Landing at Llano after a long day was uneventful. Neil and Tracy were waiting on the FBO porch.
Before I tied down, I called Alan C, the Race host. Any hangar space available? Yep. This was great news, Aurora won’t have to sit on the ramp in the beating sun or possible rain. We shoved her into the corner, pulled out our stuff and shut the canopy to keep the spiders and mice at bay.
Neil says”hope you’re hungry” as we head down the road to Cooper’s BBQ. Apparently this is the place for some pretty good brisket or ribs in Llano. And it was!
After a goodnights sleep at Neils hangar home (44TE), we decided to fly over and get the plane ready to race. Oil checks, bug washing, GPS course loading, etc. We had nice 15 minute flight over, what a great way to start my birthday.
I started soaking the bug juice off. Walked around to the open the canopy….****!..it’s closed and latched internally!..What the f….? You cannot imagine the feeling to be locked out and no idea what to do without ruining something. Using my new Ipad, I sent out a 911 to Vansairforce, while we flew back to retrieve any and all tools or ideas we could find. We drove back a few hours later making a side trip to Horseshoe Bay resort to wander around.
The 18 hole putting course was cool. Daughter, Jenny looks good anywhere she goes.
We dropped the girls off at the Crawfish Festival and made our way to the hangar. First attempt was fishing a steel coat hanger through the slot for the side latch. I am able to hook the D handle easily, but unable to move it. I tried slipping under the side skirt with same results. *@#%#^ Dang $#%^# I was tooled up for drilling my canopy but not mentally ready. A couple of deep breaths later I chucked up a 1/8” bit and positioned it drill. Looking down at the latch as I decided how to drill and engage the cotter pin with a small blade.
HEY!... look the handle is hard up against the other side and the round end of the cotter pin is keeping me from rotating it. Quick give me that coat hanger, I’ll try hooking it on the other side, rotating it 135*. A little vibration from Neil and we managed to save the day with no plexi harmed. I did scratch the edge of the latch slot a little. But we were in! WHEW Man am I glad I own a old Ford truck and had to break into it more than once with a coat hanger.
Heck let’s go eat some CrawFish! 2 flats for 4 people..sure why not!
They are more work than I imagined. here's 2 cajun wannabes
Turned out to be a happy birthday after all.
Saturday was Race day. Off to finish prepping. I did my wind checks and fuel calcs, added 5 gallons to the left side and tried to quell my nerves. In case you’ve never experienced racing, it is an adrenaline rush like no other…at least for me.
Sitting in the plane ready for engine start, here we go, fire up wait for taxi parade to the start….Hmmm how come no one is talking?..Test Test!!radio check..Test…hey anyone on this frequency. I look around people are moving. DANG what’s wrong now. Grab the spare headset form behind me…..TEST TEST…nothing,..hook into the pax jacks …still nothing. I shutdown Aurora and signal I’m out.
I flew over 1100nm, broke into my own plane, to be sidelined by a comm that worked yesterday.
Jim came over and asked what’s wrong?...No radio. (I still had my headset on) he grabbed the Icom wiggling it to and fro. Faintly I could hear someone then snap all was crystal clear. We’re in, baby! ….. CLEAR PROP…. planes are leaving without me.
It was nerve racking to start at the end of the pack, but better than watching from the ramp. Finally I get the “go” signal. 160nm here I come.
All levers are forward and I’m rewarded with a climb of over 2000fpm as I turn on course trying to catch the tailwind that awaits me at 5500. GS is rising with every foot of ALT. Once level at 5500, I nose her over. Watch that airspeed , lean it out a bit gives me 189kts TAS and ground speed keeps climbing, 205, 210,211…214….215..a flash of 218….but seems 215kts GS is it. Turn 1 is only 22nm away. Doesn’t take long to pass 3 slower planes before I even get there. Whew, take a breath. 2g left turn directly into the teeth of the tailwind which was my friend minutes ago, now is a headwind and GS is down around 150kts for a bit. I drop the nose setting up for 500fpm descent to get out of the wind. I reach Vne of 200kts TAS almost immediately, shallow that dive. 300-400fpm holding 205kts TAS. Dang I’ll never hit my altitude before the next turn 14 miles away. Oh well that racing. At Turn 2 I go under racer. How many have I passed, don’t know….doesn’t matter its Aurora, me and the clock.
Short while later, I hear people calling turn 3, I’m searching the sky…. There above my alt is a white highwing, followed by a green mooney running lower. Drat! I’ve drifted to the inside and need to “S” turn the corner to be outside and legal. It’s another left hand 2 g turn and start climbing for 4500. Gotta be a tailwind somewhere this direction. I pass well above the Mooney and call, "Passing the white highwing", a Glastar on his right side. As I go past it looks like they are backing up. Plane is running great, but can’t believe right tank is down to 7gallons(my minimum reserve for the race). Switch to left and hope I didn’t miscalculate. Turn 4 and I’m set up inside again….should have prerun the course to identify the corners better. Another little S turn scrubbing seconds off the clock. The next turn or two are a blur, before I lower the nose over wishing the Llano bridge would get here sooner. A short dogleg to the airport and I cross the finish at the minimum alt of 2100’ showing 191kts TAS. Whew that was quick.
Got some fuel and parked near Racer Bob' #71 and Alan;s Lancair Race #2. Seemed like good fast company to rub elbows with.
I had no idea how I did. I knew I made mistakes but the plane ran hard, cool felt great. There were 6 RV’s in the Blue class. One known fast RV-8 and a bunch of others, -6, -6A, 2 more -8 and my -7. I ended up taking 52min32secs, averaging 210.9mph over the 160nm course. This put me in 4th place in class and 9th overall out of 23 racers. I had made mistakes, mistakes that cost me. 3rd in class was only 10seconds quicker, 2nd was 29 seconds faster over the long course. Not my best, but I’ll take it after everything that has happened.
This pic summons up my Llano feelings. Peaceful simplicity. It was a great trip in spite of the couple issues.