Just went to check my email before heading to bed and to my delight were three emails from Jo Bachman of ARC informing Athina and me that we're official and "Team Bessie" has a spot in the 2011 Air Race Classic -- YAY!!! I'm so excited, I'm beside myself :-). Now we can move full steam ahead with our planning and prep for we only have 88 days left 'til the skies will be teeming with 'hungry' women air racers and Athina and I will be right there amongst the best of them. "Classic Racer 37, let the air race adventure REALLY begin!!!"...Joyce
Today as we set out for some flying, our intentions were to make a hop to one of the 2011 ARC airports - KGBD (Great Bend, Kansas), 145 nm from Topeka. The weather was looking just a little ominous, but according to the weather briefing, it seemed as if it would be o.k. to fly. We pulled the plane out of the hangar, conducted a detailed preflight so Athina could become familiar with "The Joybird," and ended by smiling for the camera. And then, lo and behold, the dark gray clouds began descending while the winds increased significantly (there was a tornado watch in effect, you know ;-)). One of the critical elements of flying is aeronautical decision making (ADM). Upon checking the weather again, we realized the ceilings were below visual flight rules (VFR) minimums. We looked at each other over the cowling of the aircraft and our eyes said it all: "THIS IS A NO GO!" [laughing]. At that point, our ADM resulted in "Joybird Out and Joybird Back In". Oh well, tomorrow's another day... Joyce & Athina
"Even NO flying is work -- PUSH!!!" "Joybird back in -- PUSH!!!"
Spring Break is here -- YAY!!! -- and today was a beautiful day to fly and go meet, for the first time, my air race partner, whom I felt I've known for much longer than two months. Her flight was due in at 1240, so I was up early and was able to get a lot of necessary things accomplished before heading to the airport. I figured if I left KTOP at 1145 with 35-40 minutes enroute, I'd be there in plenty of time. Well, five minutes from the airport I received a phone call from Athina; she had already arrived as she was able to catch an earlier flight. I panicked for a moment, because I thought, "now she'd have to wait for another hour, at least." But, she was so gracious and apologetic -- I really liked that about her. She said, "Joyce, take your time, don't rush, don't do anything different, I'm here early and I'm fine -- I have plenty to do while I wait." What a relief that was! I proceeded to the airport, conducted a normal preflight, got fueled up, and departed at 1215. I picked up VFR flight following to Kansas City International and proceeded direct on course. It was a little hazy at altitude, but the flight was wonderful, punctuated by a nice little tailwind. I was cleared into KC International Class BRAVO airspace and moments later handed off to KCI approach. I got a little off course (heading south towards the MCI VOR) when the controller came on to verify what airport I was intending to land at. When I told him International, he KINDLY informed me that I was headed for KC Downtown. "Ooops," I said, "sorry, I was tracking to the VOR." "It's ok," he said, "turn north to heading 010, and I'll vector you for 19R." How gracious he was!!! When I had the airport in sight, I informed the controller and he directed me to tower frequency. When I checked in, the controller stated: "Rwy 9 is straight ahead: are you in a position to land there?" "Affirmative," I said, "I'll take Rwy 9." He informed me that winds were from 190 (that was a direct crosswind), and would that be ok. I told him yes, that was ok. I figured, I just had crosswind practice last week, so GO FOR IT!!! even if you are at the international airport in KS: it's just an airport with hundreds of commercial airliners :-). Anyway, I executed the straight-in approach and crosswind landing ALMOST flawlessly (on touchdown, I forgot to keep the upwind aeileron into the wind -- no harm, no foul, though), turned left off the first high-speed taxiway, cleaned up the airplane, and proceeded with a progressive taxi to Executive Beechcraft/Signature FBO. The controllers were awesome to me for my first time going into Kansas City International alone -- they welcomed this little ol' 180 hp flying machine right along with "the Big Boys." When I arrived at Signature, there was Athina waiting patiently with this huge, welcoming smile. I knew immediately that "TEAM BESSIE" was going to be a force to be reckoned with as we "hit it off right" the very first moment of our meeting!
We chatted for a bit, took a few photos, paid the $28.00 "handling fee" (OUCH!!! -- it was either that or a minimum seven gallons of fuel at $7.72/gal --YIKES!!!), and headed out to "The Joybird" for our flight back to Topeka. After obtaining our flight and taxi clearances, it was the "cutest" thing to find ourselves sandwiched between two Southwest 707s on Taxiway B, heading for our Rwy 19R departure. Now, that's really hanging out with the Big Boys "fur shur!":-). Our flight back to KTOP was our first session of practicing our cockpit/crew resource management (CRM) and WE definitely operated together like a well-oiled machine. I can hardly wait for "Team Bessie" to debut at the 2011 Air Race Classic. Look out girls, here we come! :-)...Joyce
I am so EXCITED, I just made it to the Signature FBO in KMCI -- YIPPEE!!!! I thought I'd sit back and relax in the comfy environment (so exclusive from the large airport terminals I'm used to) but, I keep looking out of the window praying for a glimpse of The Joybird landing. Well, I didn't quite catch her landing as she ended up arriving on Rwy 09 instead of Rwy 19R where the FBO sits. But, I do catch a glimpse of her high speed taxi ....and there she is...being marshalled in to the Signature parking ramp. Now, the final up close and personal meeting of my teammate. Oh Joy. Literally!!! Joyce is everything I envisioned and more...friendly, smart, enthusiastic and TINY!!! She's a DOLL. We're going to get along just great. It's time to take flight as we set out to our home base KTOP (Philip Billard Airport Topeka, Kansas). We have lots of Air Race organizing and planning to do. I hope Joyce has some good Thai food in her neighborhood. I'm ready for some takeout!...Athina
Athina will be coming to Kansas on March 21st during my spring break from school/teaching (YAY!!!) so that we can finally meet in person, do some serious planning for our "great air adventure" in 104 days, and fly. She'll be flying into Kansas City International (MCI), so I flew there IFR for the 1st time on Monday to "practice" picking her up. My instructor went with me, so I was able to fly and practice the ILS Rwy 19R approach under the hood as well as spending about 30 minutes in "actual" IMC. It was a great flight and great training, too; thanks, Dean!
I am so looking forward to her visit, getting to know her better, developing with her our strategy and game plan for the ARC, and then do some flying. Who knows -- this may be just the springboard we need to launch our own little airline :-). So, stay tuned...Joyce
Wow! Joyce is going to be a great teammate because she's ahead of the game. Practicing approaches just to ensure my arrival pick up goes without fault, talk about staying ahead of the airplane...YES! It's been awhile since I've been to Kansas City and I'm looking forward to the trip. I'm especially excited about meeting "The JOYBIRD!" Oh, and Joyce & MaxRudder (her pooch), too (lol). I love that airplane already...Athina