Air Race Classic to make stop in Jonesboro

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:03 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Air Race Classic will be stopping in Jonesboro.

The race is unique in that it only features female pilots.

Jana Brandt is the Jonesboro Stop Chair for the race. She said there’s a lot of history that comes with the race.

According to the Air Race Classic’s website, female racing dates to the 1920′s. It started with the “Women’s Air Derby”; a race aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart participated in.

After World War II, it became the “All Women’s Transcontinental Air Race,” also known as the “Powder Puff Derby.”

When the AWTAR was discontinued in 1977, the Air Race Classic continued the all-female race.

The Air Race Classic features stopped at several airports.

“Jonesboro is lucky enough to be one of the stops this year,” Brandt said.

“There are many airports they could have stopped, but they stopped here.”

Brandt said nearly 100 pilots will be making a stop in Jonesboro.

She said she wanted to make the stop memorable for the pilots.

“We’ve got decorations, balloons, refreshments, all sorts of ways to celebrate these ladies. We see them, we see their sense of adventure, we see their aviation accomplishments, and we have a great big hospitable welcome to Jonesboro,” she said.

Brandt is also a pilot who wasn’t aware of the race, now she said she’s considering taking part in the race too. She said the race is already getting attention from other pilots.

“Getting to meet all these women who are into aviation and this race, and it’s amazing to hear from other female pilots in Arkansas who are not necessarily participating, they want to fly into Jonesboro to volunteer,” she said.

The pilots will take off from Grand Forks, North Dakota, on June 20. The pilots will make stops in several cities before stopping in Jonesboro. Brandt expects most pilots to reach Jonesboro on June 22 or 23.

Brandt hopes the community will come and support the pilots, saying they could inspire the next generation.

“I just hope that there are women today will see aviation as something that is accessible to them that this is not, even though it is male-dominated, this is not a male field,” she said.