Com­mu­nity event to sup­port women’s air race pi­lots Tues­day

The Saline Courier Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Sarah Perry

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

Cleveland.

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.

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