"This is 90 X ray," Gleb's voice called as we passed through Cedar Bluffs, halfway between McCook and Oberlin.
"Go ahead, 90 X ray," Ruth answered.
"I'm turning over Oberlin at 7,000 feet and still climbing."
Ruth and Harvey let out a war whoop. By the time we got the car and trailer turned around Gleb had streaked over us, homebound at 9,000 feet. Not only was he a cinch to make it back, but he was pretty sure to be running in the money.
As we headed back for the base at a more leisurely pace (our outbound speed had been around 70 mph), we continued monitoring the radio. Not everybody was doing so well. One pilot kept telling his crew he was almost down, and would give them the location, then he'd get a hopeful little puff of lift and try to get back into the race. Five minutes later, he'd be giving them a new spot at which to pick him up. After this had been repeated three times, one of the long-suffering crew announced over the radio, "We're passing a store. We're going to stop for a quick beer."
"Negative beer! Negative beer!" the pilot exploded. "You stay with me, you hear?"
As our jubilant little crew pulled onto the air base somebody told us Gleb was going to place second for the event, having been beaten slightly by A.J. Smith, also a Sisu pilot, who had led three of the four days so far. This turned out to be optimistic. Gleb was eighth in the Oberlin speed run. (Also, it was Smith's next-to-last day in the lead. Dick Johnson, the six-time champion, squeaked by to win the meet, while Smith dropped to third place. Gleb's final standing in the meet was 16th.)
Thinking he was No. 2, we hurried up to congratulate our man, arriving on the ramp in time to see him skimming off the ground on a fresh tow. Greele whipped the car around, and once again we dragged the trailer off in a great cloud of dirt, heading south.
"Maybe he doesn't believe he did as well as they told us," Ruth said, "but, in any case, it won't jeopardize his score to try again for better time. You can always pick your best score out of any number of tries before nightfall."
Outbound this time, we began to pass sailplanes resting in fields on both sides of the road. Some had come down on their first try; others had been simply trying, like Gleb, to do better. These landings invariably created great interest on the part of passing motorists, who usually assumed they were witnessing the forced landing of a conventional airplane, and were anxious to help the stricken airmen.