Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free trial today! Click here

Tennessee team wins 2018 Air Race Classic

Pilots Mariah Ferber and Paige Kessler, flying as the team Nashville Flight Training, have won the 2018 Air Race Classic.

Lin Caywood and Bev Weintraub are marshaled to parking after landing at Eastern Slope Regional Airport in Fryeburg, Maine, at the end of the Air Race Classic June 22. Photo by Dan Namowitz.

The team sponsored by a Nashville, Tennessee, flight school flew their 1998 Cessna 172R to a fraction-of-a-mile-per-hour victory over second place finishers and veteran racers Debby Rihn-Harvey and Chris Dale, also known as the racing team Houston Hot Flashes.

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 fun of aviation went right to head of Olga Mitchell, a member of The Ninety-Nines who welcomed on June 22. Photo by Dan Namowitz.

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.

Members of the local aviation community who watched the ramp fill up with race airplanes were delighted that Eastern Slope Regional Airport played a major role in the 2018 Air Race Classic. Photo by Dan Namowitz.

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.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: Air Racing

Related Articles