Gene Ledda and Lynn O'Donnell of Daytona Beach, Fla., piloted a Van's RV-7A aircraft in Sunday's race. To Ledda, the length of the race was the most difficult aspect.
“It's a long race for the amount of fuel the plane carries, so that'll be my challenge,” Ledda said prior to the race. “If the winds are agreeable and it's cool enough, I might be able to do the race without a stop.”
A race like this one really boils down to “pilot skill and strategy,” said Eric Whyte, chairman of the 2013 AirVenture Cup Race. Pilots have to determine whether to fly at high or low altitudes, taking into account wind shifts, he said.
“There's a lot of strategy involved,” Whyte said.
The timed race included 14 classes of aircraft. The fastest overall plane Sunday was a Turbine Legend piloted by Marty Abbott of Calgary, Canada. Abbott achieved the highest average speed of 354.30 mph and finished the race in 1 hour, 17 minutes, the fastest time.
AirVenture organizers said they were quite impressed with Mt. Vernon Airport and that it made for an ideal venue for the race. The event may return to Mt. Vernon in 2015, which is the next time the race will be held in the eastern part of the U.S.
“You have an excellent airport here and the manager and the staff here have been very accommodating,” said AirVenture Cup Co-chairman Craig Henry. “It's a great way for the community to come out and see what their airport is about.”