October 15, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
The route for the 2014 Air Race Classic will be from Concord, Calif., to New Cumberland, Pa., race director Terry Carbonell said at the recent AOPA Aviation Summit. The course, with stops including Saratoga, Wyo., Brookings, S.D., and Fayetteville, Ark., will run 2,090 nautical miles.
The race’s history goes back to 1929, where 20 pilots in the First Women’s Air Derby flew from Santa Monica, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio. Racers are given four days, flying VFR in daylight hours, to reach the terminus. Each aircraft is assigned a handicap speed, and the goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible.
Cities interested in hosting the race may contact headquarters, said Carbonell. The fee is $10,000 to be the starting host city and $7,500 for the terminus city. “The race is a great economic boon to participating cities,” she said. “There are 50-plus aircraft that buy fuel, food, hotels, and rental cars, among other things. It also shows that airports are valuable in communities.”
Once the host and terminus cities are determined, race organizers look to find nine legs in between them, said Carbonell. “We need to avoid Class B airspace, have airports that have enough space to handle 50 aircraft, can handle fuel, have a 5,000-foot runway, hotels close by, and friendly people who can serve as volunteers,” she said.
AOPA Aviation Summit is a great place to exhibit, said Carbonell. “It’s before enrollment opens, so we have time to tell people about the race,” she said.
All kinds of women do the race, from college students up to a 90-year-old pilot, said Carbonell. “We like to call it a flying camp where, in two weeks, you spend time with 150 of your new best friends,” she said.Racers learn more about themselves as a pilot and improve their skills, said Carbonell. “A lot of women suffer from a lack of confidence. A lot of times, it’s good to fly with the girls. This race allows you to develop your own skills” without comments from men, she said. “My skills have grown exponentially since I did my first race in 2007. I won in 2010, and it was the highlight of my life.”Race applications will open on Jan. 2, 2014. For more information, go to the Air Race Classic website.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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