Friday, July 03, 2009

Air Race Classic 2009 - Post #10

From the newsletter of the Texas Aviation Association:

News About
General Aviation

2009 Air Race Classic Complete;
Local Woman Among Contestants

Celebrating 80 years of women's air racing, the only all-women transcontinental air race has logged another race for the record books. Begun in 1929 as the First Women's Air Derby, Will Rogers dubbed it the Powder Puff Derby upon seeing the lady pilots powder their noses before taking off.
Air Race Classis Awards Banquet
Air Race Classic Pilots at the awards banquet

Operating today under the name Air Race Classic, this year's winning team flew a 1962 Beechcraft Bonanza 35-B33. Kelly Burris, the airplane's owner, is a mechanical engineer and patent lawyer from Michigan. Her co-pilot, Erin Recke is a regional airline pilot residing in Atlanta. Second place went to one of the seven collegiate teams, Jessica Campbell and Victoria Dunbar, of Indiana State University. The first-time racers also won the collegiate trophy. Another Bonanza scooped up third place, owned and flown by microwave engineer, Sandy St. John of Dallas, accompanied by her co-pilot, Linda Pecotte, a Silver City, New Mexico resident.
The route changes every year and is not always truly "transcontinental" although the total miles for the race is usually in the 2400 nautical mile range.
Two pilots per team are requi red by Air Race Classic, Inc.; at least one pilot must have either 500 hours or be Instrument rated, although the race itself is restricted to day time flying, under Visual Flight Rules only. One passenger may ride along, but must be either a pilot or student pilot with a current medical certificate.
Stock, or minimally modified stock airplanes ranging from 145 horsepower to 570 horsepower are eligible to compete because each airplane is handicapped; both single and twin-engine non-turbo powered airplanes are allowed. Points are tallied from the amount flown above handicap, minus any penalties along the way, the winner determined from the total. The goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible.
Air Race Classic preflight inspection
Preflight inspections take place with race officials
Authors, school teachers, grandmothers, moms and daughters proved fierce competitors in the wild blue yonder, and good friends on the ground. This year's contestants ranged in age from 19-88. Jessica Miller, who just graduated from high school, borrowed her uncle's Mooney for her first race. She and partner Athina Holmes, the only black woman in this year's race, finished seventh, just ahead of Mooney Airplane Co mpany's former CEO, Gretchen Jahn and her partner Dee Bond, of New Zealand. Among the five women in their 80's. 88-year old Bee Haydu who served as a WASP during WWII, found one of the stops extra special: Sweetwater, Texas, the home of the WASP Museum. Two mother-daughter teams also participated.
Participating cities are chosen based on several criteria, including community support for aviation. This year's race covered several states, beginning at the Denver Centennial Airport, with mandatory timed fly-by's at Liberal, Kansas, Sweetwater, Texas, Lufkin, Texas, Russellville, Arkansas, Grenada, Mississippi, Sparta, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Illinois, Racine, Wisconsin, and ending finally in Atlantic, Iowa. The last leg was the longest: at 332 nautical miles; the shortest was Russellville to Grenada, for 184 nautical miles.
Racers hailed from several states, and even some other countries. Texas was well represented with 10 racers, including 17th-place finishers Linda Street-Ely of Liberty, and her race partner Jodie Perry of Austin. Official standings are available on the ARC web site at

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