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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