My biggest reason for doing this post is because I intend to become much more involved with the race in years to come. I have been donating items for the silent auction for a while, but I should have had Girls With Wings tracking the teams throughout the races so that we can better celebrate the uniqueness of this annual event. I would also like to see a lot more attention from the general public (and of course the aviation enthusiasts) focused on the annual races. Oh, and I'd also like to run it again! Anyone else need a co-pilot?
As a reminder, the 2009 race was the 80th anniversary of the AirRace Classic, once known as the Powder Puff Derby:
Women’s air racing all started in 1929 with the First Women’s Air Derby. Twenty pilots raced from Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH, site of the National Air Races. Racing continued through the ‘30’s and was renewed again after WWII when the All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR), better known as the Powder Puff Derby, came into being. The AWTAR held its 30th, final and commemorative flight in 1977. When the AWTAR was discontinued, the Air Race Classic, Ltd., (ARC) stepped in to continue the tradition of transcontinental speed competition for women pilots and staged its premier race. The Air Race Classic was reincorporated in 2002 into the Air Race Classic, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Read more.
I've had difficulty finding other such events by doing a search online (do you know of a similar event?). There are other Air Races, but they are usually short duration flights of high speed performance aircraft. The Women's AirRace visits different cities in different states every year and is a wonderful opportunity to promote not only women in aviation, but also general aviation (privately owned, small aircraft) which is suffering from the state of the economy as well. See GA Serves America. Next year's race will be June 22 - 25, 2010: Fort Myers, FL to Frederick, MD 2157.7 nm/2483.0 sm See a flyer for the race route. This race will be celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Licensed Women Pilots, 1910-2010. [Did I mention that I think I can clear my calendar?]
Again, I would like to thank the folks that supported the race. See the website for all the info. I can't imagine how much time the volunteer organizers of the race spent arranging for the actual race, where to go, how to get everyone there (and keeping track of those who weren't), making sure that fuel and maintenance support for the airplanes was available, ensuring that there were hotels and restaurants for us to eat, getting the waivers and judges for the flybys, arranging for the handouts, website, awards, plaques, etc., etc. The Colorado 99s put on the majority of the activities at the start, and I thought the briefings to prepare for the race was top notch!
At each stop along the route there were volunteers to do the timing, drive us around town, supply us with snacks, water, etc. And they cheered us on and wished us luck!
In Atlantic, IA, many people from the town came to the Friday night picnic, sponsored racers for Saturday night barbeques, and attended the Sunday night banquet and awards ceremony. The folks even came out to see us launch early monday morning. I overheard a woman asking her son, taking pictures of every airplane, "Now, wasn't this worth getting up early for?" I'd say yes, for the entire 10 day experience. With a year to rest up, I would also say that I would be ready to do it again!