Each leg of the race starts with a low pass, high speed fly by of the timing line. At Liberal, we take off and enter a large pattern. The goal is to gain some altitude, get lined up with the timing line, then dive bomb down to 200 feet above the ground to get some speed before crossing the timing line. It's a rush to be flying 170 knots that close to the ground.
It was a hot and muggy day in Liberal, and it just got hotter as we headed down to Sweetwater. We had headwinds the whole way, so we had to stay pretty low to find the best groundspeed. Unfortunately, that meant suffering the heat. The OAT gauge was showing a temp of 95 degrees. Like most small aircraft, we do not have air conditioning.
Our TCAS helped us look for traffic. We were keeping track of each Classic aircraft we passed. Most of them were Cessna 172s and Warriors. We noticed a target that was 1500 feet below us, coming fast from behind. We joked abut it being a fast moving truck, since the target was coming from ground level. (We were 1500 feet above the ground). It was moving fast, coming from behind on the left. Jessica cranes around, looking behind us. "It's and F-16!" Sure enough, an F-16 was tree-top-flying, entering the MOA we were skimming the border of. "And there's another one!" We joked that the only thing fast enough to pass us was an F-16...and that was alright with us!
Parked on the ramp in Sweetwater