We are currently in Plainview, TX. This means we have one leg to go – from Plainview to Santa Fe, NM, before we cross the finish line. We flew three legs per day in the last two days, which was exhausting, but also fun.
To recap: on Day 1 we flew from Frederick, MD to Coshocton, OH, after flying over PA, and then Indianapolis, IN, where weather decided we aren’t going anywhere! Then on Day 2 we woke up early and got to Decorah, IA, after overflying IL, moved on to Bemidji, MN, even crossing the WI border, and then back down to Spencer, IA. Making the third leg was a great decision, seeing as weather picked up today and it would have been impossible to get around it. On the way from Indianapolis to Decorah we passed directly over Purdue and talked to Lafayette Tower to get permission to pass through the airspace. We made sure to wave! Passing through and not stopping did feel a little weird, but as we told the controllers, we’ll be back soon enough! Today we flew from Spencer, IA, to Abilene, KS, Ardmore, OK, and Plainview, TX. Kansas was very windy and turbulent, which made our flyby challenging. Our final approach to land was also bumpy, but we managed to land just dine.
We plan to leave tomorrow morning for Santa Fe, NM. As we are moving further west into the country, we are encountering higher terrain, which means our airplane has to fly at a higher altitude. However, aircraft performance decreases as you go higher, and high temperatures also increase density altitude, making the situation worse. With the temperature being so high, we think that leaving in the morning before the sun takes over completely will give us a lower density altitude so that we can more easily climb around the mountains. It should be a short two hour flight to Santa Fe from where we are.
Overall, we think we have been doing well. Out of the 8 legs we have done so far, we managed to exceed our handicap speed on two of them. Considering how much headwind we are fighting, this is not insignificant. We are also managing to keep up with airplanes that are 1) a couple mph faster than us and 2) equipped with an autopilot, so that’s something we are proud of. Our airplane is handling the high power settings and the turbulence well and we are learning a lot about aircraft performance and how to optimize it. We won’t have the race results until Sunday, but we are keeping our fingers crossed for no penalties!
Here are some pictures from our legs!!