We have Wings to Fly and we're ready to lift off!

2010 ARC Team Wild Mama



Page Field
Fort Myers, FL
Waycross-Ware County  
Waycross, GA
Tuscaloosa Regional
Tuscaloosa, AL
Memorial Field
Hot Springs, AR
Cameron Memorial
Cameron, MO
Southern Illinois
Carbondale-Murphysboro, IL
Elkhart Municipal
Elkhart, IN
Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Parkersburg, WV
Frederick Municipal
Frederick, MD  
Total Race Distance


Our very own Paradise Coast Chapter 99s is co-hosting the start of the Air Race Classic in Fort Myers at Page Field. Please support us in our efforts to raise money for the Wings Over Paradise Scholarship Fund to provide assistance to the next generation of aviators. Visit the Paradise Coast 99's website.

...and at the other end, we are pleased to be hosted by the Sugarloaf Chapter 99s. They have some fantastic activities planned for the racers and their guests. Check out their web site for more information.


Sugarloaf Chapter 99s

Ateam5.jpgAteam1.jpgThe team meets: On a bright and sunny April afternoon in Florida, Team Wild Mama meets to get acquainted and chat. We have been diligently working on our flight strategy and flight planning and feel ready and confident even at this early stage of the game. We have our ace mechanic, Vern, on board, as well as our team "pack mule" (and Laura's husband) Matt. Wild Mama will be getting a few more touch-ups yet before the race, but it is still too early to start working on her yet. She has more adventures to go before race day.

Flogging of the crew IS permitted!

WMViolation.jpgMay 23rd: Wild Mama has been violated .... but in a good way. Vern is hard at work installing her new air data computer. The panel is sooooo stuffed full of toys, however, that he had to install the computer in the aft section of the aircraft. Not a bad thing as she tends toward nose heavy anyway. He also got the new altimeter installed in the panel and a new fuel flow to give us more accuracy in the fuel calculations.

Terry and Ellen have been busy with the start activities and planning as the Paradise Coast 99s are the co-host of the start events. Fortunately, most of the pre-race team planning had been done and Laura is hard at work calculating weight and balance and studing the weather with the Weather Guy, Jim. With less than 30 days until race time the whole team is hard at work. Tuesday or Wednesday should find Wild Mama  back together and ready for some test flights.

Meet the 2010 team: Terry - Ellen - Laura

HAL1.jpgMay 27th:  A successful test flight with the new wind computer. What a treat. You get wind speed and direction as a pop up on the 530/430 - SWEET!!! We also have a new fuel flow transducer that is giving us more accurate fuel flowage readings. With most of the toys now installed, Wild Mama is ready for an outing this weekend for a good long run.
Wild Mama made the dash for Maryland with a wheels up just before 0400. The weather seemed clear but flying out in a very dark night is not my idea of VFR so we filed for the whole route. Most of the trip up to the first stop in NC was clear .... that is, once we could see; but after fueling, we had to dodge a mammouth storm just north of the runway, then we continued on over the clouds, coming into Westminster in some really soggy IFR conditions. Wild Mama performed flawlessly.
We hopscotched out way back home with a stop in Lake Norman to celebrate brother Chris' 50th birthday (you really did not think that would go unannounced, did you???) All the toys are working and in sync with the remainder of the old toys and Vern has declared this mission a success.

June3web3.jpgJune3web1.jpgJune 3rd: With the threat of thunderstorms looming all day, the fearless threesome departed on a jaunt throughout southwest Florida for their first and only shakedown flight before the race. With the hectic schedules of three busy ladies and an airplane in the shop, getting together had been imnpossible up to this point. There were only a prescious few days that the plane would be available - together with the 3 pilots, of course - to fly together and get all systems and CRM working in harmony. The CRM was flawless but other aspects of the trip were less than perfect.

Ellen and Terry departed Fort Myers enroute to Pilot Country to fetch Laura at 0730 in the morning. The sky was clear and the visitibility relatively good but ther were huge buildups off shore even at this early hour. But the air was smooth, the conversation lively, and the learning of the Wild Mama technology and toys was fast and furious. Laura greeted us and ushered us into her driveway at Pilot Country, a very nice airpark community on a private-for-public-use airstrip. We had some tea and got on our way for the first test flight. Laura is our time keeper and information gatherer. She got her stuff all situated in the back of the plane and started the information feed to Terry and Ellen after we made our simulated timing run across Pilot Country runway and enroute to 3FL6 (a private strip) for the "finish line" near LaBelle. After crossing the line we headed to X14 for a debriefing and cooling period - not for our tempers, but from the heat of the south Florida day!! 

June3web2.jpgThe bright sunny Florida skies that greeted us this morning did not last too long. The air seemed thick with humidity all morning long and you could tell that the thunderstorms would be exploding at some point during the day. That point finally arrived early. By 1100 the rains had already started and the storm scope was ablaze with lightening strikes. We had to pick out way back up to Pilot Country but we made it without incident. On final approach to runway 18, Ellen and I made our final call outs: "I have 2 wheels and a green light." "I have a wheel and a green light; prop in, mixture rich, flaps down; ready to land."  As we start our flare the gear horn goes off and the green light goes out. This is strange but the gear could not have become unlocked!! With the horn blaring away, we made a smooth touch-down and taxied off to Laura's driveway. Even after we shut down, the horn still wailed until we pushed in the button: the light lit and the noise stopped. Very strange. We called Vern to get his opinion. Other than being annoying, he deemed the airplane safe to fly back to Fort Myers so Ellen and I gathered ourselves for the trip back. By now the storms were growing and quite numerous so we had lots of picking to do to get home. Forget about "direct to"!!!

As we taxied out to the runway, Ellen held her finger on the button to keep the noise at bay while we did our run-up and prepared for departure. We decided on a downwind departure so I set 10 degrees flaps, powered up and released the brakes. Ellen released the finger so I had full access to the controls. About 1/2 way down the runway, the light came back on and the gear horn stopped. This is really strange now; but the gear retracted thereafter and life was good ... at least in the gear department. The storms were another issue to contend with. We initially headed east to avoid the lightening, Tampa airspace and rather large towers as we crept along at 125 kts. Finally, we were able to turn back toward the west and head for the coast line to avoid the largest and most fearsome looking mass that had moved on shore and to the east of Sarasota.  We put Wild Mama up to racing speed and shot past that growing monster and turned back in to Punta Gorda where the south end was starting to dissipate. The tower frequency at Fort Myers was dead silent - no one else out there to face the heat of the summer day and those popping clouds.  The landing at Fort Myers was uneventful. The gear worked flawlessly again but there is obviously some issue that needs checking.

Saturday, the 99s are hosting 31 girl scouts as part of the ARC pre-race events, and to get some assistance with bag stuffing for 113 racers! Sunday we are scheduled for our handicap flight with Marvin, the chief timer, at 0800 in Punta Gorda. Stay tuned. More to come!

GS1.jpgGS3.jpgJune 5th: Terry & Ellen joined Paradise Coast Chapter’s first Girl Scout Day. Thirty-six (36) girls met at the EAA building at Page Field, (KFMY) Fort Myers, FL for instruction in aviation, tours of 5 different airplanes, and stuffing of goody bags for the Air Race Classic. This was the first for the Chapter, and first for the girls. Many Mom’s attended, too. And some said they may be interested in becoming pilots, when they heard what age some of the chapter members were when they started training.

Nancy Moore, who recently obtained her CFI rating (CONGRAULATIONS, Nancy!) instructed the girls about different ground school topics. Cheryl Lynn Dratler, talked to the girls about the up coming Air Race Classic, which the Chapter is co-hosting the race start.

After touring Wild Mama, Beech Baron, Beech Bonanza, Cessna 172, and light sport plane, the scouts worked on the "bag stuffing" job toward their community service badges. These bagsGS4.jpg will be given to each ARC contestant. Then it was time for cookies and the girls were each given a goody bag for themselves which the chapter had stuff for them.

GS2.jpgTerry, Ellen and the rest of Paradise Chapter is very busy this month, as they are the start point for the 34th annual Air Race Classic. Many activities are planned including a dinner 19 June, The public is invited to meet and greet racers at the Paragon Hangar, 6pm for BBQ. Tickets are sold in advance for $25.00. They are being sold at the Airport FBO, 501 Danley Drive or email the Chapter at:

jun5web11.jpgJune 6th:  Before 0-dark-30 this morning Vern and I got up and out of the house to head to Page Field. We had to clean Wild Mama, gas her up and grab Ellen to meet our check pilot, Marvin, for our racing handicap run at 0800. The morning was perfect - hot, clear and very calm winds. Vern did the gassing honors and helped Jun5web1.jpgwith the debugging as we seemed to accumulate quite a few from our flight the other day. Se had to be race ready for this flight.

We arrived at PGD without a hitch after a brief 11 minute flight. Vern topped off the fuel and cleaned out the misellaneous stuff from Wild Mama and we were ready to go. Marvin arrived and gave us the pre-flight briefing, did the pre-flight check and noted all sorts of things about the airplane, then off we went. We headed out to the west over the Gulf where the air was very smooth and climbed to a 6,000' density altitude - today about 4,700' msl. Once all was stable, we headed north until he had the data, then turned west, south and east each for a length of time sufficient to let Marvin gatherjun5web111.jpg what he needed. The day was perfect and Wild Mama never fluttered off her altitude.

We landed back at the FBO, grabbed Vern and headed back on our way so Vern can take Wild Mama to fix the gear light issue that bothered us on the flight the other day; then back in the hangar until she is ready to come back to Fort Myers for the race. Only 2 more weeks to go!!

Team Wild Mama After our Shake-down Flight
BUSTED - Stubby puts her paw down - Mommy cannot go!


1pr1.jpgJune 18th: This has been a whirl wind of a few days for the start. Not only are Ellen and Terry racing but they are also part of the Paradise 1pr8.jpgCoast 99s, and they have been extremely busy with the hosting and hospitality duties.  The racers started arriving on Thursday in small numbers. This was good to give us all a good opportunity to perfect our meet and greet skills and find out what was missing from the master plan. By Friday, everything broke loose and the racers poured in. Many called in being stopped along the way by weather – imagine: you could not fly in to south Florida on a hot afternoon! For those of us who live here the concept is simple but I suppose when you are not accustomed to the weather patterns, it might not seem as logical to think that you only have half of a day to fly then basically, all VFR activity – and some IFR activity – is stopped. The heat was another source of stoppages: it has been brutal for most folks who are unaccustomed to the Florida heat. We, who live here, have been finding it most delightful! 
Vern was busy with the airplane inspections with an outstanding crew of about 10 inspectors in all. They ushered in plane after plane checking for safety equipment, general safety of the aircraft and conformity with the paperwork. The number police were hard at work again this year.  1pr6.jpgWhat about Wild Mama? She breezed through inspection on Thursday and has been snug and safe in here little spot since then. It was nice not having to make the long journey to the start but that is a 1pr2.jpgpart of the adventure missed too. We will wait until next year for our “to the start” adventure. 
Friday evening found the Paradise Coast ladies and the racers dong was ladies do best (next to flying, of course): SHOPPING!! Chico’s hosted a shopping reception for the racers and the turnout was fabulous both for 99s and racers. All came with credit cards in hand to take advantage of the generous offer by Chico’s for a donation back of 10% of the nightly purchased from our group. Of course, Terry and Ellen had to make the contribution to the local economy. The shopping day ended early for us, however, as we were beat from the long days of planning and execution. We still have to be racers and racers need rest. 
June 19th: Forgive the noticeable lack of communications. The weekend has been hectic. If we thought it was busy Friday, for Saturday we just held on to our shorts. The remainder of the race teams – 20 of them – all came in on Saturday. We are now 51 teams strong as 3 did not show by the race deadline and have been scratched. There was much hustle and bustle at the airport with airplane inspections, youth visits and handicap flights; and at the hospitality suite with racer registration and the grand information exchange and meeting and greeting long time friends for what Marolyn Wilson calls “airplane camp”.  
1pr9.jpgSaturday evening was the Welcome BQ for the racers and the opportunity for the public to meet and greet the racers . . . and for the racers to meet and greet each other. There are 72 first time racers in this bunch and few know each other. As the 6 p.m. BBQ was approaching 1pr5.jpgominous clouds were building to the southeast. It was apparent that a new race was brewing. Who would win out: the dry BBQ or the storms? Just before 6 p.m. the winds were howling to the south and rain was beating hard against the car as Terry drove over to the Paragon Hangar. Approaching the hangar, the rain subsided to just a sprinkle then stopped shortly after 6. It was just enough to make a cool and very pleasant evening for the racers and guests. Double Barrel Foods catered a fabulous meal – chicken, pork and ribs with all of the fixin’s; the 99s make 2 cakes to commemorate the event and the Mayor of Fort Myers, Randy Henderson, gave a speech to the crowd, thanking all for their coming to the city. 
June 20th: Today was the start of our briefings and the magic racer fairy came in the middle of the night and transformed Terry and Ellen into racers. Laura had arrived Saturday – already a racer – and it was now time for her teammates to join her. The all racer briefing was amazingly brief and fairly well on schedule although these things never end on time. But it ended with 1pr10.jpgsufficient time that the team could get together and have the first team meeting for race planning and strategy. It felt good to be a racer finally and to pass on the start organization torch to Anne Miller and Carolyn Skaggs among others. We met to review the route the rules, the weather and to talk about the “what ifs”. It was a good meeting to be continued.
It was time to get ready for the grand start banquet. Carolyn Skaggs had hand made all of the decorating and she and her crew had been busy at work decorating the room. We opened the doors to a fantasy of “Sweet Dreams” – the banquet theme. There were airplanes with first place ribbons for all guest inter mixed with trinkets and reminders of our tropical surroundings. It was beautiful. Commissioner Tammy Hall read a proclamation declaring June 22nd as Air Race Classic day and Nunya sang her song “See Her Fly”. Once again, it brought tears to the racer – experienced racers and the first timers about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. 1pr4.jpg
June 21st: This is our last full day here in Fort Myers and the day filled with the majority of briefings. We got a briefing on the weather and all of the fly-bys plus our safety briefing. For the racers, however, the most important thing came on the “Wall of Discontent” where the handicaps were posted. Team Wild Mama was pleased with a handicap of 151.72 – right where we expected to be, given the new handicapping rules. We are ready to go now and can complete our planning. We had a Subway lunch where we could chat without any ears around to continue our racing strategy giving the new information received at the briefings. Jim, the weather guy, is already pumping in the weather information for us to factor into the fight planning. I believe that that initial strategy will be to depart Fort Myers and head directly to Waycross then punt. (You really did not expect to get any useful information here, did you?) This evening we continue to work on weather, go over last minute details then do the most important part of the days work: we rest. We have the adventure of our lifetime ahead of us 1pr3.jpgtomorrow and we certainly would not want to be too tired to miss it.

Pilots of all ages come to the Air Race Classic
Ruby Sheldon, age 92 and Kayle Harder, age 17

More Start Photos

June 22nd: Team Wild Mama made it to Cameron today on 4 good legs. We were very pleased with the aircraft performance and our choices for the day although we never know if takeoff.jpgthey were the best until the end. We are having internet issues as the connections in some of the small towns are present but rather slow for photo uploadng so pictures will come day1web2.jpglater.
Later has come. As it customary for the ARC, it is a game of hurry up and wait. While we are waiting, there is time to finish the blog. Departure was just before 0830 this morning. There were minor delays getting so many airplanes ready to roll - press interviews and just plain 'ole logistics - but the take off went smoothly. Our very own tower lady Becki gave us a great send off. The first leg went off very well. We agreed on our altitude, settled in and flew a good leg. We made the first flyby at Waycross when most of the othere planes were stopping. If we have the fuel, we like to avoid the frst stop as it is always the most crowded. Rhonda and I learned 1day1.jpgthis in 2007 when we sat on the ramp for 45 minutes waiting to take off because of the flyby and landing traffic. It was a mess.
We were out onthe secomd leg alone. The radio fell silent after a tme as we pressed father and father away from Waycross enroute to Tuscaloosa. We heard a crackle soon enough that Classic Racer 7 was back in the air after refueling; and Classic Racers 44 and 43 continued on. We kept our cloking device in tact and mantained radio silence enroute. We began listening to Tuscaloosa Tower and realized that we were out there in front of the pack and that we would be the first to arrive in TCL. What fun! We radioed the tower and were cleared for the low appraoch. We zoomed the timing line about 175 kts over the ground and pulled up to get in the traffic pattern to land. Just then we heard Classic Racer 44 make the 10 mile flyby call. They zoomed past on flyby just as we touched down. The press came out to greet the first team. We watered and fed ourselves and checked Wild Mama  - she always needs attention after a 2 leg run. We realize that I forgot to set the fuel totalizer to full at the start and our fuel calculations are now going to be off. I stick the tanks and get a 1day2.jpg(hopefully) accurate reading. We swag it, add fuel and prepare to leave. So much for my new fancy toy. I forgot to factor in operator error!
The Barron, Classic Racer 44 was out ahead of us. They requested a 10 mile lead to make the flyby again. We do not need nearly that much but the tower sent us out 10 miles anyway. Classic Racer 44 was lost to the tower and to us as well. Seems they were directed out 10 miles from runway heading but they did not take off on  the flyby runway - they were headed in the wrong direction but (fortunately for them) not on the clock. At 6 miles we heard them on the inbound and asked to turn in - they turned us in right beside the Barron! They zoomed past us with a 40 kt handicap advantage in speed over us and they had already started their dive bomb process so they were really screaming across the ground. We pulled next to them for a split second as they pulled away and we got in line behind them to commence our run. That was the last we saw of the Barron. We crossed the line at 185 kts but the Barron was long gone. We wll see them again in Hot Springs.
The leg to Hot Springs for us was another good one but the forecast winds were not as we had hoped. I guess they never are, really. We left the TCL tower on to listen for a while as a cluster of racers were coming in behind us and trying to leave at the same time. This is going to be another cluster of airplanes. It sounded like everyone converged on the tower at the same time and he lost people. We heard Classic Racer 14 call for her 10 mile inbound run and the tower gave her a right 360 - on the clock. Oh, NO!!!!!! That is bad luck.
We arrived in Hot Springs behind the Barron and a Cirrus, Classic Racer 43, that passed us - both being much faster airplanes. Hot Springs lived up to its name - HOT! We stayed 1day3.jpgon the ground for quite some time getting some food/fuel for us and waiting for the heat to die down as bit. We were torn between leaving today or tomorrow morning. Which winds would be better? We finally make the break for Cameron around 1730 local time and arrived in Cameron by 2000 hours. We were done but had a great day. The last leg we were tired but we were rewarded with beautiful scenery and nice tailwinds. The farm fields were flooded but the sights were varied and interesting. We crossed some small foothills and enjoyed the lush green forests.
The folks at Cameron were warm, friendly and accomodating. They put us up for the evening and we slept like rocks until it was time to go in the morning.


2day1.jpgJune 23rd: At 0'dark hundred this morning we were ready to go. The winds looked favorable and we were confident that the storms coming across Michigan would stay north of our path as forecast. We launched and had a good run, making our 3rd crossing of the Mississippi River - 2day2.jpganother photo opportunity. We flew through some of the worst haze this leg, making it difficult to pick out the runway from a distance. There was a large clearing - thank goodness this is a big airport. We had a 60 degree turn to make this time so it was critical to make the one mile point with wings level. At a high rate of speed, you need to anticipate the turn a little better so as not to skid through the turn. This is getting much easier now that I have grown more accustomed to the speed of the racing turns. We make the turn and call our 1 mile flyby to land. This was a rough one - the wind was burbling us all over the place as we pass at nearly 190 kts and pulled up for the right down wind. Another racer was hot on our tails - the Cirrus again. We extended our downwind so we could give them space to make the flyby. The tower called our downwind then we lost the Cirrus. Where did it go? Our heads were spinning trying to find the airplane. There was so much traffic that the TCAD was not helping - everything was an alert. The tower called out: "Classic Racer 43 you are on the wrong side." Apparently they made the flyby over the wrong runway. We made an immediate right to cross the airport and enter a left downwind for runway 18L as we watched the Cirrus knife edge a turn to final. Wow! They landed in behind us, opting not to continue as they had originally planned. Bummer.

2day3.jpgSo here we sit. The storm that was forecast to remain north of Elkhart drifted southward through heavy convective activity and hail into our paths. No joy for Wild Mama. Happily, however, we have set down at the home of our baby birds, the SIU teams and we are being treated to WONDERFUL SIU hospitality. A good place to stay. SPOT remains pinging so keep an eye out for movement.


After several hours the storm that ran through northern Indiana finally broke and there was a mad dash to become airborne. Team Wild Mama was about the fourth off the line on the 2day4.jpgsprint to Elkhart. The winds were forecast to be very favorable and we did not want to miss the opportunity for a good leg. The start was a bit slow and we wondered where the good 2day6.jpgstuff was - had we made a mistake? There was nothing we could do now but fly on. Slowly we watched our speed climb and little by little, the forecast held true. We were pleased.

The haze of the day was quite thick. We passed another team  along the way but could barely see the airplane, let alone read a race number. What we did see was another stretch of picturesque scenery - flooding (most unfortunate for locals but a spectacular sight by air) and windmills.  

We heard Classic Racers 43 and 26 run the timing line ahead of us. There was a stiff crosswind and Classic Racer 43 had to do a go around on runway 27 and circle back to land on 18 - into the path of the oncoming flybys. The tower called for Classic Racer 26 to do a right 360. If they do that to us, we are doomed on this leg. Ellen calls 17 miles out to let them know we are coming so the tower can be prepared and hopefully avoid the same fate for us. Classic Racer 43 lands and 26 is instructed to land or get out of the way so we can make our run. They drop to the ground quickly and let us on by. We make our dive bombing approach to the 2day5.jpgrunway at 203 kts grounds speed. "Hang on: this one will be a rough ride! We had a screaming tailwind plus the dive bombing descent over runway 36 at Elkhart. This was one of the best timing lines we ever ran. We headed out north 2 miles as instructed by the tower and turned to come back in on 18. The wind was a hard crosswind and gusty. We heard Classic Racer 17 make the call for 10 miles out so we expedited our landing in time to see 17 go screaming by. This is a fun one to watch too.

Safely on the ground, we called to check in with Jim and he said to get the plane in the hangar NOW., The line of storms that was next to come passing through Illinois was spawning heavy thunderstorms and hail. Yikes! We requested and got a hangar, packed our stuff and headed back to the hotel for some rest.

We will be watching the line of storms as they make their way toward Frederick. It well be a race to see who gets there first now.

June 24th: The transport to the airport this morning was early but the wake up call was even earlier. The good news at the 0300 wake up was that all airplanes were safe in Elkhart. Hats off to the linemen there who did an outstanding job securing all racing planes with a tornado warning in the area. The weather would be critical today - the winds were forecast to be really outstanding this morning but diminishing toward the afternoon when the thunderstorms would build. Winds tomorrow were not to be as good - but you know how forecasts 3day1.jpggo.

We made an early arrival at the airport only to find the ceiling too low to depart. The end part of the leg to Parkersburg cleared off nicely but the beginning part out of Elkhart was not looking rosy for the 0630 departure. So we sat with an entire room full of the 34 teams who over-nighted in Elkhart. We waited and checked, and waited and checked and .... well, you get the idea. Finally there was a good trend of rising ceiling up to 1800'. We decided to launch at 2000' so Laura went to the plane to get ready. She looked to the north to see another cloud bank and very low ceiling and rain looming. She ran in to grab Ellen and I and we decided to launch immediately. We were the first ones: either the brave soles or the 3day2.jpgdumb idiots. Only time will tell. We lifted off to make the timing run and called the tower who confirmed ceiling 1500'. Good VFR - time to go. Four other teams followed in the first wave. We made a quick turnout and we were on the way. There was no way to get the best winds aloft as the ceiling held us in place but we were quite pleased with the ground speed anyway.

We got out our picture of the Parkersburg airport and noted the river and ridges to cross before turning down the flyby runway. A blind approach in the haze. The ceiling had lifted but left that thick haze that we had been dealing with throughout most of the other northern parts of the trip. We could not descend vecause of the terrain which meant we would have to make  a rapid descent at the end on the blind turn. Ellen spotted the runway and we made the turn in for a flyby to continue. With the late departure we were concerned that the storms would beat us to Frederick so we had to keep going. We had report of scattered to broken clouds over the mountains but clear in Martinsburg so we climbed while we had the chance. We took the risk that the land below would open up as reported on the AWOS stations. It was a good leg but as we crept nearer and nearer to Martinsburg, we wondered when the clear was going to appear. Finally Laura saw some breaks in the clouds below and the thick bank the remained below us soon opened up into hazy blue skies but we were so close we had to drop like a rock into Frederick. We nosed Wild Mama over and hit 215 kts on the down hill. The air was not too bumpy and the ride was a lot more smooth than we expected. We were still out ahead of the pack with the Cirrus being the only plane out there able to catch us.

We made a 20 mile call into Frederick, then 10 mile call then the 5 mile call and spotted the runway. No one in sight. We burned across the timing line at over 190 kts as we shouted cheers of job for successfully finishing the race. We were pleased; then someone came over the radio requesting our tail number - did we make a mistake?? Soon a photographer had us circling the airport to snap some in fight shots of the first plane to cross a timing line in the state of Maryland over Frederick. How cool is that? Well, as cool as it was, it was time to put down, use the facilities and rest.

We were greeted by a pile of reporters, had pictures taken and finally got to the business of cleaning out the plane and tying her down for the night. We were done and all went off for3day4.jpg the afternoon to be with our real families. We reunited this evening at the hotel with some 50-60 other racers who made it in today. Most of our friends whom we had not seen in a few days were all here safe and sound with more coming in tomorrow. It was a joyous reunion. It was also my birthday - what a great day! 

June 25th: The remainder of the race teams were due in by 1700 local time today and at 1615, the last of those who were going to make it - Classic Racer 29 - came screaming over the finish line. We were missing Classic Racers 22 and 34, both of whom were plagued by mechanical problems from the word go. We hear they are safe and hope to see them 4day1.jpgin a day or so for the banquet.

As for Team Wild Mama, we all took the day to ourselves and do a variety of things before the meltdown this evening. My day was spent heading to BWI to pick up Vern and stopping at a favorite restaurant, G & M Restaurant, for the best crab cake money can buy.

The melt down was a real celebration to see all of the racers again. It is funny how you can see folks in Fort Myers then not see them again until the melt down. Classic Racer 45, 4day2.jpgBobbi, came up to me and asked "Did you even race? I have not seen you since you launched!!!" How true. Everyone seemed happy. We saw Classic Racer 29 and we deemed 4day3.jpgourselves "the bookends" as the first and last to arrive. The reunion was great. The Sugar-loaf Chapter had a BBQ and a band - a great first gathering. They even had helicopter instruction available. The evening was much cooler than the 99 degrees that it had been all day and many of the ladies got a 30 minute lesson .... including Terry.

Order the DVD Breaking Through the Clouds a documentary about the 1929 Powder Puff Derby

June 28th:  I guess there is not much left to say this year .... but we will fill in the details.

We got "the call" Friday night late, about 2230. Needless to say, that was the end of sleep for the evening. We also got notification that the plane was going to be re-flown. We assumed they were flying all of the top 12 teams. When we got to the airport Saturday morning, there were only a few there for flying, but more for inspections. The fight line was our team, plus Classic Racers 18, 40 and 48. We made our flight, returned to the airport and waited for inspection. Once we got the word that we passed inspection, we headed out, but it was late.

T5day2.jpghe Saturady highlight that I had been looking forward to was the screening of the documentary Breaking Through the Clouds by Heather Taylor. Heather has worked on the film for over 13 years and we were thrilled that she chose this event to have a screening as the movie is the history of the first Powder Puff Derby and the women who flew it. Terry was interviewed for the documentary and appeared in the film. Not for that reason, the film was absolutely brilliant - Heather did a great job and all of the racers and those who have beentop10web.jpg associated with the race were quite touched by the sentiments expressed int he film. Congratulations to Heather. The screening was followed by a VIP reception in historic downtown Frederick. .... but we still had no word on what happened with our flight. What was taking so long?

Sunday morning found us at the last round of briefings, or more appropriately, de-briefings and an ARC board meeting. I awakened early hoping to see news of the handicap in the email but there was nothing. I spoke with Classic Racer 48 and their handicap was increased by 6 kts based on their fight; Classic Racer 40 was required to fly another flight Sunday morning as they had gotten drastically different numbers on the pre and post race flights so there was another to verify which of the data was correct. They had no news either. Classic Racer 18 encountered a problem during their flight and they were effectively knocked out of the race. Now we are really worried. We have heard nothing.

Ellen and Terry and the guys headed off for lunch after the de-briefings and after packing all of the silent auction stuff for transport to Dutch's Daughter, where the awards banquet would be held. Just before 1430, we got the call that our handicap was raised from 151.72 to 152.55. That was our final number. We were relieved because it was far less a bump that we heard from the others but we dd not know what possible reason could cause our plane to be pulled to a re-flight. We re-calculated our score and it decreased from 16.380 to 16.000. We could only hope this was enough. We flew a good race; we received no penalties and we were hopeful to be in the top 10. Another 11th place finish would be a hard one to wait out another year.

5day3.jpgThe banquet came and the award were handed out: Purdue got the collegiate award. Our baby birds, Classic Racer 30 from SIU, got the highest finishing first time racer award. Classic Racer 44, our sister team from Fort Myers, got 2 leg prizes - 1st place for legs 4 and 5 - Hot Springs to Cameron, MO and Cameron to Carbondale/Murphysboro, IL. It was exciting. They started reading off the top 10 starting with 10th place. They also read the scores. We heard scores in the 9's, then 10's, then 11's as we got to the top 3. Then we heard ..... "Second Place, with a score of  13.978 - Classic Racer 24, Joyce Wilson and Laura Berry". At that moment, we knew why we were re-flown, and we knew that we won the race. This was a highlight of our lives.

June 29th - Reflections: Most of the racers left yesterday but many still linger to enjoy the Frederick area. The remaining planes were packing to start their own journies home. My 5day7.jpgjourney home will be delayed although Ellen and Laura are nearly home.

There have been many positive changes to the Air Race Classic over the past several years: we have a great panel of judges who are not afraid to enforce the rules and assess penalties in the interest of safety; we have a handicapping system where each plane is flown so the contestants are truly flying against their own aircraft performance rather than a standard for that make and model of aircraft; we have new rules and procedures that take into consideration and use modern technologies. A look at the top 10 this year demonstrates that now ANYONE can win and all have an equal chance - you just have to fly the plane. Note the number of first time racers highlighted in red and the variety of airplanes. 

Place     Classic #          Racers                                                                                                      Aircraft
1                11         Terry Carbonell, Ellen Herr & Laura Ying Gao                            Cessna Skylane RG R182
2                24         Joyce Wilson & Laura Berry                                                      Cessna Skylane 182S
3                55         Linda Street-Ely & Elizabeth Kummer                                       Grumman Cheetah AA-5A
4                  4         Lauren Steele & Allison Springer (Purdue Univ)                          Piper Warrior III PA28-161
5                19         Jo Alcorn & Michelle Bostick                                                      Cessna Skyhawk 172R
6                49         Barbara Harris-Para & Laurie Zaleski                                           Beechcraft Bonanza A36
7                17         Dottie Anderson & Jean Sloan                                                   Piper Archer PA 28-181
8                48         Kay Brown & Jessica Campbell (Indiana State Univ)                       Diamond DA-40
9                30         Erin Jackson & Christine Zoerlein (Southern Illinois Univ)                Cessna Skyhawk 172R
10              58         Kristen McTee & Kim Turrell (Embry-Riddle Aero Univ-Prescott)       Cessna Skyhawk 172S

The volunteers who worked this year were - as usual - outstanding and we want to thank each and every one of you for taking part in this historic event. Spec5web6.jpgial thanks goes out to the line guys in Elkhart who worked so hard getting all of the race planes out of harms way when a tornado warning sounded for the Elkhart area. Not only did they have to worry about getting the planes in, but they also had the additional work of pulling all of the planes back outside again after the storms passed. Other highlights for us this year were the fresh strawberries and airplane cookies that greeted us at Cameron; the live entertainment at Carbondale where we waited out the storms; fresh fruit and healthy food and snacks at Tuscaloosa and Hot Springs and energetic, warm friendly volunteers that greeted us everywhere we stopped.

We were thrilled to meet so many new racers this year - 72 in all out of a pack of 113. We have made more new friendships and will look forward to meeting up with these incredible ladies at air shows, conventions, airports and other aviation activities - including the 2011 air race - in the near future. We are honored and privileged to join the ranks of the less than 160 ladies - living or not - who have had the great honor of winning this historic event. We are humbled to be included in that prestigeous group and look forward to 2011 where the Air Race Classic will celebrate her 35th birthday and celebrate the heroes and legends of this historic race.

We cannot say it enough: thank you, thank you, thank you to all who have made this race year such a success and who have helped Team Wild Mama along in this incredible journey.

June 30th - Tribute: To my Mother who always believed in me - if you think that I am a pain in the head, you should see the "oak tree" - and my dear husband, Mario, who brought me5day8.jpg  5day9.jpgin to the aviation world as his dying wish and gave me my wings, this one is for you both. Many thanks, with love....



Classic Racer 11 departure Fort Myers News Press: June 22nd

Classic Racer 11 in the News - Frederick News Post: June 23rd

Classic Racer 11 First to land in Frederick - Frederick News-Post: June 25th

Classic Racer 11 Takes Top Prize - Fort Myers News-Press June 29th

AOPA Live at Oshkosh - Laura's Interview

Wild Mama on Frederick News-Post Front Page!!!


Fort Myers News Press - June 22nd - June 25th

Frederick News-Post - June 25th

USA Today - June 22nd

Frederick News-Post - June 28th

Southwest Florida Online - June 28th

AOPA Online - June 28th

Frederick News-ost - June 29th

Frederick News-Post - June 29th

GNN - June 29th

WAI BlogSpot - June 30th

Your 4 State - June 23rd

Red River Swift Wing

A Tale of Courage

Alabama Aviator

Florida Weekly - July 7, 2010

Frederick News Post - April 18, 2009

Florida Weekly - May 5, 2010

Airport Business - April 15, 2010

Saluki Times - April 12, 2010

You Go Girl - May 31, 2010

Urban Journals - June 8, 2010

Naples Daily News - June 15, 2010

The Pilot - June 13, 2010

Newsand - June 12, 2010

Suburban Journal - June 8, 2010 - June 15, 2010

WINK News - June 18, 2010

Tuscaloosa News - June 23rd

The Sentinel-Recorder June 23rd

ABC - June 23rd

The Mercury - June 26th

AOPA Blog - June 29th

AOPA Online - June 18th

General Aviation News - June 17th

The Pilot - June 13th

Panama City Freedom - June 21st

Alabama Aviator - June 27th

ANN Pod-cast - July 7th