Sunday, May 22, 2016

Notes from the Nagivator

It's just about a month before race day!  So much has been done and there is still a lot to be done. We've done some preliminary flight planning, looking at the route, but we'll do more once we arrive in Prescott and can look at the charts as a team. And, of course, there is weather to consider, and we can't do any planning there until a few days before race Start.

It's interesting being a racer this year. I have been able to help out with the race since 2012, in various administrative capacities. Now, I can finally add a few more puzzle pieces and get a better overall view of how everything fits together. I sat in on a conference call this week for the timers. I am amazed and totally impressed with all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into just this particular division alone. There are two women who have been coordinating the dozens of volunteers across the country who will be at the en route airports for several days to record the times and accuracy of each race team that performs the flybys at their airport. These two coordinators have invested at least 100 hours each during the last two months to ensure that everyone is trained, all the paperwork and equipment is sent out, and make sure everything flows smoothly. Then, there are the 6-8 volunteers at each stop that sit outside, at the timing point, for two to three days, waiting for the race planes. The first stop is more hectic than the following ones, because all of the planes will at least make it to that first stop on the first day. Some of the faster planes will continue on to the next stop, while the slower planes, or the ones with lower fuel economy, stop for fuel at each stop. The airports further down the route may have one or two planes come through the first day, with more the next couple of days. Sometimes, ten planes will come through in an hour, before a three-hour break with no one arriving or departing. And there the timers sit, sometimes out in the freezing cold or the sweltering heat, just waiting for a voice to be heard over the radio, announcing "Classic Racer ## is ten miles out!". Enough gratitude can't be said for these volunteers who give their time for us. But, we do say, Thank You to each of them. We may not be able to say it in person, as racers are not allowed to talk with the timers, but we will make sure we send out thank you cards to each of them.

That's about it for now. Next time, we'll introduce you to another division that makes this race possible. And we'll keep you posted as we head to the Start.  Thank you to each of you that read this. You are part of our cheering section and we appreciate your interest in our team. Thank you to all of you that have contributed financially, as well, helping to make this possible. Go Blackbirds!