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AOPA, ASF staffers join racers in annual Air Race ClassicAOPA, ASF staffers join racers in annual Air Race Classic

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Carolyn Smith (left) and Kathleen
Roy with ASF Piper Archer N8121K.

Two staff members from AOPA and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation are in Pratt, Kansas, for Saturday's start of the twenty-seventh annual Air Race Classic, the nation's only all-female air race, which runs through June 24.

Carolyn Smith, manager of resource development and management for AOPA's Aviation Services department, and Kathleen Roy, senior research analyst for ASF, plan to file daily updates on their experiences, which will be posted online. They will compete against pilots from around the country in the four-day, 2,200-sm race that culminates with a flyby at the Wright Bros. Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C., before landing at nearby Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo.

Smith and Roy will be flying the Air Safety Foundation's Piper Archer, which is used for aviation safety research. This is the first air race for each of them.

The Air Race Classic is the latest incarnation of a national all-female air race, which dates back to the first Women's Air Derby in 1929. That race continued until 1939, then resumed after World War II as the All Women's Transcontinental Air Race, better known as the Powder Puff Derby.

The Air Race Classic began in 1977. It uses a handicapping system that establishes a handicap speed for each individual aircraft. Pilots increase their score by maintaining groundspeeds in excess of the handicap speed. The four-day course starts in Pratt, Kansas, and goes through Nebraska; cuts across Iowa into Minnesota; across Wisconsin to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and then down to Illinois; across Indiana to Ohio; on to Pennsylvania; down across Maryland and West Virginia to southern Virginia; and finally to Kill Devil Hills and Manteo in North Carolina.

Along each leg, pilots have to either land at or fly by specific checkpoints.

So for a unique insider's look at an air race, be sure to visit the Web site each day between June 21 and June 24.


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