I’m a bit late with this, but Sunday’s racing was awesome. It was touch and go that racing would continue for the weekend at all, but thankfully racing continued.
The highlight of the day was the Sunday gold unlimited final and the match-up of Mike Brown in 232 September Fury racing against John Penny in 77 Rare Bear. Mike had the pole position and he had the lead coming down the starting chute with da Bear right behind him. Right away Bob Button in number 5 Voodoo declared an emergency and made a safe landing. After a week of issues generating enough horse power, John put the hammer down and passed Mike pretty quickly and stayed in front the remainder of the race.
Mike was pushing pretty good though as he was averaging around 490 mph on the course and hitting 512 mph in the straights. That’s moving right along! I don’t remember which lap it was, but Rare Bear barfed out a puff of white smoke followed by a belch of black smoke and my heart sunk thinking that was it for the engine. Turns out a bit of aerodynamic filler (“Bondo”) broke off the airframe and was injested by the engine. John felt it happen and adjusted the mixture which explained the black smoke.
On the last lap Mike blew a piston and had an in-flight fire so he had to pull off the course to prepare for an emergency landing. He’s an excellent pilot and made an excellent dead stick landing as he had to shut off the engine to put out the fire.
John Penny having finished in first then had a new problem to deal with as the throttle was stuck! The pace plane pilot Steve Hinton flying in the Planes of Fame T-33 formed up on him with some amazing formation flying and John decided to burn off the remaining fuel and deadstick it in. Keep in mind this aircraft lands at 150 mph, will basically fall out of the sky at 140, has no flaps, and must be landined in three point attitude, add on top of this there was a 15-20 knot crosswind. This is some serious pucker factor and I’m sure you can appreciate what he was up against. Amazingly John made what he referred to as the best landing he made all week.
So that was the race with the leaders of the pack, but there was some awesome racing between the Sea Furies and the “giant killer” Czechmate (which is a Yak 11 sporting a 2800 cubic inch engine out of a F4U Corsair). Sherman Smoot flies Czechmate and he flew the hell out of it duking it out with the big Sea Furies. At one point I saw both him and another Sea Fury do some serious uncommanded rolling while flying in the wake of Dreadnought. Matt Jackson flies Dreadnought and he is an excellent pilot that has flown many warbirds and racers. Although Matt crossed the finish line second, the officials indicted he crossed the deadline and was disqualified, so that means Czechmate ended up finishing in second place! A fantastic finish for the little Yak!
It was a week of mixed feelings. Great excitement for the event, fantastic racing, great reception for Acceleration, all tempered by great sadness for the tragic loss of life. Blue skies to the pilots and my heart goes out to the families they have left behind.