Pasco pilot heading back into skies for all-female airplane race

By Geoff Folsom Tri-City HeraldJune 7, 2014 

Pasco pilot Marjy Leggett

Last year, Marjy Leggett sat out the annual Air Race Classic. The cross-country, all-female, small airplane race started in Pasco and she was organizing the event.

But the race will start in Concord, Calif., this year. That means Leggett, 66, will be back in the sky for the first time since 2012.

"I can just go and enjoy it," the Pasco resident said. "So many of the girls that did it last year are going to do it again. It's pretty fun."

This will be Leggett's third time in the Air Race Classic. Her first was in 1995. The race, which starts June 16, features 50 teams, with more than 100 women competing. She will be co-pilot for Betty Lee Longstaff of Vernon, British Columbia.

Leggett, a pilot for 30 years, served as navigator and was in charge of in-flight communications when she took part in the 2012 Air Race Classic. This time she expects to spend part of the 2,338-nautical-mile race flying since her partner has never raced before.

"It's not only fun, but it's also a challenge to your flying skills," she said.

They plan to take their four-seat Cessna 172 through nine stops before the race ends June 21 in New Cumberland, Pa. Leggett is hoping for a better finish than in 2012, when she lost time being fogged in for more than two hours while the clock ticked.

The race brings together a variety of female pilots, with some in their 80s, Leggett said. She is proud of the 13 college teams involved in the race. She hopes that will get young women interested in flying, since only 6 percent of pilots are women.

"It's still mainly a man's world," she said. "They don't think of themselves as being the pilots. Getting a chance to meet them and show them what kind of opportunities are out there is kind of neat."

Leggett doesn't expect the race to come back to Pasco again anytime soon, since the last time it started there before last year was in 1984.

"We really did our best to have the hospitality for everyone," she said. "We wanted everyone to come back on their own to Pasco or the Tri-Cities. We really tried our best to showcase the area."

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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