Registration is open for the 41st Air Race Classic (ARC), the annual all-women cross-country airplane race.
More than 100 women pilots are expected to compete in this year’s ARC, which begins Tuesday, June 20, 2017, in Frederick, Maryland, and ends Friday, June 23, 2017, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The oldest race of its kind in the United States, the ARC traces its roots to the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, in which Amelia Earhart and 19 other female pilots raced from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. That contest, known as the Powder Puff Derby, marked the beginning of women’s air racing in the United States.
Today, the ARC is the epicenter of women’s air racing, a test of piloting skill and aviation decision-making for female pilots of all ages and from all walks of life.
“The ARC board of directors and volunteers have been hard at work preparing for our 41st race,” said Air Race Classic President Lara Gaerte. “We look forward to welcoming back veteran racers and meeting new competitors at this year’s Start.”
This year’s course will cover 2,648 statute miles, from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the far northern reaches of the Continental United States to the high desert of New Mexico. Intermediate stops for this year’s race are Coshocton, Ohio; Indianapolis, Indiana; Decorah, Iowa; Bemidji, Minnesota; Spencer, Iowa; Abilene, Kansas; Ardmore, Oklahoma; and Plainview, Texas.
Fifty teams of two or three pilots will have four days to complete the course, flying normally aspirated, piston-powered airplanes in visual flight conditions during daylight hours.
Pilots and copilots must have at least 100 hours as pilot-in-command to qualify for the race; one of them must have at least 500 hours as pilot-in-command or a current instrument rating. If they wish, the pilot and copilot may bring along a teammate, who must hold at least a student pilot certificate.
The race will begin at 8 a.m. June 20 at Frederick Municipal Airport, with teams departing the runway one after another, 30 seconds apart.
From there, the field will spread out as faster planes move to the head of the pack. At each stop, teams will execute high-speed flybys over a timing line as they race against the clock. Faster planes may cover the course in only two days; slower teams may not arrive at the Terminus, Santa Fe Municipal Airport, until moments before the arrival deadline at 5 p.m. on June 23.
Because each plane receives a unique handicap, teams are racing against their own best time, not against one another. This creates a level playing field, so slower planes can compete against faster aircraft on an equal basis, officials explain.
Teams strategize to play the elements, holding out for better weather or seeking more favorable winds, to beat their handicap by the greatest margin.
Official standings aren’t determined until after the last team has crossed the finish line – the last arrival at the Terminus may, in fact, be the winner, officials noted.
Prizes for the ARC are valued at more than $16,500 and include medallions, trophies and cash awards.
Registration for the 2017 Air Race Classic closes April 1, 2017.