START – GRAND FORKS, ND (KGFK)
Grand Forks International Airport welcomes the Racers to the Start of the 2023 Air Race Classic! If you will be arriving from Canada, you can clear Customs right here at GFK. Avflight, the fixed base operator (FBO) will provide fuel and quality service during your stay. While a couple of airlines offer commercial passenger service, the majority of the operations at GFK are flights operated by the University of North Dakota (UND) which is based on the field. The John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences is the second-largest of UND’s degree-granting colleges and operates one of the largest fleets of civilian flight training in North America. Grand Forks sits on the Minnesota border across from its sister city of East Grand Forks on the Red River. You’ll be busy with ARC activities in the days before the Race, but if there’s time, visit the beautiful UND campus and the Museum of Art located there.
1. MANKATO, MN (KMKT)
Mankato Regional Airport is the first Stop on the 2023 Air Race Classic route. It will likely be the busiest with most of the Teams arriving and departing in a short period of time. The airport is home to Northstar Aviation (FBO) and Minnesota State University’s flight training program, both of which occupy the recently remodeled terminal building. Located just 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis, Mankato is nestled in a scenic river valley that has just the right combination of small town feel and thriving regional center with numerous outdoor recreation opportunities and also arts, entertainment and cultural and enrichment activities at Minnesota State University.
2. OTTUMWA, IA (KOTM)
Ottumwa Regional Airport is the second Stop on the 2023 route and is located in the southeast part of the state. The airport has an extensive World War II history as a U.S. Naval Training facility. It was later repurposed as an industrial park and is now a regional transportation and economic center serving general and business aviation. Ottumwa is the hometown of Corporal Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly, a fictional character in the M*A*S*H novels, film, and television series. Indian Hills Community College north campus is located at OTM offering a number of programs, including pilot raining, aviation maintenance technology and avionics electronic technician training.
3. HASTINGS, NE (KHSI)
Hastings Municipal Airport was originally constructed in 1930, and one of its early hangars still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town of Hastings came about in 1872 when the St. Joseph and Denver City Railroads crossed nearby. You can also find historic markers for the Pony Express and the Oregon Trail nearby. Hastings is known for the spectacular annual migration of cranes and waterfowl that stop along the Platte River and Rainwater Basin each March, and is recognized as the “Official Birthplace of Kool-Aid,” which was invented there in 1927. The airport boasts the only compass rose in Nebraska painted by The Ninety-Nines.
4. PONCA CITY, OK (KPNC)
Ponca City Regional Airport will be welcoming Racers with a newly reconstructed runway completed in the summer of 2021. The Ponca City Aviation Booster Club hosts the longest running fly-in breakfast at PNC the first Saturday of every month, which helps to fund a one-week aerospace day-camp each year. Named after the Ponca Tribe, Ponca city was first founded in the early days after the Oklahoma Land Run of 1893 and has survived the booms and busts of the oil industry. It is the original home to Conoco, now ConocoPhillips, which still has an oil refining operation there. Learn more at the Conoco Museum or visit the Pioneer Woman Museum. And don’t miss family-owned Enrique’s Mexican Restaurant, located in the terminal building serving some of the best Mexican food in the area.
5. SULPHUR SPRINGS, TX (KSLR)
Sulphur Springs Municipal Airport is situated between Dallas and Texarkana, which is in the Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana region, making SLR a good connection to all. The city was named for the abundance of springs of sulphur water in the area that Native American tribes often used and where early settlers camped. The airport is home to American Legend Aircraft Company that sells Legend Cubs, including the MOAC (Mother of All Cubs), and it has lakefront access to Lake Sulphur Springs where you can land your seaplane or train in your newly-purchased Legend Cub on floats. Plan a visit downtown where you can browse through the Leo St. Clair Music Box Collection in the Sulphur Springs Library and don’t miss the glass bathrooms at Celebration Plaza!
6. JONESBORO, AR (KJBR)
Jonesboro Municipal Airport is located in the northeast corner of Arkansas, about 70 miles northwest of Memphis, and sits on Crowley’s Ridge, a rise of 250-300 feet in elevation from the Mississippi alluvial plain. After receiving extensive damage from an EF3 tornado in March of 2020, the airport has rebuilt and is ready to welcome Racers. Arkansas Air Center, the FBO, has expanded and offers a full range of services to support the Racers. Jonesboro is home to Arkansas State University, a public research university and the second largest university in the state. Learn more about northeast Arkansas at the free museum at ASU.
7. PELL CITY, AL (KPLR)
St. Clair County Airport is about 45 miles east of Birmingham, just south of the Atlanta-Birmingham corridor. Although it is a reliever airport for Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, PLR supports a vibrant general and corporate aviation community with a full service FBO, flight training, and aviation and community events. Pell City, located in the foothills of the Appalachians, is known as the short route to Florida. Nearby Logan Martin Lake and Lakeside Park offer nature trails, boat launches, fishing piers and all forms of water sports. Take a 3-hour cruise on the Coosa Queen, a 58′ semi-paddle-wheeler riverboat on Logan Martin Lake.
8. CROSS CITY, FL (KCTY)
Cross City Airport is the final Stop before the Terminus for the 2023 Air Race Classic. One of the smaller airports along the route, CTY is located on the northwest side of the Florida peninsula, just a short distance from the Gulf coast. Cross City, the county seat of Dixie County and known as the “Biggest Little Town in Dixie,” is one of several small towns located on the Florida Gulf coastal highway that connects Pensacola to Tampa. The old railroad that served the large lumber producing area of north Florida has been converted to a 32-mile bicycle trail with loops in the areas of Cross City and nearby Shamrock, allowing bicyclists to explore the Gulf coast. Rent a bike at the historic Putnam Lodge in Shamrock and hit the trailhead located at the lodge.
TERMINUS – HOMESTEAD, FL (X51)
Miami Homestead General Aviation Airport is just south of Miami providing a convenient link to the Florida Keys and points south. The airport, along with Homestead Executive Jet Center (FBO), serves all aspects of the general aviation community from business aircraft to skydiving, gliding, ultralights and aerobatics. It lies adjacent to the Everglades National Park with vast mangrove forests, watery saw grass plains, and subtropical wildlife such as alligators, ibis, eagles, manatees, and panthers. A short drive east is Biscayne National Park, which encompasses the bay, barrier islands, and coral reefs. And 30 minutes south is Key Largo, the first island of the Florida Keys where you can dive, snorkel, fish or enjoy a ride in a glass-bottom boat. So, consider extending your stay to unwind after a great weekend culminating your 2023 ARC adventure.