Login Form

Q-talk 68 - SUN 100 AIR RACE

The SUN 100 race is for experimental aircraft only. The race is a triangular course that starts and ends at the Lakeland airport. The course does not equal out to 100 miles but came out more like 89 sm on my GPS.

At the pilot briefing they handed out a copy of a sectional with the course laid out. There is a single prominent landmark at turn one and turn two. The race officials did not offer any coordinates that we could punch in to the GPS, but several of the pilots had the coordinates from having flown the course in previous years and offered them to all of us.

Bob and I entered the OPEN 1-B Class. This is for any aircraft with an engine horsepower rated between 100 and 149 hp. There were five airplanes entered in our class.

Pulsar III115
Cassutt IIIM110

When you sign up for the race, you submit a top aircraft speed. They use this to set up the starting line-up for the race. They start the fastest airplanes first so there is a limited chance for passing. They start everyone at 20-second intervals. This offers a good spacing. After I took off, I never saw the plane in front of me and the guy behind me never passed me. On takeoff the only rule you have to follow (besides all FARs) is not to turn prior to gaining 400 agl and not before you reach a line of trees near a road at the departure end of 9R. This makes sure that you stay clear of the ultralight area.

They have everyone monitor 122.75 on their radio. When you come up to a turn you identify yourself to the spotters on the ground with your assigned race number and what turn you're at "RACE 18 TURN 1". This gives you some sort of idea how the race is going and how close you are to the guy in front and how close the guy behind you is. This adds to some of the excitement since you can't see anyone.

When you come back to the airport you can't just fly over the top of it. The airport is still open and they are landing and departing aircraft. Since the course was to the south of the airport we had to swing out to the west to stay clear of the camping area. When you are sure that you are clear of the camping area (they did define the boundary with some roads that are easy to see) you can turn in and parallel 9R/27L. You must stay south of the 9R/27L runway since they are still bringing aircraft in.

This is the most exciting time. You started your decent from enroute altitude so that you end up with just enough altitude so that you're still descending and accelerating as you turn into the airport and cross the finish line at 500' agl or above (don't go below). Stay on this heading and then climb to 3000'. Now you're back in the pond with everyone else and you have to fly the published Sun 'N Fun arrival procedure to get back to the airport. So it's over to the powerplant and head west.

Post race discussions: We didn't know what the results were yet.

A good ground crew is important. Bob's wife Jean was smart to get the electrical tape, used for race numbers, off soon after the race.

Below are the results from the race. Remember that the speeds are an average for the race from a standing start. So for a low hp machine, the Q-2/Q-200 is still a heck of a performer.


Average Speed
1st - Tom Moore174 kts/200 mph
2nd - Bob Malechek173 kts/199 mph
3rd - Frank Miller (Pulsar)?????

In fairness to Bob Malechek. Bob's plane is much faster than mine, but he had trouble getting the coordinates into his GPS and went WAY past the first turn. I hope Bob doesn't check his GPS for fingerprints! :-)

Bob was looking for an alternative engine after he found out the race results.

You can order a PDF or printed copy of Q-talk #68 by using the Q-talk Back Issue Order Page.