by Yasmina Platt
Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2019 Issue
After a few work trips to Lima, Perú, I was asked to temporarily relocate there. You may already know from my other articles that I do not like to stay still much on the weekends and that I love to explore the outdoors and learn about different areas, cultures, foods, etc. I especially love to experience flight in different parts of the world. I already wrote a separate article about flying over the country’s incredible Nazca Lines but, if you remember, I could not do it as a pilot, but rather as a passenger due to flight restrictions. That was not going to stop me from finding ways to fly myself.
Jorge Chávez International Airport (LIM or SPJC) does not hardly have any General Aviation (GA) activity, but I was able to rent an airplane and fly with a local CFI at the Lib Mandy Airport (SPLX), a GA airport approximately 43 miles south of Lima. The hardest part was actually getting there… Although the distance may seem reasonable, the amount of traffic, lack of highways, and crazy driving skills of the locals made this an hour and a half drive each way. I was also concerned rideshares or taxis would not pick up from the GA airport for my return trip but, thankfully, they did.
The airport lacks an Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) listing as far as I can tell, and the best information for it can be obtained directly from the flight schools or on flight planning apps. Lib Mandy, itself, at 200 feet MSL, is not in any particular type of airspace (not like we are used to in the States, anyway). However, it is in a restricted area (R-68) from the surface to 3,000 feet MSL and SPIM – Lima’s Flight Information Region (FIR), like an Air Route Traffic Control Center or ARTCC in the U.S. – goes from the surface to 20,000 feet MSL.
SPLX has a single, paved runway (Runway 14/32, approximately 3,300 feet long by 59 feet wide) with no instrument approaches, but it does have a visual tower. Its facilities, especially the pavement, is not in the greatest of condition. It is mostly busy with flight training and has a smaller aerodrome just on the other side of the Pan-American Highway, which is also quite busy with ultralights and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA).
I rented a well-maintained Cessna 150 for $150/hour wet, with the instructor. A local, VFR flight to learn the procedures and check out the scenery was the objective. I knew crossing over LIM to fly north of it was not an option and flying east is a challenge because of the rising terrain and powerful Andes, but I had assumed such local flight would include a flight over Lima. I was wrong. There are lots of restrictions in the area prohibiting VFR flying without a previously established flight plan. So, we just flew south of SPLX for a while, checking out the little towns, beaches, agriculture, and hillsides. Even though we were outside of all airspace, we had to coordinate and remain in contact with Lima Approach the entire time. It was disappointing and a bit surprising considering I have flown in much busier airspace in South America (such as Sao Paulo) without these restrictions, but I learned yet another lesson and the next flight will be a cross-country with a filed flight plan. It also served as another reminder of how good we have it in the U.S. Let’s keep it that way!
To read other destination articles, visit www.airtrails.weebly.com. Fly safe and fly often!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Yasmina Platt has been with the international airport planning and development consulting firm AECOM since 2016. She also writes an aviation travel blog called “Air Trails” (www.airtrails.weebly.com), in addition to articles on pilot destinations for Midwest Flyer Magazine. Pilots can locate articles Yasmina Platt has written by going to www.MidwestFlyer.com and typing in her name in the search box.