Flying in to Rocky Point Airport: What You Need to Know
Rocky Point Airport, MMPE, (also known as Mar de Cortes Airport) is an international airport located in Puerto Peñasco (known as Rocky Point), Mexico. The airport offers customs and immigration and is a Port of Entry for Mexico. The airport has fuel services but it’s always good to call ahead to make sure they have fuel before you plan your weight and balance for your flight.
This fishing village and port town turned vacation spot in Northwest Mexico, about 60 miles from the US Border and the airport is frequented by American tourists seeking to visit “Arizona’s Beach.” That makes it a very short flight for Americans living near the US-Mexican border, Rocky Point airport most often services private planes, however, commercial flights from Las Vegas and Hermosillo also land at this airport.
Mexican officials built this airport to grow tourism demand for the northern coastline of Sonora with an emphasis on Rocky Point, Mexico. That’s why the current runway, 1.55 miles of concrete, was built to handle all types of service and aircrafts, including planes as large as a Boeing 757. This airport was built on growth and tourism; the airport itself was privately funded and is now operated by Grupo Vidanta, a company that’s built several resorts, vacation rentals, and residential developments in the area.
Currently there are no scheduled flights to Puerto Penasco. If you are flying General Aviation and would like to know the process of flying across the border Legally here is what you need to know.
Before you take off, make sure you have your proper paperwork when you come. This includes the following:
- A notarized letter communicating that you are allowed to fly the airplane into Mexico if you do not own the airplane you are Piloting or if your airplane is owned in a corporation
- Mexican Insurance, Mapfire provides this service but honestly it is easier to get your insurance through Baja Bush Pilots (LINK)
- Airworthiness Certificate
- Pilots License
- Medical Certificate
- Radio Operators license ( They have never asked me for this since 2005 but it still says so on the books)
- US CBP permit /sticker.
You will be required to pay for an Annual entry permit the first time you come to Sea of Cortez airport MMPE. After that they will stamp it. The Airport does take Visa and Mastercard but often their lines do not work and you can get stuck with no money to pay if they are down.
Okay, so you have your paperwork? Great, before you leave you MUST file an EAPIS. Here again, filing through Baja Bush Pilots on their website is really easy and they will send you confirmation that it has been done. Once you have that you are good to go. Remember the hours of operation is from 8am to 6pm if you fly in after make arrangements. It costs about 120 an hour to keep the airport open after hours. This includes the Port Captain, Immigration, customs and the Marine’s all staying for you so it’s a pretty good deal. However it is important to note that if you are flying single engine VFR you are not permitted to do so at night in Mexico.
MMPE is on frequency 118.85 and it is a controlled airport. I usually call about 15 to 20 miles out. They are always friendly. Coming in on runway 18 is nice with a straight in from the Phoenix area. If the winds are not in your favor and you need to land runway 36 it is easy to fly out over the ocean and line up almost perfectly by turning final just west of Costa Azul resort.
The runways are massive and 8202 ft by 148 wide at an elevation of 88ft. There are no taxiways so you’ll be back-taxing if you can’t put it down on the numbers and slow down by the time you get to the ramp. There is no ground frequency so you’ll remain on tower frequency. There is usually a guide to flag you into position. Make sure to bring tie down. Not all the spots have them.
Flying Back North Across the Border
On the way back out make sure to file your EAPIS and get a receipt before you take off. If you are flying out late. Try to file before 2pm or so even though legally you can do it later. I have had situations where they didn’t see the notice and while I was legally correct in landing, there was nobody there to meet me to clear customs in Yuma. I always call ahead and make sure someone saw my notice and will meet me there. I also call before I leave if I m more then 15 minutes off my scheduled departure.
IT IS CRITICAL YOU GET A SQUAWK CODE BEFORE YOU CROSS THE BORDER.
If you don’t, you can be subject to fines and possibly find yourself being escorted by a military aircraft. You can pick up Prescott radio (if you are flying to Yuma, Tucson or Nogales to clear customs) easily once you get close to the border. I usually pick them up about 15 to 30 miles before the border at anywhere from 4500 to 6500 feet. If you are struggling to pick Prescott radio make sure to be high enough to make contact. Once across, keep your frequency unless otherwise instructed to change.
You have a few options to fly to Yuma (KNYL) which often has better weather in the summer than Tucson, Tucson (KTUS) and NOGALES (KOLS). However, if you come back and forth often, you can get your Overflight Exemption and fly directly to Scottsdale or other authorized airports.
Make sure that you land at a Port of Entry for the US that does not require an overflight permit unless you have already been approved and you are carrying your letter from CBP. You will need to clear customs. Make sure you have your customs sticker or receipt with you. If you have paid for it on CBP.com which costs about 25 per year you can land with a printed receipt or electronic copy with no problem. I always put the stickers on my window in the bottom corner so not to obstruct my view. I fly a Cherokee and I don’t like customs officers crawling on my wings to look into my door jam for the stickers since they have been known to scratch up a couple airplanes.
It’s easy to see why these tourists flock to Rocky Point for a vacation rental, given how beautiful it is. Unlike Cancun or other cities with wild nightlife and a party scene, Rocky Point is serene, quiet and provides stunning views of the Sea of Cortez. Plus, sitting right along the coast are world-renowned resorts and residential properties, ensuring that its vacation rentals will be nothing short of amazing. Using sites like www.casago.com you’re able to find fantastic properties for your Mexican vacation that will make you feel like you’re living the life of luxury while taking in the breathtaking views of the Mexican coastline.
While this airport is on the smaller side, it will certainly provide all the amenities that you need. Additionally, if you’re taking a private plane, it offers everything that your pilot will need. It has a beautiful seating area while you wait for your plane which includes a snack bar, pilot’s quarters (with tv, computers and WIFI), very clean restrooms. Lastly, it also has signage in both English and Spanish for passengers. The airport is secure, the staff is kind and very helpful. So, whether you are flying commercially or using private services, your needs will be met.
While you are in Puerto Penasco there are many different places to stay. If you need accommodations please click here to search real time availability and get the best rates. There are some amazing, oceanfront accommodations very close to the airport that goes by the name Encantame Towers. It is a luxury resort that is the newest development in Rocky Point.
If there is something we have missed or you want more information please reach out to us. Have a safe flight and enjoy Puerto Penasco!