WMU News

2003 Air Race Classic 'flight log'

by Amanda Gruden and Michelle Glisan

June 21, 2003

MENOMINEE, Mich. -- Today was the big start of the race. We had an early wake up call a little after 4:30 a.m., and drove to the airport in Pratt, Kan., in the pitch black for a mandatory breakfast and weather briefing.

The weather wasn't looking very good, but the FAA weather men said it was good for another hour at least, so we all gathered up our things and got to our planes.

Being #22 in the race, we had to wait until the 21 planes in front of us took off, which took about 20 minutes. The mayor was the honorary starter on the runway this year, and he waved the flag for our takeoff. We were excited and nervous, because we could see the weather moving in.

After takeoff we were heading north to Grand Island, Neb. The weather was a little hazy and the clouds were not where they were forecasted to be. We dropped down in altitude a bit to avoid the clouds--the entire race must be flown under Visual Flight Rules or VFR, so we can't fly in clouds.

After about 40 minutes, we started gaining on some of the other planes. Once we got close to Grand Island, we had to decide if we were going to continue without landing or stop to check the weather. We decided to keep going. Since we had enough fuel we did a fly-by and continued on to Albert Lea, Minn.

We had awesome tail winds from Pratt to Grand Island--probably 30 to 40 knots. From Grand Island to Albert Lea the tail winds were not as strong, but we were still getting a decent ground speed. The weather started to get a lot nicer and cleared by the time we got to Albert Lea.

The Albert Lea news stationed interviewed Michelle and then one of the older racers--getting the youngest and oldest on the race. After getting the airplane fueled, cleaned, and checking the weather, we left Albert Lea to Menominee. The weather was beautiful--not a cloud in the sky. The leg of the race to Menominee was pretty uneventful and airport is right on the lake...great scenery. We
decided to call it quits for the day, parked the plane and headed to a hotel.

We were starving because we flew through lunch. We walked down the road to a great family restaurant and had a delicious fish dinner. Now we are back at the hotel to look over our charts
and relax, because we have another early wake up call Sunday.

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

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