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Delivering the first airplane for USMP Ciencias Aeronáuticas

December 14, 2011

Alternate title: flying to South America by Cessna 172.

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I delivered the first airplane for Universidad San Martin de Porres (USMP) last week. Universidad San Martin de Porres is a major university in Lima (Peru) and they are starting Peru’s first university accredited pilot training program. Here is some info about USMP Ciencias Aeronáuticas on the web and on Facebook.

Personally I think this is a great idea, I didn’t go to college until later in my career and in hindsight I wish I had done so when I was younger. To have a good career as a professional pilot the 2 things that matter most in terms of checkboxes on your resume – at least in my opinion – are 1) military experience and 2) a university degree.

The first airplane for USMP Ciencias Aeronáuticas is a brand spanking new Cessna 172SP. The friendly folks at the international Cessna dealership for Peru had arranged for us to pick up the airplane at Eagle Aviation in Columbia, SC, where it had been painted in a custom paint scheme for USMP.

New C172SP with custom paint for USMP Ciencias Aeronauticas

New C172SP with custom paint for USMP Ciencias Aeronauticas

We arrived in Columbia (KCAE) on a lousy rainy day and decided to postpone our departure by 1 day to allow some finishing touches at the paint shop and wait for better weather. The next day weather was more reasonable and we took off for our first leg of the ferry flight: Columbia, SC (KCAE) to Tamiami, FL (KTMB).

The weather was generally good VFR for our flight to Tamiami but we had to stay around 3,000 feet most of the time to avoid strong headwinds. At Savannah (GA) ATC asked us if we wanted to go around or over the top of their class C airspace and I decided to climb to 6,500 feet for 40 miles or so. You can tell by the headwinds on the Garmin 1000 MFD that I may have made the wrong decision at that point. A diversion around their airspace might have been quicker.

garmin g1000 mfd with headwind

You know it's going to be a long day when you have a 50kt headwind in a Cessna 172

We had an uneventful trip to Tamiami which was our first overnight stop. The next day we completed the mandatory 25-hour oil change for a new aircraft as well as US Customs export paperwork in Tamiami. All that took up most of the day but in the afternoon we continued our trip with a short flight from Tamiami to Nassau, Bahamas (MYNN), our second overnight stop.

nassau beach

The view from our hotel in Nassau, Bahamas.

In a late model Cessna 172 you could theoretically cross the Gulf of Mexico with just 1 stop in Jamaica, but I wanted to go from Florida to the Bahamas and then on to Jamaica because flying direct from Florida to Jamaica in a C172 is a bit of a stretch range-wise. We refueled in Kingston and after a quick turnaround continued on to Cartagena, Columbia (SKCG).

Jamaica to Cartagena is about 4:15 hours in a Cessna 172, well within range but obviously you want to be very careful with winds and weather.

C172 in cartagena

Our handling agent in Cartagena, Colombia (SKCG). They always take good care of us.

I work with an excellent handling agent in Cartagena, they take care of our Customs notification, make our hotel reservations and have our flight plans ready to file the next morning. From Cartagena we headed over to Cali (SKCL) in mostly good VFR weather until the last 70 miles or so, when we ran into some cloud buildups over the mountains just west of Cali.

From Cartagena there are various direct routes to Cali but we flew a bit west so as to avoid having to fly at higher altitudes over the Andes mountains. In Cali we shot the ILS but had the runway easily in sight from 4 or 5 miles out. When approaching Cali from the west in any airplane without speedbrakes you will usually need 1 turn in the holding to lose altitude for the instrument approach after crossing the mountains.

garmin g1000 mfd showing cali ils SKCL

The ILS at Cali programmed in the Garmin 1000 MFD

Weather between Cali and Guayaquil was a bit marginal and we decided to overnight in Cali. The airport hotel in Cali had sold out all of its 12 rooms, so we took a taxi to Palmira and found us a nice hotel there for only 80,000 pesos per night (~$50).

The next day we had good weather for our flight to Guayaquil (SEGU) where we refueled and did another quick turnaround. Guayaquil is an interesting airport, the preferred runway is RY21 but the General Aviation facility is all the way at the end of the runway. While we were strapping in and doing our before start checklist a C152 taxied out just before us. When requesting my startup clearance I asked ATC for RY03 if available. With light winds Guayaquil tower will usually approve General Aviation aircraft to land RY21 and takeoff RY03 to minimize taxi time and minimize traffic/delays on the ground. If taking off on RY03 when RY21 is technically in use the tower simply requests a quick right turnout.

The Guayaquil control tower approved RY03 for us and as we rolled out of our 180 degree right turn after takeoff I looked down and saw the C152 which had taxied out just before us, the airplane was still on the ground taxiing, almost reaching the departure end of RY21 🙂

Taking off out of guayaquil, ecuador SEGU

Taking off out of Guayaquil, Ecuador (SEGU).

From Guayaquil we flew to Trujillo, Peru, where we overnighted for the last time on this trip. The next morning we had a delay taking off out of Trujillo because our international flight permit for Peru specified Pisco (SPSO) as our final airport but the university had requested that we change our destination to Lima (SPIM). Once that was cleared up we took off and headed down the Pacific coast to Lima.


The beach / resort town of Huanchaco, near Trujillo, Peru.

As usual Lima was landing runway 15. We were lucky to arrive at a fairly quiet moment (Lima can be very busy at times) and shot the ILS to RY15.

landing at lima jorge chavez spim

On final for landing at Lima's Jorge Chavez Intl Airport (SPIM)

Here’s the first airplane for USMP Ciencias Aeronáuticas in Lima, Peru.

C172SP delivered to USMP Ciencias Aeronauticas, Lima, Peru

The first airplane for USMP Ciencias Aeronauticas, at the completion of the delivery from US to Lima.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2011 9:54 am

    Great blog, love reading about your ferry flights!

  2. January 7, 2012 4:30 pm

    Thanks Richard!

  3. Joe Jones permalink
    January 16, 2021 10:29 pm


    How equiped does a Cessna 172 need to be to fly from North to South America. For example, Miami to Argentina?

    How much bureaucratic red tape is needed?


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