By Laura Ruane
More than 100 women pilots, including four
The 34th annual Air Race Classic will take the aviators in 125- to 600-horsepower fixed-wing aircraft over 11 states and to nine cities in the central and eastern
Teams of two paid $455 to participate, with three-member teams paying $605. Teams used a team member’s plane, borrowed or rented. Organizations provided additional financial backing. Locally, the county Tourist Development Council pledged up to $26,260 in bed tax dollars to promote the race, Page Field and the region; at Bell Tower Shops south of Fort Myers, women’s apparel retailer Chico’s held a reception, and Crowne Plaza and neighboring Homewood Suites by Hilton reduced room rates for race pilots. Paragon Flight Training threw a barbecue for the pilots Saturday night.
“The money this area is getting back in hotel room nights and fuel sales are well worth it,” said Victoria Moreland. She’s spokeswoman for Lee County Port Authority, which chipped in $10,000, plus in-house advertising, marketing and design services.
Altogether, the race will mean about 300 hotel room nights and estimated direct spending topping $142,000. That’s just the start, Carbonell said:
“A lot of these racers will go home and say ‘I had the best time in
China native and Spring Hill resident Laura Ying Gao, 30, said she’s “nervous, but very excited” about joining Carbonell of Alva and Ellen Herr of Fort Myers on “Team Wild Mama.”
When she came to this country two years ago, ” I didn’t know how to drive, much less fly an airplane,” said Ying, who earned her private pilot license in April.
Retired military and commercial airline pilot Jessica Stearns of
Race organizers claim as their roots the pioneering 1929 National Women’s Air Derby from
Pilots in this week’s Air Race Classic have four days – flying only in daylight under visual flight rules – to reach
Source: THE NEWS PRESS