Pilots Mariah Ferber and Paige Kessler, flying as the team Nashville Flight Training, have won the 2018 Air Race Classic.
The Air Race Classic pits each team against a handicap speed assigned to their make and model aircraft. The team that beats its handicap by the greatest margin wins. Ferber and Kessler’s speed of 154.148 mph beat their handicap by 11.197 mph; barely edging out the Houston pilots, whose speed of 168.55 mph topped their Cessna 182’s handicap speed by 11.102 mph.
Last year’s winners, Kiwi Express, with New Zealander Dee Bond and American pilot McKenzie Krutsinger flying, placed sixth, flying a Cessna 182.
The Air Race Classic began in 1977 and continues to celebrate the achievements of women in aviation and inspire others to achieve their aviation goals. That inspiration was evident in the elation of the racers at the completion of their flying, and from the animated welcomes they received from family, friends, and an unofficial reception committee of members of regional chapters of The Ninety-Nines, who greeted each arrival with an enthusiastic ovation.
The 2018 race began on June 19, and competitors had until 5 p.m. on June 22 to perform their flyby at the destination to stop their time clock and complete the race.
Although more than 50 teams entered the race, about 18 did not complete the race, in many cases because of challenging weather conditions along the course that originated in Sweetwater, Texas, and wound its way east and north to a final landing in Fryeburg, Maine.
So bad was the weather that of the nine planned flight legs, all but the first two legs, from Sweetwater to Alva, Oklahoma, and from Alva to Beatrice, Nebraska, and the final leg, from Penn Yan, New York, to Fryeburg, were cancelled for scoring purposes. Pilots flying the middle portions of the course were directed to find the safest possible route from their present positions to Penn Yan at their discretion to complete the journey.