One of the things I like about Flight Simming is that there’s no politics involved. You just get to enjoy the natural scenery, wonders of the world, challenging airports, and flying. With that in mind, this “Where Do You Fly?” article covers Mexico.
Mexico is located in Central America and is sandwiched between the USA to the north and Guatemala to the south. The terrain is mostly rugged mountains with flat land near the Gulf of Mexico. The capitol of Mexico is Mexico City with a population of 8.4 million. Other major cities and tourist spots are Acapulco, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Tampico, Cancun, and Tuxtla. Mexico has a history of drug related crime, heavy in the north, and corruption but still remained a popular tourist place. Recently, tourists have been victims of crime and accused as being perpetrators so tourism has taken a hit. We don’t care about that in FS and will enjoy the country for its natural beauty.
I strongly recommend departing from Los Angeles or Phoenix, USA, and flying across the Sierra Madre mountains to Mexico City. About halfway between Chihuahua and Cuidad Obregon is the Copper Canyon. This canyon spreads some 25,000 square miles and is larger than the Grand Canyon in the USA. With 38m mesh this is a really spectacular sight from the air. You may want to fly into Chihuahua and then grab a turboprop to take in the canyons. Head about 220 degrees for 130nm or so. It’s too bad there’s no photo scenery for this area. Here’s a shot from FSX.
Mexico City is a challenging airport for pilots due to its elevation. At 7,316 ft or 2,229m, aircraft require a longer takeoff distance and thrust reversers are less effective while landing. Keep this in mind when loading your aircraft. MMMX has two parallel runways. 05L/23R is 12,860 ft (3,919m) long and 05R/23L is 13,070 ft (3,983m). The airport is ILS equipped with a VOR on the field. SID’s and STAR’s are to be followed diligently. Mexico City is covered in freeware and payware scenery equally. Personally, I use the FS9 freeware scenery made by Bill Melichar (pictured below). He has not done the entire airport. Instead, he has modeled the main buildings and left some of the default buildings to cover the hanger area. This helps to keeping the framerates reasonable and, unless you use the hangers, the missing buildings are barely noticeable. For FSX try the add-on by Ray Smith.
Cancun (MMUN) is a popular tourist area and has an international airport. In contrast to Mexico City, Cancun is at sea level… 20ft or 6m to be exact. Runway 12/30 is 11,483ft (3,500m) with runway 12 having an ILS equipped and there is a VOR on the field to aid in runway 30 landings. For FS9 try Henry Carmaco’s scenery with William Morgan’s add-on to complete the terminals. FSX is a little dry in the freeware area.
Acapulco (MMAA), population 616,000, Â is another beach resort area that is well represented in freeware. There are two runways. 06/24 is not used often as it is 5,579ft (1,700m) while 10/28 is 10,832ft (3,301m) and both ends are ILS equipped. VOR on field. Dr. JosÃ© Luis Ãguila Boudib has made a ready nice freeware version of MMAA for FS9/FSX and Bill Melichar’s version is nicely done for FS9, too.
Puerto Vallarta (MMPR) has a very challenging approach if you are landing on runway 22. The mountains are nearby with only Puerto Vallarta being near sea level it seems. You will need to follow SID’s and STAR’s at MMPR. Runway 04 has a nice approach over the sea. The only runway, 04/22, is plenty long enough to handle all kinds of traffic. It is 10,170ft (3,099m) long and is not ILS equipped but there is a VOR on the field. The doctor has done nice scenery for it, too, for FS9 which includes some city buildings and surroundings. Not much for FSX in the freeware area.
Monterrey (MMMY), with a population of 1.13 million, is located inland at an elevation of 1,270 ft (387m) near the USA border of Texas. It’s nestled in a little valley that leads into a flatland area. There are two runways; 11/29 and 16/34. 11/29 is 9,851 ft (3002m) long and 29 is ILS equipped. 16/34 is used less and is 5,888 ft (1794m) long. There is a VOR on field for approaches of the non ILS equipped runways.
Guadalajara, 1.6 million people, is at a high altitude of 5,012 ft and as a bonus its main runways, 10/28, are ILS equipped and there’s a VOR. The other runway, 02/20, is 5,998 ft (1828m) long and given the altitude of the airfield, is hardly used. MMGL is also located in a valley. The valley is very wide so there are no obstructions to worry about on approach to any of the airports.
Tampico is a city that sits at sea level and while it’s not a challenging airport, it does have a nice approach from any direction. It has a triangle of runways but 13/31 is used most as it has an ILS and is 8,464 (2580m) ft long. The other two are 18/36 at 4,591 ft (1400m) and 9/27 at 4,047 ft (1233m). MMTM is close to allot of the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
Tuxtla Gutierrez (MMTG), commonly known as Tuxtla, is at an elevation of 3,451 ft (1052m) and is a challenging airport. The approach to runway 09 (8,202ft or 2500m) is really nice. The airport sits on a plateau which rises up near the beginning of runway 09. The approach to runway 27 is not as challenging but still nice and it has an ILS. A VOR is all the assistance you get to land here safely.
There’s not allot of FSX freeware for Mexico. Don’t be dismayed because FSX makes up for it by just looking good as it is. The airport buildings are not accurate but the experience is still rewarding because the beauty of Mexico is in the rugged terrain. Good 76m mesh is required and 38m is much better. There is freeware 38m available for FSX made by Raimondo Taburet. By the way, if you are still using FS2002, there is plenty of freeware scenery available, too.
How about payware? Mexico is covered well by a few developers. Taxi2gate, Mexsim, and Flymex, all cover parts of Mexico. FlyMex (boxed by Aerosoft and sold at Simmarket) has three editions covering all of Mexico for FS9 and one covering the central area for FSX. NEXTMap has 4.75m terrain mesh for FSX if you are really into detail and I bet it makes Mexico look fantastic! For FS9 Taxi2gate has MMMX, MMMY, and MMGL done nicely. Mexsim has MMAA covered.
Enjoy flying around Mexico and enjoy the wonderful scenery and challenging airports.
FS9 Freeware files:
Search for Bill Melichar, Henry Carcamo, and Dr. Jose Luis Aguila Boudib.
FSX freeware files:
Search for Raimondo Taburet and Dr. Jose Luis Aguila Boudib.