Azalea City Avgals

Azalea City Avgals
On our way!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Home again, home again, Jiggety-jig!

What a ride that was!  Speaking for myself, it was a grand race, I had a glorious time, and am thankful to have had this opportunity. Fabulous scenery, amazing big country we live in.

To you who wonder exactly how we placed-- um-- although we were admittedly the last ones to cross the finish line, by the time they figured in our handicap, we weren't in last place.... quite.  (We were (ahem...).#37)

I curled up like a cat, and napped for the better part of two days after getting home. And now for the overdue post-race wrap-up.

The most amazing part of this whole endeavor was the fine people we met. SO many made this race the pleasure it was: First, the organizers, who did a great job of making sure we were all more-or-less on the same page. Second, all the volunteers, the chambers of commerce, the 99s chapters, the FBOs, -- and more-- who all turned out in smiling force to speed us on our way, well-fed, well-cared-for, and feeling most welcome, the whole way. Each one made us feel as if their stop was surely a special place we'd like to go back to some time when we could enjoy all their town had to offer. Third, the people who were dragged into this thing unawares. I'm speaking of Classic 6 Racers' own heroes at Dumas, Texas, who went far beyond the call of duty to get us back in the air. Rocky Rexrod, here's lookin' at ya! Fourth, the racers themselves. Oh, my, what a remarkable group of women! I so much want to hear what Paul Harvey used to call "the rest of the story" from every one.  Fifth, our own sponsors. Both Linda and I are most grateful to the support--, monetary, in-kind equipment loan, time-and-talent, and of course, our own personal cheering section. Thank you, thank you to all of you!
Mobile Air Center
Showcase Homes
Solar Gold
Coldwell Banker
Colony Tire
Albemarle Boats
Mobile Regional Maintenance- Don Ford
Anywhere Map
Our families
Dear friends

Saturday, June 25, 2011


It wasn't a flawless race, it wasn't without its challenges, but we got here to Mobile, safe and sound, and even though we weren't able to leave Borger, Texas until noon, we crossed the finish line at Brookley Field  this evening a good 19 minutes before the deadline.

Highlights-The flying, of course. Real challenges, met and overcome. Talking with extraordinary pilots, and sharing hangar tales with great gals who enjoy flying as much as we do. Meeting the kindest people imaginable, in places we didn't know existed. (We'll never forget the beyond-the-call services of Rocky Rexrod, Our Hero.) Having college fliers in Norman, Oklahoma run out to our airplane jumping and cheering the last racer through.  Seeing gorgeous countryside from the best possible perspective and marveling at the awesome towering thunderstorms in the distance on both sides forming a perfect path to the gulf coast, as we neared Mobile. Sharing the fun and excitement with friends and relatives.

We encountered weather challenges- gusty winds, some of them ferocious crosswinds, bumpy air and 110-degree heat that made for very anemic climb rates...
We had mechanical troubles and equipment problems, which were frustrating.

All in all, it was an incredible experience!  So, how did we do? No idea until the banquet on Sunday night. Quite sure we won't cart off the top prizes. But no matter what, we had a heckuva good time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Electrical gremlins persist-and lots of miles yet to go.

Our mechanic friend, the so-kind Rocky Rexrod of Dumas, Texas, had his head buried in our airplane until midnight last night. He was doubtless hoping to sleep in this morning. Alas, it was not to be. We launched from Dumas at 7 am, headed for a restart at Borger, Texas, and found that despite our six-hour drive to Lubbock yesterday to buy a new alternator and regulator, we still had problems. The same problems, in fact.  Back we went to Dumas, and here we sit. No replacement circuit breakers anywhere within 500 miles, apparently, and now we're waiting for the airport manager to return with hangar keys, so Peter can be robbed to pay Paul. SOMEbody in there is bound to have a couple they're not using anytime soon. Even so, at 10:30 and counting, with no breakers yet found, it's looking mighty dismal for our chances to reach Mobile before 7:58 CDT, which is our final finish time. But we WILL fly this race, just for our own satisfaction.
Nice man at Anywhere Map has given his thoughts, and if we ever get airborne, we'll have some new tricks to try to make that box show its amazing pictures for us, so we can see what weather, especially near Mobile, lies ahead.

The scenery around here, except for the occasional small town dwarfed by its neighboring refineries, is desolate and dusty. Rocky says, "We haven't had a drop of rain here since October. The Panhandle is dryer than Death Valley this year."  The nearby reservoir appears to be about a quarter of its usual size- lake bottom looks like a grassy valley.The huge blades of wind generators just south of Dumas flop lazily around and  around- rather scenic, in a way. This would seem to be great wind-power territory- the wind, even early this morning, was out of the south at 20 gusting to 26. Come to think of it, every windsock I've seen in Texas has been straight out. But it's sure sunny, much to the locals' distress. A motel sign near Amarillo yesterday, asked motorists to "Pray for rain!"  Will do.

Hope the next post has miraculous good news. If not, well, it's been fun, and a wonderful learning experience.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The deep blue skies of Texas

gusty hot wind, and remarkable hospitality are the things that will stick in our minds about today's adventures so far. We headed out to the airplane, hooked up the gadgetry, taxied out for takeoff, and immediately knew that all was not well. Radios were scratchy. Panel-mount GPS went dark. Much-vaunted Anywhere Map Septa wouldn't start at all, not so much as a flicker. We taxied back to see what might be making the electrical system unhappy, and I sat on 'ignore' listening to AnywhereMap's hold music-- figured I might as well trouble-shoot my end of things, while Linda figured out hers. Got REALLY tired of listening to Beethoven's first piano sonata, and Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, even though I'm fond of both composers. For some reason, nobody there wanted to talk to me. Can't understand that....(eye-rolling smiley here.)  So there's no AnywhereMap at all, and no AWM tech support. Good thing we have paper charts. If we get the airplane going again, we'll be running through a line of big thunderstorms between here and our destination, without benefit of XM-Weather. I hate to say it, but I wish I'd borrowed my brother's proffered  Garmin-695 instead!

The lovely men running things at Borger, Texas made phone calls, recommended a fine mechanic 35 miles west, who made room in his hangar for us. One of them hand-propped us, we noted that there was no charging happening, and alternator flickering. Nonetheless,  we were soon on our way to Dumas, Texas,  a half hour in the wrong direction, following roads,with only one radio and  no lights on. It wasn't but a moment before the whole electrical system flickered its last, and died. Fortunately, there wasn't a crowd trying to get into Moore County Airport. Mechanic Rocky soon had his head under the cowling, and took off to a local autoparts store to check out the alternator. The good news was that the alternator checked out OK, and we don't have to go to Amarillo or Lubbock to pick up a new alternator. The bad news? Rocky just got a phone call saying his dad has just had a stroke, and is on his way to the hospital. So, understandably enough, is Rocky. *sigh* Poor guy.

So, not sure what amusement there is in Dumas, Texas, but I expect we'll find out. Meanwhile, 40-some other airplanes are headed for Mobile, aiming to get there before sunset tomorrow night. Wish we were there!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Race Day Number One!

Today started a long time ago, in a faraway land. We arose well before the birds in little Beatrice, (pronounced Be-AT-tris) Nebraska, got out to the airport, admired the windsock sticking out at rigid attention, piled our bags in Ms. Lima, and got on our way to the starting line at Alliance, Nebraska. Headwinds made it a slow trip, but really rather pretty, under deep blue sky sprinkled with a very few little puffy clouds. Even considering our decision to get a bit of gas in Broken Bow, we got to Alliance with a surprise hour and a half to spare, having forgotten about Mountain Daylight time. The people of Alliance and the Nebraska 99s put on an amazing show of hospitality for us- great sandwiches, homemade cookies, chips, soda pop, fresh fruit-- just super. If we'd had more time there, we would definitely have had to go visit the world-famous "Car Henge."  Google it.
We took advantage of our low race number, lined up, and were number-three off the field. That was the last thing we did right for a while...the Alliance-to-Great Bend first leg was, shall we say, a 'learning experience.'  But we enjoyed a good tailwind across the grasslands of western Nebraska and Kansas, and joined the parade into Great Bend. Oh. THAT landing light. Oops. Oh, well. Did I mention how terrifying it can be to sit in the right seat while the airplane you occupy hurtles at the end of the runway much too fast and much too low?  No flies on Linda's flying-- she's very good at this thing. All the same, airplanes are usually supposed to slow down as they near the end of the runway, not keep on going as fast as they can, only a couple hundred feet above the asphalt.  More great hospitality, good snacks and cold beverages provided by Kansas 99s and Great Bend residents. This time on departure, we had the cockpit festooned with sticky note reminders, and took special pains to brief the procedures in excruiating detail.  I think it worked-- or at least I hope it did.
The next leg crossed high plains and near-desert, poking along with a bit of a headwind, and amazingly empty countryside. Miles and miles and miles without so much as a steer in sight. Roads were even a rarity. Borger, Texas showed up on schedule, though, with the biggest oil refinery in the United States on its northern edge. Also, we learned, it's home to a 'real hi-tech bowling alley' and the biggest movie theater in the Texas Panhandle. We're likely to miss out on those attractions, because our day is very much over. More fun tomorrow as we head for Norman, OK, and El Dorado, AR.  We will probably have a fairly early start, as the Borger residents are looking at a high of 105 tomorrow. Couldn't have been much over 99 when we got there today.  Dear townspeople have gone out of their way to get us to hotels, to restaurants, and back to the airport at ungodly hours tomorrow morning. We've had doors opened, luggage carried, homemade cookies by the many dozens, and good stories of local interest. That's probably been the best thing for me is the chance to meet so many truly fine people.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Three hours was quite enough of THAT.

We took off from Iowa City under low-ish broken clouds and a stiff headwind and aimed toward Beatrice, our first gas stop en route to the new-and-improved race start at Alliance, NE. As we cruised along in moderate chop at 2500 feet, we noticed the ground rising almost imperceptibly toward us, and by the time we reached Beatrice, we were right at pattern altitude. Along the way, we saw patches of showers off in the distance, but nary a raindrop on Ms. Lima. The neat little farms were green, green, and vast thickets of wind generators had sprouted all along our route. The visibility was a zillion miles in every direction. Crossing the Missouri River, we saw why Nebraska  is so lush-looking. Muddy floodwaters spread several miles wide, and many barns and farmhouses showed only their roofs above water. Roads disappeared under water for a half a mile at a time. Apparently that's where the levee was breached. Appalling!
Arriving at Beatrice, Linda performed a very nice 25 mph-crosswind landing. We were welcomed by hospitable airport personnel, met three other ARC race teams, and decided not to buck 40 knots or more on the nose this afternoon. . Besides, one team staying the night here knows of a great little restaurant nearby. We all piled in the Beatrice airport van, and headed for a nearby and very reasonably-priced hostelry. The forecast for tomorrow is much more benign.
Flooded Nebraska farmland.

Headed for Alliance--the shorter way

This morning Classic Racer  team #6 should have been well on its way to Brookings, SD, thence to ND, back to SD, and Wyoming. Instead, we're looking at forecast headwinds of 25 and winds on the ground along the whole route gusting to 35, direct-ish to tomorrow's noon start of the shortened race course, at Alliance, Nebraska. We're disappointed to miss out on what would have doubtless been fabulous hospitality at those first four stops, and glorious high plains scenery, but remnants of a large low pressure area continue to blanket the whole upper midwest. So, we're looking at a bumpy five hour ride in marginal conditions, and thinking new thoughts on tomorrow's strategy. Airplanes are straggling out of IOW as I write, with promises to meet up in Alliance tonight. What fun. Eager to get airborne, even if it's less than ideal conditions. Got new territory to conquer. Onward, and especially, upward!