Many vacationers fly to Mexico during the winter, but not many get to travel in their own plane.
This is what Don and Carol Ostergard, of Dalum, did in January.
Taking off from their farm airstrip near Drumheller, the couple spent over five weeks flying around Mexico and Central America, all the while in control of the commands of a 1959 Piper Comanche aircraft.
This is not the Ostergard's first journey however. Having owned the aircraft for over 30 years, Don and Carol regularly fly down to Mexico for breaks, as well as across Canada.
What was special about this trip was meeting up with 18 other like-minded people flying aircrafts and sharing part of the journey with the group, something Don and Carol had wanted to do for a while but schedules hadn’t allowed.
Don also highlights, “wherever we went, we found friendly, hospitable, generous and honest people who are trying to make a better life for themselves and for their families. Regardless of social standing, there is a quiet dignity that shows through. And that was the most important discovery we made.”
Preparing for the trip requires a fair amount of planning to ensure it goes smoothly; appropriate maps and charts need to be gathered, all the relevant paperwork such as insurance, proof of ownership and a temporary importation certificate for the aircraft, needs to be in order, as well as checking the entry requirements, as some countries, will require advance notice of arrival.
And of course, the aircraft has to be thoroughly checked to ensure it is mechanically sound to fly, not a major job for the Ostergards as Don explains, “we are fanatic about maintenance and it pays!” Having flown over 15 times to Mexico and also various trips within Canada, the plane has never let them down confirmed Don, which has earned it the nickname of “The Sturdy Bird.”