Okay, so today is DC's birthday so the team asked him if he wanted to take the final flight of the race into Phoenix. He declined and we needed a bearcat pilot to fly the final leg, so I volunteered with Travis as my wingman.
Now for some setup. We had a couple early setbacks which caused our team to be at a bit of a loss time wise compared to SOH however we were battling back and they had a couple wingman transfers which made us neck and neck. Both teams were flying into KUNU before heading to midway and SOH had an issue going in before us so we were thinking, okay, they have to sit there for 6 minutes so we will close the gap. Next thing, BANG, highmike's P3D decides to take a dump leaving Leon alone flying into the soup. It was very tense having him fly in there as he couldn't see the airport however Roman expertly helped guide him in for a successful landing which saved our bacon however we too had to wait out 6 minutes so there went the possible catchup time.
Next leg was C47's to midway which both teams did and both teams completed those legs perfectly. Now comes the dash to the finish. SOH arrived at midway first then took off in bearcats, here is our chance. Our plan was to fly bearcats in the final leg so we took off out of midway in F80's, the winds across the midwest were brutal and with the bearcats having to go high for range they were hammered by headwinds while our F80's hugged the deck and screamed along. Steve in his F80 caught up to SOH and passed them, now was our chance, victory may have been possible, break out our slide rules.
SOH landed in Kansas about 10 minutes before we made it to Boise City Oklahoma and Spookster(Martin) took off in an F80 bound for Phoenix however there were 10,000 foot peaks in the way and the F80 does better down low. Steve expertly touched down and myself and Travis took to the skies in our bearcats with the entire team following us, our hope was to light up the tracker in blue and perhaps make Martin sweat.
Travis and I flew as fast as bearcats would allow, winds were not great. Winds kept fluctuating between headwind and slight tailwind depending on altitude so as long as we had the range we kept trying to get low to avoid the crazy winds up high. The team was crunching numbers and watching SOH like a hawk, this was it, crunch time. I flogged those horses in my bearcat as hard as I could, all the while watching the tracker to see just how fast Martin was bearing down on me.
Martin's ground speed was around 510 knots while mine was hovering between 360 and 390 so he had a 120 - 150 knot advantage. We watched him closely, when he passed our departure airport of Boise City I had flown 140 nm away from it so he was 140nm behind and I had 1 hour left of my flight, this was going to be SOOO close. Now the issue was we didn't have time to do an approach into the airport, so an idea came up to land on Taxiway Kilo as it was almost directly inline with our route of flight.
As we got closer, Martin kept getting closer and closer and we weren't sure if he was going to pass right at the end and his winds weren't as bad as we were hoping. The entire leg, I was bombarded with questions of just how far from Phoenix I was so the team could keep track of possible arrival times between Martin and I and each time we knew it was going to be within a minute or two.
Around 15nm from Phoenix I was crossing the final ridge before the descent into the airport, by this point, martin was only about 20nm behind me. It was here that I was beginning to think we wouldn't make it, however I put the plane into a nosedive, found the taxiway i needed and planted her as hard as I could, put on the anchors and prayed the plane would stop quickly. Plane stopped with Green duenna and posted and I was told our post was up and SOH hadn't posted yet... VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!! Martin posted only 25 seconds later.
Congrats to SOH on a well fought race. That was probably the most nervous I've been of any leg in my entire tenure.