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Fight or Flight…no, fight to fly!

June 27, 2010

When faced with a difficult situation we rely on our bodies to react with our fight or flight response.  In some cases, it’s best to defend ourselves against whatever is attacking and in some cases it makes sense to run away.  In an aviation competition, one can only hope that the will is there to fight in order to take flight.  That’s what Heather and I experienced during our race.  Many people have asked if we ever got to the point where we just thought of giving up…and I can honestly say, no, we never did…it just wasn’t an option.

We were very realistic about our situation though….and knew that there might come a time when we were beyond the point where we could complete the race.  We just refused to believe that time had yet come….and we were right.  So far we’ve let you know about the challenges we faced through Wednesday night, so I want to be sure we give you a bit of the “race” commentary as well.

When we returned to our hotel after the “return to service” flight, we now knew we had to make the most of the next two days.  A big factor that we had no control over would be weather.  We took a look at the 24 hour and 48 hour prog charts (prognostication charts….that look 24 and 48 hours into the future as to what weather will look like.)  They looked favorable, and we knew we would have a chance.

It was late.  We were tired.  We had already made detailed plans for the next two legs (the ones we thought we would be flying on Tuesday,) so we decided to get some sleep and figured we would plan the next legs while en route.


Made it! (and on time…..)

June 26, 2010

For those of you who were tracking us on the Spot GPS…. we DID actually make it to KFDK on time!  In fact, we had 40 minutes to spare. (Apparently the GPS stopped working somewhere in West Virginia, leaving some of my family members a little concerned!)  Sorry about that… it was still blinking green when I arrived in Frederick – so I had no idea it wasn’t working. 

At approximately 4:2o pm on Friday, June 25th, Heather and I completed our first Air Race Classic BEFORE the 5pm deadline.  We were indeed the last team to arrive – but remember, it isn’t about who landed first…but who had the best time overall for each leg.  We don’t have a clue how we did vs. others, but we are extremely proud that we were able to complete this race despite the rocky start.

I hope you’ll check back here in the next few days to see some of our photos and read a few of our stories about these past 2 days.  Thank you for your support in our quest to complete this race and for not losing faith in our ability to rise above and “Get ‘er done!”

Tuckered out!

June 25, 2010

Thank you all for following along… we appreciate it.  I hope you’ll forgive me but today has been a long day and we have to power through tomorrow.  We promise to give you plenty of stories and pictures about our adventures – but we still have work to do and need our beauty sleep!

We made it to Carbondale-Murphysboro, IL today!  3 legs to go…we need to make the fly by run in Frederick by 5pm.

The Heroes of Waycross

June 24, 2010

I don’t even know where to begin except to say that we have met some amazing people here in Waycross, GA.  As one of two teams seemingly stranded after the first leg, we look to leave GA knowing we will truly miss the people we’ve met here.  I mean, seriously, where else do you get an ambulance to come and service your sick airplane?  Here in Waycross, if your plane is sick, they call the local EMT!  We now consider Barb and Maureen to be our sister team – Classic #37 – and were thrilled when they were able to venture off by mid afternoon.  We wished them well and watched them fly away. (If you look at the picture below… I only caught the tail of their plane as they did the fly by to continue.)  Go Cherokee Chicks!!!!


Meanwhile, we were being taken care of by our hosts – the people of Waycross.  Bill served as our Stop Chair and was helpful in finding us assistance from Mitch our mechanic and Cleve and Mike who were willing to assist in a variety of ways.  Mike took Heather to Jacksonville on a quest to pick up the new part, Cleve left us his hangar keys only after he set out all the tools he thought would be needed for the carburetor replacement….just in case Mitch needed something.  Steve, who had been so helpful on Tuesday when we discovered the problem, made sure we had coffee, donuts, popcorn and in the heat of the day, a nice slice of cantaloupe!  Cindy, Bill’s wife, sat and talked with us as we were waiting for parts to arrive.

It took until dusk to finally have Bravoski running smooth….but boy did she sound good!  Under the supervision of Bill (as per the rules….) Heather conducted a maintenance flight to return the plane to service and ensure she was ready to go.  Back on the ground we parked the plane on the ramp, hugged Mike and Mitch goodbye as both Heather and I got sentimental as we thanked them for their commitment to helping us.

We now have our own personal cheering section here in Georgia – and we know they’ll be watching our progress.  All we can say is we’ll do our best to make you proud, and we look forward to coming to visit ya’ll again!

Talk about blowing a gasket!

June 23, 2010

Our mechanic, Mitch, was true to his word and returned to the airplane late last night (after his shift as an EMT!) to get the plane ready so all he would have to do was replace the gaskets when they arrived.  However, as he further inspected the parts he soon realized it was a bigger issue than originally thought.  The carburetor was showing signs of fuel in places it shouldn’t. [NOTE:  I am NOT a mechanic so please forgive that my details may be fuzzy and my wording may not make complete sense.]

This morning we grappled with what to do next.  Aircraft Spruce has the part in stock – but would require a 4 hour drive in each direction.  There was a chance one would be available in Jacksonville, but we wouldn’t know until later in the morning…and of course, that would be the opposite direction.  We thought of our friend from Meriden, Rick B., who would drop everything and take you for a flight if you needed to get somewhere urgently.  I figured KAYS would have a few of those types as well.  Sure enough, they did!

Right now, Heather is flying with Mike to Jacksonville to pick up the part.  I’ll keep you posted….

See SPOT run

June 23, 2010

For those of you who were following along on Tuesday watching our live SPOT map….you may have noticed an awful lot of back and forth in a very small area around Waycross, GA.  No….Heather did not lose her mind and taxi Bravoski all over the ramp! 

That was me!  I mean just me…no plane.  I have been wearing the spot GPS on my arm (similar to how you wear your iPod when you workout) and while at Waycross we had mechanical issues with the plane.  I was running back and forth between the plane and the FBO to be sure we had filed all the proper paperwork and notified all the race officials.  We didn’t want to get disqualified and there are very strict procedures to follow.

As of right now, we’re still in Waycross and will hopefully get airborne again by early afternoon on Wednesday.

Down…but not out.

June 23, 2010

We thought we were off.  We weren’t.

We had trouble getting the plane to start.  We tried a hot start (which means we didn’t prime the engine at all.) Nope.  We tried a few shots of prime. Nope again.  We tried several combinations of full rich / lean / pumping the throttle / opening the throttle /closing it down.  Nope, nope, nope.  We waited for her to cool down…. (though it was high noon and close to 100 degrees…so I’m not sure we were going to see that happen.)  Still nothing.

We notified the Stop Chairperson that we needed a mechanic to help, and he was able to get the plane started.  However… he listened to her at full throttle and then back at idle and he did not like what he was seeing and hearing at idle.  The plane was developing very little rpm – much lower than usual – when the throttle was pulled back.  We shut her down, and he took another look.  Turns out there is a leaky gasket that needs to be replaced..the part is inexpensive….but it needs to be shipped overnight.  We were fortunate that Mitch, our mechanic, was there as a volunteer as this airfield has no maintainence shop and he’s the closest mechanic they have on call.

So, here we sit in Waycross, along with another team whose vacuum pump failed during the flight.  They too are expecting a part overnight, and yes, Mitch will need to fix their plane too.  Thing is…Mitch can’t get back to the airport until sometime around Noon tomorrow.  So….we’ll see what happens next.

As any good pilot knows….you can’t control these things and you just have to deal with it.  We dealt with it by going out to dinner with our new friends Barb and Maureen (Classic #37!) and Velhma – a wonderful woman who came out to the airport because she read about this air race in the local paper and she was so thrilled that we would all be stopping in Waycross!  We were delighted to meet her, and we think we’ve convinced her to take an intro flight soon.

One thing we all agree on….the southern hospitality is alive and well here at the Waycross airport!  Everyone has been willing to pitch in and help us out as needed.  We’re so thankful to all of them.