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Palms to Pines Race
by Earline Arnold
September 2007

Earline & Jean - #1
2007 was the 38th anniversary of the Palms to Pines race. I have flown this race a few times and placed, but never first or second. Jean Schiffmann and I have flown the Air Race Classic five times and placed once but we never placed in the Palms to Pines race. We were #1 for takeoff and my dreams came true when we were #1 among the winners, receiving large airplane trophies. Leg prizes are given to the top scorers who are not in the top ten, so we didn’t want to hear our names at that point. When it got down to announcing 6th place Jean and I whispered that either we were in the top five or out of it completely. Since it’s a handicap race, even though I knew we had made good time (miles per hour over our handicap speed of 147 mph) it doesn’t mean anything because we never know what the other racers did until the breakfast banquet. I can’t even describe the excitement when we heard them announce that Fran Bera, the winningest pilot of all time, came in second. And then number one! What a thrill! Fran was very gracious and expressed happiness for us. Fran is a great lady and a true friend. I don’t know how many air races she has won and numerous Palms to Pines first place wins.

We made high speed flybys at specific low altitudes and over very specific check points at each of the three airports and were timed there. Once timed, each airplane can land and refuel or just continue on. There was a huge forest fire just north of the Los Angeles area restricting visibility to zero the day of our arrival at Santa Monica. We had to detour way around to the west to skirt it. On the day of our departure, however, the smoke had blown in another direction so that it was no hazard to our race. There were no problems, mechanical or otherwise, until we were scheduled to leave Bend, where it had started raining in the night and continued on. The freezing level was 7,000 feet. Our plan was to fly on to Portland, Oregon. We rented a car and drove. Jean’s friend met us and delivered her home to Battle Ground, WA, and I went on to spend five days with family.

When I return home from an air race I think that I am as good a pilot as I will ever be. Racing certainly tests your skills. Talk about multi-tasking! Racing is at the top. There is nothing like the camaraderie of spending five days with the pilots you are competing against.

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