The Breakfast Club
An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots' Assn.


The Knife & Fork


Breakfast Club Visits Calexico, Catalina Flamed-Out

12 May 07
by Warren McIlvoy

The May Breakfast Club event to Calexico and Catalina Island, sparked considerable interest in the Breakfast Club group. And it apparently also sparked a fire on Catalina that scuttled the second half of our flying weekend.

The original plans were to fly to Calexico and have breakfast at
Rosa's Plane Food Café and then the folks that were not planning on the Catalina portion of the weekend, could return to the valley, and the rest of us would continue on to the island. But on Wednesday, a grass fire got out of control and soon grew to major proportions. By Thursday, word was out that the locals along with the tourists, would be preparing for evacuation to the mainland. At 2000 Thursday night I called the Hotel Mac Rae to get first hand information about the fire conditions. He said that they were preparing to evacuate but that the hotel manager may be in on Friday to field phone calls. The person added "I don't know just when he would be in or for how long that he might stay". On Friday afternoon at about 1500, I got through to the hotel and was informed that the fire was halted at the very edge of the town of Avalon but obviously, there would be no weekend visitors to the island. Full refunds would be the order of the day.  Nuts!!!!!

It has been about 20-years since I last visited Catalina and was truly looking forward to rekindling those fond memories. On Friday morning I sent-out a "Notam" to the
Breakfast Club group that the Catalina portion of our weekend flying event had been scrubbed but that we were still planning on going to Calexico since it would be a new fly-in destination.

Our route to Calexico is almost a mirror image of the route to Yuma. I went around the north end of the White Tank Mountains at 6500' and turned on a southwesterly course to JUDTH intersection (keeps us out of the restricted areas) and then direct to the BARD (BZA) VOR and then direct to Calexico. Until reaching JUDTH, the "lay of the land" is dominated by nondescript desert with a smattering of agricultural operations. However, after making the turn to the west from JUDTH, and nearing Yuma, the scene is total agriculture along the Mohak/Welton Project all the way to Yuma. This is one of the most productive cotton and lettuce areas in the southwest. Upon crossing what's left of the Colorado River, the scene abruptly changes to a stark, sand dune-laden desert that is the playground for "sand buggy" enthusiasts.

In just a few minutes, the scene suddenly changes back into a vast agricultural panorama that is known as the Imperial Valley. It is on the southern boarder of this broad valley that Calexico had made its mark. Here's a little more on Calexico.

"Founded in 1900 and incorporated in 1908, Calexico began as a tent city of the Imperial Land Company and has grown into a larger thriving city on the US-Mexico border.

Before the repeal of prohibition, Calexico was primarily a week-end town visited by workers in the Imperial Valley in pursuit of fun and games, dance halls and saloons, in adjacent Mexicali, which was outside the United States and unaffected by the Volstead Act.

Although it gained a reputation for a while as a typical U.S.-Mexico border town with all the tawdry aspects usually associated with such places, the modern city of Calexico is a far cry from what it was back in those early days. Hundreds of acres are now being devoted to industrial park's use and commercial and retail incentives are being offered to encourage industrial development.

Since Calexico represents the mixing of two cultures and areas and because of its proximity to the Mexican border, the name Calexico was coined for a combination of Mexico and California. The estimated population as of March 2006, is just under 38,000".

Where Calexico could be considered by some to be a sleepy border town, Mexicali, on the other hand, is the "800# gorilla" of boarder towns.

"Mexicali is the capital of the State of Baja California, México as well as the capital of the municipality of Mexicali. Situated along the state's northern border with the U.S. state of California, Mexicali is the northernmost city in Latin América, located at 32°40'0?N, 115°28'0?W. The city itself had a 2005 census population of 653,046, whereas the municipality's population was 895,962. The population is constantly growing due to the number of Maquiladoras in the area and migrational aspects. It is the 13th largest municipality in Mexico as of the Census 2005.

Founded on March 14, 1903, Mexicali is adjacent to the city of Caléxico, California, which lies directly across the US border. The link is emphasized by the way each city's name combines the words "California" and "Mexico."

The airport is only about 100 or so yards north of the border and after landing on the east/west runway, I taxied to the ramp to meet with the other Breakfast Club folks. There is not much to see on the airport other than the small terminal building that houses and office for purchasing fuel and a US Customs Office. About 50-yards west of the terminal is Rosa's Plane Food Café.

Upon entering Rosa's, you have absolutely no doubts that you have entered a Mexican restaurant. The burnt amber color of the walls was a stark contrast to the dark colored wood floors. The large booths along the north wall could easily seat 6-people with 3 on a side. In the far corner was a ceiling hung TV that was blaring some program in Spanish that had the undivided attention of some folks that were seated right in front of it. We seated ourselves a few tables away so that we could have our own conversation that would be slightly better understood. The menu selections were traditional but with a Mexican flare. The only glaring item of note was the higher than normal prices that I am used to seeing for, say, ham and eggs at about $10.50. The service was prompt as was the delivery of the requisite "rocket fuel"(coffee). When our entrees arrived, we quickly realized why the prices were higher than normal. The portions were huge. The bacon and eggs had about a half pound of bacon along with the traditional refried beans, diced lettuce, potatoes, and somewhere in that pile, were the eggs. The same was true for the ham and eggs with the ham slice being a half inch thick. I believe that two people could have shared and entree and both could come away happy. I will remember that the next time.

After our hardy breakfast meal, we staggered out to the ramp to get some photos of the group as well as some shots of the many aircraft in attendance. Our departure on runway 26 required a right downwind departure to avoid overflying the border. Our return route was the same except I chose to make a stop in Yuma and top-off with some-less expensive gas from Sun Western Flyers.

This Breakfast Club fly-in had one very special guest in attendance. Julie Katzin is a "newly minted" private pilot who has been flying with us since she was 7 or 8-years old. Now at the ripe old age of 18, Julie is attending the Arizona State Universities School of Aeronautics at the Willie Gateway campus. When Julie accompanied Richard Spiegel on our fly-ins, her call sign was "BC-3.5 since Richard's was BC-3. Now Julie would like her very own call sign of BC-75. I would like to congratulate Julie on her well-earned accomplishments and I am looking forward to hearing a lot more from BC-75 in the air at future Breakfast Club events.

The Calexico Gang

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 93MB, BC-1
  • Ken Calman in 5023J, BC-6
  • Lance Thomas in 3180R, BC-80
  • Glen & Judy Yoder in 31TC, BC-007
  • Julie Katzin in 4185Q, BC-75 (nee BC-3.5)
  • Austin Goodwin and Tim Yoder in 4351X, BC-317
  • Larry Jensen in 14LJ, BC-65
  • Jerry & Diane Kapp, Roy Coulliette and Ruth Wallace in 5658K
  • "Peaches" the dog accompanied the folks in 5658K


What's Next?

Since the temperatures are turning to the "broil" setting, the Breakfast Club will be taking shorter trips during the summer to minimize the discomfort of "summertime flying in Arizona". The June event will be to Prescott, Arizona (PRC) and Nancy's Skyway Café. Our July event will be to a long time favorite of Sedona, Arizona (SEZ). That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Click on the Calexico link to view our photos of this fly-in event.  Some photos have been contributed by Ken Calman and Lance Thomas.