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In the beginning ....: The 2010 race is still a recent memory and we are already off and running planning for 2011! It is good to get a jump while everyone is still riding high from such bfm4.jpga great race from Fort Myers to Frederick. Now we are looking with great anticipation to the race from Iowa City to Mobile. I am starting in Mobile.

The weather from Maryland to Mobile, AL was absolutely outstanding for a July 4th run through the mountains. The air was relatively cool and thebfm2.jpg winds were very light and variable. A perfect day to trek through the valleys. The forecast tailwinds were up in the 6,000' level with headwinds down below. Although  would prefer to remain low, I did have to travel and burning up time and extra fuel for no reason was not on the agenda for today so I went to the nose bleed altitude of 6,500', picked up a nice little tailwind and kept on flying. The view of the Shenandoah Valley was not nearly as impressive today as it was on Saturday when low level flight-seeing was the goal. The scarecrow was nowhere to be found and the haze all but obscured the distant hills.

It is rare to get close to Mt Mitchell but today, I would pass in her shadow. By the time  got down to the NC region, the light and variable wind had picked up to about 15 kts of a direct tail wind but it was so smooth even though I was now less than 2,000' over land. The morning clouds still lingered over bfm3.jpgthe peaks and were nestled in some of the valleys necessitating my climb a few hundred feet to a birds' eye view of the clouds and the mountain tops. The haze seemed to follow me. While only a few miles away, Mt Mitchell was no more than a silhouette in the haze. All too soon the terrain started to lower as  made a descent into Cartersville, GA for a pit stop. I could have made the trip all the way in to Mobile but that would have left no more than the 30 minute required reserve - a practice of which I am not in favor.

The land enroute to Mobile from Cartersville was considerably more featureless and gradually flattened out to the familiar lands like we see in bfm1.jpgFlorida every day. I do so enjoy flying through the mountains and missed that scenery already. But Mobile soon came into view and the downtown towered over the flatlands below. Downtown tower cleared me straight in to runway 18 and Wild Mama touched down in nice crosswind form. For the next few days I will be touring the town checking out the area for the 2011 race; but today I rest. The adrenalin that I have been running on has faded and it is time to rest for a day so I can gear up for the next few days to come.

Hit the ground running: Although I was finally able to get some rest on my first night in Mobile, Rebecca Huff and Bud Ratliff from the Mobile Sports Authority had a full itinerary for bfm5.jpgme for the several days that I am to be here. Maura Garino, general manager of the Holiday Inn Downtown provided me with a beautiful room in the hotel for my base of operations while Rebecca and Bud hosted me and ushered me to all of the vario0us people and departments that we bfm6.jpgneeded to see in a short time.

Tuesday morning start with me being the special guest at the Mobile City Council meeting where I had the opportunity to speak to the mayor and city counsel about the great opportunity for Mobile to be a host city. They were thrilled with the prospect of the race coming and pleased that we involve local youth in our activities. They are looking forward to our arrival in June 2011. The county commissioners were equally happy to have us come to town and I received a very warm reception and fielded questions from the commission members.

Lunch was another treat at the Original Oyster House on Mobile Bay. The day was overcast and the ground wet but that did not dampen the spirit of the day. It gave Rebecca and i a good chance to tlk about the race, what it looks like and the requirements of a terminus host. She was most enthusiastic and looking forward to the involvement with the racers. We finished lunch and headed to the USS Alabama Battleship. This is one of the feature attractions of the area. In addition to the ship where you can take one of many self guided tours, there is also a submarine and aviation museum. We will be working with the battleship folks to try to be sure tobfm8.jpg include a stop here on the itinerary for the racers.

The balance of the day consisted of meetings with various people and organizations at the airport and a quick visit to see Wild Mama. It was not a day to fly, but we did have to put her on display. Evening came all too quickly and I flopped in bed, exhausted after a full day.

Wednesday was another full day, starting with breakfast with Rebecca and Linda Wehrle from the Mobile Tourist Development Council. We ended up spending the whole day with Linda and she and Rebecca escorted me to the various functions and meetings starting with the Boys and Girls Club. The folks there were most excited about meeting with the racers and want to have a partnership with the racers and girls where girls will "adopt" a racer to follow throughout the course of the race preparations and race. Lunch at Wentzill's was another seafood extravaganza - I had a seafood salad that was out of this world. We finished the day with a tour of the area and a stop at Dauphin island. While there is much evidence of bfm7.jpgthe oil spill in the form of workers cleaning the beach, I was very pleased to see that this beach was spotless and the beaches were open for business!

Tomorrow is my last morning here meeting with the local marketing representatives then heading back home. I have been gone since June 16th and it is time to rest in my own bed ... and await the next adventure. I look forward to my return to Mobile throughout the year and for the terminus of the 2011 race.

Slice-n-Hook Photos

Slice-n-Hook: My attempts to take a new and exciting route to Mobile met with resistance this morning. I filed to go over Tampa, then out over the gulf and skirt the coastline in to mobile. Well, i got depart Labelle ok but it went down hill from there until I hit Pensacola as I was routed back over Lakeland and up V7, an oh so familiar route. snh1.jpg
I departed on time and climbed out to 6,000' via radar vectors and settled in just on top of a very thick haze layer. There was a defined line of demarcation where the haze quit and the clear blue skies began. The morning was otherwise beautiful with calm winds and wild mama gave me a nice ground speed of 156 kts. I can live with that. 
We are headed to mobile for the slice n hook weekend to see some of the sites of mobile and to work on the terminus youth activities for a few days. The weather is forecast to be outstanding, too!
Before BKV a solid sea of while developed under that bright blue sky. Everything between there and Panama City was socked in low IFR. As I proceeded toward TLH, I could hear planes in the holding pattern and others making a stab at the approach and gong missed. By 9:30 the fog was finally starting to break apart and some of the planes were successfully getting into TLH. As I proceeded with another 1,5 hours to go, I knew Mobile would be clear and as I approached PFN the airport was clearly in sight.

I was given a visual approach to Mobile Downtown. Upon executing the downwind to runway 18, I was heading in straight for the Renaissance Riverview and it occurred to me that snh2.jpgthe folks staying on the top floor might feel as if another 9/11 were in progress. I shortened the downwind and turned a wide base then final to drop in for a landing. I was met by Linda from the CVB in Mobile for a weekend of activities designed to show the racers what Mobile has to offer.

We hit the ground running with tours of the Battle House and other Renaissance properties and the downtown convention center where the snh3.jpgevening reception found us chatting with the Azalea Tails Maids and other guests.

Monday morning found us at the Hampton Inn for breakfast followed by a visit to Five Rivers Delta complex where 5 rivers converge to form the head of Mobile Bay. Part of the group went fishing; part kayaking and the remainder of us went on an ecotour via boat with naturalist Joel. We saw egret, blue heron, terns, laughing gull and learned about the ecology of the area.

The afternoon found us at the Grand Hotel Marriott just east of the town of Fairhope, an exclusive area of Mobile. Throughout lunch we saw snh4.jpghundreds of Monarch butterflies liting onthe bottlebrush trees that dotted the grounds. They stop in Mobile on their southern migration to Mexico from the north. It was amazing to see so many gathering in one place. After a scrumptious lunch, we boarded the schooner, Joshua, for a sail around Mobile Bay. The evening ended at Felix Fish Camp with dinner.

Tuesday we got an early start to visit Bellengrath Gardens and historic house. The gardens were spectacular and were the highlight of the visit for me. I look forward to coming back this Christmas season to see the house and gardens adorned in lights for the season. We finished our tour with lunch at the Masgnolia Grove golf club one of the stops on the Robert Trent Jones Trail.snh5.jpg

The remainder of my stay will be at the Holiday Inn, our host hotel for the 2011 race. The city is excited about our visit and I was treated to outstanding southern hospitality. We are working to develop a spectacular pilot program with the youth of Mobile. I am exited for the opportunity to work with the girls club and other local young ladies to get them excited about snh6.jpgaviation and about their own futures. 

snh8.jpgHeading Home:   After another whirlwind day it is time to head home. But I do so excited about the program to come. The Boys and Girls Club (we are really interested in the girls ... sorry, guys) is so excited about the race coming and the youth program that we will do with them. This will be a six month long program where we visit Mobile one Saturday per month to work with the kids in the Club up through and including race time. It will give the youth an excellent opportunity to interact with racers and learn a lot about aviation and careers and do some hands on stuff to get them really excited.

With my work done, I departed IFR in crystal clear skies. I knew the flight would be an easy VFR one but I needed to get back through all of the restricted areas and darkness was coming soon. I was vectored all over creation to avoid all of the military traffic through the Destin area and snh9.jpgthey finally put me out over the water where the coastline provided a spectacular backdrop. In short order I rounded the big bend and continued the remainder of the way home in the darkness. The sunset shone radiant through the evening haze and the city lights illuminated my way home. This was a great trip - tailwinds in bothsnh10.jpg directions - and a productive trip. The 2011 race is off to a great start.






AOPA Summit was in Long Beach, CA this year ..... and so was Terry. Read about it below and check out the AOPA Live link.

We all know that the Air Race Classic is exciting and that Terry and Mary Wunder are staffing the AOPA booth in Long Beach in search of new racers. But what else is going on in the aviation world? For all of you CFI's out there, have you seen the Flyvie yet? (
www.flyvie.com) I had the chance to demo a unit and was quite impressed. The Flyvie unit comes with the computer, cameras, GPA and audio set up. I installed Flyvie in Wild Mama during my CFI training. Flyvie recorded the scenery outside the front window; the instrument panel, all audio - both me and ATC AND it played back everything on a Google earth environment, showing me altitude, conditions, track of where I was flying and everything. I found it to be an excellent tool both for the CFI AOPASummit.jpgcandidate and as a CFI teaching students. Debriefing is no longer a problem as the students can see EXACTLY what was going on and where they are having problems .... as did I. My chandelles were great but the turns on a point needed a bit of work!! Udi is there at booth 1147 - tell him Wild Mama sent you!

Social networkig is not new to us but it new to aviation. Now there is a brand new aviation social networking site
www.flyronline.com. It is free but it is mre than just networking alone. It has airports; logbook and more .... and you can get it on your iPad or iPhone. We have already started the Air Race Classic group. So sign on, sign up, join and help support the race! Also, Look for Mary and Terry, who were featured on AOPA Live today, talking about air racing.

Last but certainly not least, it took a trip all the way across the country to see our friends from the Bahamas! Greg, Leonard and Elizabeth are all on hand at the Summit letting these west coasters know that THE place to be is back east in the warm waters of the Bahamas. Greg and Elizabeth presented me with the hand painted official wheel chocks from Long Island in recognition of the group we have coming in February. Check them out!

And finally .... After a great convention; packing and shipping included, it was time to play - so off we flew to Catalina Island. Check out a few select photos at


Spring 2011 - A big part of the race this year for Team Wild Mama is participation in the Mobile Adopt-a-Racer program for the Boys & Girls Club of Alabama. Wild Mama has been making regular trips, hauling her crew and cargo so they can work with the girls to teach them about aviation and the careers available to them. Details appear in the Adopt-a-Racer pages.
One of the good parts about the program, other than working with the kids and some pretty spectacular folks, is being able to meet our baby birds for this year: Classic Racers 6, 311-1.JPGLinda Keller and Mimi Reihold. Linda made her second appearance with the kids, helping with the introduction day and again with career day. It is nice to be able to spend some time with my babies! Pictured with Terry is Bee Haydu, 2009 baby bird, and Linda Keller, 2011 baby bird.