Registration is open for the 42nd Air Race Classic (ARC), the annual all-women cross-country airplane race.
More than 100 women pilots from around the world are expected to compete in this year’s ARC, which begins Tuesday, June 19, 2018, in Sweetwater, Texas, and ends Friday, June 22, 2018, in Fryeburg, Maine.
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, 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 2,656 statute miles, from the West Texas flatlands, where the Women Airforce Service Pilots trained for military service during World War II, through the American heartland to the pine forests of Maine.
Intermediate stops are Alva, Oklahoma; Beatrice, Nebraska; Faribault, Minnesota; Galesburg, Illinois; Auburn, Indiana; Cadillac, Michigan; Newark, Ohio; and Penn Yan, New York.
Up to 60 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 19 at Avenger Field, 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, Eastern Slopes Regional Airport, until moments before the arrival deadline at 5 p.m. on June 22, race officials note.
Because each plane receives a unique handicap, teams are racing against their own best time. This creates a level playing field, so slower planes can compete against faster aircraft on an equal basis.
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 say.
Prizes for the ARC include medallions, trophies and cash awards.
Registration for the 2018 Air Race Classic closes April 1, 2018.