Saturday, June 14, 2014

Air Race Classic to visit Scottsbluff during June 16-19 race


Aviation enthusiasts can get a glimpse into one of the oldest air races as the annual Air Race Classic visits Scottsbluff next week.

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A total of 52 planes will fly this year as they take part in the 2014 ARC that will be held June 16-19. The all-female pilots will make 10 intermediate stops throughout the race with one stop scheduled at Western Nebraska Regional Airport in Scottsbluff. ARC Stop Chairman Sherry Fisher said, depending on the weather, a few planes are expected to arrive at the airport on Monday night with others coming in throughout the day on Tuesday.

The four-day competition will begin in Concord, Calif. and will travel 2,338 nautical miles to New Cumberland, Pa., with all racers competing for the fastest time. The ARC began when aviation legend Amelia Earhart held the first Women’s Air Derby in the United States in 1929. Since it was forbidden for female pilots to race against male pilots, Earhart and 19 other women took matters into their own hands and created the first all female race.
Today, women from 17 to 90 years old start with a race team of two pilots that must fly by the Visual Flight Rule of only flying during daylight hours. Pilots are also given four days to make the flybys at each en route timing point and then land at the terminus.
“The participants will fly sun up to sun down,” Fisher said. “They will start at 6:30 in the morning until 8:30 at night.”
In preparation for the event, pilots will undergo briefings, flight planning and a fly-by study prior to take off. Pilots will race against their own best speed time in a small airplane of their choice. The aircraft must be a stock model and have their handicap speed identified with a check pilot.
These female pilots will also be building up their experience and refining their flight skills since the route changes each year to make the competition even more challenging.
“It’s just like the Sugar Valley Rally, but it’s done with airplanes,” Fisher said.
WNRA will be the fourth stop of the race. Local residents will also be able to visit with the pilots free of charge at the airport during the pilot stops. After the pilots take a brief break, they will travel on to Norfolk Regional Airport. WNRA Chairman Don Overman said everyone at the airport is enthusiastic for the ARC to be making a landing in Scottsbluff.
“I’m pleased that they (ARC) chose Scottsbluff,” he said. “It will be exciting for people to come out and meet the pilots.”

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