|Air Race Redux
The last award has been given, the last toast quaffed, and the
2001 Great Hawaiian Air Race has joined the fabric of aviation history
in Hawai’i. Again, Fortune smiled and the weather was relatively
benign, though a little blustery the first day, and positively beautiful
for Saturday and Sunday.
This year’s turnout was slightly below last year’s at 30 participating
aircraft (including non-competing Board members), due in part to the London-Sydney
race that kept about five mainland racers from doing the GHAR this year.
We had hoped for greater local pilot participation and we’re open to all
suggestions for making it better and attracting more of you.
It’s The Right Thing To Do
Those of you who didn’t fly this year’s GHAR really missed out on some
significant aviating. Raising money for Make-A-Wish is always a good
thing, but doing it with an airplane is a fantastic opportunity to do the
right thing on many levels. When was the last time you estimated
your time en route to within seconds of the actual elapsed time?
Or computed your fuel burn to within fractions of a gallon? When
was the last time you paid really strict attention to altitude and heading?
When was the last time you flew and really noticed details of the scenery
about you? When was the last time you loaded your airplane to make
it more efficient? When did you last fly a route in Hawai’i that
you hadn’t flown before and see things you hadn’t seen before? When did
you last get to party with dozens of other like-minded (at least in some
respects) folk? When did you last get to do all these things at once?
Whether you fly every day or only occasionally, the Great Hawaiian Air
Race can only sharpen your skills as a flier.
A few observations and highlights:
It is not a foregone conclusion that Arthur Mott will win the
GHAR, even though he did win the first two. The 2001 Top Gun (overall winner),
as well as best in both Speed and Proficiency categories was a Hawai’i/California
father-son team, Jerry and Eric Barto. They raced their PA-32 Saratoga
for the first time and finished within 4 seconds of their estimated time
and within .4 (that’s four-tenths) gallon on their estimated fuel burn,
after completing a course of about 523 NM. While there may well be
a certain element of luck, especially considering the blustery trades on
the first day, the Barto’s have finished well from the inception of this
race. In 1999, they placed 7th in Proficiency, and improved to Third
Overall last year. Of note, the next two highest overall finishers were
also Hawai’i-based teams: Willie Tashima and Les Hirahara in Willie’s pristine
Bonanza and Bill Mertens and Jon Hirashima in Bill’s Comanche.
The first three finishers in Proficiency were within a gallon of gas
and a minute-and-a-half in time. The Second Place Proficiency went to Scott
Allen and Mike Robertson in their just-completed RV-8a. They were
within ½ gallon and 1:21 minutes/seconds in an airplane they had
never flown cross country prior to the race. In fact, they had just
flown off the mandatory 25 local hours the evening before the race. (See
complete results below)
Friday’s launch was into 25 knot trades, which, as many of you know,
accelerate by 8 – 10 knots in the Alenuihaha and Pailolo Channels (that
ol’ venturi at work). Thus, the winds were brisk and locally stronger
than forecast. This was reflected by the average speeds reflected
in the Speed category. The winner was over 12 ½ knots slower than
handicapped speed, and it only got worse. It is noteworthy, though,
that the difference between second and third place in speed was 1/100th
of a knot, and between third and fourth, 10th of a knot. Here’s where
technique really plays. If you don’t think it matters to fly along even
slightly out of trim over the course of five hundred miles or so, or turn
promptly at checkpoints or find smoother air…well, it could make all the
difference in the world. So, while everybody tries to beat Arthur,
you’re really racing against yourself, trying to do all you can to eke
out that extra knot.
Once again, thanks to the good graces of the Airlines Committee of Hawai’i,
ATC and the HNL managers, we were able to depart on the Reef Runway. All
thirty aircraft were airborne within 28 minutes, which isn’t too shabby,
though we could have been off in half that time under the right circumstances.
We had to push up the departure a half hour to meet the airlines’ requirements,
which had a snowball effect, compressing time available for early morning
preparation and there were a few minor glitches on the mass taxi-out.
Word of advice to all participants in the future: make sure you have the
keys and paperwork for your airplane the night before. One racer didn’t
and got seriously out of sequence for the trek out to the Reef, and thus,
took off out of sequence as well.
This relatively quiet community seems to embrace the Great Hawaiian
Air Race, and is one of the major reasons we stop over there. The
people fit so graciously into the immense natural beauty that envelops
them, and they go out of their way to welcome us. Virtually the whole
town turned out to watch the half-hour airshow that Clint Churchill and
I put on, and to me, that was one of the most gratifying experiences I
have had. After the show, a number of people drove out to the airport
to meet us and chat. One relatively senior Hawaiian, with chiseled koa-like
features and silver hair was talking to Clint when I walked up. He
looked at me and said, “ Wow! You an old guy too!” and proceeded
to enthusiastically talk about the show, expressing great pleasure in the
fact that us old guys could do stuff like that in an airplane
Kudos and Mahalos :
Here is a good place to again thank the pro’s at the Honolulu Control
Facility for their exceptional support throughout the planning process
for this event as well as their flexibility, judgement, patience and competence
during the entire race. When you have a large gaggle of aircraft,
many piloted by folks that don’t fly here much, if at all, cutting their
way across the state, opportunities to foul up will present themselves,
and they did. ATC did an excellent job dealing with it all.
Flight Standards and Flight Service also deserve special mention for
their support. All our planning meetings were held at the FSDO, and
they often had to stay late to accommodate us. Flight Service prepared
special weather briefings for us at the Island Seaplane Base prior to launch
and faxed to us in Maui prior to the return leg. They also processed
and tracked some 60 flight plans and provided that extra measure of safety.
The Honolulu Airport managers went out of their way to facilitate this
race, and we are deeply grateful to them. Thanks, Bobby and crew!
Once again, Anderson Aviation made their spaces available to us for
registration and marshalling—crucial to the success of the event.
Thanks, Nida and Lois for your kokua (and the donuts, too!)
Once again, the Class Act of the Pacific-- Island Seaplane Service--served
as the venue for the prerace evening get together and the traditional morning
breakfast, blessing and weather briefing. Pat and Debbie—we can’t
thank you enough!
The race could not have happened without fuel. Since Circle Rainbow
ceased selling avgas at HNL months ago, Air Service has been stretched
to the limit to gas up all the piston aircraft at HNL with one truck.
Their fuelers did yeoman’s service getting everyone topped off before the
race and, of course, at Hana, where they worked long hours to meet everyone’s
fuel needs. Again, a huge Mahalo to Bob Fraker and his folk for all
Hana is the jewel of Hawai’i in so many ways, and the airport is one
of my favorites, anywhere. Darryl Ribao did his customary best to host
us all in style, and the airport was spotless as usual. Though recently
retired, Gerald Mahadocon was there to help marshal aircraft, and then,
with his wonderful family, work the luau.
This year we finished the race at Dillingham due to the unavailability
of Ford Island, and folks up there were great. Thanks to Bill Starr
for enabling us to fuel up and Rich in the Unicom for helping to keep everyone
more-or-less in line.
Every year the Civil Air Patrol helps us marshal aircraft (note how
that word keeps popping up?), and every year I’m impressed with the spirit
and energy and caliber of the Cadets.
And, finally, a huge MAHALO! to all the racers. You folks gave
generously of your time and fortune to Make-A-Wish and the GHAR, putting
up with all the guff that goes with an endeavor of this size with grace
and humor (for the most part). Many of you came a considerable distance
to fly with us—as far as Australia (thanks, Tony, Colin and Sue!) and we
really appreciate it. Without you, there’d be no race at all.
Volunteers are the core of an endeavor such as the Great Hawaiian Air
Race. They (you) are crucial to all aspects of the race, including
its success or failure. That it was so successful is a tribute to
all of you who worked so hard to bring it off. There’s never enough
recognition given to volunteers. Your service was worthy, valuable,
and sincerely appreciated.
Volunteer-based organizations all face the specter of too few people
doing too much of the work and facing burnout and GHAR is no exception.
WE NEED MORE HELP. Please contact Greg Marshall or me if you’re at
all interested in helping with the next one. You can reach me at
(808) 836-1031 or email at email@example.com. Contact Greg at (808)
373-1889 or email at RACEPILOTGREG@compuserve.com
GHAR 2001 Final Standings
Overall (Top Gun) -- Speed & Proficiency combined:
1 Jerry and Eric Barto -- Saratoga
2 Willie Tashima and Les Hirahara -- Bonanza
3 Bill Mertens and John Hirashima -- Comanche 180
1 Jerry Barto & Eric Barto -- Saratoga. -12.56
2 Bill Mertens & John Hirashima -- Comanche 180. -15.11
3 Jackie Siegel & Gary Davis -- Maule. -15.12 kts
4 Arthur Mott & Bob Bonham & Roy Johnson -- Aztec.
5 Willie Tashima & Les Hirahara -- Bonanza. -17.10
6 Vic Bonfiglio & Maisie Stears -- C-177. -17.37 kts
7 James Vancil & Mary Studley -- Cherokee 140. -21.53
8 Mike Singer & Jim Lutter -- Comanche 250. -24.38
9 Matthew LeFebre & Maxwell Lee -- PA-28. -24.95 kts
1 Jerry Barto & Eric Barto -- Saratoga -- Time error: 4 seconds;
Fuel error: .4 gal. !!
2 Scott Allen & Mike Robertson -- RV-8 -- Time
error: 1:21 sec.; Fuel error: .5 gal.
3 Don Johnson & Sharon Biloff -- C-172 -- Time
error: 1:06 seconds; Fuel error: .6 gal.
4 Greg Ruzicka & Aimee Kuprash & Louise Litts -- C-172
5 Jeff Allen & Jon Murakami -- PA-28
6 Willie Tashima and Les Hirahara -- Bonanza
7 Clint and Ryan Churchill -- Extra 300
8 Bruce Kaufman and Nick Carter -- C-172
9 Korina Harris and Katharine Anderson -- PA-28
10 Eliot Merk and Joe Loewenhardt -- Mooney M20J
Madame Pele Air Rally
1 Leo Nikora and Chris Ferrara -- Saratoga
2 Arthur Mott and Bob Bonham & Roy Johnson -- Aztec
3 Jennifer Liebeler and Erin Coleman -- Apache
Aloha 300 Speed:
1 Arthur Mott and Jackie Siegel and Roy Johnson -- Aztec.
2 Bill Mertens and John Hirashima -- Comanche 180. -4.71
Aloha 300 Proficiency:
1 Don Johnson and Sharon Biloff -- C-172
2 Eliot Merk and Joe Loewenhardt -- Mooney M20J
3 Arthur Mott and Jackie Siegel and Roy Johnson -- Aztec
Best Spot Landing: Clint and Ryan Churchill -- Extra 300 (5 feet!)
Best Flight School Team: Jeff Allen and Jon Murakami, Univ. N. Dakota/HCC
Best Women's Team: Korina Harris and Katharine Anderson, PA-28
Best First-Time Racers: Scott Allen and Mike Robertson, RV-8
Top Family Team: Jerry and Eric Barto, Saratoga
Top "Big Iron" Airline Pilot: Nick Carter (TWA), C-172
Best Safety Equipment: Linne Holmberg, PA-28
Well done, all!
Security Vs Service
Many of you have noted that the gate in the fence between the T-hangars
and the AFSS at HNL has been chained. Protests were filed, meetings
were held, and it has now boiled down to a security issue. Federal security
managers want to get rid of close in parking by federal facilities, and
this is now being applied to the Flight Service Station. It has been deemed
a security hazard to the AFSS to have unmonitored vehicles parked beside
the facility for an extended time. That gate also provides convenient
access by pilots to the AFSS, and anything that makes it harder for pilots
to avail themselves of the Flight Service facility, such as closing that
access gate, is a detriment to flight safety. Security concerns are
not going away, and that parking area is pretty much history. Hopefully,
we can still have pedestrian access to the gate.
Lindy Boyes notified us of the untimely death of long-time GACH member
and area pilot, Peter Boyes and his wife, Marilyn, during a robbery at
their California home in late January. Peter, a retired USAF Colonel,
flew for Panorama Air Tours and other operators and managed Ma Woods’ Hawaii
Country Club of the Air for a while before she sold it. He was very
much a part of our aviation history here, and we extend our sincerest condolences
to their children, Lindy, and other family and friends. Blue skies,
Peter and Marilyn.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh recently took her last flight. Initially made
famous as Charles Lindbergh’s wife, she earned worldwide respect and admiration
in her own right, not only for her aerial exploration with her husband,
but also as a notable author. She wrote North to The Orient about
her flights with Charles opening up routes throughout Asia and the Pacific
for Pan American Airways, as well as 12 other books. She was the first
woman to earn her glider’s license (in 1930) and earned many awards and
accolades through the years, including the Hubbard Gold Medal in 1934 from
the National Geographic Society, and the Aerospace Explorer Award in 1993
from Women in Aerospace. and was named to the International Women in Aviation
Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1999 The beauty and possibilities of flight captivated
her and she wrote with an eloquence and grace matched by few.
That Magic Touch
I had the recent pleasure of flying with another legend—Betty
Stewart. She was the World Women’s Aerobatic Champion in 1980 and 1982
and campaigned a Pitts Special for over a quarter of a century. After
selling the Pitts some time ago, she now flies a Cub. She had never flown
a CAP-10, but after just a few minutes in mine, she flew it like she’d
been wrapping herself in it her whole life. What a joy to experience
her connection to the sky first hand. Learned a few neat things,
too! Thanks, Betty.
See you at Kalaupapa
March 31, 2001 10 am to 2 pm. Bring your own grinds.
Be careful out there.