Flying from California to the Caribbean (1)

To end the year, I am planning to do something slightly crazy. The idea is to fly our Cirrus SR22 (pictured below) to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and back. It’s a round trip time of 7,400 miles, by far the longest trip I have ever taken as a pilot. It’s also the most complex one due to flying in multiple countries, border crossings, customs, international airport operations. To keep me safe, Mark Erwin (my CFI) is coming along as co-pilot and as we are flying over water we are also bringing a life raft and a satellite phone.

N619TP at Palo Alto Airport ready to go.

The planned route is to head south from the bay area, stop in Tucson for fuel and spend the night in San Antonio. Next is a fuel stop in Louisiana and overnight in Orlando and finally via the Bahamas to Punta Cana. The southernly route is safer as it reduces the chance of getting into clouds with icing. N619TP is certified for flight in known icing, but it’s not build to stay in icing conditions for extended periods of time.

Planned route via Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Bahamas, Turks & Caicos to Punt Cana.

We re leaving tomorrow (12/24), and I’ll try to post updates here occasionally on how we progress. You should also be able to track us on FlightAware.

Day 1 – Palo Alto->Tucson->San Antonio

The weather in Palo Alto was cloudy, but I had filed and IFR flight plan the evening before. After a pre-flight check we started the engine, received our clearance and took off. After climbing through several layers of clouds we received clearance from ATC to clim to 11,000 feet, our cruising altitude. Smooth air and a 26 know tail wind helped to make quick progress. ATC giving us shortcut routing through several inactive MOA’s helped as well. After about 3.5 hours we were cleared for the ILS approach and landed at Tucson International Airport.

After a quick fuel stop and great service from the folks at Millionair we continued IFR towards Texas. The Texas/Arizona border area is pretty empty. Few buildings or mines dot the otherwise empty desert landscape. In the El Paso Area, we fly along the border with Mexico. It’s clearly visible and in some areas there already is a fence/wall in place already (see the picture of El Paso Below). Apparently wanting more of this is worth shutting down the government over.

San Antonio is a large airport and a e are cleared for the ILS right after an airbus. Even with a high approach and landing a third down the runway, the wake turbulence is still noticable. We taxi past the busy terminal and park the plane at the FBO. A nice dinner in the River Walk area of San Antonio ends a day that went about as smoothly as one could hope.

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