What’s faster — a World War II-era, open-cockpit SNJ trainer plane at full throttle or the eight-time World Champion offshore racing catamaran?
As the GEICO Skytypers conclude their aerial demonstration, the Miss GEICO will make her entrance on the water.
The race follows the Skytypers’ 18-minute low-level, precision-flying demonstration. The squadron of six SNJ aircraft will exhibit more than 20 different tactical maneuvers used by Allied Forces to win World War II and the Korean War, including ground strafing, formation bombardment, and aerial dogfighting.
The solo pilots from the Skytypers will break away from the squadron and swoop down to an altitude just above the deck of their water-bound counterpart, and the air versus sea duel will begin.
“Each race is utterly unpredictable,” says Miss GEICO throttle man Scott Begovich. “You’ve got a liquid track with constantly changing conditions like wave size and wind strength. The water conditions greatly affect our speed and handling capability. As the World War II-era aircraft descend for the race, they get so close that it feels like they could land on the deck of the boat.”
The planes will pit their 75-year-old, 550-hp Pratt & Whitney engines against Miss GEICO’s piston-powered engines that produce nearly 4,000 total horsepower.
Technically, the SNJs are rated at a top speed of 213 mph at 6,000 feet. The Miss GEICO, on the other hand, frequently approaches 200 mph during its 45-minute races against the world’s fastest powerboats when conditions are ideal.
Tom Daly, GEICO Skytyper lead solo pilot, says experience and skill are the real differentiators.
“The boat will be tough to beat because it has more power and is completely state of the art,” he said. “But we rely on expert management of geometry and physics to extract the maximum output possible out of these vintage aircraft.”
“The Ocean City Air Show gives the public a rare chance to witness this air-sea duel. The race is something we only do a couple of times each year,” says Miss GEICO driver Marc Granet. “The GEICO Skytypers fly a tight demonstration, but when it comes to racing, we like to win and that’s what we intend to do!”