The contestants have four days,
flying visual flight rules in daylight
hours, to reach the terminus. Each
plane is assigned a handicap speed,
and the goal is to have the actual
groundspeed as far over the handicap
speed as possible. Each aircraft is
assigned a number representing its
takeoff order at the start of the race.
This system enables airplanes of
varying horsepower to participate,
and pilots are given the leeway to
handle the elements, holding out for
better weather, and winds.
“You will always have in mind that
you want to do your best and you
want to be in the top 10,” said Gene
Nora Jessen. “The disappointment,
of course, is when you’re not. We
flew a good race and an accurate
race. The racecourse was a big circle,
and we had either head winds or
quartering head winds. Today, with
GPS, it is not about flying skills
anymore. GPS keeps us all on course
and nobody wanders.”
Gene Nora Jessen (left) and Cammie Patch. Gene flew sales demos for the Beech Aircraft
factory, operated her own flight school, and served as international president of the
Ninety-Nines. Cammie Patch is a former assistant manager and ground school instructor
at the Dover Air Force Base Flight Training Center.
You will always have in
mind that you want to do
your best and you want to
be in the top 10.
—Gene Nora Jessen
Bill Totten (right),
an Air Race Classic
inspector, stands beside
Carolyn Van Newkirk
and Maureen Goodwin.
for safety items and
ensured that none of the
participants had illegally
modified an aircraft to
enhance its speed, prior
to the race start.
Gene Nora, flying a 1977 Beech
C24R, is one of the original Mercury
13 women applicants for the space
program in 1961. Gene Nora’s
love affair with airplanes started
as a Civil Air Patrol cadet and has
continued for more than 50 years.
She has competed in previous
transcontinental air races.
Air Race Classic
Gene Nora described her copilot
Cammie Patch as “a sort of computer
geek,” and the only NAFI Master
Instructor in Idaho.
“Cammie owns Glass Cockpit
Aviation, a flight-training company,”
Gene Nora said. “She has been a
full-time instructor since October
Classic 19 with Sherry Walker and Nancy Aldrich arriving at one leg of the race.