I was supposed to be packing. And it probably looked like I was packing: The flight bags were on the bed. The carefully inventoried shirts for the trip hung on the doorknob. Debbie’s Miracle Fold was out of the box and ready to use, and various toiletries littered the bathroom counter top.
But I lacked focus. I’d half fold a shirt, and then remember I needed to replace the outdated backup sectional chart. That accomplished, I was distracted by gathering cables to charge the wolf pack of power hungry devices we travel with. The first shirt still half-folded, I found myself staring at a traveling tube of toothpaste, debating whether or not it still held enough for two people for three days.
Then, withered tube of paste still in hand, I found myself sitting in front of the computer. Again.
No, I wasn’t impulsively cruising eBay or checking to see if anyone left new comments on my latest dispatch for General Aviation News, although I’m not immune from either of those activities. Instead, I was impulsively checking the weather to see if it had changed in the last ten minutes. You see, the forecast for the Texoma Air Race was looking grim.
I had no doubt that Rio and I would get there. Sure, they were calling for some low ceilings around Childress, Texas, but nothing we couldn’t scoot comfortably under. And once again, I was facing headwinds flying East, which is rare, and had already happened to me an unfair number of times this racing season. We’d probably need to add one more fuel stop. Assuming, of course, that I actually got us packed in time to load the plane and leave.
What was I doing? Oh yes. Folding the shirts. Wait, did I remember to get out enough socks? Hmmm… I wonder how the weather is shaping up?
Race day itself wasn’t looking good for the home team. Of course, it was still three days off, and anything can happen in three days when it comes to weather. Still, if the forecasts were to be believed, we’d get there fine, but the race would likely be scrubbed, and the forecast for the next day—the official alternate “rain” day—looked just as bad. In fact, it sure looked like Rio and I could be grounded by weather in Sherman, Texas for several days.
So should we go or should we stay?
Obviously, as I was packing, I’d already made the decision to go. I had decided that since there was no safety issue in getting there, that was the only thing that mattered. If we went and sat in fog for three days, well, that would suck, but we’d have time to get to know Sherman, Texas. On the other hand, if we stayed home and the weather changed for the better and the race was run, I’d lose a ton of League points to my competition, and I’d be mad as hell.
So we were going. But that didn’t stop me from checking the weather again. And again. And Again. It was on one of these mid-packing weather checks that I got the email. It was from Pat Purcell, the Race Director for the Texoma:
“Texoma Racers, the 9th Annual Texoma Air Race has been CANCELLED… The ceiling are forecast to be solid IFR…” She went on to say that surrounding weather would make it impossible for some pilots to get to the race, and for others to get home again if they made in there in the first place. She pushed the race back a week.
A sock in one hand, and a new tube of toothpaste in the other, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was really looking forward to this race, one of the largest of the season, and one in which we were facing three stiff competitors in our Category and Class: An opportunity to really pull ahead (or fall behind). On the other hand, I knew deep down that the weather was going to interfere in the race, so I was secretly relieved.
Then it hit me that our whole calendar had just become a mess. We needed to move up some maintenance on Tessie. I needed to cancel Rio’s soaring lesson. There were bills to pay, and a story due that I was going to write in the break between races next week, that now needed to be written right now. Plus I had some commitments on my calendar that would keep me from packing the night before we’d need to leave next week, so I still needed to finish packing.
I pulled myself together and folded the shirts, organized the socks and charging cables, and started filling up our blue Sporty’s Flight Gear Navigator Bag for the trip, now more than a week away.
Then I got to work on my story, my bills, arranging for the maintenance, and all of the rest. Two days later, on the day of the cancelled race, the plane’s luggage now in a large pile in the middle of the my office floor, I pulled up the weather, and this is what I saw:
What are the odds of that? The weathermen got it right. Oh well, at least we’re packed and ready to go. A week ahead of time.
Gosh, I hope in all the confusion that I remembered to pack the toothpaste.