Our Piper Arrow
Letter of Permission: The airplane that I fly is owned by a partnership that is organized as a private corporation. So the aircraft is not registered in my name. Although it is not a requirement, AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) recommends that a pilot carry a notorized letter granting him permission to take an aircraft into Mexico when that pilot is not the registered owner of the aircraft. I always carry such a letter but after about six trips to Mexico I have never been asked to produce it. I have been asked about it a couple of times but my explanation that the airplane is owned by a group and I am a member of that group has been sufficient. Mexican officials do not seem to be very concerned that the pilot and the registered owner of the airplane are not the same. I think it is probably very common for a private airplane to be registered either under a company name or a private corporation.
Aircraft Registration: Officials at the airport of entry require this document.
Airworthiness Certificate: Officials at the airport of entry require this document.
Pilot Medical Certificate: Officials at the airport of entry require this document.
Pilot License: Officials at the airport of entry require this document. You will need to have your license number.
Liability Insurance: I must have Mexican liability insurance for the aircraft, similar to the requirement for automobiles. Our insurance agent does not provide this insurance and refers me to MacAfee and Edwards. He says he has never heard of a claim being filed against this Mexican insurance, that instead they go for the U.S. policy because they want to be paid in dollars instead of pesos. He says to think of this insurance requirement as a tax on flying in Mexico. The premium for 8 days this trip was $81.90.
Aeronautical Charts: My Foreflight subsciption gives me the enroute low altitude charts for Mexico for my Ipad. I also have some old paper TPC sectional charts that I got online at www.omnimap.com, listed under topographic maps. I also purchased 2 paper ONC sectional charts from Caribbean Sky Tours. These charts are huge so I just scan the parts I need and print them out on letter-sized paper. I also have AirNav Pro software for the Ipad which has a map with some topographical information.
Approach Plates: You can get a Mexico Trip Kit IFR package by Jeppesen that includes approach plates. This is a one-time trip kit that has all the terminal charts, approaches, departures, Low Enroutes and High Enroutes for Mexico. It covers all airports in Mexico. The set is on a 2-week update schedule so it is only fully current for 2 weeks. It can be purchased from mypilotstore.com for about $130.
EAPIS Manifest: Flight manifests for both the departure and arrival (to the U.S.) flights. This is done at EAPIS online. It is best to take care of both of these before departure. The information required includes the departure and arrival points of the border-crossing flights, the estimated time of border crossing, and the names and passport numbers of those on board.
Flight Plan: A flight plan for the border crossing must be filed which can either be an IFR flight plan or else a "defense" VFR flight plan. I will file an IFR flight plan which is slightly different because the international ICAO format is used. It requires more specific information about the aircraft radio equipment and the wake turbulence class. For me, the radio equipment is D (DME), G (GPS), O (VOR), and C (transponder, mode C). The wake turbulence rating is light (L) for me.
Passports: You and your passengers will need passports.
Pesos: It is a good idea to have plenty of pesos and hopefully some smaller bills and coins because it is hard to get change. You can buy fuel with a credit card but there are sometimes problems getting the card to work and they often just don't like to take cards. Besides the fuel there are entry fees (about US$75 for pilot and passenger--crew members are cheaper), aircraft permit fee (about US$100, I think), airport usage fee (only about US$6). Pesos work best and the price may be inflated considerably if paid in U.S. dollars.
Weather: Weather information is a big problem. Mexico lacks the aviation weather service that the pilots in the United States are accustomed to. An airport official may print out the current destination weather and terminal forecast in the abbreviated format so you may want to brush up on reading that. Otherwise you are on your own in obtaining weather information. Some possible sources are CNN, online radar and satellite sources, the NWS, and calling up someone at your destination and asking them to have a look outside.
Fuel: Fuel is available at all towered airports and is dispensed from trucks. Credit cards are usually accepted but not wanted and there are often problems getting them to work. Pesos (cash) is always preferred. I have not experienced a problem with the quality of the fuel.
Next is Georgetown to Brownsville