Leaving Hale County Airport in Texas at sun up was the best decision we could have made! We were off the ground in cool temperatures and found a sweet tailwind that was not forecast. Temperatures actually cooled to the 60s as we neared New Mexico, another wonderful boost to our aircraft performance. Eagle Eye Wivell and Captain Luz were up front, looking, looking, looking for the elusive Sandia Airpark in Edgewood, New Mexico, blending like a chameleon with the terrain. About four miles out, they spotted it and set up for the fly-by. “We’re past the timing line!” Eagle Eye called and we all whooped! Climbing out to the north, we set our course for Santa Fe, taking our time since the race clock stopped at Sandia. Our Mother Bird, Lin Caywood met us at the door of the hotel in Santa Fe, congratulating us on flying an excellent race. Awards? Prizes? We will find out Sunday at the final banquet.
Angel impressions: Was it worth it? Absolutely! We learned a lot about several things: First, synergy. We found our groove in the cockpit and stuck with it, using our best skills to team advantage. And we honed our decision-making abilities, considering our options the night before each leg, talking extensively with weather briefers each morning, and calling flight service along the way. Speaking for myself: I scraped off a lot of rust from years on the ground, and now my skills are beginning to shine, again. Paula, a new pilot, considers the actual experience of flying in high terrain with high density altitude invaluable. “You can only learn so much from a book,” she remarked. Paula and I did our share of flying, but knew our ace for the difficult fly-by maneuvers was Captain Luz, who collapsed on the FBO couch in Santa Fe. “Now I can have coffee,” she sighed.