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.
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!