Jeff Hamann Adventure 2011 Log
Follow adventure flyer Jeff Hamann and Crew as the make a final trek
Go here for the most recent entry.
Here is a Google
earth map of Jeff's complete Mexico Adventures.
Here are the pilots (xls
spreadsheet) of those who have participated with him. I'm thrilled to
have been on one that was part of the basis for the movie "Why
This log is normally my (Jeff Goin's) goings on but, as a former
adventurer with Jeff Hamann (Jefe), am happy to live vicariously through
his latest adventure. Jefe (he's quite fluent in Spanish) and company
are working to complete one of
Jeff's life-long dreams--to fly the entire Baja Coastline. From my
experience with Jeff, he dreams big, and he
Sat 05-28-2011: Sonora Trip update from Jeff Hamann
This motley crew will join with Terry Flint and his son Rocky to
drive to the the State of Sonora Mexico, Saturday Morning. Eventually
there will be 12-14 of us including 8 PPG pilots. The plan is to fly the
coastline from Puerto Penasco to Bahia Kino. Today is packing and
shopping day. I hope to be able to send you daily progress reports.
- Jeff Hamann, Casey Cadwell, & Matt Jones
- Juanjo Thomas, Mayo Obregon, & Javier Medina
- Jesús “Chuy” Obregón, Terry Flint, & Rocky-Flint Driver
- Cliff Stone, Reginald Moore, &Bob Walker
- Phil Russman, Greg Brown, & Quinlan Hamann.
Puerto Penasco to Kino Bay
Sat 05-28-2011 Puerto Penasco to Kino
I basically spent all day Friday preparing for the trip. I finally
got home from grocery shopping at 9pm and crashed. I fueled up the Red
Hummer at 5 am this morning and packed the coolers.
The forecast is not good for tonight. Looks like there is one last
blast from the north blowing through before summer officially begins on
Monday. Memorial Day is the first day of beach season and the last day
of desert season here in southern California. And the window for good
weather in Sonora is almost that small. So the good news is that it
won't be too hot but the bad news is that we will be fighting strong
Well, Casey just called. Terry blew a radiator hose on the way to my
house. They are trying to find an automotive shop open early. Shoot, we
haven't even left home yet! Better here than Mexico, I guess. Looks like
we are headed for a late start.
Sat 5-28-2011 10pm
Well we made it to Santa Clara but not without a few challenges. When
we realized there was a good chance that it would be at least noon
before Terry and Rocky would be ready to leave, we decided to get a
headstart in the Hummers. We stopped in Calexico for lunch and then
bought tourist cards at the border. We are always worried about customs
giving us trouble with our paramotors but they hardly gave them a second
The wind was blowing hard the whole morning but it really started
cranking after noon. Dust was blowing across the road as we turned east
to San Luis. Terry and Rocky did get going finally around 11am and were
gaining on us when we had a blow out on a rear tire. The loose tread
took out our tail lights and fuel tank filler hose before Bobby got the
Hummer stopped. Terry was only an hour behind us by the time we got the
spare on. But then they were stopped by a policeman and when Terry could
not produce a drivers license he saw dollar signs. They negotiated a
payoff but word must have spread because he was stopped again in less
that five miles by another cop who insisted he should have a front
license plate. Another payoff. They were tempted to just turn around and
We met up the Mexican contingent near San Luis and while they ate a
late lunch we worked on the Hummer. Phil found a muffler shop willing to
work on our fuel filler and I called Matt back home to arrange for him
to bring us another spare tire. It was 5:30 when the last bolt was put
in our fuel filler and 5:45 when we left the AutoZone with a new cap.
Terry and Rocky were now with us and we were back on the road. All four
cars rolled into Santa Clara about 9pm. Exhausted but happy to have a
crummy hotel room on a busy Memorial Day weekend.
More fun and games tomorrow.
Well, no blown out tires Sunday but we did have at least two forced
landings, fortunately in tolerable locations. I say at least because
both Juanjo and Reginald turned around on the first leg for a mixture of
reasons. One 5 miles stretch over water. Some very rough air in two
places. Only Phil and I made the whole 90 miles. Javier seized his
engine 15 miles from our final destination or he would have made all
three legs. I lost both exhaust manifold nuts and chipped my propeller.
Terry got his pickup stuck in the sand twice. Eight pilots got in the
air for at least a local flight. Juanjo won the elevation award for
climbing to 4,500 feet crossing over the point south of Santa Clara and
it was still turbulent even that high. The weather followed the Buoy
Weather forecast almost to the hour. All in all it was a stressful but
We have rented a home on the beach east of Puerto Penasco for the next
three nights. 9 bedrooms, pool, putting green, and most important, a
If you would like to follow our progress on the web. Go to the
FindMeSpot website here, SpotTracker password "ppgmexico". Make sure
you type "no" when it asks if you only want to view secure content.
Seven of us miraculously launched between 9 and 9:15 but only two of
us actually reached our destination. Cliff launched with a broken wing
line which Casey quickly fixed but in the rush his chest strap was left
undone on his second launch. That he could deal with but when his GoPro
slipped out and dropped to the beach he elected to retrieve it instead
of continuing on.
Reginald stayed behind as his buddy. Phil was the next to drop out
with an engine problem. He turned back but did not make it to our
bailout at the Mayan Palace. Soon after that Javier and Juanjo turned
back because of low fuel. That left just Terry and I to complete the
leg. Sad because the scenery was spectacular. One more night here at the
Sand Castle. Then tomorrow we move on 50 miles to Desemboque.
We were almost ready to leave by 7:30 but we wasted 15 minutes taking
group pictures in our new shirts. Our concern with the Aduana checkpoint
was unfounded. We let Mayo do the talking and the agent only looked in
one vehicle. We were through in less than 15 minutes.
San Jorge was only a few miles further and we found the salt flats
that I identified from the air. Hard enough to launch from but not hard
enough to drive on. All seven of us got off the ground by executing
forwards. Juanjo almost got left behind but he managed to pull off his
5th try. There were workers tending to oyster beds in the lagoon. At low
tide they can drive trucks right out to the crates.
The San Jorge islands in the distance were stark white with guano.
The green arteries of the lagoon wound their way through the white salt
flats and green salt bush. Juanjo caught up with us before we reached
the end of the lagoon. There were a few nice houses at Santo Tomas but
they were a testament to how hard it is the maintain a home in a salty
remote area. Punta Jaguay also had some nice homes but one had sand
piled up against the walls higher than the windows.
The 2-3 mph wind at launch was a good 10 mph from the southwest when
we landed. Cliff discovered a hole in his muffler that had burned a hole
in the back of his seat so he Hummered out the second leg with
Bob. We all launched with lots of fuel anticipating a head wind but it
died just around Punta Jaguey. The sky was partly overcast and a glassy ocean
made for some stunning reflections.
The horizon was almost indiscernible at times. We got a good look at a Vaquita in the shallows. They are a very small dolphin that is endemic
to the northern gulf of California. The tide was high by the time we
reached Desemboque and we all landed in the parking lot. Juanjo was able
to reach the ground crews on the radio by climbing high. We all had
lunch ordered before the Hummers arrived. And Mayo did not arrive before
we started eating.
town appeared to be centered around harvesting Callo de arbol, a type of
clam. More than 50 people, men women and children, were all at work. Men
go out in boats each morning with hookah rigs and collect the clams in
about 30 feet of water. The shucking was the first operation on the
beach followed by a sand bath to help remove the intestines. Then they
washed and bagged the meat.
I think someone was in the air most of the afternoon. Phil coached on
forward launches. Cliff worked on his motor. Terry hooked a piece of
rebar with his wing and tore a gaping hole in it which he repaired with
a mix of duct tape and ripstop.
later in the afternoon, the town came alive with beach activity for
Navy Day celebrations. They had music and dancers and powered
paragliders for entertainment. The minister of security from the county
was there and he gave us his card in case we ran into anymore trouble
with the police. Phil hitched a ride in the back of a pickup to shoot
some video of us following him down the beach. Then we capped off the
evening with a sunset flight. Well at least for me. I was told later
that the guys went to town to join in the festivities and Reginald was
dancing with all the girls.
Seems like we need to alternate between
flying days and working on gear days. Today
was a working on gear day. I changed out my
carburetor and sparkplug. Mayo assembled his
new trike. Cliff and Reginald did some minor
tune ups. And Terry actually rebuilt a 313
with help from Cliff and Reginald. The hotel
had a big covered area that we appropriated and we had gear
spread everywhere. After some morning
flights and kiting lessons Phil went in search of a free flight
spot. He must have spent 3 hours playing in
the dunes north of town. The wind was first
too north and then too weak to really soar but he had fun
The local boats brought in a huge number of
Callo again. One of the divers was from San
Blas and he moved here because the fishery was wiped out there.
At this rate it will be wiped out here soon too.
Two different gringos told us that drugs were brought in
by boat at night on occasion. They even knew
whose house belonged to the honcho. The
police captain was happy to take a few bucks to be off duty
whenever the shipments came in, so the story goes.
After noon a few more of us made local
flights and Mayo finally flew as well.
Javier and Juanjo made the sunset flight.
The hotel is adequate and the beach is huge and hard at low tide
but small at high tide. When the wind is
right we can launch from the dirt parking lot below the hotel.
All eight pilots flew today for the first time.
So this was a good place but we are all anxious to move
What a Day!! Checked out and launched at 9am. Well almost. We missed
paying for one room and Casey had to settle up before he could leave.
Juanjo struggled again to launch in the very light conditions. I think
he finally understands how important an easy launching wing is now. The
bonus for forward launches is calm air. The Sea of Cortez was at its
best. Glassy and clear. We could see the islands on the other side of
the gulf. Dolphins were very common and bait fish were everywhere. The
schools made undulating dark forms over the sandy bottom. Larger fish
were herding and then darting into the schools. Cliff discovered that
his shadow scared the dolphins. If he flew over a school they would dart
and dive in all directions. Tanques at 10 miles marked the end of the
dirt road. The rest of the 25 miles was all nice beach but without
access. So of course Juanjo started experiencing vibration and noise at
about 15 miles. He considered just landing but it did not seem to be
getting any worse so he just nursed it along. He correctly supposed it
was something to do with his muffler. Casey and the rest of the gang
arrived in Lobos just ahead of him. Inspection revealed that one more
cracked bracket was all that was left holding the muffler on the frame.
His safety wire probably saved the day. Phil and I circled high and low
around the point before landing. There were schools of different fish
everywhere. The shallows around Punta Lobos were beautiful.
The winds in the northern gulf in June don't have the predominant
northwest to southeast flow like Mazatlan further south. They can come
from the north through west to south. Today the forecast was for light
southwest possibly building some in the afternoon. It was still nice at
11am so we elected to take advantage of the favorable conditions to move
on. Juanjo and Javier elected to ride in the convoy. Five of us launched
for the 28 miles to Punta Tepoca. The first 12 miles was cliffs up to
200 feet high. They would have made for nice soaring if the wind would
have been any stronger. Cliff, Phil and I flew low and enjoyed what lift
we could find. Reginald and Terry encountered increasing headwinds up
higher but we needed some elevation to safely pass the next 10 miles of
rugged coastline. We all climbed to at least 1000 feet. The view was
exhilarating and the terrain was intimidating. With 1500 of steep rocky
mountains on our left and ocean on our right the time passed too slowly.
Isla Angel de la Guardia was very clear ?0 miles away. As we approached
the beaches north of Tepoca we relaxed. But, we realized that our hope
of soaring there would not be realized in these wonderful light
conditions. With southwest winds the beach in the next town would be
safe to land on so, we elected to continue on the Libertad where we
could meet up easily with the ground crew.
Libertad is dominated by a large electric power plant. Not sure what
the rest of the dusty town does but fish. There was no visible
agriculture in the virgin desert for at least 50 miles around. Terry was
having trouble hearing our discussion over the change of plans and his
transmissions to us were tinged with anxiety. He settled down once the
rest of us caught up and Reginald landed. We set up camp just past the
town next to some palapas on the beach. It was nice to have the ground
crew right there again. I made sandwiches and we made ourselves
comfortable in the shade.
Matt and Quinlan had left San Diego at 5am and we were expecting them
to catch us about 2:30. We had progress texts from him from Yuma and
Puerto Penasco. The problem was that we were not sure if he was
receiving our texts outlining our changing plans. Just as we considered
sending Casey back up the road Matt called us on the radio and we
directed them to our location. Matt brought us two tires and we loaded
the ruined one in the truck before Casey headed home. Neither Matt nor
Casey were able to make the whole two weeks but they were both excited
about doing half of it so this was our solution.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the shade of the palapas. We
were told that Libertad had at least a couple hotels with AC. The vote
was to find one for the night. But first we fixed Juanjo's motor with
parts off Cliff's broken exhaust. Reginald tweaked his carburetor again
trying to smooth out his cruise. And Phil and I flew down to the sand
dunes south of town. The large Cardon cactus were tempting photo opps in
the evening light so I landed on top of one of the large dunes. Bad
idea. The stick and roots left from dead vegetation caught on my wing
lines and what little wind was left was not strong or consistent enough
to make for an easy departure. First I photographed Phil and then he
photographed me. Then I spent 15 minutes trying to relaunch, finally
resorting to a forward going down the face of the dunes. I was grateful
for Phil's help. Juanjo tested his repair job with Javier successfully.
We cooked up spaghetti for dinner. I had lettuce that we salvaged
after 8 days in the cooler to make a Ceasar salad and with a box of red
wine we had a nice beach dinner as the sun set. It is never fun to load
and strap the paramotors in the trailer but the hotel was downtown.
Cliff resorted to the headlight before he was done.
Without question, this has been my favorite day so far. Amazing
weather and beautiful surroundings.
We all got a good night's sleep in a cheap hotel in downtown Libertad.
I was the only one really interested in camping but then I have a nice
bed in my camper. There was no premium gas available so we purchased
some octane booster and made the best with some Magna.
The leg to Rio Concepcion was the worst leg of the trip for road
access, so only, Terry, Phil, Cliff and I decided to go. The forward
launches went fine on the hard dirt behind the beach as did the first 10
miles. Then Terry's motor quit.
He'd been flying at 2000 feet and had plenty of time to pick out a
good beach to land on. The ground crew was still in libertad getting ice
so we had them hold until we figured out what to do. Terry discovered
that his spark plug cap had come off. Easy to fix. So he fired it back
up and tried to relaunch. Unfortunately, the motor quit again and the
wing collapsed on him and he ran over a bunch of lines. When he gave us
a 50/50 chance of getting out of there, we hired a boat to come get him
and Rocky got under way.
Phil and Cliff went on ahead and I climbed out over Terry while
he worked on his wing and Rocky made his way down the coast. Then Terry
somehow keyed his mic on continuously and I lost communication with him.
When a local fishing boat came ashore I told Rocky that he now had help
and I couldn't communicate with him.
I moved on to catch up with Cliff and Phil. But then Phil's motor
started acting up in an even worse area. He went down. Meanwhile, Terry
loaded his gear on the panga and headed for Libertad. He met Rocky about
1/4 of the way back. Phil cleaned out his jets again and relaunched
before I caught up. The light NW winds made it possible to go a little
further and we ended up at another waypoint that I had selected near
Mancha beach. Matt was the first to show up in the red Hummer and Bob
and Mayo trickled in later. We ate lunch, relaxed and tried to soar the
cliffs in too light wind while we waited for Terry and Rocky. They
eventually made it just as we had decided to move on in the good
We needed to get around a big black mountain and the downwind
thermals and rotor were a big concern. The flight needed to be made
either late in the evening or early in the morning. Conditions were
looking good now and it was anybody's guess what tomorrow would bring.
So Phil, Cliff and I launched from a very small beach and headed inland
behind the mountain. We wanted to be up at least 2500 feet before we got
downwind and the climb was threatening to overheat Cliff's motor so he
turned back. Phil and I only experienced light turbulence. Once we
reached the Tiburon Channel we relaxed. The air was clear and from 2000
feet we could see the Baja peninsula in the distance as well as many
But 15 minutes after Phil said "you sure wouldn't want to do this on
a windy day" we looked down and saw nasty white caps below. We knew we
needed to reach the other end of the channel at least before we could
land. We experimented with different altitudes to get the best ground
speed and took a direct line to Bahia Kino. Chueca was our rendezvous
point with the ground crew but we had already experienced the wind there
before and we did not want to land there again if we didn't have to. We
continuously checked fuel and speed and ultimately decided to try for
Kino bay. The beach was 5 miles long so even if we did come up short of
our waypoint it would not be a disaster.
Phil made it over 50 miles with just over two gallons of fuel. But of
course he was not done for the day. After landing he dumped his reserve
1/2 gallon in the tank and went back up again. I looked for hotel rooms
while he climbed to get in radio contact with the vehicles. We both
succeeded eventually. The roads were horrible and much of the way the
vehicles were limited to less than 15mph. Our preferred hotel was full
but we were able to rent a campsite next to a large dune and then get
rooms across the street. It was 8pm when Matt and Quinlan pulled in. I
heated up some canned chile and we sat out in the evening air while we
waited. Everyone eventually arrived tired and frayed but safe.
Matt's four years of bad luck held this morning. We had glassy
conditions at 6am. The wind filled in nicely by 9am. But when we went to
launch at 10 am the wind was so north that it was rotoring off the
buildings and terrain upwind. We made a nasty short flight just to get
him some more air time but it was not pleasant. To make matters worse,
he had some sort of maladjustment to his harness so he had to apply
strong right hand break pressure to maintain straight flight. We landed
on the beach in 18mph wind requiring a level of skill well beyond his
experience level but he was able to grab the C lines and kill the wind
just as he touched down and execute a quick turn without falling. We all
assured him that it gets easier.
Terry welded up Cliff's broken muffler bracket and got him back in
business. Juanjo, Javier and Cliff all made short flights but gave up
due to the turbulent conditions. Because the wind was more north than
yesterday, we decided to try San Nicolas again with hope that it would
allow us to soar. The hunch paid off and Phil and I got a couple of
great flights. The rest of the gang made sled rides down to the beach
and kited. Unfortunately Reginald had trouble getting out of his seat on
one flight and sprained his ankle landing. It is hard to believe that we
were actually wearing jackets in Puerto Penasco only a week ago because
it was 107 on the way to San Nicolas and even at the hotel it is still
close to 100. The pool still had the winter chill left in it but it felt
We set a 6:30 launch time for an evening flight but the wind stayed
strong. We were tempted to give up but it finally started to moderate
after 6 and by 6:30 it seemed okay. Matt, Cliff and I flew until after
sunset. The offshore wind was blowing up high and the onshore wind was
blowing down low. The mixing zone was rough at times and the rotor was
bad at the north end of the beach but we managed a nice easy flight for
Matt finally. He was ecstatic. After two very rough flights he finally
got a taste of some relaxing flying. When we told him that even these
conditions were a bad day at La Salina, our Baja beach spot he was
surprised. Juanjo never made it up and Javier was already packing his
gear to go home. Cliff almost didn't make it because his recoil spring
broke again. He started his motor by coiling the pull rope by hand and
then zip tying it to the frame before taking off. Phil climbed to the
roof of one of the buildings and videoed our sunset flight. The wind was
already switching offshore by the time we landed so Matt and I landed
down on the beach rather than up on the dune. Matt tripped and fell on
his landing again but did not hurt himself.
We met the Mexican contingent at the Pargo Rojo for dinner. Phil
showed video and we said our goodbyes. Mayo told us that the traditional
commemoration for a first flight was to dump crankcase oil on the new
pilot and then sign his shirt. Matt got them to sign his shirt but we
decided to let him off easy on the oil since our motors are two cycle.
We hit the road for home at 8:30am but we decided to change out one
tire first.. The edges of the tread were showing cracks on the left
front tire and we did not want to risk another blowout. The tire shop
charged us $2 and did the job in less than 10 minutes. Mayo and the
Mexicans got a 1 hour Jump on us. As chance would have it, the weather
looked great for flying now that we were packed up and leaving. Each
glimpse we got of the ocean revealed a giant mill pond. Reginald sat in
the back and put his foot up over the transmission to keep it elevated.
The conditions renewed hope that I still might be able to fly from
Santa Clara to the border. Matt got an evening forecast on his I-Phone
for Yuma that looked good. What little wind there was was from the
southwest which would be a tailwind. And there were some wispy high
clouds that we hoped would knock out the thermals.
We finally reached Santa Clara at about 4:30pm and the wind was a
nice 8-10 mph. We hurried to launch by 5. We gave Terry three tries to
foot launch with us before Phil and I headed north at 5:15pm. Because we
missed flying due to high winds the first day of the trip, we were 65
miles from the border but sunset was not until 7:40. The first five
miles were very nice but then the water upwind of us turned to salt
flats and then vegetation. The wind and the turbulence increased by the
We tried different elevations up to 2500 feet looking for a smooth
spot but nothing was very nice. We saw 48mph on our GPSs at one point.
We never had any collapses but we did not feel comfortable letting go of
the brakes for miles at a time. Then we started climbing at idle and our
speed slowed to as low as 12mph. Phil threatened to just land at least
twice but then it would smooth out a little. We flew this leg IFR (I
follow roads). The toll road to San Luis went right through the desert
so we could bail out any time we wanted.
Two of the support vehicles paced us and Matt ran ahead to give us
wind updates. At about the 3/4 point he reported 15mph with 20mph gusts.
Not good. We needed to make it before dark and we needed good landing
conditions. Fortunately, Matt found nearly calm conditions at the border
and we saw smoke that explained our wind conditions. The smoke blew
south up to approximately 500 feet and then north above that. As we got
farther from the gulf and closer to sunset, the turbulence improved and
our speed went back up to a tolerable 19 mph about 8 miles from the
Matt found a large graded lot less than a half mile south of the
border for us to land on but first Phil and I had to just cross over a
few feet into the US. We photographed each other and flew around in
circles long enough to attract some unwanted attention on both sides of
A US Border Patrol vehicle turned on their flashing lights below us
and by the time we landed south of the border next to our ground crew,
there were two Hummer loads of soldiers, three car loads of Federal
Police and two motorcycle cops waiting. It was a bit tense but they were
more curious than anything. They checked identification, wrote down our
itinerary, and confirmed that we did not land in the US. Ultimately they
released us to go home and then offered to lead us to the border
crossing in one of the Hummers. We all got nailed for secondary
inspection going into the US so it was midnight before we reached El
Centro. We crashed in a Motel 6 for the night before taking it all home
In spite of the challenging weather, I completed all the legs. And,
we actually got home a day early. I have now flown from the USA all the
way to El Salvador in a paramotor. Thanks to all of you who have
traveled and flown legs with me.