Nevado de Colima after heavy rains
After one hour on the ground in Leon - Guanajuato, we were ready for departure. Leon does not have taxiways paralleling the runway. With another aircraft 18 miles out, Leon tower had us expedite our back taxi and we were able to take off before the incoming traffic arrived. We made a right turnout and were free to proceed under our own navigation. We began the long climb to 12,500', breathing oxygen this time.
A youtube video of the takeoff is available.
Leon handed us off to Guadalahara Approach, who we were in contact with for much of the flight. They did have radar contact as well.
We had no problem achieving altitude before encountering the mountains. We passed over the eastern end of Laguna de Chapala, an enormous inland lake. Flooding from recent heavy rains was evident with flooding of the banks of the lake as well as agricultural areas to the east. The Colima volcanoes were a prominent landmark up ahead for much of the flight. When we finally reached the volcanoes, we circled around the western side for photographs. The older, dormant peak was covered with snow while the active Nevado de Colima was free of snow and its slopes were steaming, apparently from the evaporation of the recent rainfall.
After passing the volcanoes we began a descent to the coastline. With the sun low in the sky, it was now a race to get to Manzanillo before the sundown deadline. The coastline appeared to be covered with a layer of clouds but it turned out to be a layer of moist air that reduced visibility of the ground from our high altitude. As we got closer, we could see the ground. When over Comala, I called Manzanillo approach and announced our presence. The controller asked me to report short final on runway 28. The controller spoke excellent English--the best I have heard so far in Mexico.
We continued our descent over the Manzanillo shipping area until offshore and then turned toward the airport, following the coastline. With the sun on the horizon, we landed just 4 minutes shy of sundown, the deadline for VFR flight.
The Manzanillo Airport
Landing at Manzanillo
We walked to the terminal next to the control tower where a guard let us in and directed us to the office of the Comandante. The Comandante arrived shortly and closed my flight plan and called a taxi for us. There was no one available to fuel the aircraft at this time so we took a taxi to Melaque (390 pesos).