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Panama with Guido

13FEB - 15FEB 2020

When Guido and I reached Liberia airport, they presented me the bill: 687 USD. I think, I will not come back to Costa Rica.

We had to check-in our luggage, the picture shows it disappearing. Why?

Picture shows the ground crew pulling out the stuck tie down nails. They had nothing else to do and I had to pay for them anyhow.

The wind was again very strong, but you get used to it. With the permit in hand and high parking fees accumulating in the background, you cannot be too picky. 30 knots don’t scare me anymore, as long as it is not all cross. The temperature on the ground was 35 degrees Celsius, but this near sea level take off was no problem. We turned on course. During climb, the oil temperature reached again the red line. Not good. Maybe it gets better, after the oil is changed. We planned to fly in 5500 feet but climbed first to 7500 and later even to 9500 to stay well above the clouds. Up here, oil temperature is of course no problem. During cruise the wind was blowing, like during the last flights, from 10 o clock. Mostly cross, but with a headwind component.

After an hour flight time, we crossed 20 miles final 07 at San Jose (MROC) and ATC was busy vectoring the approaching wide bodies around us. Our transponder encoder worked, by the way. But it wasn’t accurate, which is really an issue when flying in a TMA. Thank God, this is the last flight with the old encoder. Picture shows an Air Transat A330 (TSC114) which appears to be 1500 ft above and ahead of us, descending. Their groundspeed was five times higher than ours. From their perspective, we are a brick in the sky.

Costa Rica

We flew above the clouds. It is lovely, up here. Cool and calm.

We stayed in radio contact with Costa Rica until the Panamanian border. After crossing it, I contacted David Malik tower and immediately felt the decade long US influence. Excellent English and procedures like in the US. It felt good to be in a country again, which is nice to VFR traffic. Guido and I dived through a hole in the cloud base below, enjoying our last minutes of flight together.

Approaching David's runway 22. Wind nearly calm.

We parked in front of the international terminal. Flight time was 3 hours 20 minutes. Customs and immigration was efficient. We had to fill out more forms than at other border crossings, but only a few questions were asked. However, there is again no general aviation terminal. At least partially, the normal passenger ways are used. After cleared, we got back to the plataforma and taxied to Ibu’s hangar. Ibu, his mechanic Bolivar and Ibu’s friend were welcoming us.

N5581M was pushed into the hangar and Ibu drove us to his home in Boquete, about 40 minutes away. David is at sea level, but Boquete is nearly a mile high, at the slopes of the highest mountain of Panama, volcano Baru (3475m high). They say that you can see both oceans, Pacific and Atlantic (Caribean), from the top of Mt. Baru. When leaving the car in Boquete, it was cold. I haven’t used my jacket since northern Mexico and had left it in the plane, which I now regretted. We were in clouds, feeling the mist.

The hospitality of Ibu and his wife Pat was overwhelming. We stayed for two days, enjoying beautiful Boquete, one of Panama’s tourist attractions, famous for its high quality coffee plantations and a place where many wealthy US citizens retire. Sadly, many of them don't speak any Spanish.

February 15th, Guido had to fly back. Early in the morning, Ibu drove us back to David. Guido took a Fokker 50 to Panama City, did some sightseeing there and in the evening, he took the Lufthansa A340 to Frankfurt. He would have loved to stay longer, but couldn’t stay away from work for more than this one week. I am happy that he came. He is my best friend; we know each other for 35 years now. And thank you, for all the nice videos you made during this trip, Guido!

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