Racing from Iowa City, IA to Mobile, AL
Air Race Classic celebrates her 35th birthday!

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Meet the 2011 Team:

Terry Carbonell, Pilot

My mantra for life is "Never let fear, alone, stop you." I started flying at the ripe ole' age of 44 at the request of my husband, a private pilot who passed away in 2008 from Alzheimer's Disease. 
I did not take to flying: the development of wings has been an evolutionary process Wild Mama & Wild Mama which has taken its' jolly old time. But after over 5 years, 1600+ hours, an instrument rating, a commercial rating, tail wheel rating, a sea plane rating, ground instructor certificate, CFI and lots of help from other pilots, instructors and friends, my flight feathers are becoming fully developed, and I look forward to a long love affair with life above this earth.

This will be my sixthyear flying the Air Race Classic; the first being in 2007. From the planning to the cross country trip out to Oklahoma City and through-out the race to Saint John and back home, I was pretty well hooked.  I liked the atmosphere, the excitement of the race, the planning and strategy, and the other ladies who were TWM1.jpgvolunteers and competitors but became friends. 

My friends tell me I suffer from "terra-firma phobia" as I would much rather be scuba diving or flying. I have traveled over a large part of the world as a passenger but now it is my turn to be PIC. Since getting my license in May 2005, I have flown across the US several times. My "cross countries" are literally clear across the country. In 2006, we went from SW Florida to Las Vegas, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Mount Rushmore. TWM6.jpg The 2007 trip included an overflight of the Grand Canyon, a visit to a fellow racer in southern California, Yosemite National Park, the many air museums in northern Oregon, Seattle, Teton National Park and the Ozark region of Arkansas. We have also flown Wild Mama to Niagara Falls, Cancun, Mexico and to the Bahamas, not to mention the 2007 ARC from Oklahoma City to Saint John, NB, Canada. Flights in 2010 included a trip to Alaska and through Canada that found Wild Mama flying about 60 hours through Alaska, Canada and all the way across the US and back. All and all, I have landed at over 150 different airports throughout the US, Canada, Bahamas and Mexico. I have also participated 4 years in the Okie Derby proficiency race garnering 2nd, 3rd and 7th place finishes and just added a 1st place finish in the Sunshine Derby. Most importantly, I fulfilled my husbands' wish of spending all the time he could in an airplane during the time he had left on this earth as he accompanied618093.jpg me on the vast majority of my journies and logged over 1000 hours in 3 years as my most prized passenger and #1 fan.

I have developed a real passion for flying and I especially enjoy sharing that passion with the next FK6.jpggeneration of aviators.  My 2011 aviations goals were completing a successful youth and aviation program with the South Alabama Boys & Girls Club where over 70 young girls were introduced to aviation and the world of opportunity available to them. Additionally, the dream of winning the Air Race Classic became a reality with the help of the 2010 team with Ellen Herr and Laura Ying Gao. That was a moment that I will forever cherish.  Goals for 2011/2012 include multi-engine rating, CFII and to go back and work on the glider rating as time permits.


Aviation affiliations include the Ninety-Nine's, Paradise Coast Chapter (Secretary and Southease Section Vice Governor), Women in Aviation Int'l, EAA, Lawyer-Pilots Association, Florida Bar - Aviation Law Committee, volunteer for Angel Flight, Director/Secretary for Air Race Classic, Inc.  and AOPA.

Caroline Baldwin, Co-Pilot


Ever since I began watching planes high above as a child, I’ve yearned to be aloft, to experience the freedom and wonder of flying over the land, to travel, to FLY.   My many dreams of flying have been great fun.   Could we turn back the clock and take a different path, mine would lead to aviation.  But, better late than never, at the age of 64 I became a private pilot.   The rewards of learning to fly have been enormous:  the adventures, the new friends, and the magic of being aloft continue to bring excitement and enrich my life.    

It was only after moving to NM, that I decided to ‘carpe diem’.   New Mexico is the perfect place to learn to fly:  clear skies and wide open spaces  =  little weather and very little air traffic.  In 2002, inspired by pilot friend and former ARC President Valdeen Wooton, I found the time and the funds to learn to fly.  After lessons at KSVC, Grant County / Silver City airport, I gained certification as a Private Pilot on my husband’s birthday in May, 2003.  Then, finding the local rental planes had been sold and knowing that a two-hour drive to another airport was not for me, I began searching for a plane to buy.   Good fortune was mine!  A fine Piper Cherokee became available at KSVC. 

Knowing my good fortune and wanting to encourage girls to consider aviation careers, I’ve flown youngsters in the EAA Young Eagles program, presented workshops in the Expanding Your Horizons annual conferences for girls, and given airport tours to Girl Scout troops and school classes.  I’m active in Grant County Pilots Association and have volunteered with Houston Ground Angels to transport blood after community blood drives.   

I have competed in six Air Race Classics, annually from 2004-2009.   In four of those races, I piloted my Cherokee 180.  For ARC 2009, I was co-pilot with Terry, and daughter Lydia was a third teammate.  Lydia and I are proud to be mother-daughter teammates.   We missed ARC 2010 because a special family reunion in New Hampshire coincided with race Start activities.   I’m privileged to be racing again with Terry.  Flying with her is very edifying.    Because of her passion for flying and her many flight hours over this country and beyond, she has gained extensive piloting expertise and intimate knowledge of her plane.  Despite Terry’s claim of learning to fly at a “ripe ole’ age,” I am definitely the old lady of the team.  Flying and racing with Terry is a thrill.   Thanks, Terry, for encouraging me.   We’ll have great fun !

Lydia Baldwin - Teammate

My aviation energy is grounded and fueled by childhood adventures, imaginations and everlasting inspirations.  During my teen years I had the fortune to live in Zimbabwe.  I 623092.jpgremember my first single engine flight to an island camp in southern Africa.  Wow - the excitement, the views.  On to my 20s and 30s with more travel in Australia, Africa and Asia.  Flying allows for visits to new and faraway places with views from on top.  Next up was visits to my parents in New Mexico and private pilot training by Mom.  Wow - really?  Mom a pilot!  This is cool.  The west is host to little GA traffic and lots of class E and G airspace with magnificent vistas.  This is fun flying.  In 2008 my husband and I planned a summer vacation road trip from our home in Fort Collins, CO, to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks with a stop to meet and greet the art of the 2008 ARC.  The many pilots were inspirational, fabulously entertaining, and I knew that I wanted to be a pilot too.  I started my training in July of 2008 and earned my private pilot in August 2009.  My full-time day job as Nurse Manager in the ICU at the community hospital is hard work andLydiaandPlane.jpg keeps me busy and professionally challenged.  My new aspirations as a pilot has made me proud and opened up new opportunities.  In June 2009 I had the fortune to fly with Mom and Terry as a part of Team Wild Mama in Classic 11.  What a thrill.  I enjoyed the anticipation of the start, learning about the regulations,  and the fly-bys were awesome. The camaraderie with so many fabulous aviatrices was magnificent too.  I am grateful for the experience!  Following the ARC of 2009 I completed my check ride and continue to fly at the local airport as time allows.  During the summer of 2010 I completed two aviation goals with a flight to a busier airport in the Denver metro area and an intro mountain flight to Leadville, CO with a density altitude on takeoff of >12,000'!  My membership with the Colorado chapter of the 99s provides ongoing inspiration and community fun.  My goals for the coming year include instrument rating training and flying with Team Wild Mama in the 2011 ARC. 


2011 Air Race Classic in Review

The 2011 Air Race Classic in Review is the Power Point Presentation
that was shown at the terminus banquet in Mobile. It is a VERY large
file. Please click on the link above and when prompted save the file
to play the presentation. It might take as much as 35 minutes to
download on a fast internet connection. Thank you. 

Air Race Classic web site


Planning for the 2011 ARC arrival in Mobile

Ninety Days and Counting - We are reaching the point where we really have to start the race preparations with only 90 days left to the starting gun. We willbe leaving before that - probably a week before - to make our way out to Iowa City for the pre-race activities. Wild Mama still has lots of flying to do before she heads to the shop for her pre-race spa treatment and makeover so be sure to keep an eye on the web pages for other fun trips.

Charts.JPGToday the packet of race charts arrived. We will be going near paperless this year as the iPad is fully functional and up to date. But with possible long hours in the cockpit, we do not want to rely solely on the iPad in case the battery life becomes an issue. So far, it is about 9 hours but we can have race days that long and longer, so best to be prepared. We have no other new racing toys this year as the panel in Wild Mama is finally maxed out! Our  next upgrades will not come until she gets her new engine in the summer of 2012.

Less than 60 days to go ..... (actually 56 days, 9 minutes and 10, 9, 8 seconds, but who's counting):   It has been a busy last month for Wild Mama with Sun-n-Fun and the last fly in to Mobile before the race. We have some repairs to do to Wild Mama now thanks to the F-1 tornado that crossed over Lakeland while we were camping; but Vern is on the case now and we hope to have her back and in the air really soon. Anytime something happens this close to race time, it is cause for concern.

topsecretresized.jpgOn the interior front, Google Earth has been blazing away and we are getting familiar with the route with a minimal fuel expenditure. We are still waiting on the hotel list and fly-bys from the race officials so we can make the final preparations for the race book. This gets easier now that it is our 5th racing year ... thank goodness.

The2011quilt1web.JPG aviation themed quilt drawing was held in NC on a beautiful sunny June 12th morning. Congratulations go out to Matt Wallis & Laura Ying Gao. Their ticket was drawn as the winners of the quilt!

Leaving for Iowa City in 10 days!: It is official - Wild Mama is in the shop undergoing her magical transformation from "Sunday Sedan" to "Lean, Mean Racing Machine". Vern is changing th oil, getting her a spa treatment and installing the racing number while Terry is in NC on a job assignment for the next week. Vern will be departing solo to NC to fetch Terry so the two can make the final part of the journey to the race start. We are coming down the home stretch!

Five days and counting .... It has finally happened: Wild Mama has made the transformation from the "Sunday Sedan" to the numbers.jpg2011 "Lean, Mean Racing Machine". Vern has been hard at work getting her ready and submitted his report:

Work done as of now

  • replaced tires and tubes, repacked wheel bearings, balances all tires
  • replaced sparkplugs
  • filled hydraulic resivoir and brake systems
  • replaced engine airfilter
  • removed magneto, did 500 hr impulse ad early
  • changed oil and filter
  • applied racing numbers
  • to be detailed on Monday
  • to be delivered to race pilot on Tuesday

Vern - YOU ROCK!!!!!!!


Blast-off Day - June 14th: Word just came over the internet that Vern will be blasting off from X14 enroute to 14A at 1300 local time. Follow him on SPOT or This will be leg one of our journey to Iowa City. Caroline is, likewise, getting ready to head north to pick up Lydia for their journey to the ARC 2011 start. She reported: "Will try to go to bed early and not eat chocolate tonight so I can sleep.   Intend to depart 7 am (Wednesday morning) to avoid winds.   touchDown1.JPGWatching fire and TFR at Raton / Trinidad."  Team Wild Mama will soon be together at Iowa City.

Touch-down - and picture perfect it was. Vern arrive safe and sound in Lake Norman, NC to end the first leg of the journey to Iowapre2.JPG City. Terry was excited to see her race plane all shined up and ready to go. Tomorrow is the second leg to Iowa City - but be awake early as we will be on the go.

Leg 2: 14A-KIOW: June 15th:... and what a day is was. We made the departure out of Lake Norman at 0730 June 15th planning on making the direct trek to Iowa City. We had a quick stop to make in Winston-Salem then blasted of. The route was to take us straight though Kentucky and central Indiana but a look at the weather convinced us to try a more southerly route. We decided on skirting the northern edge of the Tennessee/Kentucky border.

IOW1.JPGOver one hour into the trip and plans had to change again. Our waypoint, KTZV was in the throws of a severe thunderstorm alert and was inpassable so we diverted south to familiar stomping grounds KSRB. We landed, embarrassingly, without cookies, and Jimmie from Region Air came to greet us. He said we would be here for a while as another cell was coming. He put Wild Mama in the hangar ad we headed off to get some lunch. Upon our return Jimmie asked us if we saw the marble size hail that blanketed the airport. Yikes! We missed that.IOW3.JPG

With a few more cells coming we decided to stay put and wait until they all passed so we could head out on the back side and hopefully through good weather. The rain started beating against the FBO then the hail came but only pea sized this time then the lights went out with the lightening cracks. We will be here a while yet. When it was time to go, we decided to file IFR as the ceiling was still reporting low in Iowa City even though the afternoon was to be much nicer.

IOW4.JPGWe finally got a small window of opportunity to get out of Sparta after being on the ground for 4 hours. The bright reds and lightening bolts on the weather maps were to the south of our path but wrapping around ever so slightly to the east and west. We got our clearanceIOW5.JPG on the ground and bolted. Almost immediately the monster blew up over Nashville and ATC was frantically working when they stopped all traffic in and out of Nashville. "Hold at GITAR, 11,000' as published, 20 mile legs" ..... "Hold at HEHAW, 13,000' as published. Expect further clearance in an hour." This is bad. "N614WM: heavy to severe precipitation at your 12:00 to 1:00. Deviate left of course as needed." And that set the tone for the rest of the trip through Pocket City until we finally passed the last of the thunderstorms and got on the back side of the front. *Whew*.

I am happy to report that the remainder of the trip was "uneventful". We saw vast expanses of farmlands, small rural communities that IOW6.JPGwould seem to spring up out ofTouchDown.jpg nowhere and some light to moderate flooding along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. By 1900 we were on the Unicom with Iowa City and dropping in for the last landing of the day. The sun was shining and the skies were clear. We had been on the go for nearly 12 hours in Wild Mama and we were glad to be on the ground. Minnetta met us at the plane welcoming the first ARC Classic racing plane to arrive at the start. Whoo-hoo.

X14 - KIOW Photos

Friday - June 17th: What a busy day at the airport in IOW. Minnetta stayed up all night getting all the paperwork and final details ready for the onslaught of racers. Vern and Terry arrived at the airport at 0700 and set to work immediately: Vern was in charge of the airplane inspections and gathered his team of mechanics andKIOW10.JPGhelpers to show them the ropes of how to inspect the racing aircraft. Terry started flying handicapping check flights with the new airplanes that had not flown the race before. It was a busy day, indeed. By 1800, Vern and his teams had completed 23 airplane inspections and Terry and the other check pilots had flown 17 handicap flights! Jo Alcorn was another busy bee having completed most of the racers credential checks.

KIOW11.JPGThe evening found all of the early arrivals at the Iowa City Children's Museum in the "Take Flight" exhibit. They put out a fabulous spread to welcome us into Iowa City and they opened up the full museum where we cold experience the flight simulators and other learning exhibits that the kids (OK, in this case the big kids) play with to learn about flight. Tonight is also the beginning of the Iowa City ARC Youth event. Over 125 girls arrived at the museum for an overnight in the "Take Flight" exhibit, and a movie. Terry, Mary Wunder, Minnetta Gardinier, RachelKIOW12.JPGPeterson and Allison Springer spoke with the girls about flying and air racing. The whole group of girls will be at the airport tomorrow for the final segment of the youth event: viewing airplanes, learning about ATC and participating in the Young Eagles flight program. Tomorrow will be another busy day in IOW.

Saturday - June 18th: Mother Nature was not very cooperative today. The order of the day was to fly check handicap flights: ours and several others. But the early morning fog that morphed into low ceilings prevented us from accomplishing our mission and the bulk of the day was spend wandering around the airport, assisting where we could. Caroline and Lydia joined up with the youth program and ran the airport exercise while Terry drove racers back and forth in the golf cart and made sure that Vern and the other inspectors had lunch. There was lot of visiting with other racers as well.

check1.JPGBy the evening time, we had the Welcome BBQ at the Jet Center Hangar. The evening was beautiful: a light haze that acted as a veil to the sun. It was clear, cool and the winds were calm .... wait a minute .... those are the conditions that we have been waiting for ALL DAY! Terry and Lydia gathered check pilot Marvin and Mary Wunder gathered check pilot Becky. We completed our pre-flight checks and briefings and we launched off into the haze. We had a cloud layer that topped out at 3000' but we needed to be at 4400' so all was clear as we climbed past the clouds and got on top of the deck. Wild Mama was buttoned up for the flight - vents closed, everything ascheck2.JPGaerodynamic as possible, full power and off we go. We 270 degrees, then 180, 90 degrees. As we were half way through the east bound leg we realized that our north bound leg would take us right in to the Class C airspace. If we broke off, this would invalidate the flight; the airspace top was 4900 - too high to climb. We are not going to stop. We get on the radio and call 119.70 Cedar Rapids Approach and explain our issue, requesting permission to transition the airspace for the flight. "Proceed as requested,"  was the ATC response. S-W-E-E-T!!! We dial out squawk code and blow through the airspace, giving position reports and announcing our intentions as we go. in a matter of another 10 minutes it check3.JPGwas mission accomplished and we headed back to Iowa City. It was a beautiful night and we were rewarded with beautiful views, cool air and a smooth ride .... plus our handicap flight is COMPLETE!!!

June 19th-20th: The last 2 days have been taken up with briefings and the banquet. We had been trying to get in more handicap flight for the remaining 12 or so planes left un-done but the weather has not cooperated: either thunderstorms, high winds or low ceilings. About 1630 on the 20th the final weather briefing came in and wasteam2011.JPG ominously bad - severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and hail. This was not only forecast for Iowa City but for the whole northern portion of the route. The ARC Board met and decided in the interests of safety to have the official race start Wednesday at noon in Alliance, NE. We have to make our way there in any fashion and the race will begin at that time, ending still in Mobile.

We decided to launch Vern in Carolines' plane heading to Mobile. This would get him on his way and out of the weather. Since we are heading west, there was no point in making a run for anywhere so we loaded Carolines' plane with all that would fit and waived good-bye to Vern as he flew off. Unfortunately, this left us with quite a bit of extra stuff to deal with on our own, adding extra weight that we really do not need to carry. We will have to deal with that.

Photo_06W.jpgBy 2300 hours, we got a weather report of straight line 75 mph winds heading in our direction so Susan Carastro, Michelle Boyko and Terry went out to the airport, ties down planes, tightened ropes and added wheel chocks to the planes left on the field. The FBO managed to get 22 in the hangar but Wild Mama was left outside.

Tomorrow we will check weather and make our way to Alliance. The race is already exciting and we have even started to fly!

June 21st - "Race Day 1": The launch was suppoed to be 0800. But 0800 came and 0800 went and we had breakfast. Not the fascinating send-off; no fanfare; no start but all done for safety. The storms blew up so badly that they were unpassable VFR adn we2011RD3.JPG could not officially launch out IFR. So with everything suspended race-wise, we were free to file to get to where we needed to be. We opted for heading to Alliance, NE (KAIA) for the evening. But there was the small detail of lunch that had to be addressed. By the time we got going it was time to think 2011RD4.JPGabout eating. We were going to meet up with several other racers at Grand Isles, have lunch then head on to Alliance. We launched out got out on top of the cloud deck to some smooth sailing for abut 15-20 minutes, then it was in and out of the clouds (mostly in) for the remainder of the journey. We hit some moderate rain as just the luck of the draw but nothing convective. By the time we got close to Grand Isles, the storm had blown over top of it. Classic Racer 29 landed but we diverted direct to destination. The headwinds topped out at 55 kts as our ground speed bottomed ut at 95 kts. Ugh! I am glad this leg does not count! I was beginning to get concerned abut fuel if we stayed too long at2011RD6.JPG 93 kts. ATC called a radar outage diversion to us that took us a little more out of the way, but angled us to a better wind position  - 106 kts. At least it was 3 digits. We made our final turn in for Alliance with a downward ruch and dropeed in to the airport to light rain and2011RD5.JPG screaming winds right down the runway. We topped off with fuel to the point where I had no room for the cap - but the fuel cap IS ON!

2011RD2.JPGWe were tired and it was now 1930 local (note that our stomachs were not dupped into believing that we were 1 hour less hungry). We popped over to a little Chinese Restaurant with really yummy dishes and came back to the hotel to rest under a hugh rainbow. Maybe luck is with us.

Race Photos

June 22nd - Race Day 2:  Well this was supposed to be race day 2 but instead we are just getting started on race day 1 departing KAIA at noon. We got to the airport very early to see what was ailing Wild Mama's autopilot altitude hold. Yesterday, we started wild oscillations while IMC and had to cut off the auto pilot andRD220111.JPG hand fly. They started at 100 fpm, then 200 then 500 then 1000 and were strong enough to smash us down in our seats. I got repair instructions from Vern and got the local mechanic to assist in the repair of blowing the water out of the static lines. I hope she will be OK.

There was a long congo line of airplanes lined up to depart at noon. Most of the 50 airplanes participating in the race were there and RD220112.JPGready to go at noon in race number order. We taxied in order down the taxiway, departing on runway 26, turning out right and making a left pattern for our first dive bomb of the runway. Forecast was a screaming tailwind on the surface and boy, did it hold true. We went out about 3 miles and made our turn in diving 1000' to the flyby altitude and reaching a top speed of about 180 kts for the flyby. What a rush! That's the best part of the race.

We passed the flyby and climbed to our chosen altitude settling in for th elong flight to Great Bend. The air was smooth at this timeRD220113.JPG even though there was quite a bit of wind. We passed many interesting sites and even had a few minutes to snap pictures before we have to make our descent into Great Bend. Since we were the fastest of the first planes to go, we had passed all of the other planes and made the first flyby at Great Bend. "Classic Race 11 - flyby to continue". We made our final dive bomb and sped past the timing line enroute to Borger. We had a great first leg. . . much better than the second. Because of our turn, those great tailwinds turned to cross winds and by the time we arrived at Borger, headwinds. There was no choice but to go as we tankered all the fuel from the first leg (departing with full tanks was required) and we needed to burn it off. The flyby in Borger was rough: the air was hot, the winds were swirling and terrain was bumpy. We made our initial call and the timers called back with a wind check. We called out 5 miles, the approaching flyby and passed. Finally - that leg was painfully slow and we were glad it was over.

We were so happy tosee the folks in Borger. Everyone was very hospitible and helpful. The terminal building was new and unfinished. They rushed to get A/C and bathrooms for our use. It was a welcomed break. We parked Wild Mama for the evening and headed for the hotel to plan for tomorrow. One thing good about the heat of Borger: whatever water was left in the autopilot lines was long cooked out by now!

June 23rd - Race day 3:  Since we were the first to Borger, we were the first off the time at 0630 this morning. The air was cool and calm and the sun was just RD320111.JPGpeaking over the horizon making for a spectacular sunrise flyby. We lined up on runway 17, did our dive bomb and disappeared off to the east enroute to Norman, OK. The whole ride was smooth and the scenery was again magnificent: windmill farms, rolls multicolored hills dotted with lakes and small communities plopped in the middle of it all. This leg was short - partly because of the miles but also because it was another good run for us. We arrived at Norman just before 0800 when the tower opened. We were the first across this morning although other teams came yesterday afternoon. Upon deplaning, the first sound I heard was "Where are the cookies?" andRD320112.JPG there stood all of my friends from the OKC 99s. I expressed my sincere apologies for the lack of cookies and promised a batch for the Okie Derby. All was forgiven and we got to the business of tending to Wild Mama.

There was fog in El Dorado so we knew we would be on the ground for a while. We check the oil in WIld Mama, cleaned her bugs and windshield and got some fruit and goodies for us - the OKC 99s ALWAYS put out a good spread. We did our weather checks and decided to stay put to wait for clear VFR before departing. Finally it cleared and the rush was on. At the final pre-flight "dummy check" I looked at the fuel caps only to notice that the right cap was not screwed on. Shades of my misfortune from 2008. I haled the fuel truck and got the ladder and secured both caps. That's why we have a dummy check! But that put us about 5th in line for departure. It was hot and we were sitting in the sun. Sweat was pouring off every part of us that could sweat. Finally all five of us departed with the next several planes following close behind. We were to fly 5 miles out then turn in for the flyby. We hit 5 miles and make the turn only to see a 172 whizzing past us on the turn. We called for a 360 and turned out to the right. As we turned in RD320113.JPGthis second time another racer called that she was turning in - another 360 to the right. We climbed to get out of the sea of airplanes and the tower told us to turn in - we have 1200' to drop for the flyby and once again came screaming down the runway on one bumpy ride hot on the tail of the Mooney. The Mooney turned on course right away as we delayed  to pass off to their right and out of sight. Whew! That was busy but what fun. We were off and on our way to El Dorado.

Classic Racer 29 was only 8 miles ahead of us and at the same altitude. We were on a straight path to destination holding steady and fast. We joked back and forth as her numbers were being flow off with every mile - I was warned to watch out for the debris path! As we inched up we called that we were 200' and inside a mile and we agreed for a photo opportunity as we came past - "8 o'clock and high" we called and shot past. We soon started the descent into el Dorado. It was very hazy and the runway was nowhere in sight. We made the 10 mile call, 5 miles and still no runway. I knew it was there because the little airplane was still on the little pink line. I made the dive for the still undiscovered runway and started the 1 mile turn. It was at that point that the runway emerged, shrouded by trees. We made our final fly-by of the day at 165 kts over the airport. Time for an early day and a break. Tomorrow we head for home.

June 24th - Race day 4: the last few days have been a blur. Everything has been so busy that there has been hardle a moment to think, let alone write. 2011day41.JPG
Our last race day found us on the ground in El Dorado waiting for the ground fog to come up a bit. There was a light tailwind forecast but after that long second leg, any tailwind was good. Our departure needed to be delayed a bit to let the conditions improve a bit. We passed the time by helping the Carastros with the number issues.

2011day47.JPGWe departed out over the rolling hills of southern Arkansas that rapidly disappeared in the dense fog that covered the area. We were clear on top and settled in with a small tailwind. The ride was smooth and we were looking forward to our arrival in Mobile. Even through the face has been short, it was more stressful flying: the weather was unpredictable, the winds were shifting in the wrong direction and the hard day of IFR flying that we had to Alliance left me not as rested as I would have liked. But racing, you expect some stresses.
We passed a couple of racers along the way to Mobile. By 80 miles out we were picking up the tower and listening to all of the flybys. The tower was telling all of the other traffic that we (ARC racers) were coming and that they needed to clear out. That was such a hoot to hear!
Finally it was our turn. Downtown tower cleared us for the low approach and we passed the timing line at 170 kts. We made it. We jumped in line to land and we were2011day48.JPG greeted by a couple dozen of the Boy and Girls Club girls. They all made a huge cheer for us and we got a big round of hugs. The girls were amazing: the shirts were all decorated with their "tail number" adorned wings, little appliqué airplanes and a big airplane on the back with the racers tail number. Each was painted differently and all had various assorted blings and patches that each race team had sent. There were tons of youth made signs welcoming the racers. It was a fabulous homecoming.
In short order we had to get to the hotel to see what was happening in the hospitality suite amd help organize the tickets and stuff for the racers. We were thrilled to have 2 ladies from the Mobile VCB assisting and telling everyone the best spas, restaurants and attractions in town. Racers started filtering in and we got to hear about the stories of weather woes getting to KAIA, great tailwinds from there to Great Bend, fun; folks that racers met along the way and a host of positive comments from the first meeting with the kids.
Friday night was the melt-down party and my 50th birthday celebration. What a night! Vern surprised me with a cake big enough to fee all 150 guests at the party; Susan Carastro gave me a lighted tiara (embarrassing me does not usually work) and a huge weggie and the room was adorned with balloons and party favors. It was great to see everyone and the party went on to well past my bedtime. So much for rest.
June 25th - Post Race: Saturday morning I was out running handicap check flights for 2 of the dozen or so airplanes that could not complete their handicap run prior 2011day48.JPGto arrival in Iowa City. We got a late start since the keys were locked up upon our arrival and we ended heading way off shore to get smooth air and no clouds. But it put me running way behind and my airplane, which was called for top 14 inspection, had to go through inspection without me present. I dashed back to the hotel to run shuttle service for the Continental Motors tour, then for the "No Limits" youth event at the USS Alabama Battleship and air museum.
All of the kids and their families were there at the museum, most still in hjeir shirts. Awards were given for perfect attendance, best communications and participation. ARC received a hand drawn plaque and I got a framed drawing to wild mama from on of the girls, signed by the whole crew. It was wonderful. Racers had brought many gifts for their girls and we heard over and over how different these girls had become in their confidence and their blossoming as wonderful young ladies. The program was an overwhelming success.
Saturday night was a time for celebration of a great racing year no matter what the outcome. We were among all of our friends again and decided on final dinner at Wentzels was in order. By the time our group of 22 arrived, there were already tables filled with racers and race officials. It was fun and the revelry continues, again, long past my bed time. We had the final debriefing the next morning.
June 26th - our final day in Mobile: The racers dragged themselves to the final briefing leaving a long line at the coffee pot. We were getting ready for the briefing2011day43.JPG when Mary Wunder (who called her team "Wunder Women") came running i. To the room in a wonder woman costume. The room erupted with laughter and Mary promised to wear the outfit at the banquet for a $5 donation to the 99s endowment fund. The bills came pouring in. We managed to finish the briefing without incident and a bunch of us headed back up to the hospitality room for the remainder of the afternoon. The last item of the race was the awards banquet and we are always on pins ad needles wanting to know who won.
2011day44.JPGThe banquet room was beautiful with centerpieces adorned with photos of the honoree racers and kids. The programs and souvenir magnets were set up on every table. The Azalea Trails Maids made an appearance to mingle with the guests. Marolyn have some brief opening remarks and we sat for a great buffet dinner. The programs was a powerpoint 2011 race in review followed by the highlight: awards.
Classic Racer 41 Grateful Dead Reckoners got the ambassador award consisting of legs 1-5 firts place leg prizes for completing the whole race and being a great representative for ARC.
Classic racer 29 flying Carastros got the mother daughter award for the highest placing mother daughter team
2011day45.JPGClassic 26 Jacksonville got the collegiate award
Classic 45 Illinois University got the fastest flying pipe award.
And the winners were..... Classic Racer 26, Jacksonville University.2011top10.JPG 
Team wild Mama finished with a 14th place showing getting 3rd place for legs 8, 9 and 10.
... And Mary kept her promise of the wonder woman costume!
June 27th - Heading Home: It was finally time to head home. This has been an incredible race and probably the most fun I have ever had on a race. I am not sure if it was the facebook posting or what but we were all one cohesive group.
We finally got off the ground around 1000 hrs local time. We had a bunch of stuff to do last minute in Mobile. We filed IFR so we could deal with the thunderstorms2011day46.JPG that were already building over FL. It almost felt like racing again as Marvin, Tamra and the ERAU Daytona girls were all heading in the same direction and for a while on the same path. We dodged a few clouds but had an otherwise uneventful flight home. Only one problem ..... now we have to wait another year to do it all over again starting in Lake Havasu, AZ!

Air Race Classic - Volume 3 Photos