After a short 2015 race, Ellen and Terry are ready for 2016. We are currently
working on the all so important pre-race vacation plans since we have another long flight out to the start in Prescott, AZ.
We will also be working with Aviation Adventures for an awesome youth program at the terminus in Daytona. Of course, there
is the standard race preparation as well....
January 7th - Registration is open: ARC opened the registration
to 55 teams for the 2016 Air Race Classic. Ellen and I have started the registration process but got a bit waylayed in
the process. Fortunately, since we purchased Classic Racer 11, we do not have to be "Johnny-on-the-spot" when
the registration opens so we can secure a great number. . .at least for the next couple of years.
This is our busy
season now with the new youth program running in Daytona and another starting in Fort Myers. Team Wild Mama will be well
represented and we will have the honor of teaching kids all about air racing. Keep tabs on the youth program at www.aviationadventures.org!
May 8 - All dressed up and ready to race: Well,
for Wild Mama, that is... With her annual complete, her detailing complete and now race numbers that must be installed
on the cowling, Wild Mama is dressed in her racing best and raring to go. Today, is her scheduled handicap flight.
I scheduled the flight more than a week ago as a shot in the dark. Several years ago, Marvin and I tried 4 times to get a handicap flight in and the weather thwarted all of our attempts.
But not today...
Yesterday we did our flights of the youth for the No Limits Aviation Program in Lee County. Ellen
and her Cirrus, Wild Mama with Vern at the helm, Skip Bently in Roxie Red Plane and Dean Martin with the Fort Myers
Flying Club descended on LaBelle and flew 21 youth and adults in the bluest of blue skies. It was a perfect day and that perfection
continued on to this morning.
In the early pre-dawn hours, Vern and I headed to re-fuel Wild Mama and head out for a 0700 rendevous with Marvin Guthrie,
our handicap check pilot located in Clearwaer, FL. We touched down in Clearwater right at 0700 and taxied in for briefing,
final cleaning and refueling to top off the tanks. Winds were calm, skies were clear and the day was perfect - hardly even
a ripple on the water. We flew out over the Gulf and started our run. The speeds were steady and we never felt the first bump for the duration of the flight. S-W-E-E-T!!!! One for the books! We wait now for the "official word"
that the flight has been accepted and we are complete with this task.
Ellen and I are counting down the days to departure on June 4th. We have a nice little pre-race vacation planned on our way to Prescott. More fun and flying to come.
12 - NOT HAPPY: I got an email this afternoon that the handicap run was unacceptable. That can happen .... but
what really was not good was the REASON it was not accepted: we were told to fly early in the morning (we left at 7:20 am);
fly in cal air conditions (METAR was calm wind when we left and returned); smooth air conditions (we never hit a bump and
not a cloud in the sky and over the water) and cool air (a cold front passed and it was 56 degrees with 250' density altitude
with an airport elevation of 72'). I am not sure what else we could have done.
So today I blasted off from the Keys for another early morning flight. Again, winds calm (but not as calm),
temperatures were not as cool, but it was smooth and we were out over the water. In all I KNOW we got another good run.
MAY 17th - Still Waiting:
Still no word - waiting for the results of the flight. In the mean time we have to keep moving forward with preparations -
flybys, read the rules again and keep Wild Mama clean. With a handicap in excess of a month before the race,
keeping her clean is a challenge.
May 28th - Inching closer: We finally got the word earlier this week
that our handicap was accepted so we are DONE with that phase of race preparation. At this point we are organizing and packing.
We will be departing on June 4th so we are 7 days away from blast off for the pre-race vacation portion of the race.
We are anxiously watching the weather across tornado alley. There have been many severe weather outbreaks and, if my memory serves me correctly, this has
always been the hardest part of making it out west. We do fine with the mountains but that severe weather has stumped us a
couple of times. We have a northern and a direct route and have allowed ourselves 2 days to make the crossing of the
mid-west. SPOT will tell you our track as we go. So stay tuned ..... fun times ahead!
June 3rd - Departure Eve:
The time is upon us. We are packed, fueled and ready to go. I pick up Ellen at 0700 tomorrow morning then we make our way
to our first vacation spot of Rapid City, SD. We have allowed ourselves 3 days to get there with the storms coming across
the countryside now. There are severe storms forecast but we should have a few hours each morning to fly before the summer
buildups appear. Follow us on Facebook and check our SPOT to watch our progress.
June 4th - X14-KUTA: The morning was beautiful with a bright sunrise and tailwinds.
Vern and I made our way to Page Field to fetch Ellen and drop Vern to,pick up Roxie Red Plane for her trip back to LaBelle.
In a relatively short time, we were on our way VFR sporting a little tailwind. We had been watching the weather and were confident
that we would not complete our first leg. A huge ferocious blob of convective weather was morphing and moving in our direction.
All we could do was fly and watch.
It became apparent that our intded fuel stop in AL was not going to happen so we diverted to Legrange to refuel and reasess
our options for the day. The blob wqs starting to dissipate but other pop up storms were starting to build. We made
a quick turn and headed out VFR under the clouds. It w not long before the clouds were hanging too low for comfort s we started
to climb, did the cloud tops. We decided that continued VFR was not wise so Ellen air filed and got us an IFR clearance
to make the remainder of the trip to Tunica, MS. We were painting numerous storms with both the NEXRAD and out eyeballs that
ATC wqs just not seeing. He coomented several times that thenradar coverage in that sector is poor. We hit some severe updrafts
and some heqvy rains but made it through unscathed. After 3-1/2 hours we crossed 4 states and shot the ILS35 approach into
Tunica. A good day overall and we still had time for fun!
We set out
for lunch opting for yummy Memphis BBQ baby back ribs and proceeded to try to find downtown Memphis. You would,not think this
was difficult but we covered 3 states - MS! TN and AR along with lunch in less time that it took us to make a flight over
3 states. The signage was not the best. We turned and returned and crossed rhe Mississippi twice!! Finally, we found Historic
Beale Street. The Street was filled with lively music and nostalgic neon signs. We meandered through and headed back to the
car before the rains came. Off to Bass Pro. Now, I would,normally not call that a tourist destination, but this one was the
"great pyramid" and obviously the place to see. We wandered through and headed back to the south to spend the night
in Tunica and relax.
Tomorrow is another day. We have a special trip
planned if the weather holds out. Stay tuned!
June 5 - Back to the Mother Ship: The weather held out in the finest way. We looked
out this morning when we got up and chuckled at the scene: it is not often we call it THAT well. Off to the southeast (from
where we came) were showers and clouds. Out to the northwest (where we were headed) were clear blue skies....ok, and a headwind,
so nothing is perfect. But this was a far cry better than the ducking and weaving fro yesterday. The visibility was close
to 100 miles. We knew this because of the scaling on Foreflight and the mountains
that we could see off in the distance.
We passed many fields with odd lines, resembling the isogonic lines
on the weather map. We wanted to from a large L in the middle of the fields and a cold front symbol. We made our first air
crossing of the Mississippi River, having already done several by car and we went out to enjoy just a fun morning
of easy flying. Our destination was Kansas City - a very interesting airport. Wheeler Downtown is in the bend of the river
and bounded by the downtown area and LOTS of VERY tall towers to the east and southeast. We had to remain abover 2200' until
we turned onto a long extended final. The scene of the city for landing, however, was spectacluar. The city is in anteresting
mix of old and new architecture with many odd shapes and building testures, all bounded by the Missouri River. This was one
time I would have rather been a passenger so I could take in all of the scenery insteay of flying the plane.
The afternoon was spent on a trip to Atchison, Kansas, home of the Ameila Earhart Birthplace
Museum. This was our first trip. Both of us were struct by the location overlooking the Missouri River (I had pictured it
in a less majestic setting) and by the number of people waiting to entere the museum. It was packed and the guests were genuinely
interested in the life of Amelia. It was our homecoing as 99s. We follow this with the Forest of Friendship excursion.The
Forest is peaceful and quiet and a nice place to reflect on the names of our friends and collegues who placues appear in the
walway in front of the tree representing a state or country. It was a really good day.
We finished the day with BBQ again - sampling the difference in Memphis and Kansas City BBQ. The results:
it is a personal decision on taste - they are both delicious!
6th - a Monumental Day: Bright and early on this amazingly clear day, we launched out for our next vacation stop.
But first, we had a couple flybys to do. No, not the racing kind of fly bys but the vacation kind. At the park next to the
Forest of Friendship is the Amelia Earthworks, a large image of Amelia in the hill side. It was not so spectacular to see
by the ground so we decided it must be done by air. We launched out at turtle speed - 111 kts. Oh dear - our 3-1/2 hour leg
will be qite a bit longer, especially with the lingering we planned to do. We made our Amelia flyby and headed northwest ...
still not quite sirect to Prescott. One other sighting of note was the fly over of the Amelia Earhart Airport - and NO COMPASS
The severe headwinds necessitated a fuel stop so we chose Evelyn
Sharpe Airport. We dropped in with shifting and gusty winds and rather expensive fuel. But the alternative of running out
of fuel was, well, not an option at all. We still had lots of flying to do. We headed out direct to our next flyby over Mount
Rushmore. We foung the coordinates and dialed them in and had no trouble getting there at all. Our main issue at this point
was the wind. It was just after noon and the winds were picking up even more. The Black Hills battered us quite a bit but we were going to accomplish our mission of seeing Mount Rushmore then Crazyhorse. We made the
turn around the back side to pick up the tail wind and take less of a beating. Crazy Horse is huge!
With mission accomplished we set course for Rapid City. The gal in the tower was quite perky and invited
us for a tour. We tried to get up there but getting our rental car took over 2 hours and killed the time we had available
for the tower excursion. With little time for sight seeing we headed south to Custer State Park for a wander around for the
afternoon before heading back to the hotel for the night. We will be here a few days to take in the Black Hills area.
June 7th - Above and down under: Today was a land based day in and around Rapid City. We headed south for another
tour of Custer State Park, but on the south side this time. The main attractions were some nice hiking trails and birding.
The morning trail along French Creek was a bust both in terms of the hiking quality
and the birding, the creek was dry so the wild life qt that location was just not there. Also, much to our dismay, the trail
too a turn uphill and went from and easy hike to a challenge that both Ellen and I thought best to avoid. On the positive
side, the trail was peaceful and you could hear, although not see, many birds joined in song with the wind as it flew through
We heard there was a herd of buffalo along highway 89 to the south near "prairie dog city". Both places
sounded interesting and we headed off. Shortly afterward we were stopped by a line of cars and donkeys in the road. We made
the mistake of rolling down the windows for better photos. This probably would not have been an issue had we not been eating
lunch at the time. As I was focused on photographing a momma and baby, another donkey decided he wanted the sandwich on my
lap and just popped his head in the window to see what he could get. What a surprise! I fought for my sandwich and won out
in the end but how fun playing with the donkeys.
The buffalo were doing many road crossing as promised. There was a rather
large herd of the majestic creatures, meandering their was along as they grazed through the thick grasslands. Even though
the area is dry, it was surprisingly lush and green.
Continuing with our goal of National Park tours, we continued south
to the Wind Cave National Park. This cave contains unique boxwork formations found in abundance nowhere else in the world.
The formations and crystals in this cave are formed and preserved because of the dryness of the cave. This cave is said to
be alive because it breathes. The pressure differential makes the air exhaust or suck in With great force, strong enough to
blow off your hat. Locals say it forecasts weather - high and low pressure systems. Sure enough, strong low outside today
and the rain came this afternoon. We toured the cave, marveling at the formations and the lack of stalactites and stalagmites.
suggested the Wind Cave Canyon hike for us as an easy hike with lots of wildlife. Good call on both counts. Lots of birds,
buffalo, other furry critters and and large gravel road to traverse. All of this on a well marked trail. Our kind of hike!!
With a great
day behind us, we headed back to the hotel for some rest. Tomorrow is Badlands National Park, more hiking and more fun!
June 8th - The Badlands: After a small delay getting out of town (we had to stop
for the yummiest bagels ever), we headed out to the Badlands National Park. I had a distinct impression of the park from out
brief overflight of the southern portion but my visit to the park left me with a far different appreciation of the lands.
Many parts of the badlands are the craggy and irregular stone formations,
now vanishing at the rate of about one inch per year due to wind erosion. The remaining parts of the park are actually grasslands
and a very important part of the ecosystem.
few hiking trails in the area but the park has an "open hiking" policy...just watch out for the rattle snakes. That
was sufficient to keep us on the marked trails. We ventured to the fossil loop and listened to the ranger program on the formation
of the badlands and the various critters that inhabited the lands oh so long ago, then finished with a drive through the park
and out back to Wall, SD.
The National Grasslands Visitor
Center was in Wall. It is the only visitor center for ALL of the national grasslands spread all through the midwest and western
US. As luck would have it, we arrived in time to hear the prairie dog presentation and learn all about the prairie dogs and
how important they are to the grasslands. They share their homes with burrowing owls (the owls actually borrow unoccupied
prairie dog homes) and ferrets who, oddly enough, are the number one predator of the prairie dog. Fine example of no good
deed goes unpunished.
We called it an early day and
made it back to town with time to pack and floght plan for tomorrow.
June 9th - Air Day: The winds were quite high the day we arrived in Rapid City and out aerial
viewing of the monuments was limited in terms of height and duration of the visit. We had to stay high enough about the hills
for safety from the 25-30 kt winds aloft.
was different. The wind sock was limp and the winds aloft were not more than 5 kts. It was our day to fly! We headed straight
for Mt Rushmore. From quite a distance we could see the amphitheater that sat at the base of the monument. We were able to fly at Washington's'
eye level to get a spectacular view. It was then on to Crazy Horse. I stead of climbing over the 7200' peak, we opted to stay
around 6500' and circle around from the southeast. We rounded the peak to have an awesome head on view of Crazy Horse with
him pointing directly at us. Ellen got some great pictures and we flew past and departed the area for Devils Tower.
We could see Devils Tower from 50 miles out even though there was a little
haze in the area. Approaching from the east, we had the sun reflecting on the tower illuminating the vertical lines in the
tower. As we circled and lost the sun, it really became pretty unremarkable and bland. We finished our tour and headed southeast
for Pawnee Buttes.
The flight to the Butte took us
over varied land features: small towns, mining operations, plains and farming communities. At one point as I looked out my
side and Ellen looked out her side, our views were so different that it was hard to believe we were in the same area, let
alone the same plane. We circled the Buttes and I enjoyed the large windmill farm laying just to the north.
With sightseeing over, we headed to Fort Collins to relax and prepare for
pur visit to Rocky Mountain National Park.
June 10th - Short on air: Hiking Rocky Mountain
National Park has been on our list for quite soe time so we were happy to finally be here to do some quality hiking. Ellen
researched the trails to find the "easy" omes that we could handle. Most have serious inclunes and the altitude
is quite high. Being flatlanders we were cocerned about altitude sickness and a lack of air.
The hike we choose was at 9400' and 5.4 miles total. We had the option of cutting it short to 3.4 miles but we wanted to make
the whole thing. It was important toget to the park early, which we did, an start out before the trails became overcrowded.
This trail was all about water falls. We hiked along swollen streams filled with the snowpack melt. The sound was quite loud
most of the trip but the scenes were beautiful with tall pines and rustling aspens.
Our pace was akin to a slow trudge, making the desitnation waterfalls at 2.7 miles in right at 2.5 hours. We made many stops
for air and water. Our return journey down hill was a short 1.5 hours and we felt pretty good about making the whole trip.
After a stop at the visitor center, we headed up to the Alpine visitor center over 11,000'
elevation. We wer above the tree line here and there was stil a substantial amount of snow left over - even at a comfortable
64 degrees. The scenery was breath-taking, literally. We drove a little higher to crest the 12,000' mark and had a snowball
fight at tht altitude. That did me in - oxygen level in my blood dropped to 87%. I passed on the tundra hike that Ellen did
and she managed to make it back with 81% blood oxygen level. We were both done and it was time to head back. More hiking tomorrow.
June 11th - Family Fun: We had the pleasure today of visiting with my step-son, Chance
and his family who live in Denver. We all met early at his hotel in Estes and headed to the park to be in place by 0730 for the hike to Bear Lake and Dream Lake about 4 miles total but at 10,000'. We hiken even more
slowly than yesterday but Chance and I had a long conversation of cathing up for the last 30 years.
The hike was as amazing as the family visit. The lakes were still offering a reflection
of the mountain vistas. The mornng was cool and with the temperatures were delightful. There was abundant snow on the ground
and the trail was partially blocked with the snow. We crossed a snow bridge over a very fast flowing snow melt stream. With
the wear on the bottom from the river and on the top from the hoards of hikers crossing, I was concerned that at some point
the bridge would be no more. But the hike to Dream Lake was well worth the effort. After reflecting on the vista we headed
back down, chatting as much as we did on the way up.
The park was VERY crowded today and getting aparking spot
to hike Sprauge Lake was impossile. We half parked right next to the picnic area and had a nice lunch together before saying
our goodbyes and heading off in our own directions. Ellen and I found another short hike at Morrain Meadow where we saw some
hummingbirds and passed through an area with the most delightful smells. With our hiking feet exhausted for the day we headed
into Estes for some retail therapy before heading home. Tomorrow we have a great day planned ... if the weather holds out...
June 12 - The Sound of Silence: For all who have already seen the Facebook
pictures, you know that Ellen and I launched out today for a glider lesson. The rains were threatening all day but our scheduled morning lessons continued as planned.
My turn came and after the repositioning we were in the air fairly quickly, the Pawnee just missed the
elk that darted out across the runway as we lifted off. That was interesting. We slowly circled our way to to 8500', about
3000' AGL and released. We peeled off to the right and the Pawnee headed back down off to the left. From the beginning of
the flight we could see that the lift was severely missing. After circling a bit we headed toward a plowed field and picked
up a little juice but not nearly enough to extend the flight for any measurable period of time. All too soon it was over.
But I think I am starting to get the itch to keep going. This might be a good summer time plan....We drove up to Owl Canyon
Glider Port where we each had our opportunity to launch and ry our hand at finding some lift. Ellen was first and reported
that they knew where the lift was not. By the time she landed and we positioned, the wind shifted 180 degrees and we had to
tow the glider to the other end of the runway for launch. It was hot and the Pawnee used the whole runway for Ellen's launch
so there was no way he could make it with a a tailwind.
June 13th - Last Chance: This was our last hiking day for the vacation.
We went back in to Rocky Mountain National Park to do some more bird and critter watching. We selected the Cub trail with
the Morrain meadow transition but after a long period on the Cub Lake Trail we determined that we missed our turn off to Morrain.
Backtracking we found that part of the trail to be under water - no wonder we missed it. With the birding opportunity missed,
we headed to the Upper Beaver Meadow just in time for the rains to come. That pretty much killed the remainder of our hiking.
We had seen signs for Benson Sculpture Garden
and decided it was worth a look. The gardens were beautiful: very tranquil and inviting. The sculptures was mostly bronze
and a mix of realistic and abstract. The gardens were full of people wandering and photographing the local art. It was a nice
With the city covered we headed back to the hotel to pack and get ready for departure tomorrow. We had been watching
the weather and decided to bag our original route through the mountains due to high winds. We will take the less scenic
but infintely safer lowland route south then make the westerly turn to Prescott the next day. Our last day of vacation tomorrow.
June 14 - Diverted: We strongly suspected that the
winds would not cooperate with our mountain flight plans and sure enough, we were right. Winds were all over the board: multi
directional and ranging from calm to 30 kts. We had seen another race team head into Santa Fe, a place we have fisited
in the past end really enjoyed, so we decided to head in that direction and spend the night.
The flight wqs relqtively unremarkable. We managed to catch a small tailwind for a part of the flight
but still had a mixed bag of winds for the majority. We passed east of the Denver metro area and south approaching Santa Fe
from the ESE. We met our friends and headed off for lunch and to explore the town finishing with another race team for
a home cooked meal. Thanks Susan Larson for a great evening with Classic 26, Corbi and Ramona!
June 15 - Made it to Prescott: The winds were already up when we left Santa
Fe at 0700 - headwinds, of course. Our climb out was slow and the ride was even slower. At times we had headwinds as much
as 45 kts. The good news is that the scenery was spectacular! This is a part ofmrhe country where you see rich colors, odd
geological formations and features that FL and the SE US just lack. We stayed up at 10,500' to take away some of the bumps
and ended up with a great ride, albiet slow.
We landed in Prescott around
0915 and headed straight for the mechanic. We have flown just over 45 hours since the oil change immediately preceeding
the first handicap flight and it was time for another change. Phillip from Arizona Air was outstanding and took care of Wild
Mama quite well. With Wild Mama secured, we headed to the hotel and into town. There is a nice downtown area called "Whisky
Row" filled with shops and restaurants. We wandered about, had some lunch then came back to the hotel to start organizing
stuff for the race. We made piles in our room: race pile, Prescott pile and "why did I bring this pile" of stuff
to ship back home. Seems we also managed a bit of shopping so that stuff went to the shipping pile as well. Tomorrow is a
free day so we are joining Corbi and Ramona, Classic 26 for a land trip to the Grand Canyon. Our last vacation day is upon
us and it will be time to get down to business.
16 - Last Vacation Day: The fun part of the trip came to a close in a great way: we hopped a train to the
Grand Canyon with Corbi and Ramona. The Grand Canyon Railway offers round trip day excursions from Williams AZ to the south
rim. We thought this would be a perfect end to the perfect pre-race vacation.
We finished the day with a stop for dinner along Route 66 before heading back to Prescott. Tomorrow our work begins
with airplane inspection and credentials. It will be a busy day.The Canyon is impressive no matter how you see if. The sun
angle was good so we had an amazing array of colors as we hiked along the trail time. The trail gave the geological
history of the canyon with small chunks of beautiful rocks representative of each stage in history.The train lumbered along
the 65 mile route topping out at 40 mph. The scenery was lots of scrub brush dotted with buttes, cows and a few elk. We had
western entertainment - singers and banjo pickers, and a train robbery - that made the trip even more entertaining.
June 17th - Inspections: Kudos to ARC for a quick and
orderly inspection process. We were #1 on the list and breexed through the credentials, aircraft log and aircraft inspections
and we were on our way late morning. Time to get to work now and kick back to relax for a tough 4 days ahead.
June 20th - Race Eve: It has been a couple of very busy days at Prescott with the pre-race briefings and obligations.
Saturday was the youth event at the airport. We had 24 girl scouts come to the airport to talk to the racers and learn about
airplanes and racing. They are participating in a week long aviation summer camp hosted by the local 99s. We had some outside
activities - static airplane display and flying the pattern - but the 100 degree temperatures cut short the "race leg"
that they were to fly.
Saturday evening was meet the racers BBQ at a local country
club. All of the racers had finally arrived including the last of the teams that had mechanical issues and those delayed by
some storms. We have a full field. One of the 99s, Susan Peck, got a new Pilatus and needs to build time. Since she cannot
race the aircraft, she offered to become "Peck Cargo Freight Lines" and haul 40 pounds of luggage for 24 team drawn
at random. Classic 11 was fortunate enough to be the 20th team drawn so it was back to the room to reorganize our shipping
The other big event Friday night into Saturday
morning was the release of the handicaps. With The new handicapping system put in place in 2010, a once inconsistent
and inaccurate handicapping system was replaced with a fair system. Each racer has a handicap flight each year for the race.
If the flight conditions are right and the flight is valid, the electronic tracking device information is fed into a computer
and through the magic of programming a number is spit out the other end. No adjustments are made, no guessing, no voodoo.
Your handicap is that magic number. The ARC web site has a great explanation of this procedure copied in full:
During the weeks before the race,
each airplane flies a prescribed course to determine its fastest true air speed (TAS). The handicap process is described in
the ARC Handicap Requirements (H-01). Briefly, a member of the Team, usually the Team Pilot, flies the handicap course as
fast as possible, with a check pilot, called a Handicap Pilot, on board to monitor the flight.
it not for wind, determining handicaps would be easy: fly the airplane and measure its speed! Fortunately, we can calculate
the maximum TAS in the real world. Calm air is not required, but the wind needs to be steady to get accurate results.
To be fair for all Teams, Handicap Flights are flown at a density altitude of 6,000 feet.
Pilots fly four legs, each at least five minutes in duration, with ninety-degree heading turns between legs. Figure 1 shows
the ground track of a 2015 Handicap Flight. The track is plotted from GPS data recorded during the flight, using a Bad Elf
GPS data logger. The logger in the airplane records the latitude and longitude of the airplane's position once per second,
to an accuracy of six decimal positions.
Figure 2. Single handicap leg
The ground speed for each leg is calculated using data from the data logger in the
airplane. The mathematics to calculate the true air speed from the ground speeds is described here: TASformula. However,
understanding the formulas is not required to understand the process. The calculation requires three legs to compute TAS and
assumes steady wind. Flying four legs gives us the redundancy to detect erratic winds.
process this data, we displayed the track and marked the ends of the legs, numbered 1 through 4 in Figure 1. Then we looked
at each leg, using a display illustrated in Figure 2, and trimmed the ends, looking for reasonably stable speeds and altitudes.
We had the program apply the calculations for four combinations of three legs. The results are shown in Figure 3 (two legs
are shown as less than five minutes because we had to trim unstable portions from those legs).
Figure 3. Handicap computation
shows that this was an exceptionally clean Handicap Flight. Applying the calculations to four combinations of legs, from 1-2-3
to 2-3-4, the program calculated almost the same TAS even though the individual leg speeds varied from, roughly, 136 to 161
knots (after the 2015 race, we switched from knots to mph). The calculations show that the wind was steady at 13 knots with
a direction of 287 degrees. To measure the variation between the four calculations, the program computed the standard deviation,
zero in this case (if the wind had not been steady, the formulas would have calculated different TAS values, resulting in
a higher standard deviation). After other handicap volunteers checked the paperwork and compared the handicap to other airplane
and historical records, the team was ready to race!
Each year, after the run, I make the computation myself on
a rough formula and I can predict the handicap within one knot. Something went awry this year and my number was nearly 4 knots
off of the handicap provided. Fortunately, our racing rules allow for a "Request for Investigation" (RFI) to be
filed with the judges to question anything we find anomalous about the race procedures or something that has happened. We
filed our RFI Saturday morning and we are awaiting the results of the judges investigation. In the mean time, our
option is to fly our hearts out and do the best job we can and, hopefully, get this issue resolved as expeditiously as possible.
It is totally out of our hands.
Sunday we had a long day of briefings and the take off banquet.
Today we have one last day of briefings and a trip to the UPS store to ship everything over our 40 pound limit. Then it is
rest and race planning with the latest weather updates. It will prove to be a hot couple of legs with temperatures over 100
and a persistent heat wave in the SW US. Fingers crossed for a great start Tuesday morning.