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2011 Recap of the Top of the Chesapeake II

by Ben Armen

Which is faster?  A Light Sport Aircraft or George chasing a chinchilla with a butcher’s knife?  Well at the Top of the Chesapeake II we got a taste of both, and each was exciting!

During the night before the race a loud and infrequent strange noise kept coming from the empty bedroom at George’s new fabulous house.  Occasionally someone would look in the adjoining room and see nothing.

On race day George went into the empty room to grab the computer and printer being used for the TOTC II.  In the dim light of the early morning, he grabbed the printers’ power cord to give it a yank and unplug it from the wall.

All of a sudden George got a wake up call and a zap!  WOW!  “What was that,” he yelled?

The extension cord next to the Chinchilla’s cage was frayed over a 12-inch section with exposed copper with wiring showing through some parts of the insulation.  During the night, the boarded chinchilla had eaten the insulation off the cord next to its cage.  And not just in one place of the electrical cord but an entire 12-inch length of damage electrical cord.

The frisky chinchilla was alive and kicking and as ornery as ever.   And George was now wide-awake and ready for the day after his electro shock therapy.

The day started at 0800 at the Cecil County airport (58M).  The weather on race day was spectacular!  Clear skies, calm winds, and unlimited visibility.  What more could you ask for?  Eight racers!

George fired up Midnight Mistress and gave a guest named Tony the ultimate thrill.  "The Mistress" needed a few warm up minutes and a brief shake down flight consisting of a few low passes over runway 31 .  The racers, visiting crowd, and volunteers arrived greeted by the sounds of speed!


The Pied Piper this year was John Rathmell from Sport Flying USA.  John was our Flying Pig recipient and LSA category winner in 2010.  John had surrendered his previous Remos LSA to its new owner and was to flying his brand new Limited Edition Piper Sport. John’s formation team and flight school team was the highlight of the day.  Sport Flying USA and Unlimited Technology Inc. served as corporate sponsors this year.  

Last year the Piper Sport was the top selling LSA in the USA. The Piper Sport LTD flew in a limited class as part of a formation flight of two. In 2012, there will be a new formation precision flying school featuring LSA's located in Lancaster, PA. This fantasy camp for pilots will allow the participants to compete in a race as a two ship for graduation or open a sporting event as part of a veteran's salute.


For those of you who do not know, it is a Czech design that is already approved as an LSA trainer.   It is an all-metal airplane built under license by Czech Sport Aircraft and was distributed by Piper Inc last year. In a brief six months the plane vaulted to best selling status.

Specs include a 1,200-fpm climb rate, max cruise of 119 knots, 30-gallon fuel capacity (good for 600 nautical miles' range) and 1,320-pound maximum gross weight (tops for the category) yielding 600 pounds of useful load. The Piper Sport is available in  two "trim levels" starting with the basic unit at $119,900, which includes a host of standard features including leather seats and a BRS ballistic recovery "whole-airplane" parachute system.

John not only came down in his new Piper Sport demo but he also brought four other participants!  With him came Dweilin and Ryan in the Gobosh and Barry and Elizabeth in the Evektor.  And another Evektor sporting John and Judy Calla, owners of Adventure Flight Training in Lancaster, arrived for the post race activities.  These so called “slow” aircraft beat every other fast RV8, RV10, Lancair, SX300, and Hanger Queen which failed to show, and most were sitting still in their hangers on race day.


Ryan, aka “Wet Ink”, just got his pilots license and we don’t even think the ink was dry on this new Sport Pilots license on race day.

Remember, it is not how fast you “say” your airplane goes, it is how fast it is actually flown on race day that matters.  And all the excuses in the world don’t make these alleged “fast” pilots any cooler.  Cool pilots fly.  And these LSA’s came to fly en masse.

Next year John is going to beat all the hanger queens in this Amish classic:


So after all the real pilots arrived, the briefing began.


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Sitting front and center was Captain Ian, aka “The Party Barge.”  Captain Ian came in his Piper Arrow with his crew.  This guy knows how to travel in style and have a good time.   This student pilot arrived with a crew who consisted of his instructor and two 25 year old Brazilian models!  His Piper Arrow was smokin' and has a stocked bar cart. Ian’s objective was to get around the course with “Ice to spare” and “Time to melt.”


After the briefing was complete the Unlimited Technology Inc. team loaded up and headed out for the main event.

Kerry, Race 99, a TOTC veteran.


Kerry, Race 99, a TOTC veteran.


Gary, our RV Blue reining champion, and repeat offender confessed it took him 10 years to complete this RV6 beauty, time well spent.


George and Wes in Midnight Mistress.


Barry, aka “Bear”, and Daniel in the Evektor flew as father and son..  Who says full sized pilots can’t fly LSA?


Elizabeth was wearing her “Don’t Mess with Texas” T-shirt.


And Doc and Ben.


Our fearless ramp crew got everyone started and we taxied out in groups of three.

The race went well.  Everyone launched in order at 30 second intervals.

Position reports as directed.  Air-to-Air chatter was lively.  And everyone successfully recovered to the destination airport safe and sound.

The results were tabulated as follows:

George FisherEVO RocketSport FX0:38:00230.94200.68
Gary ReedRV-6RV Blue0:40:54214.57186.45
Kerry FritzLong EZFX Red0:47:47183.66159.60
Paul KatzRV-7RV Blue0:51:35170.13147.84
Ian FranciscoArrowFAC4RG0:53:08165.17143.53
Ryan EllisGobash 700 LSFAC61:11:25122.88106.78
Barry PruittEvector SportStarFAC61:12:55120.35104.59
John RathmellPiper SportFAC61:13:14119.83104.13

And the awards ceremony conducted with a group photo at the end.


And a glamour shot of the true heros of the day, the LSA  pose.


Kerry, Race 99, a TOTC veteran.