Sunday, June 28, 2009

Awards Banquet

The awards banquet this evening was awesome; just like the rest of the ARC 2009. Everyone had a great time and will be remembered by all as a wonderful experience. All the racers, judges, directors, timers, etc. are remarkable people and Kali and I can't thank everyone enough for this unbelievable experience. Kali and I were fortunate to receive an award; fourth place on the fourth leg of the race. That leg was Lufkin, Texas to Russellville, Arkansas. We received $20 and a bronze charm. Out of the collegiate teams we were 5th. Overall we placed 19th out of 32 teams. We were very happy with our results!! Congrats to Indiana State for first place in the collegiate competition and second place overall. Embry-Riddle took collegiate second (Prescott Campus) and third (Daytona Campus) places.

Thanks to all of our followers for your support!! Robin and Niki, both Kali and I can't thank you enough for all of the work you have done to get us here and all of the work you have done throughout the race!!

Kali and I are looking forward to competing in our next Air Race Classic!! We can't believe the week is over!

Collegiate CompetitorsAll of the Racers...Kali and I are on the Bottom Row

Kali and I will now be heading back to Salina tomorrow morning. We cannot wait to share our stories with all of our family and friends back at home!!

Awards Banquet is Today

Yesterday the K-State Team attended the 1st time racer's debriefing and signed score sheets. We still do not know where they stand :  ( But, Kali said that, "Merritt is an amazing timer and half of our times were exact to the second!" Great job!!!

*When each team signs time sheets, the judges/timer meets with each team individually and goes through the start and stop  times for each leg of the race. This is to verify that the timer got the proper time for each leg of the course and credited the proper team for that time. I encouraged our K-State team, # 22, to be particularly careful and write down these times because in my first year racing, there were multiple planes that crossed the timing line near the same time our team did, and the timers completely missed our time!

However, have no fear, our fantastic mama bird, Janet Yoder, encouraged us to keep track of our own times and also the aircrafts that crossed the timing line before and after us (if there were any)-and we did. The year that the timers missed our times, they did know a plane had passed the timing line around the times that we had flown, but did not know which classic team it was. So, when it came time for our team to sign the time sheets, the judges were able to get our times-and fill in the blank that it was our team that crossed the timing line around the times the judges missed which plane crossed the line. Thanks mama birds!!!

Today is the all racers briefing, breakfast, and banquet. Stand by for results. I believe the banquet starts around 7pm this evening (CST) and will end around 10 or 11pm (ish). I will do my best to get the results and post them ASAP.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Kansas State University Team Completes 2009 Air Race Classic

Kali and Merritt have officially completed their first Air Race Classic!


I have had a handful of emails in regards to how our team is doing compared to the competition. The short answer is: we just will not know until the awards ceremony on Sunday evening. I will try to simplify that-as I know you are all wondering what that means exactly as they finished so early. (Deadline is Friday, June 26, 2009 at 5pm CST)

Here we go:
As of Thursday evening, the air race classic website posted the following information:

Where are they?

As of Thursdaynight, the racers were at the following locations.
IJX (Jacksonville): Classics 4, 13, 16, 19, 25, 27, 34
RAC (Racine): Classics 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 43
AIO (Atlantic): Classics 14 and 26
Now-what does that mean for us?
Two classic teams had completed the race Thursday evening, but that does NOT necessarily mean those two teams are #1 and #2 for the overall competition.

This race is based on having the BEST ground speed along the entire course. Every competitor takes off at the same time (sequentially in order, starting with #1, then 2, etc.), flies the same course, and has the same weather (essentially). The thing that changes is the decisions made by each team along the route. If teams decided to take longer at fuel stops-they could be missing out on great tail winds. If teams decided to stay overnight and depart in the morning, they are risking the chance of waiting on the weather, storms, fronts, and even winds.

Each team makes their own decisions along the route. Some teams may decide that they are hitting a head wind and to stay lower (as winds usually increase as you go up in altitude), while other teams may decide to climb to a higher altitude because of an expected tail wind. Each team picks the altitude to be flown along a given course, unless there are specific instructions because of an obstruction or airspace that the racers are flying around. (Like Chicago airspace, for example the Air Race Classic teams may be told they have to fly at a certain altitude on a specific route.)

Additionally, timing plays a huge role in the decisions made along the route as well. In general, the morning winds are usually more calm than winds in the afternoon. Additionally, depending on the race route, thunderstorms and weather can be an issue. So timing what stops to make it to by sunset each day are important factors to play into the decision making process.

Each team wants to be cautious and safe, yet fly the best race they can. In doing this, the teams have to decide what a good goal is to complete each day, based on their specific aircraft capabilities and expected weather for the week (even though these decisions may change over the course of the race). If a team decides to stop after only 1 or 2 legs per day, they risk not finishing the race by the deadline of Friday at 5pm CST. If you do not finish the race, you obviously cannot win (unless the case is that no race team could finish-I believe the rules state there is a special rule that the race could be "called off early" and one of the designated race stop airports along the course would be substituted as the finish line for all racers.)
Since each team ends up at different locations every night, it is a gamble to say that one team is "winning" over another team at this point. The final results are the only way to see what team ultimately flew the best race by having the best ground speed over the entire route. The ground speed is calculated in conjunction with the total number of miles flown and the time it took each team to fly the total course.

After the finish deadline:
The top 10 teams (-maybe top 12 teams-) will have their aircrafts re-inspected. This is to ensure that the top teams did not cheat or modify their engine/plane in any way along the route. After the inspections are completed, the judges will meet to verify results and come up with the scoring for all the "Classic teams" (as the judges call them).**

Even if the team did not place top 10, they are not out of the running for prizes!! (unless things have changed-Kali/Merritt, correct me if I am wrong ; )

The teams which are not top 10 can still compete in what are called "leg prizes." (Top 10 winners are excluded from these prizes.) These prizes are usually given out to the top 3 (I believe) teams for each "leg" of the race course. The top 3 teams of each leg usually get a small medal/medallion.

**LASTLY: My favorite prize for the race (if they still give it out-I think they do!) is the S.O.S prize for the last-place team. This is a small prize, but given away in good-humor. These ladies know how to have a good time, whether you are 1st or last place!

If you have questions, please post them below. I will do my best to answer them : )
(And-the ladies love to read the comments posted by their families and friends !!!)

I anticipate that Kali and Merritt will have a chance to post a blog in the next day or so...
Until then, GO CATS~!

En route to the Finish LINE!

The K-State ladies are en route to Atlantic, Iowa! They should arrive in about 2 that looks like about 11:30 am CST.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Before Takeoff at Centennial

Beatiful Arkansas

Lovely Sunrise in Lufkin, Texas
Sometimes we get a little close

We love air races!!!!

Kali was frightened

Then we got super frightened...but no worries...we made it!

Thanks Racine Airport for letting us hangar our airplanes!

We made it all the way to Lake Michigan

Safe on ground in Wisconsin

The K-State ladies have made another successful leg and are safe on ground in Wisconsin. Despite the bits of green that kept popping up on the radar, they said they did not have any trouble.

En route to Wisconsin

Kali and Merritt are en route to Wisconsin. (and probably almost there-I got a text from Merritt around 12:45pm CST that they left Illinois and are headed to Wisconsin.) This leg of the course should take them about 2 hours to complete.

So far, they have completed the following stops:
Start: Denver, CO (APA)

Liberal, KS (LBL)
Sweetwater, TX (SWW)
Lufkin, TX (LFK)
Russellville, AR (RUE)
Grenada, MS (GNF)
Sparta, TN (SRB)
Jacksonville, IL (IJX)

Currently en route to: Racine, WI (RAC)

Leg left to complete:
Finish: Atlantic, IA (AIO)

With only the final leg of this race to go, the ladies have made great progress and will have plenty of time to (as I call it) "hurry up and wait" on the weather, hoping to get the best departure time for good winds and weather for the last leg of the course.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We made it Sparta, Tennessee! We could have made it to Jackinsonville, Illinois but then we would have been exhuasted. The pool has already cooled us off and we are now waiting for some pizza!

Currently, Kali is getting a weather breifing for tomorrow. We are hoping for tailwinds...we still have yet to find a good tailwind...

Both Kali and I are having a complete blast! Everytime we get in the airplane we are like, "I can't believe we are doing this!!!" We are loving it. This truly is an amazing race, the expeirence has been invaluable. It has been such a confidence builder, actually getting out in the real world and flying, and with lots of racers right beside us (or under, or above!) This really is quite a treat to compete in something like this!

Here are some pictures that were taken before we took off from Centennial:

Kali and Merritt at a takeoff banquet

First Night talking to our adopted Mother Birds! So helpfull they are!

Kali and Merritt right before takeoff at Centennial

Taking off with the beautiful mountains!!

Leaving Grenada!

Kali just checked in, they are getting reatdy to leave Grenada, MS (GNF) and preparing to go to Sparta, TN (SRB).

They will check the weather when they arrive at SRB and decide whether to continue on, or take the rest of the day off.

Great progress ladies!

Day 2 Enroute on Leg 2

The K-State ladies have made it to Russellville, AR (RUE) and are enroute to Grenada, MS (GNF).

They were up with (or before) the sun...hoping to get good winds and weather.

The Collegiate Competition

The paragraph below is taken from here.

The Air Race Classic makes a special effort to include collegiate women in the race. ARC welcomes teams to enter the collegiate division of the race. To be eligible for the collegiate division, at least one member of the team must be a student at the sponsoring college or university.

The information from the next paragraph is taken from the Air Race Classic Site.

Collegiate Teams
Flying and competing in the Air Race Classic is a unique opportunity, especially for college students. Collegiate teams have the chance to meet and network with other women pilots and to make contacts all around the country. The Air Race Classic experience not only improves piloting skills, but can enhance employment searches after graduation. Teams also compete for the coveted Collegiate Challenge Trophy!

2009 Collegiate Teams Entered:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Daytona Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Prescott Indiana State University
Kansas State University
Purdue University
University of Oklahoma (2 teams entered)

The above paragraph states just a brief taste of the experiences that collegiate teams attain as they race. As a collgiate team, Kali and Merritt will have the opportunity to compete for not only the grand prize, but also in a separate part of the competition, reserved for collegiate teams.

Go Wildcats!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Denver Post Interview

Click on link below to see interview/take offs from Denver Post regarding Air Race and K-State Salina:

(Thanks Jan for sending me this!)

7:00 pm landing in Lufkin, TX

Kali and Merritt have safely landed in Lufkin, TX. After being up since before 5 am this morning, the ladies have had a long, but profitable day. While I cannot disclose ALL of their secrets, I can say that it sounds like they had some good flying weather and speeds along the route.
They mentioned that their flyby's went well and were pretty exciting.

*For those of you who do not know, a "fly by" is when the aircraft racing literally "flies by" the timing line which starts the time for the given leg of the race course. For the first leg of the race, the timing line was somewhere along the runway. For every other leg of the course, the ladies will take off, then depart the airport area, then re-enter the airport area and "fly by" a predetermined timing line to start their time for the leg of the race. Timing lines are extremely important, as that is how scoring is done-as judges/timers write down the race number and time you crossed the line. From the start of the timing line (at the departure airport) to the stop of the timing line (at the arrival airport) is how the time is measured for the given leg of the race. Each aircraft has a set handicap so that all airplanes are evened up AKA have a "level playing field" to start at *(since there are a variety of aircrafts flown, each type of plane will have a handicap to even out the competition).

This year, the ladies told me they are allowed to do "dual fly by's", which means that 2 aircrafts can fly by the timing line simultaneously~! WOW! and I thought fly by's were crazy before. The fly by's usually happen around 200-300 feet Above Ground Level *(AGL)* so now there is the possibility of 2 aircrafts flying next to each other at a low pass! how exciting! (kind-of like in Top Gun when Tom Cruise flies by the tower-for example)

They have just gotten checked into their hotel and have their eye on a big glass of water and some hearty food. They will be waking up early agian tomorrow, hoping to avoid any weather that might be along the route. With the first 3 legs of the course completed, they have made excellent progress thus far. They only have 6 more legs to go and 3 days to complete them in. They are well set up for the next few days.

Good luck ladies!

Video of K-State's Takeoff

This video is courtesy of Jan Burton.

Thanks for the video Jan!

Also, here are a few photos from the
Air Race Classic website (photographer not stated on the website):

Progress so far...for Day 1

Completed thus far:
-Denver, CO (APA)
-Liberal, KS (LBL)
-Sweetwater, TX (SWW)

So far, Merritt and Kali have made it through the above stops. Just got a text and it sounds like they are off to Lufkin, TX! It't hot out there and I look forward to hearing about their first day of adventures. I can't wait to hear about their endeavors!

Stops to go:
Lufkin, TX (LFK)
Russellville, AR (RUE)
Grenada, MS (GNF)
Sparta, TN (SRB)
Jacksonville, IL (IJX)
Racine, WI (RAC)
Finish: Atlantic, IA (AIO)

Take Off: 8:40 am-ish!

These Photo's are courtesy of Jan Burton:

The ladies took off at around 8:40 am-ish! Jan, one of the many KSU-S Air race sponsors sent me a quick note:

"They looked great...In addition, the Denver Post was there and shot a video."
Jan also said that the Denver Post interviewed Jan and we will see if they make the news.
Here is a quick photo of Jan's Daughter, Anne on the left, and Jan on the right.
sporting the K-State pennants. GO CATS!!!

Front Page!

Kali and Merrit made it to the front page of the Kansas City Star.

They takeoff in about an hour . . . more to come.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Air Race History

While some of you may know the original history of the Air Race Classic, you might be interested to read about some details you may not know (from air race classic website-under history):

Something interesting-you may not know is about the history of K-State Salina's Air Race Teams. See each year a team (or teams) competed, along with the race route:

Race Route
Tail Number: 30
Place: 2nd to last (FIRST TIME EVER for KSU-S to compete in this race! Way to pave the way for the future Women Pilots at KSU-S!)
-Carole Dawson
-Amanda Wagner
-Jill Hudson

** 2005 no team from K-State competed**

Race Route

-16th Place, 4th in Collegiate Competition

Left to Right:
-Robin Mikols *(Laws)--Married Name
-Janelle Baron
-Tricia Erker *(Leis)--Married Name

Race Route

2007--2 Teams!

Here is a group shot:

-C-172 Team
-Disqualified: could not finish race due to weather

Left to right:
-Robin Mikols *(Laws)--Married Name
-Andrea Prince

BE-36 Bonanza Team
-Disqualified: could not finish race due to weather

Left to Right:
-Yamila Saidi Fernandez (Passenger)
-Niki Mondek*(Gaskins)--Married Name
-Lauren Richardson

** 2008 no team from K-State competed**

2009 Race Route
-Place yet to be determined!
-Kali Hague
-Merritt Hitchcock

Air Race Route

Above is the Air Race Classic 2009 route.

(This information has been taken from the ARC

The race stops include:

Race Route for 2009Start:

Denver, CO (APA) hosted by the Colorado Chapter fo the Ninety-Nines
Liberal, KS (LBL)
Sweetwater, TX (SWW)
Lufkin, TX (LFK)
Russellville, AR (RUE)
Grenada, MS (GNF)
Sparta, TN (SRB)
Jacksonville, IL (IJX)
Racine, WI (RAC)
Finish: Atlantic, IA (AIO) hosted by Airworks, the Atlantic Chamber of Commerce, Cass Atlantic Development Corporation and the Atlantic Community Promotion Commission.

Air Race Classic extends a warm welcome to the Judges for the 2009 race:
Jan Bell, Mary Build and Janet Yoder.

While I do not know each of these judges, I do know Janet Yoder. Janet was our “mama bird” the first year I competed in the ARC. She is such a wonderful mentor and friend. I am thrilled to see her judge this year!!!

Our Ladies will depart bright and early Tuesday morning. Their race number is 22 and therefore will be the 22nd plane to depart. The way the race morning goes is as follows:
1. WAKE UP EARLY-like 5:30 or something like that!
2. Eat breakfast with ARC competitors at mandatory breakfast
3. Arrive at airport-preflight, load up, etc
4. DEPARTURES start at 7:00 am SHARP central time! **8 AM COLORADO TIME**

I think the first day of the race is one of THE most exciting and memorable times of the entire race. There are around 30 (ish) airplanes loading up and preparing to depart (depending on the year-and number of entrants to the race). There are line-people or flaggers that go around and start the airplanes a few at a time, one after the other-so that once the first few are started, they have time for a quick run up, and then each plane will depart in race order. After the first few are doing run up, the next few will start, and so on, until all aircrafts have started and departed. This is important, because one would not want to start their aircraft and wait an hour to take off-so doing the start up, taxi, run up and departure in this way works well.
There are usually a good crowd of people at the airport taking pictures and cheering the competitors on as each team departs. It is truly an experience.

I CAN’T WAIT until tomorrow!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

K-State is Checked in!

Latest news:

The K-State ladies passed through the check in procedures yesterday without any trouble (see previous note from the girls a few posts ago) and are preparing for the kick off banquet this evening (Sunday).

I talked with Kali and Merritt yesterday and they sound like they are having a good time. Additionally, they are getting to meet countless racers and also are fortunate enough to have dinner with one of the K-State sponsors on Monday evening.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Merritt at Dinner

Cliff Kramer at dinner

Cliff Kramer and Kali at dinner. Cliff is one of our friends from K-State@Salina and he is currently an intern at Frontier Airlines here in Denver! So he picked us up and took us out to dinner at this wonderful restaurant right on the Centennial Apt. It was wonderful food! Thanks Cliffy!!
We've had a wonderful first day at Centennial. Mountain time (compared to central) is a bit of a change, and we both woke up quite early. After a quick breakfast and checking in with Robin (Robin, we can't thank you enough for all of your help!), we headed to registration. We were quite surprised to find that though we are some of the youngest and lowest-time pilots we have some of the highest ratings......but we have EVERYTHING to learn from these experienced women!

After registration one of the Ninety-Nine volunteers drove us from our hotel back to Centennial airport for the maintenance inspection. We can't thank K-State Mx enough for providing us with a perfectly maintained aircraft, and the thorough inspection was a breeze. The hardest part was parking the plane after we finished the static run-up and inspection. The wind picked up and made it extremely difficult to push our plane back into its tie-down spot!

At tonight’s opening reception we talked with our Mother Birds, Carolyn and Barb. They are so friendly and helpful, and we feel much more confident and prepared. This is Carolyn's 17th race, and she entertained us with previous race stories and clarified our questions concerning the ARC rules. Tonight Merritt and I will prepare for the first day's legs of the race.

Quick Snapshots!

Here are a few pictures taken by yours truly, LaVonne Farney. LaVonne is the one who is gracious enough to take countless "first solo" pictures at K-State Salina. LaVonne does countless things for the aviation program out of the "flight operations" room in the Aviation Center on campus (mainly keeping all the pilots in line!). Thanks for sharing some pictures LaVonne!

This picture includes (Left to Right):
Niki, Merritt, Kali, Dr. Kurt Barnhart

*(Niki is a previous air race competitor and also helped this year in getting paperwork and logistics handled so that the ladies could compete. THANKS Niki for ALL your hard work!!)

*(Dr. Barnhart is the K-State Salina Aviation Department Head)

Here is a picture of Kali and Merritt with the tail number, race number, and our beloved wildcat on the C172's:

Today (Saturday) Kali and Merritt will be getting through all the check-in information. This part consists of verifying paperwork, going through an aircraft inspection and run up, as well as completing other various tasks for race preparation.

Today will also be their first full day of meeting other air race competitors, as well as a chance to see their collegiate competitors. Today will be long and busy, but maybe the girls will have time to write a personal note about their adventure thus far.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Air Race Classic Depart Today!!!

When Kali and Merritt arrive in Colorado, they will have several items to attend to. Since they will be busy being first-time racers, I will be updating their blog periodically with news and information. My name is Robin Laws. I am a graduate of K-State Salina’s Aviation program and previous Air Race Classic Competitor. Here’s the latest news:

The girls will be taking off from Salina, Kansas (KSLN) and heading to Denver, Colorado-to land at the Centennial Airport (KAPA). The trip will take them around 3.5 hours and is a distance of about 340 Nautical Miles.

There has been a short delay in departure, as our awesome maintenance staff is making a few final adjustments before the ladies depart.

(yes I still call them “our” maintenance crew-the K-State Maintenance crew is among some of the finest.-ok so I am a BIT biased, but seriously-these guys have worked effortlessly over the past several years to ensure that the air race teams are taken care of. When I raced, they even made sure that the aircrafts were washed, waxed, and even had a “to-go” cleaning kit with anything that we might need throughout the trip. The term “AWESOME” just doesn’t do them justice!)

Have a safe flight ladies!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

We can't believe the race is just a few days off! I'm have so much fun getting ready for it, but I'm sure I am forgetting to do and pack a few things. Just part of being a first-time racer. The K-State girls who raced a couple years ago are an incredible help, suggesting what to bring, what to expect and even offering to help out with weather updates when we're on the race. Thanks, Niki and Robin!

Right now one of the big challenges is packing for ourselves and the airplane (bug cleaner, oil, etc.) for eleven days. ARC requires us to start the race with full fuel. This leaves very, very little weight for charts, headsets, clothes, laptop, engine oil, everything! We also want to keep our speed up, so the luggage weight needs to stay down.

Today a report from the Kansas City Star interviewed each of us, so expect to see a story in the KC Star sometime this week or early next week.

We can't thank our sponsors enough. Merritt and I have had our eye on this race for a couple years now, and neither of us could go without everyone's support. Thank you!

So far so good... is predicting clear skies all next week at every one of our stops (knock on wood)! How exciting is this!

Monday, June 15, 2009

We leave in 4 days!!


Kali and I are both getting very excited about the race!! We leave on Friday the 19th from Salina and fly to Denver, Colorado (Centennial Airport). We are fortunate it is only about a 3 hour flight! We will be in Denver until Tuesday the 23rd, the day the race begins. During our time in Denver we will be in briefings and meetings a lot of the time. Also, while in Denver we are hoping to get to see some friends and family during our down time.

Since we are girls one of our big concerns was our outfits. Last week we got matching tops for every day of the race. They also all happen to be purple to show our K-State pride! We also have very similar shoes and very similar khaki pants...needless to say, we are going to look cute!!

Since we are in a Cessna 172 (G1000 thankfully) we can't take much luggage. So deciding what to take and what to leave home has been difficult. My parents are coming after the race for the post race activities which will be great because they can bring more clothes then! But we are trying to limit everything into one backpack. We will only need a weeks worth of clothing and thank goodness its summer! Also, we will be needing to pack some food and some water for our journey. We are thinking like breakfast and energy bars to get us through the race plus lots and lots of water! I hope our little skyhawk can handle this all!!

For preparing for the race I have been reading diaries of ladies who have competed in the race in past years. This has been very helpful. I have been learning a lot about how things work and what other teams have done to succeed. Without those diaries I would be very nervous right now!

Keeping checking our blog during the race, hopefully we will have time to update and post pictures!!