AOPA helps pilots make it home from Mexico

December 5, 2007

AOPA helps pilots make it home from Mexico

By Kate Opalewski

As two AOPA members planned their flight home from La Paz, Mexico, recently, they discovered that the pilot could not locate his medical and pilot certificates.

That's when panic set in for AOPA members Chet Belknap of Santa Cruz, Calif., and his son, Scott Belknap, of Fallbrook, Calif.

Would they be able to return home? How would they get there?

"We had all these questions and nobody to ask," said Scott, who considered flying home commercially but was deterred when no flights were available. "Who do you call when you don't know the ramifications for what's just happened to us?"

That's when Chet called AOPA and was connected to the AOPA Legal Services Plan staff. As a member of the plan, Chet has access to staff and more than 600 aviation attorneys to help him with the most covered matters for just $29 all year long.

The plan staff helped them acquire an FAA temporary authorization to fly without their certificates. This temporary authorization is the only documentation accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security agents for a return border crossing in lieu of actual certificates.

The customs agents advised them that if they had not had the FAA temporary authorization form, it could have meant a fine of $10,000 ($5,000 for each violation).

"That phone call [to the AOPA Legal Services Plan] saved us," said Scott.

Enroll in the Legal Services Plan online or call 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672). Read the plan description for complete coverages.

December 5, 2007