As with all things in our lives, we’ve learned to be flexible and tweak what needed to be tweaked.  Les and I were talking.  We don’t get to see what each other does in any given work day.  I obviously don’t get to go flying around on private jets with him.  When he’s home with us, our schedule is quite different from when he’s gone.  There are many times where Les is home no more than 12-24 hours thus we tend to drop everything else and just enjoy him for the brief time we have him.  Even when he’s home longer than that, he’s usually catching up on stuff around here – something is broken, mail, running to get chicken food, the bathroom leaking into the kitchen…again, etc.  So, Les and I decided we wanted to show each other what goes into our normal work day and this was the perfect opportunity to show each other.

You have to understand, both of us have a great deal of respect for what each of us does.  I’ll tell you right now, I believe my husband doesn’t get paid enough when he lands in the dark, surrounded by mountains, with a cross wind, on a contaminated runway.   I’d probably have a heart attack.  We both do what we’re best at and we wanted to see what the other does.


6:00 a.m. – Calgary, Alberta Canada; 18 Degrees Fahrenheit


Time to wake up.  Shower, Shave, Dress, and Pack

7:00 a.m.


Dressed, Packed, and ready to go!


Off to breakfast at the hotel then to get gas in rental car before returning to the airport.


8:00  a.m.


 At the Calgary airport.  Just a brief pause before I begin my flight planning.  This plane came in on a charter for an NHL hockey team and was on the ramp with us.

My flight planning consists of filing international flight plans from Calgary to El Paso, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo San Lucas.  Have to complete Canadian Customs exit paperwork, US Customs Entry and Exit paperwork, and Mexican Customs and Immigration forms.  Call to coordinate with Canadian, US, and Mexican customs offices.  Call FBOs in El Paso, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo to arrange fuel and aircraft services.  Fax Crew and Passenger documents as well as Aircraft Registration, Insurance, and Airworthiness Certificates to Mexico for Customs and DGAC approval.

9:00 a.m.


Flight Planning Complete.  Aircraft pre-flight inspection begins.  Have to remove engine and pitot tube covers, clean off snow, get fuel, and check all aircraft systems.  Stock aircraft with fresh coffee, ice, drinks, snacks, newspapers, etc.  Pay FBO for fuel, services, ramp fees, landing fees, and parking. $7,000 bill.  Aircraft ready for a 10:00am departure.


10:00  a.m.


Passengers are supposed to arrive by helicopter.  This Augusta Westland AW139 landed at 10:05, but it was’t them.  Waited for another 25 mins.  Finally hear from passengers.  They say they’ll be here by 10:50 and will be ready for  11:00 departure.  Refile flight plans because it’s an international flight and we have to have permission to leave Canada and re-enter the United States.  Call Canadian, US, and Mexican customs to notify new departure time and obtain new clearances.  Notify all FBO’s of new arrival times.  (On a hunch…Plan for 11:30 departure instead)

11:00  a.m.


Passengers finally arrive at 10:55 in a Bell 212 Helicopter, a slightly newer version of what my dad flew in the Army.  LOVE the sound it makes and wish I could fly it instead.  Load all the passenger’s bags into the jet, call and get our flight clearance.  Wait while the passengers mull around the FBO getting drinks, going bathroom, looking at magazines, etc.


Finally head out at….  TA DA!  11:30  (I feel mildly psychic)

12:00 p.m.


In flight – Just crossing the Canadian/US border on our way to El Paso, Texas for a fuel stop.

1:00 p.m.

IMG_2070IMG_2072In flight – Over Big Piney, WY

2:00 p.m.


In flight – Just North of Las Cruces, NM about 15 mins from landing in El Paso.  This is a picture of Spaceport America, the first purpose built commercial spaceport designed to launch paying passengers into space.

2:30 p.m.


Landed in El Paso, cleared US customs, and filed Mexican APIS info for all passengers and crew.  Got fuel and managed to sneak in a call to Jenny while I was “back in the states.”  Haven’t heard her voice in 6 days and needed to hear it before going to Mexico.


3:00 p.m. – El Paso, TX USA; 63 degrees Fahrenheit


Taxing out for takeoff in El Paso to go on to Puerto Vallarta.  This is a Super Guppy (SGT) owned by NASA.  1 of only 4 built and the last still in service, it’s now based in El Paso.  The original guppy and later models were built to transport rocket parts for NASA during the Gemini and Apollo days.  They have also been used for transporting modules for the International Space Station, whole aircraft and aircraft components, and other large pieces of cargo.  I love seeing this airplane.


Departing El Paso for Puerto Vallarta.


4:00 p.m.


In flight – 41,000 feet over Mexico

4:30 p.m.


 In flight – Approaching Pacific Ocean near Mazatlan, Mexico


5:00 p.m. – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; 83 degrees Fahrenheit

IMG_2083IMG_2086IMG_2085Approaching Puerto Vallarta


I’m always a little taken aback at how only the tourist and industrial area’s streets of Mexican cities are paved.  Only a mile or two out of the city you find dirt roads and VERY humble housing.  Always reminds me of how many blessings we have.


Coming in for a landing.  The First Officer is flying.

IMG_2105On the Ground!  Cleared Mexican Customs and Immigration.  Unloaded all the bags and sent Passengers on their way. Purchase Mexican Entry and Landing Permits.  File Mexican Flight Plans for flight to Cabo San Lucas.  Clean aircraft from GIANT mess left by the passengers.  (Took out three bags of trash.  I didn’t think we had that much stuff on board!)

6:00 p.m.

IMG_2111Departed Puerto Vallarta for Cabo


6:15 p.m.

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Inflight over Gulf of California / Pacific Ocean.  You’ll notice the sunset looks brighter here than when I took off.  Flying west towards the setting sun, the sunset gets drawn out and lasts for an hour or more depending on speed and altitude.  It’s one of my absolute favorite things about flying.

6:50 p.m.

IMG_2112On approach to Cabo San Lucas


So dark, you can’t tell what’s water, land, or the numerous mountains surrounding it.  Thank goodness for accurate maps and GPS.


7:00 p.m. – Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur Mexico; 72 degrees Fahrenheit


Landed in Cabo San Lucas.  Fill out/sign required landing permits.  Put engine/pitot covers back on airplane and put it to bed for the night.  Head for the hotel!


Check in, change clothes.  Contact aircraft owner to notify plane and crew arrived in Cabo and verify passengers and departure times.  Head out for dinner.  (Flew through lunch)

8:00 p.m.

Dinner down by the Cabo San Lucas Marina – Fajitas, Mariachi Music, and fresh salsa and guacamole.  The table side fresh salsa was a first for me.  They roasted the tomatoes and peppers on a small, tabletop charcoal grill right in front of us and then mixed in all the ingredients for the salsa.  It was still very warm and was so good.  Some of the best salsa and guacamole I’ve ever had.

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9:00 p.m.

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Walk back to the hotel through the Marina.  Instant message with Jenny.  (My phone doesn’t work when I’m out of the country so Jenny and I are reduced to email and chat on Wi-Fi)

10:00 p.m.

Bed time.  Lights out!!!

IMG_2097This is very common at hotels in other countries.  They only give you one room key and when you go in your room, you have to place it in this switch to get power to the room.  When you leave your room and take your key, it kills all the lights and the air conditioning to save electricity.