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Pagosa Springs 100 Air Race Saturday at Stevens Field

Archuleta County’s Stevens Field will host a Sport Air Racing League (SARL) air race this Saturday. Dubbed the “Second Annual Pagosa Springs 100 Air Race,” Pagosa Lodge sponsors the event.

In the 100-mile closed-circuit challenge, pilots will race against the clock. While strongly emphasizing safety, start times will stagger to prevent some planes from passing others. Meanwhile, spotters will monitor the race along its route, to ensure safety and pilot compliance to course requirements.

As a free public event, spectators should arrive at Stevens Field by 8 a.m. for pilot visitation, before a 9 a.m. aviators’ briefing. Pilots will display competing aircraft before and after the 10 a.m. contest, with the actual race lasting about an hour, depending on how many pilots register. Organizers will provide water, coffee and pastries for a nominal fee.

While 24 pilots participated in last year’s race, event organizers hope for at least 30 this year. By Monday, however, 21 had signed up. As similar events occur nationwide, high-performance experimental aircraft owners will come from across the United States and Canada to test, and ultimately improve on, their latest airplane modifications.

Race organizers will “keep score” before a designated spectator viewing area, thus keeping the public apprised of pilot times and position standings throughout the race. Organizers include the following folks:

• Deidra Fortier (volunteer), event coordinator and finance.

• Bill McKown (airport mgr.), air boss.

• Bob Goubitz (Avjet mgr. and FBO operator), ramp coordinator.

• John Huft (local pilot), SARL liaison.

• Bob Clinkenbeard (local pilot), head of the timing team.

• Michael Arbuthnot (local pilot, Airport Advisory Commission [AAC] member), electronics and sound.

• Kate Alfred (local pilot, AAC member), welcoming and registration.

• Teresa Huft (volunteer), pilot meal and finance.

Organizers expect 300 spectators at this year’s event, and suggest everyone arrive early. They recommend guests bring lounge chairs and dress for an autumn morning outdoors.

In conjunction with Saturday’s air race, San Juan Flyers Inc. — a local aviation club since 1998 — will host an open house at its hangar from 8 to 11 a.m. The hangar is just south of the Fixed Base Operations building at midfield, where a club banner will identify the exact location.

San Juan Flyers Inc. owns two IFR (Instrument Flight Rule) single-engine aircraft made available for personal use by club members. Three certified flight instructors also provide excellent pilot training and unique flying experiences in and out of Stevens Field.

Anyone with an affinity for aviation will enjoy the race, static displays and aviator interactions, while those interested in flight instruction or becoming a member of the San Juan Flyers Inc. will want to stop by the club hangar.

To get to the airport, take Piedra Road (CR 600) northwest to Cloman Boulevard. Follow Cloman to its end, turning right on Aviation Court. For more information, contact Stevens Field at 970-731-3060, or e-mail questions to airport@archuletacounty.org.

chuck@pagosasun.com