Sunday, June 12, 2016

Big Muddy Air Race canvasses southern Illinois

Kathryn's Report:

MURPHYSBORO -- The fourth Big Muddy Air Race was at the Southern Illinois Airport in Murphysboro on Saturday.

It took place over 132 miles of southern Illinois with turns near Pinckneyville, Chester, Grand Tower, Jonesboro and more.

The 24 pilots came from near and far, some, as close as Carbondale, others from Canada and New Mexico. But what's more, most of the planes were homemade.

"There are six certified planes or factory built planes and the other 18 are all home built aircraft," said Mark Bybee, a pilot from Carterville.

He said it usually takes four to five years to make the planes. The race also included different classes of planes, with varying speeds.

Bybee said "We have four different classes and they range from 300-200 miles per hours in the first class, from 200 to 150, 150-110 and 110 and below."

One of the pilots who traveled quite a ways was Linda Street-ely. She flew in from Liberty, Texas near Houston, and says she's done a lot of tweaking to her certified plane. "We've done a lot of special things to our plane, ...the engine, the propeller, the exhaust and the airframe," Street-ely said.

And she was the only female pilot, something she noticed right away, adding "I love to fly fast. I would really like to see more women get involved in aviation. It's a great opportunity and there just aren't enough of us here." And on she did go fast. Just before take-off she was expecting to go about 160 miles per hour.

Saturday evening Race Organizer Sam Hoskins said the fastest plane was flown by Steve Hammer of Georgia at a swift 221 miles per hour.

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