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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Air Race Classic 2009 - Post #6

What day is it again? Jodie and I have both had to ask. At least we know we're still in Colorado.

After worship with one of my competitors at a nearby church I joined Jodie for lunch, and we were soon joined by Gretchen Jahn, who came in from New Zealand. Gretchen is one pilot I was really looking forward to meeting. Not just because she's won the race before, come in second place twice, and has just tons of experience, and not just because she has run airplane companies, including a stint as the CEO of Mooney Aircraft Co., but also because this accomplished pilot is so humble and generous with information, and is a real asset to aviation.

After a delicious tuna melt sandwich we joined the other racers for the first briefing. In an overall briefing touching on flight plans, fuel management, start procedures, fly-bys, cockpit resource management, safety, and race rules, we learned of two important changes. Every airplane will be equipped with an electronic tracker, a new device the ARC organization will be experimenting with as a back-up for timing. Dual fly-bys will be the other change. I undertand this is a return to the way the race used to be run a few years ago. This should be exciting.

Speaking of exciting, after the general briefing a Take-Off banquet became a tribute to the history of women in aviation, with the introduction of Bernice Haydu, an accomplished pilot and WASP. Slender and healthy looking, still able to wear her uniform, this is her first Air Race, and she'll be part of Team #26. When it came time for her introduction, she received a Standing O - everyone honored just to be in the same room with her. She goes by the nickname of Bee. I leaned over to Jodie and whispered, "Bee is a WASP!" I think that makes her a double-stinger.

Its an impressive list of racers, including one gal just out of high school.

Tomorrow will be the dizzying four hours of briefings - more specifics on weather, fly-bys, and safety - but we're ready. Bring it on!

Meanwhile the weather forecasts have our attention. Wondering how far we'll get each day. Sparta, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Illinois, and Racine, Wisconsin look particularly interesting.

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