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Air race draws 29 competitors

The second annual Pagosa Springs 100 Air Race, sponsored by The Pagosa Lodge, took place at Stevens Field Saturday and was a great success.

The event, a Sport Air Racing League (SARL) race, attracted 29 pilots from home bases located across the country. The day featured crystal clear blue skies, an absolutely beautiful autumn morning and everyone returning safely. It was a perfect day for an air race.

A crowd of approximately 200 spectators of all ages enjoyed the excitement of being up close and personal with contestants and their aircraft as the 29 pilots started their engines to begin the race.

In the 100-mile closed-circuit challenge, pilots raced against the clock. While strongly emphasizing safety, start times were staggered to prevent some planes from passing others. Meanwhile, spotters monitored the race along its route, to ensure safety and pilot compliance with course requirements.

The first plane lifted off at 9:56:31 a.m. and the race lasted one hour, two minutes and five seconds, with the last plane landing at 10:58:36.

As each plane crossed the finish line and flew over the crowd, the spectators and crew members cheered and waved their arms in appreciation of a safe and exciting return. Some pilots waved back with wing tips swaying, bringing heightened applause from the crowd.

There were seven local pilots and 22 visiting pilots participating in the event. First-time competitors, as well as the racers returning from last year, have fallen in love with the beauty of Pagosa Country as well as the hospitality afforded them by our community. Many pilots made the comment they will be returning to Pagosa Springs soon to spend more time in our beautiful area.