Hot Springs, AR
Mid-Ohio Valley Regional
Total Race Distance
Our very own Paradise Coast Chapter 99s is co-hosting the start of the Air Race Classic in Fort Myers
at Page Field. Please support us in our efforts to raise money for the Wings Over Paradise Scholarship Fund
to provide assistance to the next generation of aviators. Visit the Paradise Coast 99's website.
...and at the other end, we are pleased to be hosted
by the Sugarloaf Chapter 99s. They have some fantastic activities planned for the racers and their guests. Check out their
web site for more information.
MORE AIR RACE CLASSIC PHOTOS
Sugarloaf Chapter 99s
The team meets: On a bright and sunny April afternoon in Florida, Team Wild Mama meets to get acquainted
and chat. We have been diligently working on our flight strategy and flight planning and feel ready and confident even at
this early stage of the game. We have our ace mechanic, Vern, on board, as well as our team "pack mule" (and Laura's
husband) Matt. Wild Mama will be getting a few more touch-ups yet before the race, but it is still too early to start
working on her yet. She has more adventures to go before race day.
|Flogging of the crew IS permitted!
May 23rd: Wild Mama has been violated .... but in a good way. Vern is hard at work installing her new
air data computer. The panel is sooooo stuffed full of toys, however, that he had to install the computer in the aft section
of the aircraft. Not a bad thing as she tends toward nose heavy anyway. He also got the new altimeter installed in the panel
and a new fuel flow to give us more accuracy in the fuel calculations.
and Ellen have been busy with the start activities and planning as the Paradise Coast 99s are the co-host of the start events.
Fortunately, most of the pre-race team planning had been done and Laura is hard at work calculating weight and balance and
studing the weather with the Weather Guy, Jim. With less than 30 days until race time the whole team is hard at work. Tuesday
or Wednesday should find Wild Mama back together and ready for some test flights.
|Meet the 2010 team: Terry - Ellen - Laura
|May 27th: A successful test flight with the new wind computer. What a treat. You get wind speed and direction
as a pop up on the 530/430 - SWEET!!! We also have a new fuel flow transducer that is giving us more accurate fuel flowage
readings. With most of the toys now installed, Wild Mama is ready for an outing this weekend for a good long run.
Mama made the dash for Maryland with a wheels up just before 0400. The weather seemed clear but flying out in a very
dark night is not my idea of VFR so we filed for the whole route. Most of the trip up to the first stop in NC was clear ....
that is, once we could see; but after fueling, we had to dodge a mammouth storm just north of the runway, then we continued
on over the clouds, coming into Westminster in some really soggy IFR conditions. Wild Mama performed flawlessly.
hopscotched out way back home with a stop in Lake Norman to celebrate brother Chris' 50th birthday (you really did not think
that would go unannounced, did you???) All the toys are working and in sync with the remainder of the old toys and Vern has
declared this mission a success.
June 3rd: With the threat of thunderstorms looming all day, the fearless threesome
departed on a jaunt throughout southwest Florida for their first and only shakedown flight before the race. With the hectic
schedules of three busy ladies and an airplane in the shop, getting together had been imnpossible up to this point. There
were only a prescious few days that the plane would be available - together with the 3 pilots, of course - to fly together
and get all systems and CRM working in harmony. The CRM was flawless but other aspects of the trip were less than perfect.
Ellen and Terry departed Fort Myers enroute to Pilot Country to fetch Laura at 0730
in the morning. The sky was clear and the visitibility relatively good but ther were huge buildups off shore even at this
early hour. But the air was smooth, the conversation lively, and the learning of the Wild Mama technology and toys
was fast and furious. Laura greeted us and ushered us into her driveway at Pilot Country, a very nice airpark community
on a private-for-public-use airstrip. We had some tea and got on our way for the first test flight. Laura is our time keeper
and information gatherer. She got her stuff all situated in the back of the plane and started the information feed to Terry
and Ellen after we made our simulated timing run across Pilot Country runway and enroute to 3FL6 (a private strip) for
the "finish line" near LaBelle. After crossing the line we headed to X14 for a debriefing and cooling period - not
for our tempers, but from the heat of the south Florida day!!
The bright sunny Florida skies that greeted us this morning did not last too long. The air seemed thick with humidity all
morning long and you could tell that the thunderstorms would be exploding at some point during the day. That point finally
arrived early. By 1100 the rains had already started and the storm scope was ablaze with lightening strikes. We had to pick
out way back up to Pilot Country but we made it without incident. On final approach to runway 18, Ellen and I made our final
call outs: "I have 2 wheels and a green light." "I have a wheel and a green light; prop in, mixture rich, flaps
down; ready to land." As we start our flare the gear horn goes off and the green light goes out. This is strange
but the gear could not have become unlocked!! With the horn blaring away, we made a smooth touch-down and taxied off to Laura's
driveway. Even after we shut down, the horn still wailed until we pushed in the button: the light lit and the noise stopped.
Very strange. We called Vern to get his opinion. Other than being annoying, he deemed the airplane safe to fly back to Fort
Myers so Ellen and I gathered ourselves for the trip back. By now the storms were growing and quite numerous so we had lots
of picking to do to get home. Forget about "direct to"!!!
we taxied out to the runway, Ellen held her finger on the button to keep the noise at bay while we did our run-up and prepared
for departure. We decided on a downwind departure so I set 10 degrees flaps, powered up and released the brakes. Ellen released
the finger so I had full access to the controls. About 1/2 way down the runway, the light came back on and the gear horn stopped.
This is really strange now; but the gear retracted thereafter and life was good ... at least in the gear department. The storms
were another issue to contend with. We initially headed east to avoid the lightening, Tampa airspace and rather large towers
as we crept along at 125 kts. Finally, we were able to turn back toward the west and head for the coast line to avoid the
largest and most fearsome looking mass that had moved on shore and to the east of Sarasota. We put Wild Mama up
to racing speed and shot past that growing monster and turned back in to Punta Gorda where the south end was starting to dissipate.
The tower frequency at Fort Myers was dead silent - no one else out there to face the heat of the summer day and those popping
clouds. The landing at Fort Myers was uneventful. The gear worked flawlessly again but there is obviously some issue
that needs checking.
Saturday, the 99s are hosting 31 girl scouts
as part of the ARC pre-race events, and to get some assistance with bag stuffing for 113 racers! Sunday we are scheduled for
our handicap flight with Marvin, the chief timer, at 0800 in Punta Gorda. Stay tuned. More to come!
June 5th: Terry & Ellen joined Paradise
Coast Chapter’s first Girl Scout Day. Thirty-six (36) girls met at the EAA building at Page Field, (KFMY)
Fort Myers, FL for instruction in aviation, tours of 5 different airplanes, and stuffing of goody bags for the Air Race Classic.
This was the first for the Chapter, and first for the girls. Many Mom’s attended, too. And some said they may be interested
in becoming pilots, when they heard what age some of the chapter members were when they started training.
Nancy Moore, who recently obtained her CFI rating (CONGRAULATIONS, Nancy!) instructed the girls
about different ground school topics. Cheryl Lynn Dratler, talked to the girls about the up coming Air Race Classic, which
the Chapter is co-hosting the race start.
After touring Wild Mama,
Beech Baron, Beech Bonanza, Cessna 172, and light sport plane, the scouts worked on the "bag stuffing" job toward
their community service badges. These bags will be given to each ARC contestant. Then it was time for cookies and the girls were each given a goody bag for themselves
which the chapter had stuff for them.
Terry, Ellen and the rest of Paradise Chapter is very busy this month, as they are the start point for the 34th annual Air
Race Classic. Many activities are planned including a dinner 19 June, The public is invited to meet and greet racers at the
Paragon Hangar, 6pm for BBQ. Tickets are sold in advance for $25.00. They are being sold at the Airport FBO, 501 Danley Drive
or email the Chapter at: firstname.lastname@example.org
June 6th: Before 0-dark-30 this morning Vern and I got up and out of the house to head to Page Field. We
had to clean Wild Mama, gas her up and grab Ellen to meet our check pilot, Marvin, for our racing handicap run at
0800. The morning was perfect - hot, clear and very calm winds. Vern did the gassing honors and helped with the debugging as we seemed to accumulate quite a few from our flight the other day. Se had to be race ready for this
We arrived at PGD without a hitch after a brief 11 minute
flight. Vern topped off the fuel and cleaned out the misellaneous stuff from Wild Mama and we were ready to go. Marvin
arrived and gave us the pre-flight briefing, did the pre-flight check and noted all sorts of things about the airplane, then
off we went. We headed out to the west over the Gulf where the air was very smooth and climbed to a 6,000' density altitude
- today about 4,700' msl. Once all was stable, we headed north until he had the data, then turned west, south and east each
for a length of time sufficient to let Marvin gather what he needed. The day was perfect and Wild Mama never fluttered off her altitude.
We landed back at the FBO, grabbed Vern and headed back on our way so Vern can take Wild Mama to
fix the gear light issue that bothered us on the flight the other day; then back in the hangar until she is ready to come
back to Fort Myers for the race. Only 2 more weeks to go!!
|Team Wild Mama After our Shake-down Flight
|BUSTED - Stubby puts her paw down - Mommy cannot go!
TEAM WILD MAMA ON WINK!
June 18th: This has been a whirl wind of a few days for
the start. Not only are Ellen and Terry racing but they are also part of the Paradise Coast 99s, and they have been extremely busy with the hosting and hospitality duties. The racers started arriving
on Thursday in small numbers. This was good to give us all a good opportunity to perfect our meet and greet skills and find
out what was missing from the master plan. By Friday, everything broke loose and the racers poured in. Many called in being
stopped along the way by weather – imagine: you could not fly in to south Florida on a hot afternoon! For those of us
who live here the concept is simple but I suppose when you are not accustomed to the weather patterns, it might not seem as
logical to think that you only have half of a day to fly then basically, all VFR activity – and some IFR activity –
is stopped. The heat was another source of stoppages: it has been brutal for most folks who are unaccustomed to the Florida
heat. We, who live here, have been finding it most delightful! Vern was busy with the airplane inspections with an outstanding crew of about 10 inspectors in all.
They ushered in plane after plane checking for safety equipment, general safety of the aircraft and conformity with the paperwork.
The number police were hard at work again this year. What about Wild Mama? She breezed through inspection
on Thursday and has been snug and safe in here little spot since then. It was nice not having to make the long journey to
the start but that is a part of the adventure missed too. We will wait until next year for our “to the start” adventure.
Friday evening found the Paradise Coast ladies and the racers dong was ladies do best (next to flying,
of course): SHOPPING!! Chico’s hosted a shopping reception for the racers and the turnout was fabulous both for 99s
and racers. All came with credit cards in hand to take advantage of the generous offer by Chico’s for a donation back
of 10% of the nightly purchased from our group. Of course, Terry and Ellen had to make the contribution to the local economy.
The shopping day ended early for us, however, as we were beat from the long days of planning and execution. We still have
to be racers and racers need rest.
June 19th: Forgive the noticeable lack of communications.
The weekend has been hectic. If we thought it was busy Friday, for Saturday we just held on to our shorts. The remainder of
the race teams – 20 of them – all came in on Saturday. We are now 51 teams strong as 3 did not show by the race
deadline and have been scratched. There was much hustle and bustle at the airport with airplane inspections, youth visits
and handicap flights; and at the hospitality suite with racer registration and the grand information exchange and meeting
and greeting long time friends for what Marolyn Wilson calls “airplane camp”.
Saturday evening was the Welcome BQ for the racers and the opportunity for the public to meet and greet the racers . . . and
for the racers to meet and greet each other. There are 72 first time racers in this bunch and few know each other. As the
6 p.m. BBQ was approaching ominous clouds were building to the southeast. It was apparent that a new race was brewing. Who would win out: the dry BBQ
or the storms? Just before 6 p.m. the winds were howling to the south and rain was beating hard against the car as Terry drove
over to the Paragon Hangar. Approaching the hangar, the rain subsided to just a sprinkle then stopped shortly after 6. It
was just enough to make a cool and very pleasant evening for the racers and guests. Double Barrel Foods catered a fabulous
meal – chicken, pork and ribs with all of the fixin’s; the 99s make 2 cakes to commemorate the event and the Mayor
of Fort Myers, Randy Henderson, gave a speech to the crowd, thanking all for their coming to the city.
Today was the start of our briefings and the magic racer fairy came in the middle of the night and transformed Terry and Ellen
into racers. Laura had arrived Saturday – already a racer – and it was now time for her teammates to join her.
The all racer briefing was amazingly brief and fairly well on schedule although these things never end on time. But it ended
with sufficient time that the team could get together and have the first team meeting for race planning and strategy. It felt good
to be a racer finally and to pass on the start organization torch to Anne Miller and Carolyn Skaggs among others. We met to
review the route the rules, the weather and to talk about the “what ifs”. It was a good meeting to be continued.
It was time to get ready for the grand start banquet. Carolyn
Skaggs had hand made all of the decorating and she and her crew had been busy at work decorating the room. We opened the doors
to a fantasy of “Sweet Dreams” – the banquet theme. There were airplanes with first place ribbons for all
guest inter mixed with trinkets and reminders of our tropical surroundings. It was beautiful. Commissioner Tammy Hall read
a proclamation declaring June 22nd as Air Race Classic day and Nunya sang her song “See Her Fly”.
Once again, it brought tears to the racer – experienced racers and the first timers about to embark on the adventure
of a lifetime. June 21st: This is our last full day here in Fort Myers and the day filled with the majority of briefings.
We got a briefing on the weather and all of the fly-bys plus our safety briefing. For the racers, however, the most important
thing came on the “Wall of Discontent” where the handicaps were posted. Team Wild Mama was pleased with
a handicap of 151.72 – right where we expected to be, given the new handicapping rules. We are ready to go now and can
complete our planning. We had a Subway lunch where we could chat without any ears around to continue our racing strategy
giving the new information received at the briefings. Jim, the weather guy, is already pumping in the weather information
for us to factor into the fight planning. I believe that that initial strategy will be to depart Fort Myers and head directly
to Waycross then punt. (You really did not expect to get any useful information here, did you?) This evening we continue to
work on weather, go over last minute details then do the most important part of the days work: we rest. We have the adventure
of our lifetime ahead of us tomorrow and we certainly would not want to be too tired to miss it.
|Pilots of all ages come to the Air Race Classic
|Ruby Sheldon, age 92 and Kayle Harder, age 17
More Start Photos
22nd: Team Wild Mama made it to Cameron today on 4 good legs. We were very pleased with the aircraft
performance and our choices for the day although we never know if they were the best until the end. We are having internet issues as the connections in some of the small towns are present
but rather slow for photo uploadng so pictures will come later. Later has come. As it customary for the ARC, it is a game of hurry up and wait. While we are waiting, there
is time to finish the blog. Departure was just before 0830 this morning. There were minor delays getting so many airplanes
ready to roll - press interviews and just plain 'ole logistics - but the take off went smoothly. Our very own tower lady Becki
gave us a great send off. The first leg went off very well. We agreed on our altitude, settled in and flew a good leg. We
made the first flyby at Waycross when most of the othere planes were stopping. If we have the fuel, we like to avoid the frst
stop as it is always the most crowded. Rhonda and I learned this in 2007 when we sat on the ramp for 45 minutes waiting to take off because of the flyby and landing traffic. It was a
were out onthe secomd leg alone. The radio fell silent after a tme as we pressed father and father away from Waycross enroute
to Tuscaloosa. We heard a crackle soon enough that Classic Racer 7 was back in the air after refueling; and Classic Racers
44 and 43 continued on. We kept our cloking device in tact and mantained radio silence enroute. We began listening to Tuscaloosa
Tower and realized that we were out there in front of the pack and that we would be the first to arrive in TCL. What fun!
We radioed the tower and were cleared for the low appraoch. We zoomed the timing line about 175 kts over the ground and pulled
up to get in the traffic pattern to land. Just then we heard Classic Racer 44 make the 10 mile flyby call. They zoomed past
on flyby just as we touched down. The press came out to greet the first team. We watered and fed ourselves and checked
Wild Mama - she always needs attention after a 2 leg run. We realize that I forgot to set the fuel
totalizer to full at the start and our fuel calculations are now going to be off. I stick the tanks and get a (hopefully) accurate reading. We swag it, add fuel and prepare to leave. So much for my new fancy toy. I forgot to factor
in operator error!
The Barron, Classic Racer 44 was out ahead of us. They requested a 10 mile lead to make the flyby again. We
do not need nearly that much but the tower sent us out 10 miles anyway. Classic Racer 44 was lost to the tower and to us as
well. Seems they were directed out 10 miles from runway heading but they did not take off on the flyby runway - they
were headed in the wrong direction but (fortunately for them) not on the clock. At 6 miles we heard them on the inbound and
asked to turn in - they turned us in right beside the Barron! They zoomed past us with a 40 kt handicap advantage in speed
over us and they had already started their dive bomb process so they were really screaming across the ground. We pulled next
to them for a split second as they pulled away and we got in line behind them to commence our run. That was the last we saw
of the Barron. We crossed the line at 185 kts but the Barron was long gone. We wll see them again in Hot Springs.
The leg to Hot Springs
for us was another good one but the forecast winds were not as we had hoped. I guess they never are, really. We left the TCL
tower on to listen for a while as a cluster of racers were coming in behind us and trying to leave at the same time. This
is going to be another cluster of airplanes. It sounded like everyone converged on the tower at the same time and he lost
people. We heard Classic Racer 14 call for her 10 mile inbound run and the tower gave her a right 360 - on the clock. Oh,
NO!!!!!! That is bad luck.
We arrived in Hot Springs behind the Barron and a Cirrus, Classic Racer 43, that passed us - both
being much faster airplanes. Hot Springs lived up to its name - HOT! We stayed on the ground for quite some time getting some food/fuel for us and waiting for the heat to die down as bit. We were torn
between leaving today or tomorrow morning. Which winds would be better? We finally make the break for Cameron around 1730
local time and arrived in Cameron by 2000 hours. We were done but had a great day. The last leg we were tired but we were
rewarded with beautiful scenery and nice tailwinds. The farm fields were flooded but the sights were varied and interesting.
We crossed some small foothills and enjoyed the lush green forests.
The folks at Cameron were warm, friendly and accomodating. They put us up for the evening
and we slept like rocks until it was time to go in the morning.
June 23rd: At 0'dark hundred this morning we were ready to go. The winds looked favorable and we were confident
that the storms coming across Michigan would stay north of our path as forecast. We launched and had a good run, making our
3rd crossing of the Mississippi River - another photo opportunity. We flew through some of the worst haze this leg, making it difficult to pick out the runway from
a distance. There was a large clearing - thank goodness this is a big airport. We had a 60 degree turn to make this time so
it was critical to make the one mile point with wings level. At a high rate of speed, you need to anticipate the turn a little
better so as not to skid through the turn. This is getting much easier now that I have grown more accustomed to the speed
of the racing turns. We make the turn and call our 1 mile flyby to land. This was a rough one - the wind was burbling us all
over the place as we pass at nearly 190 kts and pulled up for the right down wind. Another racer was hot on our tails - the
Cirrus again. We extended our downwind so we could give them space to make the flyby. The tower called our downwind then we
lost the Cirrus. Where did it go? Our heads were spinning trying to find the airplane. There was so much traffic that
the TCAD was not helping - everything was an alert. The tower called out: "Classic Racer 43 you are on the wrong side."
Apparently they made the flyby over the wrong runway. We made an immediate right to cross the airport and enter a left downwind
for runway 18L as we watched the Cirrus knife edge a turn to final. Wow! They landed in behind us, opting not to continue
as they had originally planned. Bummer.
So here we sit. The storm that was forecast to remain north of Elkhart drifted southward through heavy convective activity
and hail into our paths. No joy for Wild Mama. Happily, however, we have set down at the home of our baby birds,
the SIU teams and we are being treated to WONDERFUL SIU hospitality. A good place to stay. SPOT remains pinging so keep an
eye out for movement.
After several hours the storm that ran through northern
Indiana finally broke and there was a mad dash to become airborne. Team Wild Mama was about the fourth off the line on the
sprint to Elkhart. The winds were forecast to be very favorable and we did not want to miss the opportunity for a good leg.
The start was a bit slow and we wondered where the good stuff was - had we made a mistake? There was nothing we could do now but fly on. Slowly we watched our speed climb and little
by little, the forecast held true. We were pleased.
The haze of the
day was quite thick. We passed another team along the way but could barely see the airplane, let alone read a race number.
What we did see was another stretch of picturesque scenery - flooding (most unfortunate for locals but a spectacular sight
by air) and windmills.
We heard Classic Racers 43 and 26 run the timing line ahead of us. There was a stiff crosswind and Classic
Racer 43 had to do a go around on runway 27 and circle back to land on 18 - into the path of the oncoming flybys. The tower
called for Classic Racer 26 to do a right 360. If they do that to us, we are doomed on this leg. Ellen calls 17 miles out
to let them know we are coming so the tower can be prepared and hopefully avoid the same fate for us. Classic Racer 43 lands
and 26 is instructed to land or get out of the way so we can make our run. They drop to the ground quickly and let us on by.
We make our dive bombing approach to the runway at 203 kts grounds speed. "Hang on: this one will be a rough ride! We had a screaming tailwind plus the dive bombing
descent over runway 36 at Elkhart. This was one of the best timing lines we ever ran. We headed out north 2 miles as
instructed by the tower and turned to come back in on 18. The wind was a hard crosswind and gusty. We heard Classic Racer
17 make the call for 10 miles out so we expedited our landing in time to see 17 go screaming by. This is a fun one to watch
Safely on the ground, we called to check in with Jim and he
said to get the plane in the hangar NOW., The line of storms that was next to come passing through Illinois was spawning heavy
thunderstorms and hail. Yikes! We requested and got a hangar, packed our stuff and headed back to the hotel for some rest.
We will be watching the line of storms as they make their way toward
Frederick. It well be a race to see who gets there first now.
June 24th: The transport
to the airport this morning was early but the wake up call was even earlier. The good news at the 0300 wake up was that all
airplanes were safe in Elkhart. Hats off to the linemen there who did an outstanding job securing all racing planes with a
tornado warning in the area. The weather would be critical today - the winds were forecast to be really outstanding this morning
but diminishing toward the afternoon when the thunderstorms would build. Winds tomorrow were not to be as good - but you know
how forecasts go.
We made an early arrival at the airport only to find the ceiling
too low to depart. The end part of the leg to Parkersburg cleared off nicely but the beginning part out of Elkhart was not
looking rosy for the 0630 departure. So we sat with an entire room full of the 34 teams who over-nighted in Elkhart.
We waited and checked, and waited and checked and .... well, you get the idea. Finally there was a good trend of rising ceiling
up to 1800'. We decided to launch at 2000' so Laura went to the plane to get ready. She looked to the north to see another
cloud bank and very low ceiling and rain looming. She ran in to grab Ellen and I and we decided to launch immediately. We
were the first ones: either the brave soles or the dumb idiots. Only time will tell. We lifted off to make the timing run and called the tower who confirmed ceiling
1500'. Good VFR - time to go. Four other teams followed in the first wave. We made a quick turnout and we were on the way.
There was no way to get the best winds aloft as the ceiling held us in place but we were quite pleased with the ground speed
We got out our picture of the Parkersburg airport and noted
the river and ridges to cross before turning down the flyby runway. A blind approach in the haze. The ceiling had lifted but
left that thick haze that we had been dealing with throughout most of the other northern parts of the trip. We could not descend
vecause of the terrain which meant we would have to make a rapid descent at the end on the blind turn. Ellen spotted
the runway and we made the turn in for a flyby to continue. With the late departure we were concerned that the storms would
beat us to Frederick so we had to keep going. We had report of scattered to broken clouds over the mountains but clear in
Martinsburg so we climbed while we had the chance. We took the risk that the land below would open up as reported on the AWOS
stations. It was a good leg but as we crept nearer and nearer to Martinsburg, we wondered when the clear was going to appear.
Finally Laura saw some breaks in the clouds below and the thick bank the remained below us soon opened up into hazy blue skies
but we were so close we had to drop like a rock into Frederick. We nosed Wild Mama over and hit 215 kts on the down
hill. The air was not too bumpy and the ride was a lot more smooth than we expected. We were still out ahead of the pack with
the Cirrus being the only plane out there able to catch us.
a 20 mile call into Frederick, then 10 mile call then the 5 mile call and spotted the runway. No one in sight. We burned across
the timing line at over 190 kts as we shouted cheers of job for successfully finishing the race. We were pleased; then someone
came over the radio requesting our tail number - did we make a mistake?? Soon a photographer had us circling the airport to
snap some in fight shots of the first plane to cross a timing line in the state of Maryland over Frederick. How cool is that?
Well, as cool as it was, it was time to put down, use the facilities and rest.
were greeted by a pile of reporters, had pictures taken and finally got to the business of cleaning out the plane and tying
her down for the night. We were done and all went off for the afternoon to be with our real families. We reunited this evening at the hotel with some 50-60 other racers who made it
in today. Most of our friends whom we had not seen in a few days were all here safe and sound with more coming in tomorrow.
It was a joyous reunion. It was also my birthday - what a great day!
June 25th: The remainder
of the race teams were due in by 1700 local time today and at 1615, the last of those who were going to make it - Classic
Racer 29 - came screaming over the finish line. We were missing Classic Racers 22 and 34, both of whom were plagued by mechanical
problems from the word go. We hear they are safe and hope to see them in a day or so for the banquet.
As for Team Wild Mama, we
all took the day to ourselves and do a variety of things before the meltdown this evening. My day was spent heading to BWI
to pick up Vern and stopping at a favorite restaurant, G & M Restaurant, for the best crab cake money can buy.
The melt down was a real celebration to see all of the racers again. It is funny how
you can see folks in Fort Myers then not see them again until the melt down. Classic Racer 45, Bobbi, came up to me and asked "Did you even race? I have not seen you since you launched!!!" How true. Everyone
seemed happy. We saw Classic Racer 29 and we deemed ourselves "the bookends" as the first and last to arrive. The reunion was great. The Sugar-loaf Chapter had a BBQ
and a band - a great first gathering. They even had helicopter instruction available. The evening was much cooler than the
99 degrees that it had been all day and many of the ladies got a 30 minute lesson .... including Terry.
Order the DVD Breaking Through the Clouds a documentary about the 1929 Powder Puff Derby
June 28th: I guess
there is not much left to say this year .... but we will fill in the details.
got "the call" Friday night late, about 2230. Needless to say, that was the end of sleep for the evening. We also
got notification that the plane was going to be re-flown. We assumed they were flying all of the top 12 teams. When we got
to the airport Saturday morning, there were only a few there for flying, but more for inspections. The fight line was our
team, plus Classic Racers 18, 40 and 48. We made our flight, returned to the airport and waited for inspection. Once we got
the word that we passed inspection, we headed out, but it was late.
The Saturady highlight that I had been looking forward to was the screening of the documentary Breaking Through the Clouds
by Heather Taylor. http://www.breakingthroughtheclouds.com/ Heather has worked on the film for over 13 years and we were thrilled that she chose this event to have
a screening as the movie is the history of the first Powder Puff Derby and the women who flew it. Terry was interviewed for
the documentary and appeared in the film. Not for that reason, the film was absolutely brilliant - Heather did a great
job and all of the racers and those who have been associated with the race were quite touched by the sentiments expressed int he film. Congratulations to Heather. The screening
was followed by a VIP reception in historic downtown Frederick. .... but we still had no word on what happened with our flight.
What was taking so long?
Sunday morning found us at the last
round of briefings, or more appropriately, de-briefings and an ARC board meeting. I awakened early hoping to see news of the
handicap in the email but there was nothing. I spoke with Classic Racer 48 and their handicap was increased by 6 kts based
on their fight; Classic Racer 40 was required to fly another flight Sunday morning as they had gotten drastically different
numbers on the pre and post race flights so there was another to verify which of the data was correct. They had no news either.
Classic Racer 18 encountered a problem during their flight and they were effectively knocked out of the race. Now we are really
worried. We have heard nothing.
Ellen and Terry and the guys
headed off for lunch after the de-briefings and after packing all of the silent auction stuff for transport to Dutch's Daughter,
where the awards banquet would be held. Just before 1430, we got the call that our handicap was raised from 151.72 to 152.55.
That was our final number. We were relieved because it was far less a bump that we heard from the others but we dd not know
what possible reason could cause our plane to be pulled to a re-flight. We re-calculated our score and it decreased from 16.380
to 16.000. We could only hope this was enough. We flew a good race; we received no penalties and we were hopeful to be in
the top 10. Another 11th place finish would be a hard one to wait out another year.
The banquet came and the award were handed out: Purdue got the collegiate award. Our baby birds, Classic Racer 30 from SIU,
got the highest finishing first time racer award. Classic Racer 44, our sister team from Fort Myers, got 2 leg prizes - 1st
place for legs 4 and 5 - Hot Springs to Cameron, MO and Cameron to Carbondale/Murphysboro, IL. It was exciting. They started
reading off the top 10 starting with 10th place. They also read the scores. We heard scores in the 9's, then 10's, then 11's
as we got to the top 3. Then we heard ..... "Second Place, with a score of 13.978 - Classic Racer 24, Joyce Wilson
and Laura Berry". At that moment, we knew why we were re-flown, and we knew that we won the race. This was a highlight
of our lives.
June 29th - Reflections:
Most of the racers left yesterday but many still linger to enjoy the Frederick area. The remaining planes were packing to
start their own journies home. My journey home will be delayed although Ellen and Laura are nearly home.
There have been many positive changes to the Air Race Classic over the past several years: we have
a great panel of judges who are not afraid to enforce the rules and assess penalties in the interest of safety; we have a
handicapping system where each plane is flown so the contestants are truly flying against their own aircraft performance rather
than a standard for that make and model of aircraft; we have new rules and procedures that take into consideration and use
modern technologies. A look at the top 10 this year demonstrates that now ANYONE can win and all have an equal chance - you
just have to fly the plane. Note the number of first time racers highlighted in red and the variety
Place Classic # Racers Aircraft
Terry Carbonell, Ellen Herr & Laura Ying Gao
Cessna Skylane RG R182
Joyce Wilson & Laura Berry
Cessna Skylane 182S
55 Linda Street-Ely & Elizabeth Kummer Grumman
4 Lauren Steele & Allison Springer (Purdue
Warrior III PA28-161
Jo Alcorn & Michelle Bostick
Cessna Skyhawk 172R
49 Barbara Harris-Para & Laurie
Beechcraft Bonanza A36
17 Dottie Anderson & Jean Sloan Piper
Archer PA 28-181
Kay Brown & Jessica Campbell (Indiana State Univ)
Erin Jackson & Christine Zoerlein (Southern Illinois Univ) Cessna
Kristen McTee & Kim Turrell (Embry-Riddle Aero Univ-Prescott)
Cessna Skyhawk 172S
volunteers who worked this year were - as usual - outstanding and we want to thank each and every one of you for taking part
in this historic event. Special thanks goes out to the line guys in Elkhart who worked so hard getting all of the race planes out of harms way when a
tornado warning sounded for the Elkhart area. Not only did they have to worry about getting the planes in, but they also had
the additional work of pulling all of the planes back outside again after the storms passed. Other highlights for us this year were the fresh strawberries and airplane cookies that greeted us at Cameron;
the live entertainment at Carbondale where we waited out the storms; fresh fruit and healthy food and snacks at Tuscaloosa
and Hot Springs and energetic, warm friendly volunteers that greeted us everywhere we stopped.
We were thrilled to meet so many new racers this year - 72 in all out of a pack of 113. We have made
more new friendships and will look forward to meeting up with these incredible ladies at air shows, conventions, airports
and other aviation activities - including the 2011 air race - in the near future. We are honored and privileged to join the
ranks of the less than 160 ladies - living or not - who have had the great honor of winning this historic event. We are
humbled to be included in that prestigeous group and look forward to 2011 where the Air Race Classic will celebrate her 35th
birthday and celebrate the heroes and legends of this historic race.
cannot say it enough: thank you, thank you, thank you to all who have made this race year such a success and who have helped
Team Wild Mama along in this incredible journey.
June 30th - Tribute: To my Mother
who always believed in me - if you think that I am a pain in the head, you should see the "oak tree" - and my dear
husband, Mario, who brought me in to the aviation world as his dying wish and gave me my wings, this one is for you both. Many thanks, with love....