Club Pilotos de Mexico…..in the beginning
Shortly after opening Hacienda de los Santos in 1999, Jim and Nancy Swickard were at the Alamos Airport to meet two new guests. Upon landing a smiling Sandy Houston opened the door of the Citation CJ-1. She had just completed her first flight with a newly issued ticket from the FAA for her jet rating. Her husband Sam, then exited and we began a friendship that lasted until his death in 2010. That evening in the Hacienda Cantina the topic came up about making the resort a haven for General Aviation pilots. We all gave a toast to the idea and inaugurated ‘Club Pilotos de Mexico’ with Sam Houston as member #1 and Sandy as #2. In 2011 we realized that we have grown from two members to more than 500. Of course, the U.S. has the most members, followed by Canada, Mexico, Australia, France, Denmark, England and China.
The concept of having the aviation market being the primary focus of our efforts ultimately would include upgrading the airport and having exclusive events for pilots. Gradually the concept developed until today we now have a first class jet capable airport (thanks to the help of the Mexican government rating includes Falcon 20 & Lear 45), a fully fenced airport and extended runway (thanks to the local Alamos pilots who donated funds for land acquisition and more than a mile of chain link fence), a twelve aircraft capacity hangar (which boasts a first class pilot’s lounge, lodging for commercial charter pilots) and a full commercial kitchen for events of up to 600 people. Paved ramp parking for more than 65 aircraft. No night operations or fuel, however at CEN both Jet A and 100LL 52 nm.
The catalyst of the ‘Club’, and it’s positive effect of increased tourism for the village, further prompted the local government to beautify the airport entrance with landscaping and a fountain, as well as the construction of a tower for Unicom service. Since 2004 there has been continuous high security for the airport with a military encampment adjacent to the hangar, as well as the ‘new’ city police department on the adjacent property. This same series of events with the local airport has enhanced the exposure of the village to a greater number of people within the Republic, including TV and movie celebrities, filming companies and Mexicans from throughout the country. In 2008, Alamos and Hacienda de los Santos, were chosen as the site for the National Governor’s Conference, of course, with every Governor arriving at the Alamos Airport. In 2010, the DGAC (Mexico’s FAA) changed the rating for the runway from a KingAir 200 to the Falcon 20.
In a spirit of fun, the requirements for pilot membership were conceived with levity. Only three actions are required of each pilot: (a.) The PIC must be able to navigate to Alamos, Sonora, Mexico ( b.) The PIC must make a safe landing on either Runway ‘31’ or ‘13’.(c.) The PIC, and passenger(s) must stay at the AAA Four Diamond rated Hacienda de los Santos Resort & Spa. After meeting these requirements, the PIC (co-pilots do not qualify) will become a lifetime member in ‘Club Pilotos de Mexico’. Annual dues are less than one Peso, however annual pilgrimages, by air, are expected by the staff of Hacienda de los Santos. As of 2011, more than 600 pilots have been given the complimentary ‘Capitan’ cap, (Ca-Chu-Cha) in Spanish, as well as special pricing for aviation events and regular visits. All ‘Piloto’ members will receive complimentary parking in the Hacienda hangar (singles & light twins only, on a space available basis) and complimentary ground transportation to and from the resort (advanced notification is required).
Countless pilots have contacted Jim for their first flight into Mexican airspace all arriving at XALA or MM-45 with wide smiles on their faces. After reading the information on this web site he encourages you to contact him by email (sorry no phone calls) at firstname.lastname@example.org , if you have any questions.
As you will discover, Hacienda de los Santos is much more than a hotel, it is an experience.