From Texas, With Kitty: Bragging Rights

by Editor 1. July 2012 09:01
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By all accounts - and we do mean all - yesterday's Texas State IDPA Championship was a huge success. And that's due in no small part to the dedicated work of the match hosts, Collin County IDPA, who have built a strong club structure for developing excellent SOs and MDs. Check out Kitty's feature in yesterday's The Shooting Wire on how CCIDPA is winning bragging rights for the best SO staff in IDPA.

Besides a top-flight staff, and Comp-Tac's air-conditioned tent, the Texas championship also boasted IDPA dignitaries Bill and Joyce Wilson, who stopped by to see Cody, C.J., and the rest of Collin County IDPA put on a flawless match. Also attending the match was Zulu, Bill's and Joyce's new seven week old Belgian Shepherd Dog (or Malinois) puppy. No word yet on whether Zulu will be the new IDPA mascot.
ABOVE: MD Cody Ray and SOI C.J. Pruszynski welcome shooters to the match.
BELOW: Brian Strickler makes a few suggestions about Tiger Team rule changes, and Bubba was happy to hear them.

ABOVE: Armadillos were all over Northeast Texas. Meaning Team Armadillo Concealment was everywhere in Greenville.
BELOW: Kitty Richards hangs out with Bill Wilson who, along with Joyce, stopped by to see Collin Co. IDPA in action.

ABOVE: Bubba puts Comp-Tac's AC unit through extensive testing before giving it a Tiger Team seal of approval.
BELOW: That don't hunt, but she probably shoots. Joyce and Bill Wilson's new puppy, Zulu.

Photos courtesy of Kitty Richards.

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Joyce’s Great Adventure: I Placed In The Top Ten.

by Editor 27. June 2012 13:50
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"As in the shooting sports, especially among the female pilots, there is great camaraderie. It’s kind of like ‘girls camp with airplanes’, much like our National Championship is my party for 400 of my closest friend." -- Joyce Wilson

And so the great adventure has come to an end.

We got to I69 (the airport identifier for Clermont County, OH) on Friday afternoon. It had been a difficult race with the mountains, the high density altitude and the weather. But now it’s over. As I mentioned, it’s a very bittersweet feeling. We push so hard to get to the end that when it arrives, we kind of look around and go ‘WOW’ that was cool. And then realize that it’s all over.

Friday evening, we got a call that we’d received penalties in the race. Janet and I racked our brains about what could have happened and realized that we didn’t believe that anything had gone wrong. It was actually an enlightening moment for me as I realized that the Safety Officer training in IDPA is much like the timer training for the race – extremely important for consistency. When we talked with the Judges the next morning ( along with the 45 of 50 teams that had gotten penalties) they realized that it was a judging issue not a competitor issue. We actually use the same criterion in IDPA. If there are too many penalties, then maybe the problem does not lie with the competitor!

The next phase is to sign the official score sheet. My partner, Janet, had tracked our time from the start. Our score was less than 3 minutes different than the official time keeper’s – over the 15+ hours of the race! I’m not sure what the statistical difference of that is, but in my book, that’s phenomenal!!!

We ended up with a +8.something. I thought it was pretty good, but I knew there were at least a couple of +11’s. Again, it was a tough race. We knew of at least 15 teams that had had to land at an offsite airport because of weather – some for as long as 2 hours! That would kill their score. If you don’t fly straight from point A to point B, the time keeps ticking…..

It’s tough on the competitors and on the judges. They have to get information from their time keepers from all over the country. The race this year covered almost 2700 miles – from Arizona to Ohio! They use atomic clocks. It can’t get much better, but it’s still difficult to get all that information gathered. Most of the planes were given GPS (global positioning system) trackers to use during the race. That helps keep everything in check.

And then they called and told us we were being inspected. That’s a great feeling – at least after you know what it means. I remember my first race, two years ago, when they called to tell me I was going to be inspected at the finish. I was crushed. I knew that it must mean that something was wrong and they were going to disqualify me. All that work just blown down the drain… and then some one told me that it was because I finished in the top 12. Hmmmm, who would have known. So this year, I took that as a good omen (since I’d had the same thing happen last year – my second race)

Now we’re at the awards banquet. It’s a fairly formal type affair. Heck, I even wore a dress! It’s really kind of neat to see everyone dressed for the occasion. They call out ‘leg’ prizes first. As we do in IDPA, they try to spread the prizes out among the masses. If you get a ‘leg’ prize, then you’re not in the top ten. “Leg’ prizes are given to those outside of the top ten that are the fastest on each individual leg of the race. We made it through without a leg prize, whew…

As they start from 10th place, we just wait to see if we’re called. We knew that our +8 would probably be top ten. We were called for 7th place. We were thrilled. 5th through 7th were separated by less than .5 knot ( a knot is a little faster than a mile per hour). There are a whole lot of variables in the race and it could have gone any other way. So again, I placed in the top ten. This year, there were 50 planes in the race. To my knowledge this is the most that they have had compete. It’s exhilarating and incredibly dangerous at the same time. We’re doing high speed passes at low altitudes over the timing lines.

As in the shooting sports, especially among the female pilots, there is great camaraderie. It’s kind of like ‘girls camp with airplanes’, much like our National Championship is my party for 400 of my closest friend.

I thank all of you for following my attempt at this blog. I hope that I could share a little of what it’s like to compete in a totally different kind of sport.

I’ll hopefully see you all soon at the Nationals!

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Joyce’s Great Adventure: And, It's Over...

by Editor 23. June 2012 14:10
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"It’s a bittersweet feeling. It’s exciting to get to the end and sad to know that it’s almost over. There are lots of really neat female pilots in the race and knowing that you’re probably not going to see them for another year is sad." -- Joyce Wilson

And the Race is over!

Joyce Wilson

We arrived in Batavia, Ohio this afternoon about 2:30. Clermont County airport is home to Sporty’s Pilot Shop, THE pilot shop for General Aviation and maybe even the professional pilot’s too. They have everything you could ever want and then some. We haven’t been shopping yet as we are just a little tired and wanted to get settled into the hotel and de-stress a little.

We ended up flying 3 legs of the race yesterday. We started in Columbus, NE. Our strategy was to leave a little later in the day from Columbus and fly fairly low to mitigate the headwinds. We knew that there were going to be headwinds for this leg all day and that they would get a little better as the day went on. We also knew that when we turned the corner at the next fly-by, Watertown, SD, that we would get tailwinds in the afternoon. It’s a real chess game to try to plan where you need to be 2 or 4 or even 6 hours later. The tailwinds prevailed from Watertown to Ashland, WI. I think we made some pretty good time.

We stopped for fuel and to regroup for the leg from Ashland to Sault Ste. Marie, MI. The winds were good, but we waited for the storms to get out of the area. The clock keeps ticking if you have to divert or worse yet, land to wait out a storm. Unfortunately, there were a couple of teams that had to do this. Fortunately, we were not one of them. We did get into Sault Ste. Marie pretty late. Then we had to find some dinner as it’s difficult to eat during the day while flying and we also had to find transportation to the hotel. We ended up getting to the hotel around 10 pm. It was a long day.

This morning we were up early and out to the airport by 7:15 only to find out that we were socked in with low clouds and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions. We couldn’t leave. A couple of teams got out really early when the weather was good, but the rest of us were stuck on the ground. Again, this race can only be completed in day VFR (Visual Flight Rules ) conditions. So we had to sit and wait. It was actually really cool to chat with other pilots who have become our friends. We laughed and joked and just had as relaxing of a morning as we could. Then the weather started to lift. The race was on again!

We had fueled up so we could fly through Benton Harbor, MI on to the finish line. It was beautiful to fly along the coast of Lake Superior. It was also really smooth flying over the edge of the water just off the coast line. We turned the corner at Benton Harbor and knew that the end was almost in sight. Another 1 ½ hours and we’d be on the ground and another race would be complete. It’s a bittersweet feeling. It’s exciting to get to the end and sad to know that it’s almost over. There are lots of really neat female pilots in the race and knowing that you’re probably not going to see them for another year is sad.

Now we just have to wait to see how it all shakes down. All the planes should be here and the work for the judges and scorers begins. Tomorrow we’ll go shopping and Sunday evening we’ll know the results.

I’ll keep ya posted.

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Joyce’s Great Adventure: Oh, It's On!

by Editor 21. June 2012 13:12
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So Joyce Wilson, executive director of IDPA, is now dropping the hammer on the competition, but up above our heads and not on the range. Here's her latest update from her cross-country race, the Women's Air Race Classic.

And the race is on.

Joyce Wilson

Team Bionic was waved off the line approximately 8am PST, Tuesday, June 19. The temperature was already warm at Lake Havasu, AZ and the density altitude was climbing. For all my non-aviation friends, little planes don’t really like warm dense air – they just don’t climb or perform nearly as well as they do in cooler environments.

While the elevation at Lake Havasu is only 783’ above sea level, our departure to Gallup, NM had us climbing to 10,000’ to get over the mountains. We had already decided that we had enough fuel to fly through Gallup and on to Hereford, TX. The scenery was dramatic. At 10,000 feet there were still mountains that were taller. We planned our route to avoid having to climb higher as it takes a long time to get that high. Time equals speed that we need to get ahead of our handicap.

Even though we had stopped at Gallup and knew the terrain of the area, the fly-by was still an adrenaline rush. The rules state that you must be lined up, wings level, one mile from the timing line. It’s always interesting to judge, with the help of the on board navigation equipment, just exactly where the best point is. The fly-bys are generally done between 200 and 400’ above the ground level. It really does get exciting to essentially dive at the ground to a target altitude. Once past the timing line, we’re expected to continue to the end of the runway and then continue on our course, or go find a nice area to cool the plane down before returning to the traffic pattern to land.

We flew by Gallup to continue on to Hereford, TX. The first leg took approximately 2 hours and the second around 2 ½. We made sure we didn’t drink too much coffee that morning as 4 ½ hours in the plane can feel like an eternity. And stopping for a potty break along the way is not an option.

The terrain from Gallup to Hereford was essentially the same as the first leg, and we were ready to be on the ground by the time we got there. This fly by was even more exciting as we had to fly over the truck wash and stay to the right side of the skeet range. Hmmmm. So what does a truck wash look like from the air? Kind of like any other building. It made for an interesting approach.

The folks at Hereford were really nice and filled us up along with the plane. They met us at the plane with yellow roses and had goody bags as well. In the airport, they had sandwiches, cake, fruit, veggies, and almost anything else you could think of. It made for a nice break. Then we were off again.

Hereford’s elevation is still pretty high at 3800 feet. And the density altitude was reading over 6000 feet, so it was somewhat of a slow climb to altitude. We didn’t have to climb nearly as high as we were now past the big part of the terrain. Now we were watching the farmland. It was however, hot. Temperature in the cockpit was at least 90+ degrees.

The trip to Goodland, Kansas was mostly uneventful – the kind of flight you like. As we approached Goodland, the temperature kept climbing. It reached 100 degrees on the way. We kept an eye on the oil temp as it climbed as well, not dangerously high, but higher than I’m used too. Heck, it was just plain old hot! After the flyby, we used a little of that momentum and climbed a bit more. As we got closer to Columbus, the temperature started to get back to a reasonable level. It’s still flat.

We ended up spending the day in Columbus, NE as the storm systems passed. We’re hoping to make the best of the wind situation tomorrow as we head to Watertown, SD and then on to Ashland, WI.

We’ll keep you posted!

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Joyce’s Great Adventure

by Editor 18. June 2012 20:56
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As you know, our fearless leader Joyce Wilson (executive director of IDPA), is racing across America in here air-o-plane in something called the Women's Air Race Classic. Unfortunately for us that meant she could not attend the Carolina Cup this past weekend. That's OK because we told everybody she was actually flying a predator drone above our heads, in a never ending over-watch to insure our safety...most people bought it.

Anyway, while we were busy running around Oxford, N.C. watching The Cup, we missed this report she filed earlier from the race...err, we mean her top secret Predator flight control center.

On to the race!

Yesterday the adventure started with a very early departure from Harrison, AR to my race partner, Janet’s private airstrip just west of Wichita, Kansas. It’s a beautiful 4000 foot grass runway. I had never landed my Cessna 182 on grass so this was bound to be an adventure. I knew that I needed to leave early as there were some potentially heavy, gusty winds to be in that area in the afternoon. I wanted to get to her house and her hanger before the winds got bad.

The cross country part of the trip was completely uneventful. I promised myself this year that I would act like a complete tourist and take pictures of everything. Well, as much as I could while piloting the plane. When I got to her grass strip, I felt like things would go pretty well. And they actually did. Landing on grass isn’t much different than landing on asphalt except that sometimes you bounce a little. I was down and safely stopped at Janet’s hangar in much less distance than a normal asphalt strip. We got the plane in the hanger and went into the house for coffee. It was just 10:30am.

After coffee and a brief visit, we went out to put the race number on the plane and get it ready and loaded for the race. Janet and her husband Don have this wonderfully big hanger with a Piper Cub and a Stearman! It’s a pilot’s dream. So after I drooled all over her airplanes, we proceeded to knock the rest of the bugs off the 182 and get her ready for the race.

We had a really nice dinner at a wonderful steak place in Wichita and decided to call it an early evening because we wanted an early morning departure. Well the storms rolled in. From about 11 pm to 3 am, there was lightning, thunder and 1.75 inches of rain! Departure in the morning was going to be fun!

We planned a 6:30am departure, but we decided to wait just a little while to let some storms south of Wichita pass. It was really interesting taking a really loaded plane off of a grass strip with lots of water on it. I kind of wished that I had gotten a sea plane rating – hahaha.

The leg to Hereford, Texas was really uneventful. We were out of the weather in less than 50 miles and then it was just a normal cross country trip. After a quick refuel of the plane, we were off to Gallup, New Mexico. The terrain between Hereford and Gallup quickly rises. We started at 8000feet, then were increased to 10.000 and ended at 11,000. We saw some beautiful countryside but as the temperatures of the day increased, so did the turbulence.

We landed at Gallup just in time for lunch. We were somewhat undecided as to whether we would go on or land in Gallup for the evening. Density altitude is really important to small general aviation aircraft and my plane, like all others, does not perform well when the density altitude is high. By 3pm local time, when the density altitude was still almost 9000feet, we decided to spend the night. We’ll go on to Lake Havasu, Arizona in the morning.

So here we are, still at the beginning of the excellent adventure for Team Bionic.

In case you’re wondering how we got our team name, Janet had her second knee replacement in March of this year and I, too have had two partial knee replacement. Therefore, we’re kind of like bionic ☺

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Fly Me To The...State Of Ohio?

by Editor 11. June 2012 16:24
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You may not have known this but Joyce Wilson, executive director of IDPA, is also an airplane pilot. And she's the kind of pilot that likes to go fast, and sometimes real fast when it comes to racing her plane. If you ever talk air racing with her, get Joyce to tell you the story about how she tried to fly the wings off her plane to make her timing pass. While most will be looking to North Carolina and the Carolina Cup, Joyce will be headed to the Women's Air Race Classic...and plans to keep us posted.

Well, it’s that time of year again...

I know, most of you are thinking about the Carolina Cup and I wish I was going to be there to see everyone, but I’ll be on a different adventure of my own. This will be my third year competing in the Women’s Air Race Classic.

The Women’s Air Race started in 1929 as the First Women’s Air Derby. It evolved into the Powder Puff Derby and is now known as the Air Race Classic.

The race routes are approximately 2,400 statute miles in length, and the contestants are usually given four days, flying VFR in daylight hours, to reach the terminus. Each plane is assigned a handicap speed – and the goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible. The pilots are thus given the leeway to play the elements, holding out for better weather, winds, etc.

The objective is to fly the “perfect” cross-country. In this type of race, the official standings cannot be released until the final entrant has crossed the finish line. Actually, the last arrival can be the winner.

This year’s route starts in Lake Havasu, Arizona on June 19 and finishes in Batavia, Ohio on June 22, with 8 stops in between.

My race partner this year is a wonderful lady from Wichita, Kansas. Our team name is ‘Team Bionic’ as we’ve both had knee replacement surgery. The top 10 team numbers are drawn in a random drawing based on early entry. This year we’ll be known as Classic Racer 4. We’ve already been pouring over charts and watching weather trends, so all that remains is to fly a good, safe race.

We’ll have some interesting challenges this year as some of the terrain is quite mountainous, so we’ll be flying possibly as high as 11,000 or 12,000 feet. Then, when we get to Wisconsin, we’ll get to fly over the upper end of Lake Huron and then along the south east coast of Lake Michigan. We end up just outside of Cincinnati at the home of Sporty’s Pilot Shop – a really well known aviation store (watch out credit cards).

Our pre-race activities have us arriving in Lake Havasu on June 15, right in the middle of all the Carolina Cup activities. I hope everyone has a great time there and I’ll look forward to seeing many of you at the National Championship.

I’ll try to keep you posted on the race as well.

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Team IDPA at the 2012 NRA Show - Day 3

by Editor 16. April 2012 21:56
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The third and final day of the 2012 NRA Show saw Team IDPA meeting with some of the biggest gun makers in the firearms world, including Taurus, whose new CEO, Mark Kresser, talked to Joyce Wilson about shooting a little IDPA himself in the coming months. Joyce Rubino from Colt talked shop, and shooting. And of course, no NRA tour of gun makers would be complete without a visit to Smith & Wesson, which in case you didn't know hosts a little IDPA match and get together each year...just a small event you may have heard people talking about.

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IDPA Reception at 2012 NRA Show

by Editor 15. April 2012 07:54
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Saturday night after Day 2 of the NRA Show, Michael Bane - host of the Outdoor Channel's Shooting Gallery and one of the earliest members of IDPA - hosted a reception for IDPA at the Morgan Street Brewery. The room was packed with show exhibitors and friends of IDPA. Thanks to Panteao Productions guests went home with a copy of the Down Zero and IDPA World Championship DVDs, as well as a signed copy of Michael's book Trail Safe. A huge THANK YOU goes out to Michael Bane, and the Outdoor Channel, for graciously hosting a terrific get together with great friends...and really good beer.

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Team IDPA at the 2012 NRA Show - Day 2

by Editor 15. April 2012 00:05
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Day 2 at the NRA Show was amazingly busy thanks to rain in St. Louis. With literally tens of thousands of people on the show floor, getting around for Team IDPA got to be a challenge. Thankfully we made it through another day and another round of meetings with sponsors and friends. Of course, for some people there always seems to be time to check out the guns.

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Team IDPA at the 2012 NRA Show - Day 1

by Editor 13. April 2012 23:17
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Lots of meetings today on the floor at the NRA Show in St. Louis. Joyce Wilson, Kitty Richards and Terry 'Bubba' Burba were visiting with various IDPA sponsors and friends. Here are a couple shots of Team IDPA in action. If you are attending the NRA Show then be on the lookout for Joyce, Kitty and Bubba and be sure to stop them to say hi.

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