Made it to Mexico … Almost! (The $1 Lunch)  

By Connor Barrett 

 

made it to mexico almost g1000 pfdWith the extreme desert heat and summer cumulus clouds forming almost every day in August, our options were limited for exploring what Arizona's airports have to offer. These Arizona “normal” weather conditions didn’t stop us from planning and executing a flight. Where are we going this time you ask? Some may say this destination is the place to go, and others may disagree. We chose this location for one specific reason: the one-dollar lunch at the Million Air FBO located on the west side of Yuma International Airport (KNYL).

Once again we started our journey early, departing from Scottsdale (KSDL) and transitioning the Phoenix bravo airspace to the south at 4500’. We entered the southwest practice area and made our turn to the southwest. With a highly concentrated amount of restricted areas along our route to Yuma we used flight following religiously. The plane we were flying on this day is equipment with a G1000 system, and the use of this advanced system made our flight slightly less difficult to complete.

Following the pink line on the PFD can lead to navigation complacency, and a good pilot is always learning and improving on their piloting and navigation skills. With our instrument check rides coming around the corner, we use every possible opportunity to tune in VORs and fly radials to and from VORs along our routes. Today was no exception, first intercepting and then flying southwest on the 030 radial to the Gila Bend VOR (GBN). Once reaching GBN, we turned west and then flew the 247 outbound radial toward Bard VOR (BZA). We flew on our current radial with reference to the GPS until we intercepted the BZA 075 radial. The point where these two radials meet is identified on aeronautical charts as MOHAK.

made it to mexico almost southern arizona toward us mexico border

The southwest region of Arizona has received many rain showers this season. The amount of greenery and natural growth in these parts of the desert is unboundcompared to other parts our southern deserts. Be ready to enjoy scenic mountains and vast floodplain areas, all teaming with life. 

Flight following handed us over to KNYL tower for our clearance into the delta airspace. KNYL is a multi use airport, being shared between public use and military use. The public shares this airfield with the United States Marines Corps. If you plan on flying here, get ready to see and share the airspace with some amazing flying machines. Cleared to land 21R, we established ourselves for the approach and made a straight-in landing. “We have touchdown.” At this exact moment a flight of two marine jets were taking off runway 21L. If hearing, feeling, and watching those two take off doesn’t make you want to fly those jets, it’s time to get a new medical! 

We taxied to the FBO and anticipated what we were going to encounter. Was it really true that pilots get lunch here for only one dollar? The trusty 172 we flew to KNYL was parked, secured, and Hobbs recorded; now it's time for lunch. In our past articles we have talked about all these great exciting adventures we completed at our destination. To us, this was just as exciting. Being full-time students at universities and filling the rest of our time with flight school, our budgets are tight.

made it to mexico almost sunrise on the ramp ksdl

A full lunch for one dollar! And being able to fly to lunch is up there on the list for excitement. Listen closely: to get the dollar lunch the pilot and crew must check in with the front desk first. Here they will give you a coupon, which you must take down the hall to the cafeteria for your dollar lunch. After scouring the lunch menu I settled on a juicy chicken sandwich; hold the fries. Picking a table close to a window where we could watch the military aircraft land and take off, our stomachs were eager to be tamed. Within minutes our lunch was served and only two dollars out of our pockets... for lunch at least. Lunch devoured and the fuel billed paid, it was time to start our flight back to KSDL.

Taking off runway 17 you head southbound toward the US Mexico border. With the proximity to Mexico, an expedited right turn out became very clear once airborne. Below our left wing was the fence that separates our two countries; below our right wing, KNYL. We almost made it to Mexico! Our right turn out set us up perfectly for a northbound departure toward BLH VOR, frequency entered and radial tuned in, it was time to say our goodbyes to KNYL and focus on the flight ahead.

For aviation students on a college budget, this is up there on the list of exciting places to visit. A tasty lunch for one dollar should get anyone excited. Pilots who would like to explore what Arizona’s airports have to offer must add KNYL to their airport bucket list!