100 women pilots to compete in 46th Air Race Classic

AIR RACE CLASSIC Press Release | May 22, 2023

Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 5 seconds.

The field is set for the 46th Air Race Classic (ARC), the annual all-women cross-country airplane race. Forty-two teams, consisting of 100 women pilots from across the United States and around the world, will take off at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 20 from Grand Forks International Airport, Grand Forks, North Dakota, for a 2,684-statute mile competition across 12 states that ends Friday, June 23 at Miami Homestead General Aviation Airport in Homestead, Florida.

The oldest race of its kind in the nation, the Air Race Classic traces its roots to the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, aka the Powder Puff Derby, in which Amelia Earhart and 19 other daring female pilots raced from Santa Monica, California, to Cleveland, Ohio. This year’s ARC celebrates the 94th anniversary of that historic competition, which 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.

“The ARC Board of Directors and volunteers have been hard at work preparing for our 46th race,” said Air Race Classic President Lara Gaerte. “We look forward to celebrating the 94th anniversary of the Women’s Air Derby as we welcome back veteran racers and meet new competitors at our Start in Grand forks, North Dakota.”

This year’s ARC starts at Grand Forks, North Dakota and ends at Homestead, Florida. Intermediate stops are in Mankato, MN, Ottumwa, IA, Hastings, NE, Ponca City, OK, Sulphur Springs, TX, Jonesboro, AR, Pell City, AL, and Cross City, FL. Teams will depart beginning at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 20 from Grand Forks, North Dakota, taking off 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 of the nine intermediate checkpoints, teams will execute high-speed flybys 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 in Homestead, Florida until moments before the arrival deadline at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 23.

The 42 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 a Private pilot certificate and a minimum of 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.

18 college and university teams representing: Auburn University, Indiana State University, Kent State, Kansas State University – Polytechnic, LeTourneau University, Lewis University, Liberty University, Middle Tennessee State University, Minnesota State University – Mankato, Ohio State University, Purdue University, Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, University of North Dakota, and Western Michigan University.

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. 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!

This press release was prepared and distributed by ARC

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