Monday, November 21, 2011

A Great Little Machine - Another Day at the Races

I just came back from Taylor, TX where I ran the Rocket 100, the last race of the 2011 Sport Air Racing League season.

The plane ran great and this race was a blast. Click here for the official race results.

It was very windy, 17 kts, gusting to 25+, but fortunately, it was right down the runway and I didn't have any trouble there.

There is so much to describe what an air race is like, so many parts - it's impossible for to describe. But, I would encourage any pilots to give it a shot. Anyone with a plane - any plane, can and do run a race. It's challenging, it makes you a better pilot, and it's a terrific bunch of people who speak the same language.

One big highlight was getting a ride in a Twin Beech, with Mark Frederick. (That's Canadian Rocket pilot Wayne Hadley in the right seat).

Mark is THE Rocket F1 guru and owns the Macho Grande homestead, F1 factory and airstrip, about 2.5 miles from the Taylor airport. He was relocating the Beech from Taylor to Macho Grande and I was fortunate enough to bum the ride.

Macho Grande served as both the race starting and finish lines. Here is the SX300 setting the pace for the starting line.

For me, the first big challenge was just finding Macho Grande. As a result, I was a little higher at the start, so I didn't get one of those great head-on photos that Glen took.

In between the start and finish lines was 140 miles of hard bumps, headwinds and a too short leg of excellent tail winds. The really fun part for me was passing two other aircraft, an RV-7 and an O-290 powered VariEze.

When I downloaded my GPS today, it said the highest ground speed for the race was 251 mph! Wow, I sure like those numbers!

That evening, Mark and Cheryl hosted a survivors party at Macho Grande where all sorts beverages were consumed and lies told. A special thanks goes to Mike "Iceman" Thompson the guy crazy enough to organize this whole air race thing.

The ride home was interesting (that's a code word, of course). Had great tail winds and the ride at 7,500 was smooth. The EC3 engine controller is settling down and the resulting performance is great. As you can see in the photo, at 7,600 ft. I had a true airspeed of 170 mph, with a fuel burn of only 4.5 gph. I think with a little more tuning, I should be able to get the fuel burn down a little more. Click to see it better.

I had to land at Walnut Ridge, AR for a while to sort out the weather ahead. An odd thing I haven't seen before, there were a bunch of prisoners running around the FBO. Yes, I mean wearing striped pajamas type prisoners - both male & female. Apparently, there is a correctional facility nearby and the airport uses them to help maintain the airport. Good use of resources, actually.

Be sure and click on the next photo. This needs a caption of some sort.

So, I believe I did five races this year. Maybe next year I'll see some of you out there. I sure hope so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

for the unlabeled photo: "If I hold real still, they'll think I'm the hood ornament!"