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Electric air race set for next year, first Pulitzer Trophy since 1925

written by Isabella Richards | August 9, 2021
The first Pulitzer air race since 1925, flying electric aircraft (NAA)

A cross-country electric air race is set for May next year as the National Aeronautic Association resumes its Pulitzer Trophy Races, the first since 1925.

The NAA, the oldest not-for-profit aviation organisation in the United States, will award the winner a trophy on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Retired US Air Force pilot Scott Neumann will be the director of the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race, announced 21 July at the Electric Aircraft Symposium, ahead of EAA AirVenture air show.

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Over a two-to-three-day event, participants will cover lands from Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, and Dare County Regional Airport in Manteo, North Carolina.

Contestants will cover 1,000 nautical miles, according to the NAA.

“We wanted to design a race that advances electric aviation technology, and promotes public acceptance of electric aviation, by flying real aircraft in real airspace, landing at real airports,” Neumann said in a briefing.

“We have designed the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race to provide an open canvas for design innovations, and to be a sort of flying expo for the electric aviation industry.”

Neumann said the race registration will open in December this year and urged industry leaders to join the first announced sponsors, Signature Flight Support and FlightAware.

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The rules note up to 25 participants will fly piloted aircraft – not drones – across the route chosen, and no flying will occur overnight as most jets will be newly developed.

According to the NAA statement, the cross-country format instead of a closed-circuit event was chosen to emphasize the ability of the aircraft in that environment, such as speed and reliability.

“A cross-country race will require careful logistical planning from the race teams and highlight different electric propulsion technology choices and operational strategies,” the NAA said.

The original air race was founded by Ralph Pulitzer – the son of Joseph Pulitzer, who founded the journalism Pulitzer Prize – to promote early aviation through an incentivised high-speed event.

The first was held in November 1920 in New York where US Army Lieutenant Corliss Moseley took the trophy home, flying a Verville-Packard 600, 156.54 mph.

No firm commitments have been reported, but there are hundreds of VTOL manufacturers in the industry who have been invited to participate.

In the briefing, Neumann added: “Build us into your plans … this is going to be a great opportunity to do some operational testing with these aircraft in a realistic environment, and a clear signal to investors and buyers that these aircraft are really ready to go places.”

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