Ladies, Start Your Engines: Air Racing for your “Sunday Sedan”

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November 2012

Ladies, Start your engines!

Every June over 100 female pilots come together to participate in the four-day, 2,500-mile, cross-country, VFR, all-women’s Air Race Classic, the modern-day continuation of the Powder Puff Derby.


These pilots do not arrive in highly modified experimental aircraft. Quite the contrary: they race their every day, average, stock airplane—their “Sunday Sedan.” The Air Race Classic rules even prohibit entry of experimental aircraft for competition.

Basically, if your airplane is a commercially manufactured single or twin, is normally aspirated, has no restrictions on running continuous full power and can make each race leg in its entirety without fueling, your plane is probably qualified to race.

Many, if not most, of the race airplanes from the 2012 race were Cessnas. Fifteen of the top 16 finishing planes were Cessnas.

So what does it take to race your stock Cessna in a four-day cross-country race?

First and foremost, know your airplane. Even if you rent a plane for the race, know your airplane. Make sure you have a good feel for the aircraft at normal cruise speed.

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