Well, the Great Northwest Air Race is in the books now. The excitement started on
Friday when Bob Mills in his beautiful red Racer and Red Hamilton in a diminutive work of craftsmanship arrived on the ramp.
I am sure their arrival at this location was due in no small part to the excellent the copilot/navigation skills of Cory Mills
and Marilyn Boese. It did not take very long in the presence of these colorful individuals to know this was to be a great
Bob had flown the course before landing at Wenatchee and decided he could apply his stamp of approval. Bob
and Marilyn were the next to give it a try and after an initial GPS glitch were able to re-engage the course and finish it.
What a treat to watch that little rocket zip off of the runway. Red didn't say as much but I think he would have liked
it if I had painted the turn two airport with the same red line as was on the preflight brief paper. He did indicate it was
`hard to see". I didn't tell him I had chosen it for that reason to throw the competition off so I could catch up
in my Mustang ll. We will just keep that secret to ourselves.
While #37 was on the course, (and long after), Bob
was slaving over his red racer. Washing, waxing and taping and taping, and then he taped some more. Finally Cory let him stop
working and allowed him to go to the hotel for a bit of rest. That kid is one tough taskmaster, I could hear the whip cracking
clear across the ramp.
About 1645 Brent Travis's mom showed up looking for her favorite son. She was justifiably
proud of her "boy", extolling the tale of how he built the RV4 from a "kit". When he did show up with
his sweetheart in the gunner's seat I could see she was right. It was a labor of love for sure.
broke with a bit of breeze but clear skies, whew, so far so good.
After a bit the winds subsided and turned to a very
calm, warm morning with the snow covered Cascades in the background. What a day to be an aviator, life is good.
the ramp is buzzing with activity with aircraft arriving, being staged and many people soaking up the excitement of the coming
attraction. The air is alive with anticipation. Cameras were clicking and reporters were querying. "Where is the best
place to take in-flight pictures", was a question asked several times. Hopefully some of those pictures make it back.
The timers are briefed, understand the task at hand and are "on it". Is it 0930 already? Time for the all-important
Preflight Brief. Racers, wannabe racers, media and volunteers all gathered around to hear what the briefer has to say. Oh
man, now the briefer has the jitters. Breath deep, it will be alright, relax. And it was alright even though I wasn't
relaxed. With a lot of help from my peers, we got the job done (on schedule). Out to the ramp we go.
air carrier we have been waiting for, clears the taxiway and we are filling it up again with ten ripsnorting Air Racers. The
only thing keeping us on the ground is the Ramp Marshal. Has her watch stopped? It must be 30 seconds by now. Let us go. And
she does, with a flourish of the wrist. Ladies and Gentlemen we have a race.
There had been some mention
as to the race being in the red financially. I would like all to know that the financial cost to experience
reward is very low. I consider myself to be as tough as the next guy, but when I think of some of the rewards
of this endeavor my eyes sweat. I am in hopes that one or more of you find it possible to host
your own event so that you may experience the same joy as I.
These are just two of the back
stories that I wanted to share:
Rice piloting his Pa28-180 to a speed of 136.95 can be justifiably proud with his accomplishments. David
competed in a Flying Club airplane with his copilot, Gilbert Cresswell, who is sans Medical. David, a 270
hr pilot, had never crossed the Cascade Mountains before flying in for the race. All of his time had been
spent in the local Puget Sound area. Just the act of “flying over the rocks” as he put it was
a monumental accomplishment. In a phone conversation this AM, he was beside himself in jubilance over having
taken the GOLD in his class and gotten an award plaque to prove it.
Scott Bach in his Pitts was equally ecstatic. After purchasing
the Pitts last summer with the intention of racing at Reno , Scott learned that his 150 stale hours were not enough to qualify
him to go to PRS. Last fall, Scott a very cautious pilot, was uncomfortable with flying the 52 nm flight
from his home in Yakima to Wenatchee and asked if I would fly the Mustang beside his Pitts and lead him up and back.
After the flight he was comfortable with the hops and now comes and goes with ease.
Now, Scott who has been going to Reno for many years has realized the first taste of his dream of being an Air
Racer. Normally pretty reserved he was a font of excitement as he told me that he would have a place as
the fastest Biplane Blue on the SARL records. He was the last to leave the field yesterday as he strayed to enjoy every
last drop from the cup of victory. Scott's mom put her hand on my shoulder and thanked me for helping him get to
race after he left. Life doesn't get any better than that
Local paper article
Tim Bovee, Race 61D and Race Director of the Great Northwest
Bill Hungelmann, Race 776.
Lew Miller, Race 7.
Scott Bach, Race 18S.
Rookie No More!
Lunch is served! Bob Mills, Race 43 takes full advantage...
Brent Travis, Race TF.
Dave Rice, Race 63 and navigator Gilbert Cresswell.