Air Race Classic Plans Local Landing at Vermilion Airport

June 12--DANVILLE -- Hard work and a lasting impression succeeded in bringing a longtime coast-to-coast race back to the Vermilion Regional Airport.

The Air Race Classic, which starts on June 16, announced the Vermilion Regional Airport, located north of Danville, will be among the stops for the annual race. The race begins in Concord, Calif., and Danville is the second to last stop before the race ends in New Cumberland, Penn.

Overall, the race covers more than 2,300 nautical miles. A different route is used each year.

Robert Gagnon, manager of the Vermilion Regional Airport, said the facility has acted as a host stop for the air race one other time, more than a decade ago.

"We did a good job of getting everyone to the hotel and accommodating their every need," he said.

As a result, he said Air Race Classic officials called the airport a few months ago to find out whether the Vermilion County airport would be interested in again acting as a stop for the race.

A total of 52 airplane teams are participating in this year's race, which is made up of all female pilots and co-pilots. The race carries on a tradition of women's air racing that dates back to its beginning in 1929.

Planes are expected to land at the airport by 8:30 p.m. June 18 and will take off at 6:30 a.m. June 19.

According to Gagnon, the planes -- consisting of all varieties -- are expected to begin landing the afternoon of June 18, although an exact time isn't known.

Volunteeers, including from AMBUCS, will assist pilots who are staying overnight with rides to and from the hotel as well as other hospitality when they land, according to Gagnon. He said Vermilion Regional Airport has established a good reputation for such events.

"We're on the map for things like this," he said.

Vermilion Regional Airport is offering residents a chance to watch the planes land. Gagnon said people are invited to come out and watch the aircraft land and greet the pilots.

"Just come out with a lawn chair and a picnic basket," he said.

Some planes are expected to fly-by only while others will simply refuel and take off immediately.

In addition to the planes, Gagnon said they hope to have one or two hot air balloons inflate on the airport grounds, if weather permits. A food truck also will be on site for people.

Once pilots land, Gagnon said people will be able to walk up and view the planes.

"The idea is to encourage aviation," he said. "It will be a nice little afternoon."

Copyright 2014 - Commercial-News, Danville, Ill.