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2008 Air Race Classic 'flight log'

June 22, 2008

by Meghan Burlager and Betsy Taylor

BOZEMAN, Mont.--We woke up early to drive to Yellowstone National Park to see what the big deal was about.

The scenery on the way was like nothing that we had seen before. Pictures do not do it justice. The road was very windy and ran next to a rapid the whole way. Meghan wanted to raft, but Betsy didn't. They lost four rafters already this season to the river. It was supposed to be at the highest point it had been all year.

Sadly, we didn't have much time in Yellowstone, because we had to rush back for a new racers' briefing in Bozeman. We caught a quick glimpse of a bald eagle and saw a herd of buffalo, which are known to be quite fast and aggressive. According to the handout they can run three times as fast as we can, but we are not in shape. We also saw elk and various hoof prints, but it was the buffalo that got us stuck in traffic. They walked right next to us, and smelled quite obnoxious. We were able to see a geyser from afar and right about then, we had to turn back. Even though we didn't get to see the whole park, we got a taste of the wildlife.

We had the new racers' briefing, which was informative, and then we had a banquet dinner to kick off the race. We sat next to our "Mother Birds," who love to call us the "Whiskey Mamas" because of the WM that is on the tails of many WMU airplanes. We got a picture taken with the most senior racer, 90 years old, and were able to mingle with the other racers.

We got into the hotel room and were doing some planning when the wind suddenly picked up and we saw flashes of lightning. Next thing we knew, hail was pounding against the window and so were our hearts. We are going to investigate the situation in the morning, and keep our fingers crossed the airport was north of the storms and our beloved 22WU [plane] is safe and sound. I'm sure all of the racers are praying for the same thing. More tomorrow. We have to go get our laundry.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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