Armed with a bag of tools, a roll of duct tape, a couple of heavily leveraged credit cards, and $500 in fives and twenties, we took off out of Maryland on March 2nd. A cold front had come through the Mid-Atlantic the day before we left Southern Maryland, giving us a one-day window on the day we were scheduled to depart. It is important to note that, while I am an all-weather pilot, the Cherokee Six is NOT an all-weather airplane – it doesn’t fly in icing, which can be prevalent throughout the US this time of year. (Important note: pilots are obsessed with weather – for a reason). Fortunately, the weather all across the southern part of the United States was dominated by a high-pressure system that gave us great flying weather all the way to El Centro, California, where Lauri and I were planning to meet up with my brother, Eric, and my father, Wayne.
The Cherokee Six purred like a kitten. The weather held out. We met Eric and Wayne in El Centro on the 5th. Unbelievable. Now for the big obstacle: the border crossing.
After some issues with customs and the Border Patrol’s electronic system for filing flight plans and crossing the border, we launched solely on the word of Officer Castro in the Calexico Airport. Although it is obvious from the air where the border between Calexico and Mexicali is, there is a striped line on my GPS at the border, but at the exact moment I crossed into Mexican Airspace absolutely nothing happened. I did NOT get intercepted by Mexican military fighter jets. I contacted Mexicali Approach and we continued our way to San Felipe International Airport without incident.
After Lauri and I cleared customs, we were getting the plane tied down and our bags organized for the few days’ stay. The sound of two motorcycles approaching down the long road to the airport was unmistakable -- JT and Todd had made it! Not 30 minutes later, Eric and Wayne rolled up in Eric’s SUV, having crossed the border in Mexicali and driven 2 hours down to San Felipe.
Simply put,“Astounding!” We pulled it off. We all made it. In the immortal words of the World Famous Sicilian kidnapper, Fezzini, “Inconceivable!”
Now, all we needed was a good weather day for filming on the 7th and the miracle would be complete.
Meanwhile, Todd has an “owie” on his hand where Nathan spit slag onto Todd’s hand while Todd was holding the motorcycle headlight protective screen with his bare hands that Nathan was tack-welding. I tried to explain to Todd about clamps, lock pliers, and leather gloves, but I think it fell on deaf ears. Despite his whining, he seems to be surviving the healing process so far.
The morning of the 7th brought clear weather and calm air. A minor miracle. We got two-and-a-half hours of perfectly clear weather and unbelievably stable air for aerial filming. This was JT’s first time filming from the air, but he got the most perfect day imaginable. We took the back door off of the plane, strapped JT in, put Eric in the front right seat with his own set of cameras, and launched first thing in the morning.