Vol. 5 November 2007
Velocity's Quarterly Whenever-We-Get-Around-To-It Newsletter
   
 
This is a ListBox

Building an Engine From Scratch
Andy Millin

The AirVenture Cup Air Race
Craig Woolston

AVCup Adventure!
Rich Guerra

Oshkosh Cook-Out
Andy Millin

Adopted Member of the Family
Ken "Lucky" Mishler


AVCup Adventure!
Rich Guerra

The AirVenture Cup! The thought of flying in that race had been on my mind almost since I began building N724X. After all, such a cool plane needed an equally cool mission!

AIR RACING!! The words conjure up visions of events from the dawn of the aviation age to today. With origins in 1909 at Reims, France, air racing rapidly evolved into closely followed events like the Bendix Transcontinental Speed Dash which became the proving ground for America's newest aircraft as aircraft designers were spurred to build better, faster aircraft. Formula One Air Racing arose in 1947 to continue this tradition with the top racers using NASA technology to reach speeds approaching 300 mph on the same engine that powers a Cessna 150 to barely 100 mph. And today, thousands upon thousands of spectators can experience the excitement of real air racing by multiple classes of aircraft up close and personal at the Reno National Championship Air Races. Yet one does not have to have an unlimited budget and professional training to actually participate in the excitement of air racing! A group of dedicated volunteers lead by Eric Whyte has organized a safe and tremendously FUN cross-country race that replicates the excitement of the Bendix Trophy Races of yesteryear and showcases the advances of aviation's future. It is an event that is marked by a sense of camaraderie, of family, that is unique. Everyone is welcome AND everyone is welcoming!

 

I'd been to OSH in my Velocity once before in 2002 as a trial run but the Race was an experience not to be missed! I had heard tales of excitement and adventure from others and read about it on Frank Pullano's website, Glass Overcast (http://www.glassovercast.com) Finally, it was our turn!

In 2004, my Dad, Rick, came out to Albuquerque where we were based at the time a few days early and buffed the plane to a mirror finish. Final checks were made and we were ready! However, the weather almost kept us in Albuquerque. We waited several days with New Mexico and a couple of states eastward socked in completely. On the last possible moment, we embarked late in the day, climbed out over the overcast and flew to Dayton, OH in a race against the sun. We lost that race however, with the sun setting before we arrived to Dayton Wright Bros. Airport (MGY) - not a good omen, to be sure! But our pereverence was rewarded as we were treated to a spectacular sunset that bathed the plane in a warm orange glow and a beautiful night landing at a strangely peaceful MGY. That evening, we met some of the racers who got us on track and the next day, we plunged into the Race! A Race veteran, Jack Watson, a jovial guy with a booming voice and a stable of race planes took us under his wing and showed us the ropes. I was to find that this easy congeniality is the hallmark of the race.

The day dawned somewhat murky but flyable and the weather was known to be better westward. The Race leader, Eric Whyte, gave the assembled Racers a thorough briefing on the course which amounts to a straightforward cross-country, just flown a bit faster than usual at full power! Eric and his stalwart band of volunteers are tireless defenders of the race and are all wonderful people who strive to make the event fun and, most importantly, safe. Walking the line that first morning while everyone made feverish preparations for the race start was a real treat. The planes there every year are a wonderful mix of types and styles with many representative of the best of their class. But it is the Racers themselves that form the heart and soul the AirVenture Cup. The hallmark of the Airventure Cup Race is cameraderie and friendship.

One might find oneself chatting with a former Reno champion or altitude world record holder but you would never know it. These Racers are people who share the love of flight and of the machines which carry them on airborne adventures. Everyone is free with advice and help is never far away for someone with mechanical problems or any other need. Expertise in a myriad of fields of aircraft homebuilding is freely given even in this arena of friendly competition.

"RACERS! 5 minutes to start!" comes the call down the line. We strapped in and soon were taxiing in a line to the end of the runway.

Launching in rapid succession, 60+ planes are off the ground in a matter of minutes. Previous to the Race, I had been used to watching landscape roll by sedately from the vantage point of 12 to 15 thousand feet. Let's just say that things look a bit different outside the window when moving 200+ MPH at a considerably lower altitude! What a rush!

There is a common Race frequency on which reports of obstacles, slow moving gliders, position reports while passing other racers, etc. are shared. There is also a certain amount of "trash talk" as various racers attempt to entice others to deviate from their carefully thought out race strategy with reports of powerful tailwinds at higher altitudes. Claims of incredible speeds in the flight levels are regularly made (although given some of the planes there, almost believable!!). I for one, simply go low enough to stay out of some of the headwinds and high enough I don't have to worry too much about obstacles. Beyond that, my strategy is a secret! :-)

With position reports coming fast and furious, Dad and I crossed the finish line at Lomira, near Fond du Lac, in a spectacular finish with Jack Watson's Glasair II mere seconds behind.

After that, we all land at Fond du Lac and await the arrival of all the other racers. After much swapping of tales, the racers get another briefing from Eric Whyte, this time on our mass arrival to Oshkosh. After lining up two by two on the taxiway, we all launch again in rapid succession and follow one another to land on the runways at OSH. For those of you who have done the RIPON arrival, this is overall much easier. It's an awe inspiring sight every year when OSH, closed to incoming traffic except for you, with its thousands of planes already lined up, is laid out in front of your canopy. The racers are directed to primo parking spaces right in front of Aeroshell Square. THAT'S the way to arrive at OSH!

The next year, 2005, after some friendly squabbling between my parents, my mother, Inez, flew co-pilot. (As things have evolved over the years, there apparently has been quite the grudge match developed between my parents as to whose race time will be faster! I just have to stay really quiet and try to stay out of it!)

That year, we flew out together from McKinney,TX with James and Sandy Redmon in their Berkut (http://www.berkut13.com). My mother's gasps of awe as we skirted around a towering cumulonimbus and her excitement flying alongside the beautiful Race 13 made flying new to me again.

This time, the race was even bigger. Many racers brought along new
racers: friends from their chapters or builders groups. The striking thing about the Airventure Cup Race is how many people are touched by it. This event is NOT just for "elite" pilots or only high-end Race Planes (although you will find some of these here). It is for anyone who wants to DO something with the airplanes on which they've worked so hard to build and/or maintain. It's a family event with every year seeing many father/mother - son/daughter, husband/wife, etc. race teams. Entrants flew everything from recently completed planes without interiors to polished OSH award winners. Pat Shea flew with us that year in his Velocity XL, Race 40. That year was memorable for hot and howling headwinds that made for interesting pylon turns!

While descending into Rockford, one crosses over a river and a stand of trees which makes for lots of turbulence. After repeatedly bouncing our heads off the ceiling, I began to worry that my Mom might become frightened so I offered to slow down, whereupon she yelled "NO!! Can't you go faster?!" How many pilots face the quandary of what to do when one's mother tells you to exceed Vne by a considerable margin?

The next year saw even more Velocity's with Pat making a return along with Tim Rhodenbaugh (Race 32), Jack Sheehan (RACE 55) and Joe Shiferel (RACE 44). The year after saw Craig Woolston (RACE 51) and Ken Mishler (RACE 87) added to the Velocity roster.

Why is the race special? For me and many others, it's a family affair. I've raced the last four years with my father and my mother as co-pilot. They sacrificed a lot to give me the opportunities that made building that plane possible; they even helped build it. All the time, effort and resources I put into my plane became more than worth it in the moments when I heard the excitement in my father's voice when he heard "Race 24 ... MARK!!" as we launched on our first race or my mother's shouts of glee as we blasted through pounding turbulence at a pylon turn at Rockford.

For me, the AirVenture Cup Race has been one of the greatest experiences in my years of flying - a real source of joy and sense of accomplishment. And no matter the ranking of the race times, everyone goes home a winner and the better for having participated. See for
yourself: ride along with my parents and I in RACE 24: check out the 'AVCup Adventure' video in the videos section at http://www.rguerra.com/velocity/

Take a close look at the Airventure Cup. Those participating represent the breadth and depth of Sport Aviation. And every year we have almost enough Velocity's to have our own class. Maybe this coming year we will! Hopefully, YOU will participate in the next Race to carry on AND add to this proud tradition! See you at the Race!!

-Rich Guerra
Velocity XL RG N724X
RACE 24
http://www.rguerra.com/velocity/

 


RACE 20 - Frank Pullano's comprehensive, inspiring and entertaining view of the Race's past, present and future and central information source http://www.airventurecup.com/

RACE 24 - Rich Guerra's AVCup Photo Galleries http://www.rguerra.com/avcup/

http://gallery.mac.com/velo724x

RACE 13 - James Redmon's Berkut 13 site:
http://www.berkut13.com/berkut57.htm#OSH06

RACE 7 - Steve Wood's Glastar 'GOOFY' Adventure of Flight site:
http://adventureofflight.org/

RACE 22 - Sam Hoskin's Quickie Q-200 Blog:
http://home.mchsi.com/~shoskins/welcome.htm

EAA Website: (under the 'Experience It' menu)
http://airventure.org/