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hydroguy2 04-23-2012 09:06 PM

MT 2 TX and back
Earlier this spring I started making plans for a Texas trip to visit friends and participate in a few Sport Air Races. Life(money) delayed that plan. Finally, Work, Weather and Wallet reached harmony and I chose to go for the Hill Country 150. On Monday 4/15, I was flight planning when our Daughter Jenny stopped by after another grueling day as an ?End of Tax season? CPA. She said ?I need a break? I offered the right seat to Texas on Thursday. ?I can?t, my kids haven?t really seen me lately (80hr workweeks). During her drive to Bozeman, she called ?Is that seat still open?? Yep?woohoo, I have a navigator.

Planned for a 0700 departure from Townsend(8u8), due to a long day ahead and local weather going downhill. Woke up to a nice morning but the mountains to the north east were shrouded in snow. Duck Creek pass looked open, as did the route between KBZN and KLVM and everything past that was severe clear. We just needed to get over the ridges. Jenny was running late and I watched the ceilings lower, the pass close up with snow showers. The webcam on Bozeman Pass still looked like a possible route. We didn?t launch until about 0730. Headed south at 180kts to end around the weather, turn the corner over the horseshoe hills to streak for Bozeman pass?.Dang it low ceilings and snow to the ground. Wait off my left is a sunshine gap north, I bank for it keeping my options open for a retreat if need be. Zoomed up the head of the little valley to find snow showers. I fly to the east climbing a canyon and explaining, it looks like a no-go. Aurora pops us over the next ridge?. more snow where an hour ago was 9000?ceilings and 10mile vis. I spot Wilsall airport as I venture closer to the snow line. I slow to 130kts to give me more time to react and retreat if things get worse. I can vaguely make out the Livingston area south of my route, when I can see across the next barrier into the sun. Throttle up and zip through a snow squall at 500agl to FREEDOM! The first hour was a good lesson in hard limits and local knowledge mix a bit. I always had a clear path to an airport.

No pictures yet, we were kinda busy. Me flying, Jenny was trying to get weather updates on the Ipad. Once past Red Lodge it was smooth as glass at 7500? as we pointed it to Colorado.

Here?s an Ipad screenshot while we were trying to establish back on course.
Near Greybull I think, 9500? 193kt+GS burning 8.4gph

Wyoming around Laramie Casper Etc can be bumpy at times coupled with rising terrain we went for 9500 for more tailwind. 11500 was even better. Had a few miles of undercover, so went up a touch for clearance. Rewarded with 205kt GS. Wishing I had some O2 we?d have gone to 13500.

Pilot and Navigator

After 3 hrs in the saddle we did a quickturn at Greeley. 3.1hrs and 23.4gals. Note to self: do not try to upload pictures when you?re tired. I managed to delete all the full size images and only have thumbnails of some pics!

Next stop was Dumas TX for a snack and cheap gas. We only took 13gals for the 1:50 flight. $4.65 was best fuel price on the trip, but the bonus was returning to find Old Glory parked at the pump. I didn?t hesitate at the photo op. Think I?ll frame it and send it to my Dad.

Took too long messing around at Dumas, but finally pointed her to Llano. Path took us almost right over Dyess AFB, but forgot to snap a pic of all the military iron on the ramp. Panhandle Texas looked as expected, but as we descended towards Llano, I was surprised at the greenness of the area.

Fuel computer showed Aurora used another 17gallons. I expected more, but the forecasted headwind never developed. Yes I?m a fuel chicken. We flew over 1180miles(zigzag for the first hour) burning 53gals and a little over 7hrs.

hydroguy2 04-23-2012 09:11 PM

Saved for return story

Jamie Aust 04-24-2012 03:53 PM

Thanks for the trip write up Brian.

How do you go without a sun shade ?
On my last big trip, I installed the Koger shade, without it I would have got very sun burnt.

205kts ground speed, wow, I hope to see that one day.

Happy flying to you both.

hydroguy2 04-24-2012 05:17 PM


Originally Posted by Jamie Aust (Post 653136)
Thanks for the trip write up Brian.

How do you go without a sun shade ?
On my last big trip, I installed the Koger shade, without it I would have got very sun burnt.

205kts ground speed, wow, I hope to see that one day.

Happy flying to you both.

It's still cold up here. The sun feels great, bring it on. but there were times I wanted some shade. Thinking about using some cling shades, so I can move them around.

during the race I saw GS of 215kts for several miles, peak was 218kts. I was WOT 2600rpm 189kts TAS at the time. PAid for it at the turn GS dropped to ~150kts.

Bob Axsom 04-24-2012 09:01 PM

You write a good story Brian supported with good photos
When I saw your name up as the latest post in this thread I jumped on it to read the return trip story - anxious huh?

Your speeds were teriffic. As you know I study the wind forecasts the night before and plan my vertical strategy. When we were in the briefing you remember I asked if there was any restriction on attitude at the start and they said no. Well, the first leg and the 5th leg were the only ones that favored the higher altitude. We were doing the takeoff on 35 then doing a turn back for a time start when we passed the 35 on the runway south east bound. So some pilots were doing a wingover kind of run in to the start to come by at max speed then turn on leg one. They got a high speed pass the start alright but then they had to be satisfied with a 10 kt tailwind for 22 miles or slow down in the climb to get the 20 kt tailwind at 3,000 ft. I climbed as hard as I could after the takeoff and when I crossed the start line I was already in the 20 kt tailwind with no climb penalty. After turn 1 we were going into the 20 kt headwind and there is a tendancy to dive for the lower 10 kt headwind at 500 ft AGL (1600 ft) but that burns all the potential energy for one quick burst and you a back to just doing the best you can for most of the leg. I planned to descend at 500 fpm and trade potential for kinetic over the longest effective part of the leg. On leg 3 at 326 degrees still into the wind with no usable potential energy left, all you could do was fly straight and low in the minimium headwind and pop up for the minimum turn requirement of 2100 ft for turn 3. You do have to "pop up" 5 miles from the airport turn but you are making a 68 degree left turn so the thing I did was just do it as tight as possible and drop back down to 500 ft AGL after leaving the airport traffic area and fly straight and level for the longest leg of the race in more of a cross wind than anything. But cross winds are bad too because the stronger they are the farther effectively you have to fly to get from point A to Point B so the fly low strategy. Coming up to turn 4 we had a minimum turn altitude of 2900 ft but I wanted to be at 3000ft on the next leg anyway to get that 20 kt tailwind again. I stayed at 3000 ft all the way to turn 5 then made the gradual descent to the 2100 ft minimum turn altitude for turn 6 and the nearby finish. Everything worked perfectly for me this time and I got second place even though your airplane I suspect is faster. I heard you say you have no autopilot so I had an advantage there with precise ground track and altitude hold capability. You may beat me with hand flying but it is tougher. I suspect your altitude selection was similar to mine because it was kind of obvious but something you said made me think you may have dive burned some potential energy and you won't let that happen again. I only flew one race last year before more pressing matters ended that season but I felt like I got most of the rust off after the two previous races.

Sorry you will not be at the race in Abilene next week, I will have my new outlet configuration on and tested by then. I see you in Ephrata, Washington on June 16.

Bob Axsom

hydroguy2 04-24-2012 09:53 PM

Landing at Llano after a long day was uneventful. Neil and Tracy were waiting on the FBO porch.

Before I tied down, I called Alan C, the Race host. Any hangar space available? Yep. This was great news, Aurora won?t have to sit on the ramp in the beating sun or possible rain. We shoved her into the corner, pulled out our stuff and shut the canopy to keep the spiders and mice at bay.

Neil says?hope you?re hungry? as we head down the road to Cooper?s BBQ. Apparently this is the place for some pretty good brisket or ribs in Llano. And it was!

After a goodnights sleep at Neils hangar home (44TE), we decided to fly over and get the plane ready to race. Oil checks, bug washing, GPS course loading, etc. We had nice 15 minute flight over, what a great way to start my birthday.

I started soaking the bug juice off. Walked around to the open the canopy?.****! closed and latched internally!..What the f?.? You cannot imagine the feeling to be locked out and no idea what to do without ruining something. Using my new Ipad, I sent out a 911 to Vansairforce, while we flew back to retrieve any and all tools or ideas we could find. We drove back a few hours later making a side trip to Horseshoe Bay resort to wander around.

The 18 hole putting course was cool. Daughter, Jenny looks good anywhere she goes.

We dropped the girls off at the Crawfish Festival and made our way to the hangar. First attempt was fishing a steel coat hanger through the slot for the side latch. I am able to hook the D handle easily, but unable to move it. I tried slipping under the side skirt with same results. *@#%#^ Dang $#%^# I was tooled up for drilling my canopy but not mentally ready. A couple of deep breaths later I chucked up a 1/8? bit and positioned it drill. Looking down at the latch as I decided how to drill and engage the cotter pin with a small blade.

HEY!... look the handle is hard up against the other side and the round end of the cotter pin is keeping me from rotating it. Quick give me that coat hanger, I?ll try hooking it on the other side, rotating it 135*. A little vibration from Neil and we managed to save the day with no plexi harmed. I did scratch the edge of the latch slot a little. But we were in! WHEW Man am I glad I own a old Ford truck and had to break into it more than once with a coat hanger.

Heck let?s go eat some CrawFish! 2 flats for 4 people..sure why not!

They are more work than I imagined. here's 2 cajun wannabes

Turned out to be a happy birthday after all.

Saturday was Race day. Off to finish prepping. I did my wind checks and fuel calcs, added 5 gallons to the left side and tried to quell my nerves. In case you?ve never experienced racing, it is an adrenaline rush like no other?at least for me.

Sitting in the plane ready for engine start, here we go, fire up wait for taxi parade to the start?.Hmmm how come no one is talking?..Test Test!!radio check..Test?hey anyone on this frequency. I look around people are moving. DANG what?s wrong now. Grab the spare headset form behind me?..TEST TEST?nothing,..hook into the pax jacks ?still nothing. I shutdown Aurora and signal I?m out.

I flew over 1100nm, broke into my own plane, to be sidelined by a comm that worked yesterday.

Jim came over and asked what?s wrong?...No radio. (I still had my headset on) he grabbed the Icom wiggling it to and fro. Faintly I could hear someone then snap all was crystal clear. We?re in, baby! ?.. CLEAR PROP?. planes are leaving without me.

It was nerve racking to start at the end of the pack, but better than watching from the ramp. Finally I get the ?go? signal. 160nm here I come.

All levers are forward and I?m rewarded with a climb of over 2000fpm as I turn on course trying to catch the tailwind that awaits me at 5500. GS is rising with every foot of ALT. Once level at 5500, I nose her over. Watch that airspeed , lean it out a bit gives me 189kts TAS and ground speed keeps climbing, 205, 210,211?214?.215..a flash of 218?.but seems 215kts GS is it. Turn 1 is only 22nm away. Doesn?t take long to pass 3 slower planes before I even get there. Whew, take a breath. 2g left turn directly into the teeth of the tailwind which was my friend minutes ago, now is a headwind and GS is down around 150kts for a bit. I drop the nose setting up for 500fpm descent to get out of the wind. I reach Vne of 200kts TAS almost immediately, shallow that dive. 300-400fpm holding 205kts TAS. Dang I?ll never hit my altitude before the next turn 14 miles away. Oh well that racing. At Turn 2 I go under racer. How many have I passed, don?t know?.doesn?t matter its Aurora, me and the clock.
Short while later, I hear people calling turn 3, I?m searching the sky?. There above my alt is a white highwing, followed by a green mooney running lower. Drat! I?ve drifted to the inside and need to ?S? turn the corner to be outside and legal. It?s another left hand 2 g turn and start climbing for 4500. Gotta be a tailwind somewhere this direction. I pass well above the Mooney and call, "Passing the white highwing", a Glastar on his right side. As I go past it looks like they are backing up. Plane is running great, but can?t believe right tank is down to 7gallons(my minimum reserve for the race). Switch to left and hope I didn?t miscalculate. Turn 4 and I?m set up inside again?.should have prerun the course to identify the corners better. Another little S turn scrubbing seconds off the clock. The next turn or two are a blur, before I lower the nose over wishing the Llano bridge would get here sooner. A short dogleg to the airport and I cross the finish at the minimum alt of 2100? showing 191kts TAS. Whew that was quick.

Got some fuel and parked near Racer Bob' #71 and Alan;s Lancair Race #2. Seemed like good fast company to rub elbows with.

I had no idea how I did. I knew I made mistakes but the plane ran hard, cool felt great. There were 6 RV?s in the Blue class. One known fast RV-8 and a bunch of others, -6, -6A, 2 more -8 and my -7. I ended up taking 52min32secs, averaging 210.9mph over the 160nm course. This put me in 4th place in class and 9th overall out of 23 racers. I had made mistakes, mistakes that cost me. 3rd in class was only 10seconds quicker, 2nd was 29 seconds faster over the long course. Not my best, but I?ll take it after everything that has happened.

This pic summons up my Llano feelings. Peaceful simplicity. It was a great trip in spite of the couple issues.

hydroguy2 04-24-2012 10:04 PM

Hey Bob, I'm still learning. I slowly it figuring out,yet, but have many races and conditions to reach anywhere near most of you guys experience.

I haven't written my return trip, but had this race report ready to go.

Be careful this weekend and good luck, see ya in June

db1yg 04-25-2012 10:07 AM

Tipper Safety Latch
Hi Brian,

I really miss the BBQ from Coopers since moving from SAT to PRC.

Reference the safety latch issue---check out the following posting:



hydroguy2 04-25-2012 12:45 PM

Thanks Dave, I had seen that thread before and again when researching how to undo my latch. My D handle has a lot of resistance and never felt a threat of lockout. I was wrong and had inadvertently over-rotated the handle. I can see where it stuck the roll bar and snapped as it closed. I will be adding a positive open/closed detent...might even take 2 hands to reposition.

bruceh 04-25-2012 06:02 PM

Jason Beaver has one of the best ideas I've seen for dealing with the canopy latch from inadvertently rotating.

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