Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leg #8 to Racine, Wisconsin

Originally the plan was to stay in Jacksonville. We were tired and hot after the 2nd leg of the day. But we are both very competitive and after realizing that the weather would be good in the morning from Racine to Atlantic, we sucked it up and got strapped back into the plane for the 3rd leg of the day.

As expected, we had a light headwind. We were anywhere from 2000 to 2500 MSL. It was odd, but the winds lower than 2000 were stronger, and then the winds at 3000 were stronger. Thus our altitude. We just skimmed the perimeter of Peoria's Class Charlie airspace. We were watching one of the other teams as we approached Peoria. They were well below us...the TCAS showed them at about 300 ft AGL...over the town of Peoria...I guess they thought the winds were worth it.

On this leg we did have a slight concern about some thunderstorm activity that was in Iowa and slowly heading towards Illinois. According to the radar, it was moving so slowly that we wouldn't have to worry too much. It's one of those things that could pick up speed at any time, however, so I wouldn't be comfortable until we were well out of the storm's path.

By the time we reached Chicago we knew we didn't have to worry about the weather anymore. We did have to speak to a Class D to get permission to fly through their airspace. We didn't want to climb to avoid it and we didn't want to deviate around it. There is always the risk that a controller could vector us, so we normally didn't speak to controllers unless we needed to. This controller must have spoken to several race aircraft already because he didn't ask any questions about the "Classic 32" call sign, he just granted us permission.
Five mile final to Racine

At this point Jessica was excited because we could see Lake Michigan now. She'd seen the lake years ago but didn't remember it too well, so it was like the first time for her. It was a hazy day, so we really couldn't make out water, more just where the land ended. As we got within 5 miles of Racine we could make out the lake really well. It is like looking out over the ocean, you can't see land on the other side. Very impressive. I took a few shots before the fly-by. We then intentionally extended our upwind so we could take some pictures of the lake. The sun was just starting to get lower in the horizon and the sun was blinding as it shimmered on the lake.

Racine is an uncontrolled field, but somone on the field was directing Air Race traffic over the frequency as if it were a controlled field. It was a very well organized stop. We were greeted by rampers who parked us, and the FBO Manager. We were told what hotel everyone was staying at, and that transportation to the hotel was ready to take us as soon as we were ready. Very nice. It was one of our longest flying days, but we were actually at the hotel earlier than most of the previous days. We had time to get dinner, do some blogging, and get to bed at a descent hour. 5 AM would be here quick.

Lake Michigan on the downwind at Racine, Wisconsin

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