Sunday, April 10, 2016

Airplane Preparations

I'm so excited to be racing again! It's been 8 years since my last ARC as a racer, and my race preparations began basically as soon as our team registered. Team shirts and sectional charts have been ordered; the shirts look terrific! All of the sectionals are in; there will be a few that update as new editions become available before we leave for Prescott, AZ. The airplane's race numbers are complete, awaiting installation. My BFR and instrument currency are up-to-date, and I'll renew my medical in May. I feel like my racer prep is on schedule; so I've shifted my focus to prepping our race airplane, N4773S, a Cessna R182.
Airplane preparations are coming up to full speed. The last major maintenance, a 100 hour inspection, begins tomorrow. It has been scheduled for awhile and maintenance team is ready to go through our bird in detail. We chose to do the inspection a few hours before the 100 hour is actually due (we are about 6 hours early), to allow for any unexpected findings by the maintenance staff. Postponing the inspection until the last minute could make staying on schedule for the handicap flight difficult if a mechanical issue is discovered; a chance that we aren't willing to take. While I hope that everything is "ship shape," we'd much rather address mechanical issues in the shop while there is time to find parts and have them installed. A broken airplane on the way to the start could ruin our entire race!

Hopefully in a week or so, after the inspection is completed, I will update the airplane entry with new dates and tach times, to show compliance through the end of the race. I'll also upload the new Airworthiness Directive list for the inspection team to review. Once the inspectors give their stamp of approval on the dates and paperwork, we move into handicapping.

The handicap flight must be scheduled by May 1st and flown before May 15th. Before we can fly, there will be a complete spinner to tail cleaning and waxing. She must be her best for the handicap flight! Since Jo is in Florida, my mom has agreed to be her stunt double for the handicap flight, since they are the same weight. Our handicap pilot will be in Donna's position, copilot, and must match her weight. If all goes smoothly with the inspection, we should be handicapping by the end of April. That will give us time to work around the handicap pilot's and my crazy schedules and reschedule the flight a couple of times due to unsuitable weather. Fingers and toes crossed that everything goes as planned!

Stay tuned for more details on how our team is getting ready for ARC2016 and thank you for your support of the Blackbirds!