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 a 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 the 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 the 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
Florida 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 me 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 needed to see in a short time.
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 to include a stop here on the itinerary for the racers.
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 the 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: 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.
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 the 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
evening 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 hundreds 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.
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 aviation and about their own futures.
Heading 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 they 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 both 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 candidate 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
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
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, Linda 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.