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Old 07-24-2012, 06:13 AM
Bob Axsom Bob Axsom is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 5,685
Default As seen from Race # 71

I planned the race in as good a detail as I could based on the original course.
I had just finished the development of my engine cooling air outlet mod that is
documented here in the Forum. My new speed with the Nav
antenna installed an the vent covers off was 183 kts. I worried over the course
length in great calculating detail. I knew that if there were no tail winds
(similar to 2010) the distance would be right on the edge of too long to make
with VFR fuel reserves. So I made the decision to install my tip tanks and flew
two 6,000 ft dalt triangle speed tests at home and found the speed was reduced to 180.8.
That was not to bad if the other pilots had to go down for fuel just the
inefficiencies of climb and getting back on course would probably hurt them more
than my extra wingspan drag was hurting me.

Saturday night I worked my wind/altitude spreadsheet and winds aloft charts to determined the best
altitude for me was 11,500 ft. So I got to sleep at around 2 am. At around 4
am I woke up, got cleaned up and put on my favorite racing "uniform" shirt,
packed and headed for the airport. I put the last strip of 3M 471 black tape
($50 per roll) on a wing tip tank seam, removed the NAV antenna elements, packed
everything and taxied over to the fuel pump as the first one there. I decided I would race
without the fresh air vent covers because of the heat. When the
FBO guy showed up we topped it off to overflowing and I taxied back to the tie
down. I had beaten everybody ... and that was the last time all day.

People started showing up by the van load (I had rented a car) and I started
hearing about a weather concern for the first time - of course I had been
through weather delays before and I dreaded what was coming. Once before in a
race out of Mitchell we didn't launch until 2 pm. This time it was different. A
decision was made early to fly a different course. I had nothing but a business
card and I wrote across the end what I expected to be a lot of detail but it
ended up simply Mitchell-FBL-PCZ. The charts were in the plane so as I watched
everyone doing their image magic motions over their tablets and miracle "i" things
I learned the race would be going north instead of south and it would be
significantly shorter and I knew there were going to be significant tail winds
so the tip tanks were going to hurt the relative performance with no payback.
"You pays your dollar and takes your chance" they say. Instead of the usual long line
of airplanes they were divided into three different speed groups by class. When it was
time for the second group to start the first group as well through their launch order and
the pressure to get going had increased. We taxied rather fast to the runway and
launched on our own following the briefed procedure. I still had to program the GPS and it
was a little hectic but OK - it was nice VFR at Mitchell so what could go wrong.

I took off after Alan Carroll but it could have been anyone in the second group
we were told just work it out on your own and take off after you get to the
runway and you see that there will be no conflict with the airplane ahead. When Alan
rotated I was rolling. I flew to the end of the runway 30 in the opposite
direction of the first leg's 078 deg and made a climbing turn on course. I had just heard
"Race 71 mark!" so I knew the clock was running. The SL-60 GPS was not showing
the course heading to turn 1 or the distance correctly
so I reactivated it a couple of times before I just entered "Direct TO" Airport FBL
and everything fell into place. As I climbed toward 11,500 ft I got a little
concerned about CHT and oil temperature and decided to compromise at 9,500 ft.
The temps slowly backed down a little and all was well. I heard Doug Shoup in
an RV-4 report 5 miles to turn 1 while I was around 9 miles out and he took off
behind me So I was behind him both physically and in race time. I heard Jeff
Barnes reporting in ahead of me as well but I wasn't sure of or relative
positions since he took off ahead of me. Frequency discipline was terrible and
being on 122.8 mHz every pilot at airports all over the place were making long winded
broadcasts. I was not sure I would be able to get a call in edge wise but it
worked well for me with a good ground monitor sighting confirmation response.
My climb was long but once I got level at 9,500 ft my ground speeds creeped from
the low 190s up to 205 kts and better. I briefly thought about going up to
11.500 ft but I said to myself, "No, keep what you got."

As I cruised along I heard faster racers reporting a cell and deviation to the
north and south. I thought to myself this is similar to 2008 when people were
diverting and I just continued on until I had to descend to stay VFR. Just like
2008 it was only a few miles wide and I went back up on the other side which
was a questionable decision. I was maintaining good ground speeds so I decided
to hold off the start of my descent for about 20 miles longer than normal and
that seemed to work well. I was seeing a solid 230 kt ground speed on the way
down. I made my finish pass and flew to Juneau for fuel and my rental

That night I found that I only beat a fellow that throttled back in turbulence
out of consideration for his wife and another one that made a precautionary
landing - not my finest hour.

There were no RV Red entries. There were some interesting airplanes
though and a lot of nice people.

I got up at around 4 am Monday and headed home - non stop with the tip tanks but I
had a flat tire and ground up my subfairing as I cleared the runway. New tire
on order (three different kinds actually) and I have some fiberglass work to do.

Bob Axsom

Last edited by Bob Axsom : 07-24-2012 at 09:22 AM.
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