| The Great Hawaiian Air Race
From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner
|Article from the March 2000 edition of the GACH newsletter
The Great Hawaiian Air Race
They came, they flew, some conquered, all enjoyed, and together, did a great thing for a great cause. From February 18 - 21, Island skies were host to the second annual Great Hawaiian Air Race, benefitting Make-A-Wish.
Race Day dawned bright and clear at Island Seaplane Service's breathtaking base, as the Magies fixed up one of their famous breakfasts for the race crews. After weather and pre-departure briefings, forty-one aircraft taxied from Anderson Aviation's ramp to the Reef Funway, departing 8 Right at 20-to- 30-second intervals on a 235 nm journey to Hana. They ranged from Jim Phillips' pristine 1946 Taylorcraft to Harry Clark's roaring Super-3, from Clint's sleek Extra 300L to Rob's rotund L-13A. We had Pipers and Cessnas and Mooney and Beech, singles and twins, round engines and flat. Checkpoints were photographed, courses were set, strategies played out, and the racers streamed toward the timing line at Hana, and the end to Day 1. After making a timing pass, racers entered the pattern for a judged landing. A huge mahalo to Dave Luehring and Elizabeth Anderson who set up, judged and video'd every racer's arrival. I've got the tape, which will be eventually incorporated into GHAR 2000, The Video.
This year, the handicapping was all done at Hana on Friday, and was virtually completed by the end of the first day, eliminating much of the confusion and congestion we endured last year at HNL. The air was such smoother than last year, (off the Waianae coast), and almost everyone's handicap speeds were higher. Once again, racers had fuel available at Hana, thanks to Air Service Hawaii and Young Brothers, and we had an optional fuel stop at Kahului for those who needed it.
The Hana Airport was ready for us, thanks to the hard work of Gerald and Darryl, with all the infields freshly mowed and the fuel truck in place. Hana Airport is a cellular black hole, and the kind folks at Dollar were a huge help with their phones and fax.
The Hotel Hana Ranch hosted a heavy-pupus reception for the racers at the end of Day 1 which was very nicely done, and all the smiles that had been so evident all over Hana airport continued into the night. Morning saw another brilliantly clear day--you could see Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea from the Hana Ranch grounds! About fifteen race teams made their way to the airport for the Madam Pele Air Rally pre-race briefing and departure. This was a fun rally to South Cape and back, noting specific ground features, to provide folks a chance to get a better feel for the Big Island. At racers' option, they could continue on around the Big Island, and most did. Madam Pele smiled, and the weather was perfect.
That night, Coila Eade hosted one of her famous luaus for the racers, featuring authentic Hawaiian cuisine (including the imu and pig), excellent local entertainment (singing and hula), and the airshow. We were to have mock air combat between model aircraft as well as a YAK-52 and the Extra. Neither the modelers nor the scheduled YAK made it off Honolulu, but Bob Justman flew his YAK-52W all the way back to Hana to make a few passes and give the crowd that promised taste of a YAK. Mahalo, Bob. You looked and sounded great! Clint Churchill then screamed into center stage with the Extra and put on a flawless exhibition of superior and seemingly impossible maneuvering. He does a sequence of about 27 maneuvers that encompasses the whole family of gyroscopics, including the Lomcovok, cravat, tail swap, and knife-edge spin. Virtually the whole town turned out to watch from along the highway, as they did last year.
Sunday morning began with breakfast and a complete weather briefing faxed to us by the Honolulu Flight Service Station, and the second half of the Great Hawaiian Air Race was underway. The wind was up a bit, and many racers hoped to close in on their higher handicap speeds as they made the 258 nm jaunt back to O'ahu and the Ford Island finish line. Although closed to civilian air traffic since last June, the Navy agreed to reopen the airfield for the race, thanks in large part to the good offices of John Gleeson. Rollo provided expert Unicom assistance, doing a superb job keeping everyone straight. Ford Island is a very special place. It has been hallowed in blood and symbolizes honor and sacrifice and triumph, and it was an indescribable privilege to land there and walk among the noble spirits. Racers got to tour the Mighty Mo' as well as take a special barge tour of the island, before departing for Honolulu. It fell to me to be the last plane off the island, and that's not something I'll soon forget.
Monday was a holiday, and five race teams participated in the Aloha 300 Mystery Race. Each team was instructed to fly to the Lana'i VOR and, depending on what they saw, select one of three envelopes. If they saw the correct thing, they then received instructions to proceed to the south shore of Moloka'i, around to Mokuho'oniki (Elephant Rock), Kalaupapa Light House, then to Bellows AFS, Kahuku, and a timing fly-by at Dillingham, a distance of about 220 nm.
Meanwhile, judges were feverishly scoring everyone's checkpoint photos,
crunching out speeds and fuel consumptions and en route times to come up
with the list of winners. The photos were crucial. With
some 26 checkpoints, the only way to ensure the course was flown correctly
and equally was to have everyone take a picture of each checkpoint.
Penalties were assessed for those where an early turn or shortened flight
path could have given an unfair advantage. A typical penalty photo
would be taken from too far away. In some cases, the wrong thing
was photographed. More than one racer snapped a great picture of
Mokolea Rock, which is just four clicks south of Bird Rock (Moku
Manu)--the correct checkpoint. Judges weren't scoring for artistic
content--just position and altitude.
As Monday evening rolled around, racers began to gather at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for the awards banquet. Superb entertainment was provided by the King's Guard of King's Village, Makana, and Shakapella. Folks, if you haven't caught Shakapella before, you owe it to yourselves to do so. Thanks, Lyn for a superb job!
Here's how it all fell out:
Overall Standings (Speed and Proficiency)
Madam Pele Air Rally
1st Place - Arthur Mott and John Dawson, C-172RG
Aloha 300 Mystery Race
Other prizes were awarded for Best Flight School, Best Women's Team, Top Family Team, Top "Big Iron" team and Best First Timer. Check the website for all the results.
The UND/HCC entries deserve special mention. They brought a youthful exuberance and spirit to the race and acquitted themselves very well. The school's leadership (Ed Helmick, especially) recognized the excellent training value of participation and each of their teams approached the challenge with maturity and enthusiasm. As the pilot population gets grayer, it was refreshing and heartening to have younger pilots get involved. Good on you guys!
Gray isn't all bad, though. Jim Phillips, who with his son took second place in the Proficiency category in their 1946 Taylorcraft, was only off by forty-four seconds. That's forty-four seconds in about eight hours of flying! (The Taylorcraft is a 60-knot airplane). Took him about four hours to get back to Hilo from Honolulu, after the race. Jim flew recce in bygone days in RF-101s and RF-4s. Sure hasn't lost his edge.
And, Mahalo to:
I was particularly gratified by the way the various sectors of the FAA--FSS, FSDO, ATC--worked with us to support the race. They participated in planning sessions, made accommodations as needed, and even cut some pilots a little slack when they strayed. Flight Service briefed us at the seaplane dock, took and filed all 82 flight plans (both ways), and faxed a full briefing to us at Hana. All in a day's work? Thanks, guys. Any time you move over 40 aircraft around, there are going to be stresses on the system. Several of our participants fly for major airlines, both here and on the mainland, and every one of them was impressed by the professionalism and cooperation and courtesy they experienced from the local FAA. Flight Standards set the tone for safety, both at HNL and Hana, with a deft touch, and their presence and counsel was very welcome.
And we had similar cooperation from the State Airports Division, both at Honolulu and at Hana. The HNL management, especially Bobby Peru, made parking available for racers, provided a vehicle and flagman for the start, and helped out throughout the planning process. At Hana, which is one of the best-kept airports I've ever been to, things were spruced up and aircraft parking areas prepared, and everyone was made to really feel welcome. Like last year, people wore big smiles from the time they touched down until the time they left.
Fuel at Hana was a make-or-break issue for the race and without Bob Fraker (Air Service) and Young Brothers (transport to and from for the fuel truck), the race would not have been possible. Mahalo.
Finishing the race at Ford Island meant a whole lot to all participants and the Navy graciously opened up Ford Island to us with a minimum of fuss and are to be commended.
Pat and Debbie Magie, of Island Seaplane Service, are one of the biggest class acts in the state. They had everyone over for a superb reception Thursday night and then for breakfast and the weather briefing Friday morning. Their facility is immaculate, their graciousness contagious, and their support greatly appreciated.
The Hawaii Airlines Committee, who agreed to allow us a window to depart Runway 8 Right also deserves a major thank you.
Harry Clark deseves mention for allowing Russ Francis et al to enter the Super Three. They provided some priceless memories to a lot of folks, especially those lucky enough to crew the big bird. Seeing it at both Hana and Ford Island was cool! Thanks, Harry and Russ, and all the rest of you.
Big Mahalos also to: Carter Davis of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, who flew over 20 hours of cover for the main race, the Rally, and the Mystery Race; Rick Shafer who singlehandedly got forty aircraft parked on Thursday before the race; the CAP cadets who marshalled us out of HNL and into Ford Island under the wise tutelage of Col Tom Brehm, USMC; Circle Rainbow for use of their facility for racer briefing; and all the volunteers who coped with registration, timing, scoring, sorting, judging, and feeding the participants. Many more of you deserved to be mentioned specifically and thanked, but I'll have to beg your indulgence.
Bottom Line: This was a superb experience, with few exceptions, for a lot of aviation folks. More importantly, everyone who played any role at all can take heart in the good that was accomplished for the Make-A-Wish children. It should make you smile. Let's have more of you involved next year!
"If the deal is finalized as reported, Congress would be required to spend all of the money that the trust fund takes in each year, plus the interest on the money already in the fund. Next, Congress would be required to provide the full amount authorized for programs such as the Airport Improvement Program Fund (AIP) and Facilities and Equipment (F&E). In total, funding for the AIP would increase from its current annual level of $1.9 billion to $3.4 billion, and F&E would see an increase from $2.04 billion to $3 billion." The compromise bill still needs to be approved by both houses and it certainly would help if your elected officials heard some support for this legislation from you.
Play your Hunch
Be careful out there.