Flying around the world in 23 days 64 pilots competing in global air race

July 07, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

FREDERICK -- Steven Nagurny is flying around the world to bolster his resume.

Mr. Nagurny, a 39-year-old unemployed York, Pa., man, is one of 64 international pilots who are flying in the "First Round the World Air Race."

The contestants, who began the race in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 20, stopped in Frederick yesterday for a two-day stay. They were welcomed by the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations.

"I want to try to get back in the routine of doing things," said Mr. Nagurny, who is looking for a job as a pilot. "I hope this will prepare me to rise to the next challenge -- whatever that may be."

The pilots fly in stages of 2,000 miles as a safety precaution. Before landing in Frederick, the contestants had flown from Fresno, Calif. They enjoyed a dinner cruise on the Potomac River and toured Washington, D.C. Tomorrow morning, they head for Godthab, Greenland, before concluding the race in Cannes, France, on July 12.

No one has dropped out of the 23-day race yet, but mundane problems such as jet lag are proving to be a challenge, said Mike Wilson of Midway City, Calif.

"Sometimes you jump five time zones," said Mr. Wilson, who has flown over Helsinki, Moscow, and Nome, Alaska. "Your biological clock takes some adapting."

Stereotypes seem to be the most daunting for the female pilots.

Sue Nealey and Faith Hillman are two of the women making the trip.

"We want to show women all around that they can fly," said Mrs. Nealey as she and her co-pilot fueled their twin-engine airplane at Frederick Municipal Airport.

When the pilots landed in Russia, for example, female pilots were ordered to avoid mountainous areas and take a longer route.

"They sent us north an hour out of the way," said Ms. Hillman, a 36-year-old professional pilot from Los Angeles. "But the winds were low, so we did better."

The 27 aircraft competing in the race include single- and twin-engine models powered by pistons or turboprop engines. Pilots are judged on speed, navigational accuracy, mechanical knowledge, planning skills and aircraft performance.

The race was organized by Bernard Lamy, director of Arc-En-Ciel, a non-profit French organization that has operated six previous long-distance air races since 1981.

The Arc-En-Ciel means "rainbow" in French.

And after 15,000 nautical miles, what do the winners get when they reach the finish line?

Nothing. No prizes, but "a lot of pleasure," said pilot Mathias Stinnes of Toronto.

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