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Mexico Trike Trip


The Mexico Trike Trip


The Mexico Trike Trip



Starting Point:

Mexico - US border

Ending Point:

Mexico - Guatamala border

Distance Flown:

3,600 km / 2,200 mi

Time Taken:

14 days

Aerotrikes Used:

Aerotrike Safari


Rob Rollison

By Rob Rollison

Description of trip . . .
This was a solo trike trip flying the new AEROTRIKE-HKS from the US/Mexico border, down the east coast of Mexico to the southernmost Mexican state of Chiapas, to visit the Mayan ruins at Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak. The round-trip flight included 2200 miles and 34 hours of flying.

Route of flight . . .
The trike was hauled on a trailer from Indiana down to (and across) the US/Mexico border at Brownsville, Texas. The trike was quickly readied for flight at the
Matamoros International Airport, with the flight beginning on February 2, 1998. The route of flight was south along the Gulf of Mexico coast, with stops at La Pesca, Tampico, Tecolutla, Veracruz, Minatitlan, and Villa Hermosa, before flying into the state of Chiapas to the airstrip near the Palenque ruins. From the Palenque airstrip, I flew over the Palenque ruins (only five miles west of the Palenque airstrip), down to the Yaxchilan ruins on the Mexico/Guatemala border (83 miles southeast of Palenque), and to the Bonampak ruins (12 miles southwest of Yaxchilan).

Description of aircraft and equipment . . .
The new AEROTRIKE-HKS is powered by the HKS 60-hp four-stroke, two-cylinder engine. Navigation was with a Garmin 12XL GPS, and radio communications were with an ICOM-A22 radio (radio and GPS mounted on a kneeboard). This AEROTRIKE was equipped with the optional La Mouette Ghost-12 wing, which allowed cruise speeds from 50 to 75 mph. At the "normal cruise" of 60 to 65 mph, the HKS engine burned about 2.4 gph of fuel. With the AEROTRIKE standard 13-gallon fuel tank capacity, this gave an approximate five-hours endurance, and an additional 5-gallons of fuel was carried in a separate container as "cargo" which provided another two hours of flight capability (after a stop to put the extra gas into the main fuel tank). The new Japanese-manufactured HKS engine installed on this AEROTRIKE is one of the first flying in the U.S. and it proved to be completely reliable on this trip, providing good power, very smooth and quiet operation, and excellent fuel economy.

Flying an "ultralight" in Mexico . . .
The AEROTRIKE-HKS used for this trip is flown in the United States as an "ultralight trainer" (operating under a training exemption from the F.A.A.). Under U.S. regulations, it is not allowed to fly across the U.S./Mexico border in an "ultralight" (or anything other than a regular "registered aircraft"). Also, the status of "ultralights" in Mexico (especially flown by foreign citizens) is somewhat uncertain. So, for this trip to be possible, I had to obtain special permission from the Mexican D.G.A.C. (equivalent to our F.A.A.) to haul my trike across the border and undertake my trip in Mexico.

Mexican airports . . .
On many previous occasions, I had flown larger, faster planes in Mexico, and so I was familiar with the route and most of the airports on this trip. At the airports I visited with my trike, I received the same great hospitality that I have always enjoyed when visiting Mexico -- even with my "minimal" Spanish. The airports were secure and well managed, and the airport personnel were very interested in the "ultralight" and exceptionally helpful.

Weather during the trip . . .
After a three-day delay in Matamoros due to high winds and storms, once I began my trip I had acceptable weather and was able to fly at least several hours each day of my trip. I started flying at sunrise most days, to take advantage of the calmer early-morning conditions. Still, the Gulf coast of Mexico is often very windy, and winds and turbulence were a problem on several occasions, including a landing in 48 mph winds in Veracruz on the return-leg of my trip. That landing was successful but with such strong winds it wasn't possible to turn sideways to the wind to taxi to the parking area, so airport personnel positioned a huge airport firetruck a few feet in front of the trike to help block the wind and with the help of fellows at the airport, we removed the wing from the trike and got it folded up and into its bag to carry to a hanger for the night. Parking "ultralights" in very windy conditions is usually a big worry, but with a trike it's a simple matter to remove the wing from the trike and lay it completely flat on the ground where it can be staked down and then safely ride out even the most violent storms. When parking a trike for the night where you can be fairly certain of nothing more than light breezes, you can simply lower the wing so that it rests on the wing's control bar and the wing can easily be tied-down.

  --- Rob Rollison


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