Gwen Bloomingdale, 59, and her co-pilot Barbara Gard, 52, are believed to have been pilots of the aircraft found crashed on the southern coast of Iceland yesterday. The pair had been enroute to London in a specially outfitted 1973 Shrike Commander to participate in the Great Sydney Air Race to Australia.
Bloomingdale was one of the first volunteers for the AOPA Airport Support Network, appointed in June 1998 for the Provincetown Municipal Airport in Massachusetts.
A retired lawyer who learned to fly at age 50, Bloomingdale was one of the most active and energetic of AOPA ASN volunteers. She appeared in a 1998 AOPA video answering questions about the program for prospective ASN volunteers and was credited with energizing other pilots to support and promote Provincetown Municipal.
She and Gard, who was a certificated A&P mechanic, had competed five times in the Air Race Classic, a cross-country event for women over American soil. In an article carried in AOPA ePilot in August, Bloomingdale said, "I think tearing about the countryside full throttle is the most fun we can have in a plane."
The Web site set up to follow the pair on their planned 28-day race from near London to Sydney has been suspended. A note on the site promises a statement later today.