TWELFTH LEG: Panama City to Puerto Lim�n, Costa Rica (no airport name on chart). 280 mi. (statute) W. Paved strip, 4,600 ft., no facilities, no landing or parking fees, make own tiedown on sod extension of runway used by local light planes. 100-130 octane only, in drums delivered by truck. Weather info tough to get, but try by radio at airline office in town. C&I (Customs and Immigration) at police station in town; businesslike but friendly. Hotel in Puerto Lim�n not fancy but nice: rooms about $2, meals about $3 daily. SIDE FLIGHT: La Sabana Airpt., San Jos� 72 mi. W. [NOTE: AS in case of Aruba- Cura�ao (Part II), we did things backwards here. San Jos� more logical base, with Puerto Lim�n for side flight.] Sabana is airline terminal, tower 118.1, all octane fuel, maintenance facilities. San Jos� popular, beautiful, friendly city; mountains all around. Good hotels $3 up; most modern is Hotel Europa, about $10.
THIRTEENTH LEG: Puerto Lim�n to Ilopango Airpt., San Salvador, 470 mi. NW. [We're skipping Se�or Del Gozo's private airstrip here. For specifications see text.] Ilopango main terminal, tower 118.1, all facilities, hangar, weather bureau, good restaurant, bar. All octane fuel; Esso man demanded cash for 80-87 octane. C&I easy on baggage, strict on papers. Long ride to city $6. We stayed Hotel Nuevo Mundo, $12 Amer. plan. Numerous small, good hotels, $5 up, including food. NOTE: Whether landing or overflying Nicaragua check Internatl. Flight Info Manual. Rules strict. Costa Rica and El Salvador probably most rewarding countries to fly to in C. America; proud, hospitable, friendly people. Prices are fair, even on souvenirs; don't haggle. In many parts of Caribbean, S. & C. America private aircraft are still rare enough to arouse stuffiness in C&I officials, who have normal bureaucratic dislike of unusual. Just be sure all clearances are in order (or let AOPA do it for you; see Part I), land only where cleared, don't return truculence, and pleasures of trip will far outweigh difficulties.
FOURTEENTH LEG: To Stanley Field, Belize, British Honduras, 310 mi. N, dogleg over mountains via Guija Lake and Zacapa. Stanley has paved runway, tower 118.1, 121.5, most octanes, minor maintenance, tiedowns, weather bureau. C&I easygoing. Did not visit Belize, 10 mi. away. Told some private planes use it as jumping-off place for M�rida, 207 mi. NW, Villahermosa, 300 mi. W, and other Mexican points.
FIFTEENTH LEG: To Key West Intl. Airpt., 650 mi. NE direct, about 700 mi. sticking close to all possible land. Here is longest unavoidable unbroken overwater hop of entire Caribbean trip: from E tip of islands off Yucat�n coast, 122 mi. to W tip of Cuba. Airpt. at Cozumel I. off Yucat�n if you want it. Jos� Marti Airpt., Havana, is main terminal, tower 118.1, all facilities, C&I getting most cordial these days to U.S. family planes. Key West airpt. paved, all octanes, all facilities, C&I pleasant, usually charges $10-$20 overtime after 1700. U.S. natives friendly, inclined to charge fabulous prices in winter. Recommended ceremony here: make pile of remaining General Declaration forms and have dance around bonfire.
RADIO NOTES: Standard VHF frequency throughout trip was 118.1; occasionally 126.18, 126.7, 126.9. Essential you be able to transmit at least 118.1, 121.5. All tower operators along route speak English—when they're awake. Forget Omni. Only VOR station on entire route was Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. If you want constant communication for flight plans, weather, etc., and can handle weight and cost, get HF with trailing antenna (we wished we had it, on occasion, mostly around S. American coast). ADF was wonderful, especially for morale over water, but computer and pencil still handiest gadgets because radio beacons not always on. Essential carry current copy of CAA "Radio Facility Charts and In-flight Data for Caribbean and S. America." This is only complete source of tower and radio beacon frequencies, hours of operation, etc.
EQUIPMENT NOTES: Aside from normal emergency gear, carry tiedown equipment, a king-size bug bomb to make satisfying odors for C&I, and chamois skin for straining gas out of drums and pits where they won't give you written no-water guarantee. Suggested items: four or five empty sandbags and folding GI shovel for beach tiedowns; machete; an autotype battery-operated cabin fan if you don't have a forced-air system; extra tire and patching kit; full set of extra sparkplugs for high-octane fouling (we burned everything but rags and came home with original plugs still clean; even so, fresh ones might have saved a delay); magneto adjustment kit; spare condensers; spare generator belt.
CAUTION: While a Very pistol is legitimate emergency gear, don't carry any other firearms without checking current regulations.