and the US fin­ished in 1914. The orig­i­nal canal con­sists of three sets of locks, a man made lake (Lake Gaton) that span rough­ly 45 miles across the isth­mus of Pana­ma and some of the most inhos­pitable swamp, jun­gle and moun­tains in the world. There were over 25,000 lives lost between the French and Amer­i­can efforts, most­ly to yel­low fever and malaria.

Our sec­ond day we had sev­er­al choic­es for tours, one being tak­ing the train to the Caribbean side and vis­it­ing Colon and the one we choose which was to take a boat trip onto the lake. We got a taste of the jun­gle that bor­ders the lake and ships tran­sit­ing this part of the canal. An inter­est­ing fac­toid is the lake took sev­en years to form after com­ple­tion of the locks, sup­plied pri­mar­i­ly by the Cha­gres river.

We had a good time in Pana­ma with shop­ping near our hotel, and most every­one was sport­ing a new Pana­ma hat, we had group din­ners in local restau­rants in addi­tion to one night in the hotel, lunch on roof top restau­rants gave us a great view of the new sky­line. The last night after din­ner we enjoyed a show that fea­tured local dancers in local costumes.

Pana­ma was extreme­ly inter­est­ing and for those inter­est­ed David McCul­lough’s “Path between the Seas” is a must read. This was anoth­er stop on the trip that was worth the trip alone.  The next morn­ing we fly back to Liberia for an overnight then on to Tapachula.

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