The Art Race Hurdle 4 - The Flight

I wanted to take off at sunrise and asked that Ben arrive before sunrise so we could finish any last minute preparations and preflight. Clare and the film crew assured me they would arrive early on Monday for the flight to Columbus New Mexico. I had an open invitation at the First Aero Squadron Airpark north of Columbus and had tried calling my contact their but was unable to reach anyone. So we were going to fly in unannounced, no problem. I spent Sunday evening prepping the aircraft for the flight, making sure everything was in order paying close attention to the weather, it looked good. Monday morning and I’m up well before dawn, cup of coffee in hand standing in the open hanger. No Ben, so I wait. Finally at 7:00 AM well after sunrise the car with Ben appears. "The crew would like a little more footage and want to follow our route and film from the moving vehicle". I said "ok" there was a place in the next valley that would work for some traveling shots. I explained our route, it was along highway 9 from the Sky Gypsies complex at Amigos del Cielo airpark to Columbus. I gave directions on how to get on highway 9 (go to the north end of the airpark and turn right then straight for 90 miles).

They left and Ben and I finished gearing up and we started out. I took off, climbed to 500’ intersected highway 9 and turned east. Neither of us could see the film crew’s vehicle. We Flew on hoping to find them somewhere, no luck, they missed the turn onto highway 9. Since it was a clam morning I turned the controls over to Ben and let him fly the aircraft while I watched the scenery. The air was perfect a calm clear morning. There were winds at altitude but I figured we would be below them the whole trip. We flew along passing the occasional boarder patrol vehicle or outpost and waved. As we came within sight of Columbus we were hit with a wall of wind. A nasty cross wind from the north had descended to our altitude so I dropped down lower and lower trying to get out of the winds. This was turning into an Aerotrekking adventure trying to stay out of the winds but we were running out of sky and I did not want to be anywhere close to the ground yet in these winds. So I advised Ben to just hang on it was only 10 minutes or so to the First Aero Squadron Airpark. I added power and pulled in on the bar to increase speed and headed to Columbus. Once arriving I flew on the south side around the town and up the east side to the Airpark. Of course the runways were east/west affairs meaning we would have the cross wind for landing. It was blowing 15-20 all the way down, I lined up north of the runway and started reducing power pulling the bar all the way back, I wanted as much energy as possible for landing. I told Ben the wing would be a handful once the wheels touched down so would he help hold the wing level once we touched down. He agreed, I think he wanted to be back on the ground as quickly as possible. So down we went, the cross wind blowing us sideways over the runway as I got into ground effect. I touched down and we both held onto the wing. I let us roll to a stop and began looking for somebody but everything was buttoned up for the winds. We taxied to the road running between the 2 runways and turned down wind taking away a lot of the struggle with the wing. About that time one of the local residents came rolling up in his truck to say hi, “you flew in in this?” Yea, no choice I wasn’t turning around. We got the aircraft into the lee side of a hanger and started waiting for the film crew to arrive. Ben started explaining the Art Race and what he was doing. About that time the film crew showed up and there were introductions all around. First Aero Squardon Airpark is a great place, everyone fly’s and one guy creates aerial sculpture, mobiles and huge things that rotate in the wind. Needless to say all the sculpture was in motion. Ben quickly got a ride into town and we said goodbye. I was tired. Clare thanked me and said she would let me know the airing dates of the show.

Next Hurtle 5 - The Aftermath

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