Hartfield pilot competes in cross-country airplane race
by Tom Chillemi
Ms. Leo Ford-Barber of Hartfield has logged more than 6,000 hours as an airplane pilot, as well as teaching flying. You might think she has done it all in her 40 years of flying, but that’s not quite accurate.
That’s because this summer, for the first time, she was part of a three-woman team that competed in the 38th “Air Race Classic,” flying from San Francisco over the Rocky Mountains, through America’s heartland to Hershey, Pennsylvania, in four days.
The Air Race Classic (ARC) was an eight-leg odyssey to promote women’s role in aviation. Its roots go back to the “Women’s Air Derby,” first held in 1929. Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, was among the pilots at that air derby.
Ford-Barber explained that she started flying because it was fun. After 40 years, flying is more about transportation for her. However, the ARC has awakened her competitive spirit, which shows little chance of slowing down anytime soon.