Le calme avant la tempête 

Or the calm before the storm…

Lucky me, yesterday I flew during the calm, and I left the storms to Nicoletta!

I flew my longest flight as a pilot from Lafayette to Coshocton, OH and it was 2.5h of the smoothest ride ever. As expected it was a pretty boring flight with fields everywhere, and it started to get a bit more interesting after the border of Ohio when some lakes showed up. After landing with a perfect blue sky and almost no wind, it was hard to believe bad storms were ahead of us for the next leg. But the radar doesn’t lie.

After waiting out a few hours in the pilot lounge for the storms to move on to their next destination, we finally decided to take an opportunity to get a little closer to Frederick, and so off to Morgantown, WV we were. We saw clouds from close and the visibility was quite bad, the rain finally started to hit us a little before spotting the airport, but surprisingly enough we remained VFR the whole time. Once thing for sure, with no instrument rating under my belt, this was a no–go for me! But thanks to Nicoletta and her great landing (the tower controller of Morgantown agreed), we made it safely there.

Then we enjoyed another pilot lounge with a fireplace and super comfy chairs (ok most chairs feel super comfy after sitting 4h in a Warrior), and spent some time looking and radars and talking to weather briefers. After the sky offered us the most spectacular rainbow ever, we decided to attempt to fly our last leg, hopefully to get to Frederick before nightfall. This flight was no VFR. That was the real stuff! The clouds were impressive and everything disappeared around us for some time. Mountains were below, hidden in the cotton-like clouds, and suddenly the gray huge clouds in front of us, and around us, dissipated and we were floating above a sea of white. The sun started to set and everything became orangish-red. It was gorgeous! The rest of the flight was then mostly struggle with the GPS, switching frequencies every 10 min, trying to figure out who we were communicating with, but we eventually landed in Frederick, with a nice night landing. The organization of the race is pretty amazing, and even with our late arrival, some volunteers came to greet us at the plane and drove us to our hotel.

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Today was less exciting but we got our credentials checked, the plane paperwork too, and we are officially ready to race! We learned how to make knots to tie down the plane even against tornado winds, supposedly, we should not have to test that theory, thankfully… We both volunteered then for quite some time for a youth event. I made clouds in a jar (super fun experiment to do at home!) as a good chemist, and, as a good engineer, Nicoletta built paper planes. We even signed autographs for the kids books!!

We then all gathered to the local baseball game to have a BBQ with all the racers, and we went onto the field where we were introduced as the women pilots about to fly across the country, with more cameras and videos everywhere. We even had four RV planes in formation flying above the field, and we all agreed that Purdue should do that too!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day of all kinds of briefings. Since it’s our first time racing, we don’t really know what to expect but I’m pretty sure all this sitting around will help me practice sitting for an entire day for the race!!!

Three days before take-off!!!!

Chloé

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