Community event to support women’s air race pilots Tuesday
In hopes of giving pilots participating in the Air Race Classic a warm welcome, Saline County and city of Bryant officials — with the help of several community partners — are organizing a community picnic.
The event, Picnic at the Airport, is scheduled to take place from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at the Saline County Regional Airport.
As part of the race, every year teams of women pilots fly a crosscountry course of about 2,400 miles. The course changes every year. The race this year takes off from Jackson, Tennessee, and ends in Canada.
Teams are made up of two to three people and participants range from 21 to 90 years old.
The race begins Tuesday and ends Friday. Racers are expected to begin passing through or stopping in Bryant throughout the day Tuesday and Wednesday.
Each airplane has to land by 8:30 p.m. and pilots cannot take off until 6:30 a.m. the next day.
Prizes for the race are valued at more than $20,500 and include medallions, trophies and cash awards.
Organizers are expecting around 30 planes to land at the Saline County Airport on Tuesday afternoon and stay overnight in Bryant.
The family friendly event is free and themed around aviation.
Pulaski Technical College, the Bryant School District and the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium from Ua-little Rock will be providing hands-on activities.
Pulaski Tech will be providing a cockpit display and a jet engine for attendees to touch.
The Arkansas Space Grant Consortium with Ua-little Rock will have a booth to teach attendees about building the perfect paper airplanes, along with wooden gliders kits.
Attendees can also learn about drones and participate in science, technology, engineering and math activities during the event.
Nabholz Construction Company will have a grill going for free burgers and hot dogs, and Eagle Bank will be providing chips and drinks. First Security Bank will help keep everyone cooled off with free snow cones. Entegrity will have a solar charging station and Central Arkansas Flying will have a plane on display for the public to enjoy.
At the picnic, individuals are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs.
Shirts to commemorate the event are currently available to purchase for $10 on Stated Apparel’s website.
Event organizers will be presenting the shirts to the teams.
To cheer on the pilots, members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bryant and students from Empire Cheerleading will be performing.
Because pilots will be arriving at the airport at various times, it is suggested that attendees track teams on the race’s website, airraceclassic.org.
Along with welcoming teams, organizers say the event is a way for individuals to visit the airport and for community leaders to
spotlight the state-of-the art facility.
This year’s race marks 90 years of women’s air racing.
The Air Race Classic traces its roots to the 1929 Women’s Air Derby in which Amelia Earhart and 19 other female pilots flew from
Santa Monica, California, to
One of the most famous female pilots is an Arkansan.
Louise Mcphetridge Thaden, of Bentonville, earned her pilot’s license in 1928. The license number 850 was signed by Orville Wright.
In 1929, Thaden won the transcontinental race, beating Earhart.
More information about the picnic is available on the event’s Facebook page.