Late update for today:
We flew one leg today. Not because we were tired from over 9 flying hours yesterday, but because we weren't willing to risk the running into the thunderstorms around the Chicago area. Sure looked mean on the radar screen. Majority of the teams headed out to Racine this afternoon. We're hoping our choice to stay the night and do the last two legs tomorrow will prove to be the better choice.
We launched out of Sparta, TN at 7 this morning, arriving in Jacksonville, IL a couple hours later. Vacuum pump is still working, cylinders staying cool. Nothing really notable other than seeing the country from just above the tree tops in close proximity to other planes all heading in the same direction.
Almost had to pay a ransome for Amelia Bearheart, as I left her in the back seat of the truck of the man who shuttled us to and from the hotel last night. Competitor, Mary Wunder, thought she could get some green out of me, but we retrieved poor Amelia and she is safe and sound with us.
And by the way, I wasn't going to mention that the same Mary broke her ankle in Sweetwater while running to push the airplane, but since she tried to kidnap Amelia, all bets are off. Watching Mary hobble around the airplane doing a pre-flight with her foot and ankle wrapped up is quite a sight!
And I'm sorry, Tiffany York, News Director of KSHN Radio, that you cannot track us on FlightAware.com, but we're not filing flight plans with the FAA. When flying VFR (which this race is), its not required. Filing a flight plan VFR is only used if they need to come looking for you. We're not filing because there's no need to, and besides, why would we want to give away to our competition where we're flying? The good news, ladies and gents, is that after seeing Team #33's awesome website (myfirstairrace.com - and they're in a Citabria), Tiffany has committed to getting a tracker for my race plane next year. Thanks, Tiff! Is the radio station paying for it? Does that mean we'll get a cool site set up? I'm game!
My partner, Cubbie, skipped dinner tonight, opting to veg in the hotel and blog instead (promarkaviation.net). I dined with four other teams. The table full of chick pilots was a bit rambunctious, but it wasn't my fault. And I'm not the one who thought up the idea to sing verses on the chat frequency tomorrow, 122.75. Nope, not me. That was the mother of an astronaut and a retired United captain who thought that up. Nancy ("Captain Grandma") Aldrich asked if we all knew the song that goes, "When peeking through the knot hole of grandpa's wooden leg, who put the shore so near the ocean...." Yes, I know that one. But I ain't singin' on freq! Ya, we think we're pretty witty, but the poor family seated near us probably thought that was half-right... They had read about the air race coming through Jacksonville and had lots of questions, as have folks we meet at all the stops.
Each of the host airports is unique. In Russellville they spoiled us by cleaning our windscreens when we pulled up for fuel. Water is the most coveted item, but we've been spoiled with great treats, sandwiches, cookies, souvenier bags, and most of all really friendly folks. Most wanted us back (but maybe not all at the same time), some didn’t want us to leave.
Here in Jacksonville, IL we we've been treated like celebrities. Autographs, photos, curious kids, questions about being a pilot and war stories with the older fellows. We met Zachary, who was very proud of his WWII B-17 pilot brother.
Oh, and remember that part I mentioned from the fly-by briefing in Denver before the race, that when we get to Jacksonville be sure to stay at least 1000 feet above the prison? Well, we did, and had no problems, so now Cubbie can tell her folks about it.
Meanwhile, my partner was thrilled to see the Mississippi River for the first time. We also enjoyed watching a couple of crop dusters below us at 15 feet above the ground. The hot air balloon near Bowling Green was cool, and the blanket of ground fog over green Tennessee hills was picturesque.
So on to Racine tomorrow (I remember Kilbourn Gardens there), and then the finish line in Atlantic. Mike is on his way there and I look forward to our reunion. We have been taking photos but will have to upload when we're back home. Meanwhile, I hear there are some on the ARC site - www.airraceclassic.org.
Airport people ready to bend over backwards to accommodate. We'll have lots of Thank-You notes to write.