WMU News

2002 Air Race Classic 'flight log'

by Michelle Homister

June 18, 2002

PONCA CITY, Okla. -- Greetings from Ponca City, Oklahoma. The day that we have been waiting for is finally here.

We had a wake up call this morning at 4:30 and breakfast was at 5:30. Well actually, we got up at 3:30 by accident. Someone bumped the clock ahead an hour, but we won't mention any names... M.G.! So, we just practiced getting up, and we were completely prepared for the real thing.

We had one last weather briefing and a safety briefing, and we were off to the airport. The start of the race is very exciting. There were 39 aircraft all polished up and the pilots are so excited that they were just beaming with pride. My step dad came over from Phoenix, Ariz., to see us off. He helped us plan our route last night, so if we don't do so well, we are holding him responsible. Just kidding. There were about 100 locals that also came out to see us off too.

Our first leg was about 90 minutes. That was our toughest leg. Right after departure there were 10,200 feet mountain ranges in our way. Needless to say we diverted around those. Then there was a restricted area that was right in our path. And of course we had to divert around that as well. So, we couldn't fly as straight a course as we had hoped, but hey, we are safe and didn't get intercepted by any F-16's! That is always good.

We departed 36th and arrived at our first stop sixth. We caught up to and passed a lot of planes, but only saw five of them. A lot of aircraft stopped on the first leg, so we got to chat a bit while we waited and waited for fuel. We had a longer stop in Las Vegas [N.M.] than we would have liked. We departed and the temperature was 95 already and the density altitude was high. Thank goodness the runway was 8,000 feet long.

We then flew to Burlington, Colo., and we could see some the smoke from the wild fires. It made it quite hazy. We just overflew that airport and headed on to Ponca City. We were picking up some good tailwinds that leg, so it evened out our bad leg out of Silver City.

When we got to Ponca City there was a regional jet liner that kept trying to land, but there were race aircraft that just kept screaming by him and he kept having to do circles and wait for us to clear out. Ahhh, the joys of racing. We are so ecstatic to see green fields and normal elevations again.

We are going to take it easy tonight and relax some. We have to plan out our legs for tomorrow and then get some rest.

Pray for tailwinds!
Michelle and Michelle

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Michelle Homister is a flight instructor in College of Aviation and a graduate of the WMU aviation program. She and Michelle Glisan, an aviation flight science major from Byron, Ill., are competing against 39 teams from around the nation in the 2002 Air Race Classic June 18-21. The race route covers more than 2,100 miles from Silver City, N.M., to Chesapeake/Portsmouth, Va.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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