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Round Two: 2009

Round Two: 2009
Click the Logo to Learn More About This Historic All-Women's Transcontinental Air Race at the ARC Website

Saturday, June 20, 2009

We're High!

Yikes, so first off, our apologies. We DID make it to APA (Centennial Airport, Denver) after a 4:20 flight yesterday from IOW. The weather gods were with us once again and the storm cells literally parted for our safe passage. We filed IFR (flew on an instrument flight plan to be able to be in the clouds, for you non-fliers) and were able to stay fairly low at 6,000 feet until just beyond Hayes Center, Kansas. We knew we were going to have to climb due to the higher elevations and terrain the farther west we flew, and just about the time we were contemplating asking for higher the controller sent us up to 8,000. Which was a bit cooler and a pleasant, smooth spot to inhabit. Funny thing was, the closer we got to Denver at 8,000 feet the closer the terrain seemed to get to us! We sea-level dwellers aren’t used to landing at an airport with a 6,000 feet showing on the altimeter! But somehow, despite the fact that Erin was flying and that the density altitude was very high, we survived.

Once we arrived at APA we partook of our first meal of the day (around 2pm local) at the FBO restaurant (which was surprisingly good!) while we awaited Erin’s sister-in-law Tami’s arrival with the kids. Csaba, their 5-year old (adopted from Hungary 18 months ago and pronounced “Chah-bah”) has been infatuated with airplanes since his flight back to the US from Budapest. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, his answer is a resounding “An Airplane!”. Not a pilot, but a plane…. So we were delighted when his parents (Erin’s brother Tom and wife Tami) eagerly allowed us to take Csaba for the afternoon of fun! When they arrived at the FBO Csaba could hardly contain himself. If ever a child could implode from pure, unadulterated excitement and anticipation, it would have been him right then.

So we taught Csabie to do a “walk-around” (preflight inspection) and then piled into the Wonder Chariot for his first general aviation flight. Kelly, in an incredible act of selflessness, generosity (and bravery!) sat in the backseat of her own airplane so that Erin could fly and let Csabie “fly” from his co-pilot’s seat atop a mountain of towels (he’s rather short). We took off and flew around the traffic pattern at 1000 feet above the ground, out over the freeway and some of the high rises buildings. He shrieked with glee during the entire ordeal. At one point (even before take off), we unplugged his mic jack since he’s too little to understand the concept of needing to be quiet when the controller speaks. But that barely phased him and after our low approach and go around for another trip around the pattern, Erin let him “steer”. He hung onto the yoke with sincerity and never once loosened his grip. We landed and on roll out he looked outside, yelled “I did it! I landed! I landed! And I’m a HERO!!!!” With tears streaming down both of the adults cheeks, we taxied back to the ramp with a giddily delirious child sitting in the front seat. This time Csaba was eager to show us how to do the walk-around again and check for “important stuff”.

And everyone knows that the only way to cap off such an amazing adventure is with a trip to Dairy Queen for a hot dog, a blizzard and a cherry-dipped cone! As if the kid wasn’t already bouncing off walls from his time in the airplane, we got him strung out on sugar and then threw him in the hotel swimming pool. While we didn’t get photographic evidence of his subaquatic adventures, here are some images of the rest of Csaba’s Very Fun Day with His Aunts.

This morning, after about 5 hours of sleep we got up at 0430 to do some performance calculations for a trip to Leadville, CO, the country’s highest airport. The elevation there is 9800 feet and tempting though it is, we’ve run the numbers over and over and still can’t make them work out in our favor. It’s too hot, too high and the Wonder Chariot isn’t a climb-capable Cessna. Not to say that she wouldn’t love to have her photo taken at such a special airport, (and we’d get certificates!), but we “educated” ourselves with YouTube videos online of pilots who failed to take into account the incredibly high density altitudes at said airport and lost their lives. Thankfully, with this being Our Year of Revenge, our fannies will stay firmly planted on the ground today – spit-shining the Velociraptor, affixing our logos and race numbers to the tail, getting our pilot credentials checked out and okayed, that kind of thing.

This afternoon we’re going to partake of some family time at a BBQ – photos to be posted tonight. Meanwhile, thanks for the good thoughts, the great vibes, and your continued patience as we struggle to find a healthy balance among working, playing, sleeping, eating and blogging…. J

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