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Thread: Flying in Costa Rica

  1. #11
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    The only other large airliner that I ever saw receive that kind of love and affection from its flight crew was the Boeing 727. It was not the most maneuverable beast at low speed, but it was a missile once it got going. Everything about that airplane just Meant Business! I still remember the sound of that trim wheel... "Zzzzzzzzzzz! Zzzzzzzzzz!"

    The most surreal thing about the airplane was the sensation of thrust, with no sound at all on the flight deck. Also, those older turbofans had a much lower bypass ratio than modern fans. The Captain would push the thrust lever forward for 3 or 4 seconds, and then bring the lever back to ground idle. About 2 or 3 seconds AFTER that, the airplane would move forward with an irresistible lunge. That always got me.

    On takeoff, the pilot flying would advance all three thrust levers to takeoff position and then ask the other pilot to "set power." It was still totally quiet on the flight deck. Then, that massive push... and finally... a barely perceptible "shhhhh...." from the engines. And that 727 had some GO in her... when she accelerated, she meant business. Flight Deck... still super quiet. Eerie...

  2. #12
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    OK... Back on Topic... flying in Costa Rica...


    I was flying with a guy into this one small airstrip up in the mountains near Tres de Junio. I was the pilot flying, and as I set up for landing, the guy said, "Well... You have to buzz the runway first." I answered, "Looks good to me. What's up?" "You have to buzz the runway first. There are these cows that will run out onto the runway right as you're landing, so you have to scare them away first." I answered, "I did NOT see that information on the airport briefing page." He said, "Yeah... It's just one of those things. That's why I'm here." "OK... Buzzing runway..." As I passed about 20 feet above the runway, sure enough... cows. I said to my companion, "I didn't know that cows lived at this altitude." He nonchalantly answered, "These are special high-altitude cows." "Oh... Well, that explains it, then. So... do you think that we scared them away?" "Yeah... I think you're OK."

    We landed... I love that feeling and sound of landing on grass... so smooth and soft, with just a "shhhh..." sound. As soon as I shut down the engine, this cow popped out of the trees right next to us and said, "Moooo!" I said, "Mooooo, yourself!"

  3. #13
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    I was getting my certifications transferred to Costa Rica, which requires a checkride with the local guys. During this process, one of the guys asked me, "Which airplanes did you learn to fly in?" I answered, "I got my PPL in a Cherokee, my Instrument in a Tiger and a Saratoga, my twin in an Aztec, and my Instructor Rating in a Comanche."

    "Pipers?"

    "Yeah."

    "Don't you think that those Indian names for their aircraft are kind of racist?"

    "I don't see that at all... I was supposed to get my ATP in the 'Wetback', but they moved me over to the Citation instead."


    Point Being... If you tee the ball up for me... I WILL take a swing at it!

  4. #14
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Speaking of "Teeing the Ball Up"... this Actually Happened yesterday!


    My friend just flew in from the USA, and was hanging out with me at the bar of his hotel. The phone at the bar rings, and the bartender answers it. She then tells my friend, "This phone call is for you." Now... In order for that phone call to reach the bar, the person calling would have had to call the hotel's main telephone number, and then request to have the call transferred to the bar. My friend walks over and picks up the phone... "Hello?"

    The person calling is one of the girls that he has been with a few times in the past, during his many visits to Costa Rica. She asks him, "Hi... Are You in Costa Rica now?"

    Oh... I would have had SO MUCH FUN with that! He, however, did not.


    "Hi... Are You in Costa Rica now?"

    "No, sweety... when you call the hotel and ask to have the call transferred to the bar, they actually forward the call to my Top-Secret telephone here in Kazakhstan."

  5. #15
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    I flew a Cessna 182 into a 1400-foot strip about 3 months ago. My first question to the guy flying with me was, "I can get it IN there, but can you get it OUT?" "Sure, Buddy. No problem! Pura Vida!"

  6. #16
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    On a point which is far more relevant to most travelers...

    What is domestic airline travel in Costa Rica actually like?

    Here are a few real-world examples...


    1) Tortuguero: There is no active terminal at Tortuguero. Your hotel will shuttle you (usually by water taxi) to the Tortuguero airport about 15 minutes before your flight is scheduled to depart. You will stand beside the runway, and you will see a single-engine Cessna Caravan land. As soon as the pilots have off-loaded the inbound passengers and their baggage, they will ask you, "Are you our outbound passengers?" If you answer "Yes", the pilots will check your names against a sheet of paper which they have, and then they will tell you, "Get on the airplane." That's it.

    2) Quepos: There are airline desks for both Sansa and Nature Air at the Quepos airport. There will be ONE airline employee working the desk. As long as you show up before the plane arrives, you are on time. There is NO security at Quepos. However, there is a Scale. The airline employee on duty will weigh your bags, and if your bags are overweight, the airline employee will charge you the appropriate amount. Once your bags are "weighed in", you are simply waiting for the airplane to arrive. The pilots will get the inbound passengers and their bags off the airplane, and then they will say, "Everybody going to San José... Get On The Airplane!" The airplane doesn't stay on the ground for more than about 10 minutes.

    3) El Tanque: Pretty much the same as Quepos.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 05-26-2016 at 10:21 AM.

  7. #17
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    If there are any pilots out there who are planning to move to Costa Rica, I can send you all of the details about that via email. Long story short... If you move to Costa Rica, you're going to have to pass a Costa Rican examination and get a Costa Rican pilot's license. If you follow the proper procedure, this can be an abbreviated process which will allow you to transfer all of your current qualifications to a Costa Rican Pilot's License. You will need to be able to speak good Spanish. If you're going to live in Costa Rica, you're going to need a Costa Rican pilot's license, if you want to fly. Other than the learning Spanish part, it's really not that difficult.

    However, some of the flight rules in Costa Rica are very different from those which you may be accustomed to seeing in the USA. Check your rules and regulations carefully. I'll leave that topic to the flight instructors.

    The controlling entity in Costa Rica -- and throughout most of Central America -- is a contracted company known as COCESNA, also known as CENAMER. This is a private contracted company, and as you might expect, they do charge fees for their services. If you fail to pay the appropriate fees, then... upon landing... your aircraft will be impounded until you have paid all of the applicable fees. The good news is that most small, personal-sized aircraft are exempt from most of these fees. The point that I am trying to make here is that Air Traffic Control in Central America is not just a public function... it is also a Business. That business expects to make money.
    Last edited by Speedy1; 05-26-2016 at 10:59 AM.

  8. #18
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    Rather complex discussion, isn't it? Let's talk about a couple of things...

    Who owns the air? More pointedly, who owns the airspace all over the Earth?

    Simply Put... By International agreement, each Sovereign State owns all of the airspace within its lateral boundaries, from the ground up... all the way up to... believe it or not... a boundary which has never been clearly defined. But, for the sake of argument... in the worst possible case, the maximum vertical limit is at no more than 100 miles. Don't nit-pick me on this exact figure... I'm just using it as a general reference. The point is that there has never been a solid international agreement about the vertical limit of airspace "owned" by the sovereign states of Earth.

    But, for all practical purposes, every sovereign state on Earth "owns" the airspace within its lateral boundaries, from the ground up to 100 miles above the surface of the Earth. So... Who owns the airports? Well... That's entirely up to the entity which owns the land upon which the airport is located. In the USA, most airports are owned and operated by local governments or their contracted representatives. There are caveats... if an airport in the USA wishes to be integrated into the U.S. and International airport system, then it must comply with all of the applicable rules. If that airport chooses NOT to comply with those rules, then it will NOT be accepted as a participant in the U.S. or International airport system. End of Line.

    The primary governing body which issues regulations for Internationally-compliant airports is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). I have worked for ICAO in the past. ICAO sets the rules, and if your airport does not conform to those rules, then your airport does not meet the standards of an International airport. ICAO receives its authority from the member nations which sanction it, which includes most of the countries on Earth. By International Agreement, ICAO sets those standards, and determines which airports are in compliance and which airports are not in compliance.

    ICAO has a much broader goal, which is to bring the international aviation community into a single, homogeneous system in which every country on Earth conducts all of its aviation activities in accordance with a universal standard. If that goal is ever achieved, then ICAO will have achieved its ultimate goal.

  9. #19
    Moderator Speedy1's Avatar
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    And it gets even more complex... As a former Air Traffic Controller, I can definitely shed a little light on this subject...

    "Controlled Airspace" and "Uncontrolled Airspace." What the hell do those two terms mean? It's probably easier to start off by explaining "Uncontrolled Airspace." Uncontrolled airspace is that airspace in which the entity which has the authority over that airspace cannot provide adequate air traffic control services, or deems that it is impractical or unnecessary to provide air traffic control services within that airspace. Just because airspace is "uncontrolled" does not mean that it is outside of the jurisdiction of the entity which "owns" it. The public has a general impression that all of the airspace which is "owned" by its country is "controlled"... but that is NOT always the case. Many airports are uncontrolled, just as much airspace is uncontrolled. For the sake of Political Correctness, those "uncontrolled" airports are now referred to as "Non-Towered" airports, but it's all the same.

    What happens in uncontrolled airspace? Primarily, no separation services are provided to aircraft operating according to Instrument Flight Rules. What happens at "Non-Towered" airports? Aircraft are not provided with Runway separation services.

    Within controlled airspace and at controlled airports, air traffic controllers MUST provide those services. It is also the job of controllers to keep aircraft receiving air traffic control service within controlled airspace.

  10. #20
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    Costa Rica's ICAO country code is "MR." The ICAO identifiers for the Four International airports in Costa Rica are...

    Juan Santamaria (San José/Alajuela, IATA code SJO): MROC

    Tobias Bolaños (San José/Pavas, IATA code SYQ): MRPV

    Liberia Int'l (Liberia, IATA code LIR): MRLB

    Limón Int'l (Limón, IATA code LIO): MRLM

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