Stop two Loreto, Mexico where we would spend the first night.

We made our way down the west side of the Sea of Cortez to a lovely town called Loreto. This would be our first overnight at the newly restored  Mission Hotel. The Mission was quite nice with beautiful accommodations.

Mission Hotel in Loreto, Mexico



The next morning Mark, Sue and I would fly in formation for the 123 mile crossing of the Sea of Cortez and then down to Mazatlan for fuel and mucho papeles.

First stop Ensenada, Mexico with “mucho papeles” or much paperwork

Sorry, but since I had to learn a little Spanish I feel it nice to pass it along.

Mucho papeles would almost be the perfect name for this journey, in my case mucho papeles missing.

Anyway, we all landed safely in Ensenada, Mexico where the paperwork began. I signed so many documents that I wasn’t sure if I was joining the Navy again. For those planning to fly to Mexico and beyond you can plan on at least 2 to 2.5 hours with the Commandants, Immigration, Customs, fueling and of course the Mexican Army.

Of all, the Commandants usually speaks some English, as for the Army…never happens. The fuel guys sometimes speak English…but, somehow you make your way through it all. So far all the Mexican people I met have been friendly and enjoy chuckling at my attempts to speak Espanol.

I'm not sure of which airport this is but it is indicative of fueling up. This is Mark and Sue's baby and money pit, their P-28 Piper Arrow.

In Ensenada Mark fueled first as I was an hour behind them landing. He was blessed with a lot of water in his fuel which he had to drain out over the next 2 flights. Thanks Mark, better in your tank than mine :-)

Actually Mark and I agreed that I would be the dromedary on this journey, the camel which he would siphon fuel to increase his distance.

More to come about dromedary services in Palenque, Mexico…we got into some serious trouble but Sue rescued us.

So began my solo adventure from Los Angeles to the Panama Canal and back

To tell the truth, I have some trepidation crossing into Mexico and beyond to Central America.

Will my plane be stolen, will I get sick, will I have fun? As in all my adventures in life, this one requires that I act in spite of my fear.

I met Mark and Sue Harrison, “The Harrisons” as they are prone to say; A lovely couple from Bel Air who also will be flying the same journey as I having joined the Baja Bush Pilot’s CenAm yearly tour. Since The Harrisons’ have flown to Baja several times the journey will be a little less scary.


You can click on my SpiderTrack to view the flight. Once you have clicked scroll down to Van Nuys  to Ensenada…you can enlarge it, overlay the satellite view, or put the mouse over and click to see our heading, speed and altitude.

We had lunch around the corner from my home for our first meet to get to know each other and to begin planning our 2300 mile sojourn to meet up with the other pilots (pilotos en Espanol) in Palenque, Mexico.

On Saturday, January 23rd Mark, Sue and I met at their home and then drove to our respective airports of Van Nuys and Santa Monica to meet up in Ensenada, Mexico.

It was a bitter cold morning for Southern California, 41 degrees at Van Nuys where I took off in Miss Behavin’. I actually had to wear gloves…amazing.

Here are some photos of the mountains around the Valley which are rarely covered with snow.

Mountains flying out of Van Nuys



This was an hour and 48 minute journey of 184.2 NM.

He’s at it again!

A quick update,

On Saturday 01/23/2010 Jeff set out on an all new adventure..He is currently flying south through Mexico on his way to PANAMA! This marks his, and Miss Behavin’s, first trip into Central America. Yesterday he had a great day checking out the Mayan Ruins and getting a feel for the local culture. He is in great spirits and having the time of his life. More updates and pictures to follow.


Team Miss Behavin

Take-off Emergency, in IMC, 300 feet over Pacific Ocean in Arcata, CA

I left Marina del Rey, CA for a three week, or so, adventure in Alaska. My emergency gear was packed, back seats and wheel pants were removed…heading North and West with no flight plan. After a lovely VFR flight up the California coast while contemplating a gravel landing next to Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park, AK.

I remembered the great crabs in Eureka and that’s where I would spend my first night…munching on great crabs. NOT.

Who knew crab season wouldn’t start till December and that most hotel rooms were full?

It was misty and overcast, which is quite usual this time of the year, next to the ocean. HOCUT THREE DEP was available for runway 32…it was foggy with a marine layer right down to the ground…I waited a few moments and as Tom Sobehrad (he is the local fuel guy…and I was later to learn he also was the fire truck guy) said, the weather changed in 5 minutes as it is prone to do. We smiled, he was a nice guy, and agreed to meet again during crab season.

Grabbing my IFR clearance from Seattle Center, who was working me from the ground at this non-controlled airfield that I most likely would declare VFR once on the top.

The runway is 6000’ and I had a 4500 RVR and was good to go.

It was an uneventful take-off…I was immediately in IMC in the marine layer. At about 300’ AGL I retracted my ten degrees of flaps and proceeded to correct the P-Factor with right trim. The trim no matter how much I turned it would not trim the pressure on the rudder and the trim indicator was broke. I figured I would deal with that at altitude.

Looking back at my artificial horizon I noted I was at about 400’ with a strong right turn to about 50 degrees bank. This is why we always train for unusual attitudes…right?

Deciding the artificial horizon was my best choice to figure out my situation I started to correct from the immanent spin into the cold Pacific Ocean. The turn coordinator was looking very odd so I focused on the artificial horizon again.

I had my right leg locked straight and foot close to the floor…and I just managed to level myself out of this dangerous turn at about 500’ in IMC. No doubt I had just beaten every pilot’s nightmare; 300’ AGL, moments after take-off into IMC in an unusual attitude with my rudder in bad shape.

I declared an emergency with Seattle Center telling them I had serious rudder and trim difficulty.

Once above the clouds at 1100’ I explained my predicament to Center and asked for vectors to the nearest airport with a mechanic. They said my best shot was to return to Arcata (KACV) as it had the longest runway and ILS (no mechanic).

Seattle asked which was my easiest turn direction…I found this an interesting question and tested the issue. Wow, I had no left rudder and yet, if I eased up pressure on the right rudder I was whipped into a hard left turn. I was confused, my trim indicator was broken at full right and I had full right rudder. What in the world was going on?

Seattle told me they were going to vector me back to KACV for the 32 ILS and they used all left turns.

I was on the top in VMC and just above the mountain tops. They brought me inside of KNEES 15.8 DME…I was told to report established on the localizer and glide slope.

After reporting established, into the IMC I glided. Seattle had me stay on their frequency and had a local aircraft buzz the field and talk on 123.0 Unicom…all was clear to land if I could see the runway.

At 400’ AGL I picked up and reported the runway insight and was obviously cleared to land. I came in hot at around 110 KTS in case I had to go around (hoping that would not happen).

I touched down, one bounce bled off some of my excess speed and I was down. Informed Seattle I was safe and off the runway I head back to where I had left Tom 30 minutes ago after take-off.

There was Tom now in his fire truck rushing out to the runway as I taxied in he stopped.

We smiled and I asked him it that truck was for me…he smiled and nodded. I laughed with him about returning before crab season.

When I went to taxi to a tie-down I had no left nose wheel control and had to tap the brake to negotiate the left turns. What in the world had happened?

Tom took me for a drink and we became fast friends. He told me all about his call from Seattle declaring the emergency.

The next day the mechanic showed me that my left rudder was floored as if a ghost had its left foot jammed to the floor. Once he removed the console and centered the trim the rudder had a full left rudder deflection.

Now my right foot to the floor started to make sense…it was correcting the full left rudder allowing me to fly straight with a full right rudder…forget about a right turn.

I had basically flown the whole emergency by decreasing and increasing the pressure on the right rudder to make a slightly uncoordinated left turn…that was a difficult take-off followed by a very difficult landing.

It winds up that the Bungee (an internal canister that equalizes rudder, nose wheel and trim somehow) was broken and there was nothing else I could do but get back to Terra Firma.


With your permission I intend to do an article about your epic trip in the magazine

Hi there, I am editor of a local society magazine which is aimed at people interested in Aviation in Yorkshire, UK. We print a comprehensive monthly report of the movements at Leeds/Bradford. I noticed your aircraft had visited the airport in May this year and on finding it had been from and to the USA which is quite unusual so I decided to delve a little further and cam across your website. With your permission I intend to do an article about your epic trip in the magazine and hoped I would be able to use some of the photographs of your blog if that ok with you? If you have any comments about your short visit to Yorkshire they would be most welcome. Thank you for your time and if you would care to send me a forwarding address I will gladly send you a copy of the mag when it is published. Look forward very much to hearing from you, Cheers for now, Trevor Smith

Hi Trevor,

Sounds like your article would be fun to read from your perspective. As you know, I was quite displeased with the lack of service in Leeds by the MultiFlight Cessna dealership.

My brief comment about my visit to Yorkshire is simply that after arriving at IFR minimums into the airport and having called ahead for help at MultiFlight with my ailing NavData and need of an oil change…they did nothing for a couple of guys who just flew the North Atlantic. There was one lovely chap who was one of their helicopter pilots, I believe named Chris, that offered us significant navigational assistance.

Personally, I think MultiFlight was afraid to even look at my Garmin 1000 glass panel.

Please ask what specific pictures you would like to use and I will be glad to give you permission for those. I would like the site or me or both to be credited for the pictures used.

I have given you my address under separate email.



How much does spidertracks cost?

Question from Mark Bundy:

Spidertracks: How much did the unit cost and how much is the service costing (per hour/month/whatever makes sense)

Hi Mark,

The unit in the aircraft costs $2000 the last time I checked with Luke McCarthy at spidertracks. I must say that it performed flawlessly on our trip even at 67 degrees north…this is where most of my other electronic gear had intermittent failures.

They charge you for usage depending on how frequently you have it report. Mine is set to every two minutes and it appears to be $3.00 per hour. You can set it to report every 4 minutes reducing your costs to $1.50 per hour.

I highly recommend the service. I wondered why the Air France plane that went down didn’t have something similar tracking them so they could have been found sooner. It works well even in the Atlantic regions where there is no radar coverage.

I do have one standing complaint with spidertracks, I have mentioned this to Luke on several occasions…but they don’t seem to address this annoying problem:

You set preferences on your site for what units of measurement to show like MPH instead of Meters/Second, or altitude in feet instead of meters. They don’t seem to care or be able to fix this problem.

What weather should I expect crossing the North Atlantic in July and August?

Name: Luigi Franceschetti

Question: Dear Jeff,

my name is Luigi Franceschetti and I’m builder & owner of a Van’s Aircraft RV7 registered and based in Italy.

My plan is to try to go to Oshkosh in July 2010 with my aircraft (plus other 2 RV).

My RV is capable of 170 knots TAS @ 8.000 ft with a hourly consumption of 9.0 USG with a total standard capacity of 40 USG.

I’m currently doing the project for an additional ferry tank (to put on the passenger seat, the aircraft has two seats) to get an additional 40 USG, giving me around 8 hours + reserve.

Then I would kindly like to receive some info if possible:

-I’m planning the trip in July, not only for Oshkosh 2010, but even because of the better (I suppose weather) that I can except (plus more daylight). What kind of weather I can expect?

-I have no particular rush to go to Oshkosh, what I mean, is that I can surely wait 4-5 days on each place during the trip to wait good weather (I’m planning a 1 month and a half trip), do you think that is enough to “wait” for acceptable weather?

-I have study the different routes (basically the routes on Iceland-Greenland-Canada), do you have any additonal hints?

-Do you have any website or other source of info to provide me?

Thank you very much


City: Rodengo Saiano State: Italy

Hi Luigi,

Thanks for writing.

Question: Why do you have an 8,000′ ceiling? Or is that just the speed you can cruise at that level?

I spoke to Don Ratliff to ask him what he though…and he came back to me with the same question.

” Why an 8,000 feet ceiling? What is the nature, or necessity of that? He would have to climb to at least 12,000 to get safely over the “cap” and into BGBW. But he would only need to be at that altitude for no more than 45 minutes. Otherwise he would have to fly about the southern tip, then back up to BGBW for fuel.

Icing should not be too much of an issue in July, and he would always be able to descend and melt it off, except over the “cap”.”

That said, you sound like you can easily fly the 750 NM or so from Prestwick, Scotland to Keflavik (that would we your longest leg) and then on to Narsarsuaq or Sondrestrom, Greenland then to Iqaluit or Goose Bay, Canada and down into the lower 48 states…easily.

In our journey across and back the only time we had to wait was not to pay Greenland a $1200 landing fee on Sunday…oh yeah, we also had to wait one day to avoid strong winds in Keflavik.

I would suggest you use a handler for country clearances. And you will find Agents at the airports that will help you with weather and filing.

You may need an HF radio for position reports across the Atlantic if you don’t go through Iqaluit to Sondrestrom or reversed.

Let me know if I can help with anything else…good luck and have a great flight,


—–Original Message—–

From: []

Sent: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 3:18 AM

To: Jeffrey Miller

Subject: ask-jeff-blog-form

This email was sent from x-form on flythenorthatlantic blog site.

I am posting again by request please use Ask Jeff to post questions

Since Ask Jeff has been fixed the questions are coming in…and so I will answer.

I must admit I was a might disappointed that we were not receiving questions…now it is obvious that many were asked and never received by me.

Please resubmit all questions that went into space and I promise to answer them promptly.


Next journey is to Patagonia and back in July.

I know I’ve been slacking in finishing the descriptions of the last legs of my North Atlantic journey. I’ll be on it shortly…truthfully, I’ve really found myself pooped and sleeping mostly.

I should be making my final decision on go no go to Patagonia in July this or next week. Insurance is playing a large part as well as figuring out the route.