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Saluki Love!

July 5, 2010

Saluki love is a little shout-out to our friends and competitors from Southern Illinois University.  Three teams competed from SIU and I made it clear to them I was all about supporting the Saluki’s EXCEPT when they play my Uconn Huskies! (There’s just something about those dog mascots that you gotta’ love!)  So now it’s mid afternoon on Thursday and Heather and I are headed to Murphysboro-Carbondale as our fourth and final leg of the day.

By now we were operating as a well-oiled machine.  We had our routine for planning, flying, eating, timing, altitude, climb, descent, etc….  Heather did the climb out while I completed notes on our last timing run and made preparations for the one we would face at SIU.  We decided to climb to 7500′ as this would give us the least amount of headwind, and possibly even help us with a tailwind.  We thought we were making good time…but it may just have been that we didn’t have to alter our route this time.

We had been in the plane a long time and we were getting giddy.  Okay, I guess that’s not fair… I was getting giddy.  Heather and I had been making a great effort to fly a STRAIGHT line.  Her GPS was out at a 5+ mile view so we could see surrounding weather, but my GPS was zoomed in to a 1.2 mile view.  At one point during the cruise portion of this flight (I was flying, Heather was planning for the fly by,) Heather pulled the sectional chart ….looked at it a while and finally said “Okay, I have no idea where we are.”  We both immediately looked down at my GPS at which point we saw a big yellow screen with a pink line running through it.  Maybe you had to be there – but we cracked up!  Laughing almost uncontrollably because there was not a single identifying mark on the screen…just yellow and pink!  I told her “I have no idea where we are either!” as we continued to laugh.  At least we were on the line!  Finally we zoomed out and we were able to pinpoint our location on the sectional.  We were tired…and it was starting to show.

We made the field with time to spare as we did our fly by at SIU.  When we taxied to the ramp we were surprised to see two other race planes tied down.  Team #15 and Team #7 were also in Illinois.  We were greeted by the Stop Chair, Mike, and the first thing we asked is if either of those teams were having trouble.  (Having just faced 2 days of mechanical issues ourselves, we feared for anyone else who might be having problems.)  We were pleased to hear that both teams were fine, and had made the decision to stop here for the day. (We wouldn’t see them until Friday morning when we were all getting ready to leave.)

We took some time unloading the plane – but only after, once again, laughing a bit too much about what the back seat of the plane looked like!  I guess when you’re flying that much (and not spending a lot of time on the ground,) you just can’t keep it neat.  We took care of refueling and Mike helped us lug our stuff to the terminal building. 

Volunteers were there waiting for us with a nice assortment of snacks and drinks.  We really felt welcomed, and a little bad that they were all hanging out waiting on us!  Kathy L. was our designated driver and she was fantastic to take us to the hotel (and allowed me to make a quick stop at Walgreens,) and waited to be sure they had a room for us.

Heather and I walked next door to a restaurant and we were stupid-tired by this point.  It must have been 9:30 or 10:00 by now and we ordered dinner (the first real food we had seen all day….)  We must have looked like a sight…but we enjoyed our meal – were given a 25% discount because we were part of the race – and headed back to the hotel.   A little organizing for the next day, a few quick e-mails to those who were following us, a shower, and bed!  Morning would come too quickly!

Kathy was back to pick us up at 5:15a.m.  Bless her!!!!  She had such a great attitude and hugged us goodbye but told us she was waiting to watch us take off!  Several volunteers were there, again, this time with donuts and other snack food to help us on our way.  We saw Team #7 preflighting their airplane and got hugs from Team #15 – Arlene and Julia.  They had been worried about us and were glad to see we had caught up for the final day of racing.  The field was beautiful as the sun began to rise and a thin layer of mist gave us the feeling that this was our Brigadoon.  Three more legs to complete by 5pm.  In less than 12 hours I would be home.

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