Marolyn Wilson is best known as co-owner of Holland Farms Bakery. For two weeks each summer, however, the 65-year-old leaves her cakes and doughnuts behind to pursue another type of treat: sweet victory.
Marolyn Wilson is best known as co-owner of Holland Farms Bakery.
For two weeks each summer, however, the 65-year-old leaves her cakes and doughnuts behind to pursue another type of treat: sweet victory.
Wilson, a licensed pilot, and her former flight instructor, Elaine Roehrig, of Deerfield, will be competing this week in an all-female, cross-country competition called the Air Race Classic. The prize: $5,000.
Wilson said she first heard of the race from Roehrig shortly after receiving her wings in 1976.
“My instructor a couple of years later called me and said, 'There's an all-women's air race going from Santa Monica to Cleveland. Want to go?' And my answer was, 'you bet.'” she said.
The pair have been regular participants, and will be competing for the 18th time this year. Today, Roehrig's Cherokee 140 will be among 33 planes taking off for the four-day race that spans more than 2,300 miles from Bozeman, Mo., to Mansfield, Mass.
Wilson, whose father once managed the former Utica Airport in Marcy, said she's always enjoyed flying. But it's the camaraderie and the rush that keep her going back.
“There's such a feeling of freedom in the air,” she said. “You're seeing the country from a perspective that most people don't get to see. It's a challenge. It's an adventure.”
The Air Race Classic grew out of a 1929 air derby in which legendary aviator Amelia Earhart was among the competitors. The race is completed in eight legs, and competitors must remain at official checkpoints from sunset to sunrise each evening. Failure to arrive at a checkpoint on time results in disqualification.
Wilson said she and Roehrig occasionally have been disqualified or had to withdraw. But they've won the race twice, first in 2003 and then again in 2004.
“There are all sorts of things that can happen on a race,” she said. “It's not really the pilot's fault. It's just the way it is. And that's what makes it an adventure.”