Registration is now open for the 40th Air Race Classic (ARC), the annual all-women cross-country airplane race.
More than 100 women pilots from around the country and the world are expected to compete in this year’s ARC, which begins June 21, in Prescott, Ariz., and ends June 24, in Daytona Beach, Fla.
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, Calif., to Cleveland, Ohio. That contest, also 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, the ultimate test of piloting skill and aviation decision-making for female pilots of all ages and from all walks of life.
This year’s course will cover 2,716 miles. Aviation education programs are a particular highlight this year: Every stop is at or near a college or university aviation program. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is hosting the Start and Terminus at its campuses in Prescott, Ariz., and Daytona Beach. Intermediate stops are Belen, N.M.; Midland, Texas; Waco, Texas; Arkadelphia, Ark.; Warrensburg, Mo.; Champaign/Urbana, Ill.; Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Americus, GaA.
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 21 at Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, 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 fly-bys 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, Daytona Beach International Airport, until moments before the arrival deadline at 5 p.m. on June 24.
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, race organizers noted.
Prizes for the ARC are valued at more than $16,500 and include medallions, trophies and cash awards.
Registration for the 2016 Air Race Classic closes April 1.