Back in Playa del Carmen after 5 days in Tulum. Airport waiting area very informal, more like a bus station.
Fuel tanks too low – insufficient fuel to fly direct to Cancun. With no avgas available locally, I had to plan for a short flight to Cozumel (MMCZ). But Cozumel was further away from Key West than Cancun and I wasn’t sure about the range, so to be on the safe side I decided to stop one more time in Cancun to refuel. I was excited to see a row of 4 Boeing 737s waiting in line for us to land.
Rainy season, daily storms and the usual overcast. I spent 2 hours gathering stamps and receipts and clearances for the international departure, and in the meantime the weather deteriorated significantly, with 1500ft overcast extending 60 miles North East. Staying overnight in Cancun might have been an appropriate solution, but I was so loathe about going again through the whole bureaucracy that I decided to fly and see if I could make it – else turn back.
20 miles out flying at 1000ft under the ceiling and through the rain – and the ATC clears us to climb to 7500ft so I said let’s try puncture the clouds. Bad decision, of course, so the next 20 minutes I had to struggle to maintain Laura, attitude, altitude, heading and airspeed under control… long story short second scariest story in my whole flying experience. Time passed, overcast dissipated so we climbed to 7500ft for the final 3 hours of the flight back to the USA.
Tuned into the Jose Marti / La Habana ATIS weather briefing. Flying just outside of the Cuban airspace – close enough to glide to the shore in case of an engine failure.
Peaceful landing – again under overcast – in Key West after the longest leg of our journey.