A Journal, with Pictures


Panama to Tapachula

by on Mar.15, 2018, under Flying

We had a rather leisure­ly depar­ture on Wednes­day Feb­ru­ary 28th, since we only had a three hours flight back to Liberia, Cos­ta Rico, where we would overnight. The depar­ture was easy with cus­toms for­mal­i­ties well orga­nized and after pre-flight the twelve Cir­rus were lined up for take off from Mar­cos A. Gelabert Inter­na­tion­al (Pana­ma’s gen­er­al avi­a­tion air­port). As we climbed out we made a left turn and below was the entrance to the Pana­ma canal and the Miraflo­res locks, quite a sight. Of course there always has to be a lit­tle excite­ment, so Pana­ma ATC changed our route so here we go fly the air­plane with one hand and punch in the route changes with the oth­er, while tak­ing in the sights. Easy flight back to Liberia and of course 30 knot gusts down the run­way for our land­ing. Some went to the beach, oth­ers just relaxed at the hotel near the air­port until the group dinner.

The next morn­ing we have to go through the main ter­mi­nal to clear cus­toms, load the bags, pre-flight and we are off for the three hour flight to Tapichu­la, Mex­i­co. For most of the flight we enjoyed a great view of the vol­cano’s that form the moun­tain range of Cen­tral Amer­i­ca. An inter­est­ing sight is the active vol­cano ris­ing out of Lake Man­agua, in Nicara. The fore­cast was for clear skies, but they got it a lit­tle wrong for our des­ti­na­tion and we did a very inter­est­ing VOR DME approach into the air­port. Wel­come back to Mex­i­co, cus­toms and immi­gra­tion, very inter­est­ing, but soon we are on our way to Argovia, Fin­ca (plan­ta­tion) resort, which is a work­ing cof­fee plan­ta­tion. The resort is in the moun­tains and up a wind­ing road, but not to fear, there is a stop for  snacks and cold cerveza,  so the hour and a half dri­ve was good.

We are tak­en to our casitas, which are sprin­kled along a ridge down a stone trail in a jun­gle like set­ting. The units are rus­tic, but clean with every­thing you need, plus a veran­da over look­ing the val­ley with a spec­tac­u­lar view. We all relax, in our case with a cold bot­tle of wine on the veran­da, then we are off to the group din­ner. It’s a fun evening, with lots of con­ver­sa­tion and laugh­ter, capped off by a sur­prise to Joyce, birth­day cake and cham­pagne with a  ser­e­nade by the wait staff.

The next day the own­er of Argovia, Bruno Guse­man, third gen­er­a­tion plan­ta­tion own­er gives us a tour and expla­na­tion of grow­ing, pick­ing, pro­cess­ing, roast­ing and brew­ing cof­fee. Bruno made a spe­cial trip from Tapachu­la to per­son­al­ly con­duct the tour, and he not only edu­cat­ed us but total­ly charmed us. In addi­tion to cof­fee, Bruno explained that Argovia Fin­ca had diver­si­fied, and was pro­duc­ing a wide range of prod­ucts rang­ing from flow­ers to hard wood in addi­tion to oper­at­ing the resort.

After the tour Bruno took us through his per­son­al home, which was con­struct­ed of hard wood and could have been the set for a movie and was,surrounded by beau­ti­ful gar­dens. We then had lunch, some toured the flower oper­a­tion, some relaxed or went to the spa. We then had our last brief­ing for the trip back to Brownsville, before our last din­ner together.

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Back in the good old U.S.A.

by on Mar.15, 2018, under Flying

We arrived back in Brownsville after a four hour flight from Tapachu­la, to Tampi­co, Mex­i­co clear cus­toms, refu­el then an hour and a half on to Brownsville. Due to late changes made by some of the group, the flight plans for all the oth­er planes got “con­fused” by Mex­i­can ATC. We spent the first 20 min­utes out of Tapachu­la chang­ing flight plans in the air then chang­ing them back after Rick nego­ti­at­ed with the con­trollers. This again, re-enforced the les­son learned sev­er­al times dur­ing the trip do the plan­ning before you start the trip or you and your fel­low pilots will pay the price. Tampi­co, was the best for­eign air­port expe­ri­ence of the trip which was fit­ting since Brownsville cus­toms was excel­lent, so we returned to the land of good air­port ser­vice we enjoy in the U.S.

That evening, those who stayed over, Rick, Con­nie, David and Eliz­a­beth, Joyce and I had a very jol­ly evening of cock­tails and din­ner at a near by Ital­ian restau­rant. It was a cel­e­bra­tion of great expe­ri­ences and new friends made. The next morn­ing we were in the air at 8:00am head­ed back to Hilton Head with a fuel stop in Ham­mond, LA. Tail winds eighty per­cent of the way so it was a great way to fin­ish an incred­i­ble adven­ture. 5560 nau­ti­cal miles and 44 hours of fly­ing over very inter­est­ing and beau­ti­ful land­scape, with vis­its to fas­ci­nat­ing places, with a great group of peo­ple, it does­n’t get much bet­ter than that.  After a steak grilled on our very own bar­be­cue, a fine bot­tle of wine and sleep in our own bed, we agreed it was nice to be back in the good old U.S.A.

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Maine 2017

by on Nov.19, 2017, under Flying

Joyce and I flew to Maine for our 2017 lob­ster fix and a COPA fly-in at Bar Har­bor. We delayed our flight by a day and left Octo­ber 16th for Owls Head, Maine. We flew in per­fect weath­er to Delaware for lunch then over JFK with a great view of N.Y. City then on to Maine. Head winds the whole way so it was a long 8 hours in the air. We stayed at the Inn at Sun­rise Point, above Cam­den, which is one of our favorite places. We toured the area again and soaked in the beau­ti­ful Maine fall col­ors and coastal beau­ty as well as con­sumed great New Eng­land sea food. Joyce found a great wood­en carved mer­maid that will be per­fect for our cot­tage and of course they ship.

On Thurs­day we flew the 20 minute flight to Bar Har­bor to join the 40+ oth­er Cir­rus Own­ers and Pilots Asso­ci­a­tion (COPA) mem­bers for a fly-in. We spent a jol­ly three days in Bar Har­bor, din­ning togeth­er, tour­ing Cadil­lac Moun­tain and going out on the water to sail around the Bar Har­bor area, see old light hous­es and learn about the great his­to­ry of the area. The weath­er was per­fect, the fall col­ors were on full dis­play and social­iz­ing with fel­low pilots was the best. Rhon­da and Mike did an incred­i­ble job of orga­niz­ing the fly-in of over 20 Cir­rus air­craft, THANKS. On Sun­day we flew back to Hilton Head and sure enough we had a head wind the whole way. We tra­versed 12 states and only one had weath­er in one, our des­ti­na­tion, South Car­oli­na. We did an instru­ment approach into Hilton Head and end­ed a great week of fly­ing fun on a pos­i­tive note.

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COPA Mexico Adventure 2017

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

Joyce and I took off ear­ly on Feb­ru­ary 17 on our way to meet 43 oth­er  mem­bers par­tic­i­pat­ing in the annu­al COPA Mex­i­co Adven­ture. Since we had to cross the coun­try we planned to stop in Hous­ton and vis­it our friends Clark and Julie Black­man and Chris­tine Roms­dahl. We made a fuel stop in Fair Hope, Alaba­ma then dodged some storms to arrive at KCXO, Lone Star Exec­u­tive air­port. We had a great vis­it and din­ner and launched for El Paso where we spent the night before leav­ing for our first Mex­i­co stop Ciu­dad Obre­gon. We cleared cus­toms, refu­eled, then flew the last 25 min­utes to Alam­os where the 22 COPA Cir­rus air­craft gath­ered. We stayed at a incred­i­bly charm­ing resort and spa, Hacien­da de Los San­tos. The vil­lage was clean and safe as well as charm­ing. Alam­os was the north­ern most sil­ver city and gen­er­at­ed enor­mous wealth. The resort is made up of four of the for­mer sil­ver barons man­sions put togeth­er to cre­ate a unique place. The sec­ond day some flew over the Cop­per Canyon in the morn­ing and oth­ers explored the resort and vil­lage. The founder of the resort,Jim Swickard still acts as host at times since he is a pilot and caters to fly­ing groups. He also owns the air­port and was kind enough to give us a per­son­al tour of the vil­lage. The gath­er­ing was great as peo­ple arrived they con­gre­gat­ed for lunch and then in the tequi­la bar, where there were old friends met and new friends intro­duced. Over the two days of our stay there was lots of time to social­ize, explore this beau­ti­ful place and soak up the unique his­to­ry. The hos­pi­tal­i­ty, food and drink were excel­lent and the only regret was we could­n’t stay longer.

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Manzanillo, Mexico

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

On Tues­day Feb­ru­ary 23 we left Alam­os to fly to Man­zanil­lo with the COPA group. We had decid­ed to fly in loose for­ma­tion with Charles and Deb­bie Lang­don down the Cop­per Canyon on our way. We got a great view fly­ing down in the canyon, which is Mex­i­co’s Grand Canyon. We stopped in Mazat­lan for fuel, then con­tin­ued to Man­zanil­lo, fly­ing along the beau­ti­ful coast and over Puer­to Val­lar­ta on the way. When we land­ed we had 22 Cir­rus that had to get fuel at a self ser­vice pump, which turned into a social event as we all pitched in to push planes in place. We stayed at the Grand Isla Navi­dad, which isn’t in Man­zanil­lo, but in Bar­ra Navi­dad, about 20 min­utes from the air­port. The hotel turned out to be great, with fab­u­lous grounds includ­ing a golf course and a lit­tle vil­lage a short boat ride away to explore. We had lots of time to social­ize with fel­low COPA pilots, and end­ed our stay with a grand cock­tail par­ty and din­ner on a ter­race over­look­ing the bay.

The Cock­tails and Din­ner on the final evening of the COPA event was par­tic­u­lar­ly jol­ly. Lots of shar­ing of expe­ri­ences, new friends made and old friends enjoyed. It was a per­fect warm Mex­i­can evening to cel­e­brate the end of a great get adven­ture together.

Tomor­row, Fri­day, we all fly out to anoth­er Mex­i­co des­ti­na­tions or on to home.

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Cabo San Lucas and Homeward Bound

by on Mar.15, 2017, under Flying

On Fri­day , Feb. 24 we flew the three hour flight from Man­zanil­lo to Cabo San Lucas arriv­ing in time for lunch. We flew in loose for­ma­tion with Charles and Deb­bie Lang­don and spent the next few days doing fun stuff. We land­ed at the Gen­er­al Avi­a­tion air­port, MMSL and were treat­ed roy­al­ly, includ­ing cheap hangar fee and “free”  Cer­vazas and tequi­la. We checked into our Hotel, the Casa Dora­do, which look­ing out at the cape and is where the action is. Great room, and a per­fect place to get some sun and relax. Break­fast was at “the office” on the beach, which was a jump­ing place to start you day with a bloody Mary or Mimosa then brunch. We found some good restau­rants, explored and gen­er­al­ly had a great time.

On Mon­day Joyce and I start­ed our jour­ney home. We flew up the Baja Penin­su­la and crossed back to Ciu­dad Obre­gon about a hour and forty five min­utes, cleared cus­toms then flew to El Paso to clear US cus­toms. We overnight-ed in El Paso and then left ear­ly to get ahead of a front caus­ing very high winds. The flight was less than three hours to San Mar­cos, Texas where vis­it­ed our friends Lou and Lynne Ear­le. The next day we again left ear­ly to beat the winds and flew direct to Fair Hope, Alaba­ma again anoth­er three hour flight. We cel­e­brat­ed Joyce’s birth­day at a great resort on Mobile Bay. On Thurs­day, March 2nd. we flew the final two hours and forty five min­utes back to Hilton Head. We had tail winds all across the coun­try, had to make a cou­ple of instru­ment approach­es and had gusty winds on land­ing at every stop, good prac­tice. One day short of two weeks, 37 hours in the cock­pit, 15 legs and over 5000 miles added up to a fun fly­ing trip. We vis­it­ed with friends, we saw lots of inter­est­ing sights, we made new friends and man­aged to learned a few things. GREAT TRIP!


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COPA Migration 14 Duluth

by on Sep.15, 2016, under Flying

COPA mem­bers from across the coun­try and around the world start­ed to arrive Sep­tem­ber 7th, with the major­i­ty on Thurs­day the 8th. Reg­is­tra­tion opened noon on the 8th. and our amaz­ing reg­is­tra­tion vol­un­teers, Don­na, Kim, Justin and Stan made check­ing in effort­less. The first evening wel­come par­ty the “COPA cabana” was a very jol­ly event held over look­ing Lake Supe­ri­or in front of the host hotel the Inn on Lake Supe­ri­or. Pat Wadick Cir­rus Pres­i­dent with oth­er Cir­rus man­age­ment  min­gled with COPA mem­bers.  Friend­ships were renewed and made as always at this kick off party.

The next two days were packed with activ­i­ties, includ­ing the annu­al meet­ing, in which Andy gave us a update on the incred­i­ble progress that has been made, Mem­ber­ship grew 31% since 2012, Train­ing is up 50% year over year, fatal acci­dent rate down dra­mat­i­cal­ly and much low­er than gen­er­al GA, over 30 Region­al Events in last 12 months and much fun stuff going on. There were lots of sem­i­nars, the exhibitor hall was full with many new exhibitors and all of the reg­u­lars, Fri­day, evening Cir­rus host­ed a great hangar par­ty at their facil­i­ty with enter­tain­ment, a few com­mer­cials and Dale Klap­meier giv­ing an update and rec­og­niz­ing the COPA and Cir­rus peo­ple con­tribut­ing to the train­ing that has helped improve safe­ty. It was a great evening appre­ci­at­ed by COPA atten­dees. Thanks Cir­rus! Dur­ing the cock­tail par­ty many walked out to look at the flight line, Over 100 Cir­rus parked togeth­er is a impres­sive site.

Sat­ur­day Sem­i­nars and Exhibits con­tin­ued and the day end­ed with the annu­al Migra­tion COPA Gala din­ner. Anoth­er great evening, with COPA Vol­un­teers, out­go­ing board mem­bers receiv­ing recog­ni­tion, Rick Beach receiv­ing a award for his work on safe­ty, John Yli­nen accord­ed Vol­un­teer emer­i­tus sta­tus, the key note speech by AOPA pres­i­dent Mark Bak­er end­ing with Andy turn­ing the gav­el over to Roger. A very fine evening, and a great Migra­tion orga­nized by Craig Albright and the incom­ing Migra­tion chair Bill Mey­er. Thanks Migra­tion com­mit­tee. Sun­day the flock took off for their home bases in glo­ri­ous weath­er. See you all next year in Nashville, TN.

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Jekyll Island Fly-In 2016

by on May.23, 2016, under Flying

Weath­er was unset­tled in the South East pri­or to the week­end of the COPA Jekyll Island Fly-In, how­ev­er the week­end turned out to be beau­ti­ful. There were atten­dee’s from Alaba­ma, Texas, Indi­ana, New York, Mary­land, North and South Car­oli­na, and Flori­da. They start­ed arriv­ing on Fri­day for a long week­end, or Sat­ur­day for the week­end or Sun­day for the famous Sun­day Brunch and some stayed on. Rick Daw­son, host­ed  dutch treat cock­tails and din­ner Fri­day evening. Sat­ur­day, COPA mem­bers took advan­tage of the many things to do on Jekyll Island and some flew with the Pat­ty Wagstaff aer­o­bat­ics school that brought up their Super Decathlon Aer­o­bat­ic train­er. Sat­ur­day evening there were cock­tails and din­ner, and door prizes, includ­ing a demo ride in an Extra 300, donat­ed by South East Aero. Sun­day the final arrivals for the Jekyll Island Club Brunch and to hear aer­o­bat­ic champion/air show star/super flight instruc­tor Pat­ty Wagstaff talk at the COPA Brunch. Some more door prizes, includ­ing a aer­o­bat­ics flight won by Bob Mari­ni from New York, were drawn on Sunday.



Pat­ty Wagstaff spoke about her career and obser­va­tions of stick and rud­der fly­ing  and  her schools approach to air­man­ship as well as upset/recovery and aer­o­bat­ics. Pat­ty and her chief instruc­tor Allen then answered a large num­ber of questions.

A Big Thanks go to Ger­ald Gaige, South East Region Lt. Gov­er­nor and Event Coor­di­na­tor for the COPA Jekyll Island Fly-In.

Thanks also to a long list of spon­sors, with spe­cial thanks to lead Spon­sors Cir­rus Air­craft, South East Aero and the Pat­ty Wagstaff Aer­o­bat­ics School. 

A great group of COPA mem­bers had a great time, thanks to Gerri.


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COPA Bahamas Adventure 2016

by on May.02, 2016, under Flying

On Wednes­day April 20, we flew to Fort Laud­erdale, KFXE, and spent the after­noon and evening with our daugh­ter, grand daugh­ter and son-in-law. Great vis­it, then Thurs­day morn­ing we left for Aba­co, Marsh Har­bor Air­port, MYAM, in the Bahamas, to meet the 40 oth­er COPA mem­bers and part­ners for the annu­al COPA Bahamas adven­ture. The one and a half hour flight was great, with views of the beau­ti­ful water as we passed Grand Bahama Island, into Marsh Har­bor. Cus­toms and tie down was effort­less and we were by the pool hav­ing lunch and chat­ting with friends by mid-day. Some took to the water by boat, oth­ers just relaxed by the pool. We spent the after­noon on the beach and then joined the group for wel­come cock­tails host­ed by Bahamas Tourism min­istry. Joe McGo­nigle, our orga­niz­er had every­thing arranged includ­ing door prizes. Lots of social­iz­ing at cock­tails then dinner.

Fri­day was a day to explore. Some went fish­ing, oth­ers took boat tours, oth­ers drove to near by Trea­sure Cay, there were also the relax­ers on the beach and pool. We explored the town of Marsh Har­bor, which is a short walk from the resort. Lots to see, along the har­bor side, shop­ping, and a restau­rant for conch sal­ad for lunch, then relax and social­ize by the pool.

In the evening every­one met on the beach for cock­tails, then dinner.

The Aba­co Beach Resort knocked them­selves out with an incred­i­ble buf­fet din­ner, we then had enter­tain­ment and a huge bond fire on a per­fect Bahami­an evening.

Sat­ur­day, there was an option­al fer­ry trip to Elbow Cay and Hope Town. We did that trip, although we had done it before, oth­ers did the many island things avail­able. Hope Town is a his­toric set­tle­ment, on its own lit­tle island with lots of pret­ty pas­tel col­ored cot­tages and lit­tle shops on wind­ing streets. There is a great beach on one side and har­bor view restau­rants on the oth­er where we had lunch. . The land mark is the Hope Town Lighthouse.

In the evenings we all met at Curly Tails, for final cock­tails, took one last group pic­ture as the sun­set and then had our last din­ner on Abaco.

It was anoth­er great COPA Bahamas adven­ture, with a great group of peo­ple hav­ing a lot of fun togeth­er and expe­ri­enc­ing fly­ing over the incred­i­bly inter­est­ing and beau­ti­ful Bahamas waters. Sun­day some con­tin­ued their adven­ture in the Bahamas oth­ers winged home in per­fect weath­er. Thanks again, to Joe McGo­nigle for orga­niz­ing the trip and Jim and Nan­cy Knol­len­berg for their help, as well as the Bahamas Tourism min­istry for their support.


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Paradise Island, Bahamas

by on May.02, 2016, under Flying

Sun­day April 24, we left Marsh Har­bor, MYAM, for the 45 minute flight to Nas­sau, MYNN. A beau­ti­ful day and a beau­ti­ful flight. This part of the trip was orga­nized by Joyce and we were met by car and dri­ver at Odyssey Avi­a­tion and whisked to the One and Only Ocean Club, one of the pre­mier resorts in the world. “Noth­ing is to good to cel­e­brate Gil’s birth­day”, says Joyce, did I men­tion the car was a Bent­ley. The Ocean Club is a mag­nif­i­cent prop­er­ty, with exten­sive man­i­cured grounds, two pools, one an infin­i­ty pool over­look­ing the ocean, mul­ti­ple restau­rants, one five star, a spa, a gym and on and on. It is a oasis from the crazy world we live in, designed to free you of any cares. You do have to be at your room at 5:30 PM when the cham­pagne and choco­late cov­ered straw­ber­ries are deliv­ered by your but­ler so you can relax and watch the sun set. After the par­ty­ing in Marsh Har­bor I tried, not to suc­cess­ful­ly, to get back to a healthy life style, hit­ting the gym every­day. We cel­e­brat­ed my birth­day in style and then depart­ed Wednes­day April 27, at 9:30 AM, cleared cus­toms and had lunch in Fort Pierce arriv­ing in Hilton Head at 2:00 PM. Anoth­er great flight and Bahamas trip.

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