We're gloating, but we have to. Adventure Flight trained both Michaela Johnson and Kristina Ledwith, the 2023 Palms to Pines Air Race 1st place winners. It's kind of a big deal. In joking Andy was quoted saying, "At Adventure Flight we don't train losers. If you don't mind being a loser, then fly somewhere else." If you know Andy, you know he loves a good dad joke, sarcasm and puns.
When Michaela came to us for a private pilot license, she insisted on flying low and slow in a cub, getting her through the challenges (and joys) of tailwheel training was a challenge...and a joy - she'll tell you herself, there were days she just couldn't find the ground and wanted to quit. But she went on to get her PPL, IFR, Multi and Seaplane rating and insisted on learning bush piloting skills from Andy. We believe these skills helped her keep her head in the game and trust her low and slow style to trade airspeed for altitude when it mattered.
Kristina came to us for her commercial training and her skills at using instruments and foreflight to chart a path are some of the best. We believe her ability to keep Michaela alive by surveying terrain was a critical component to their success.
Kristina said, "If Michaela went by herself, she'd have died. If I went by myself I'd have never finished."
Both of these women are naturally gifted pilots. Andy Bibber took Michaela up in the weeks before the air race to help her learn a special race technique (that we'll keep under wraps) and to ensure she was comfortable with gusty crosswind landings (most of the airports throughout the race did not have crosswind runways available). Michaela is quoted cursing the winds and bouncy landings on the gopro footage that captured all the race training and was shared on social prior to the event.
Andy also took Kristina up in the week prior to "refresher" and ensure she was comfy in the backseat of "Poptart" the 1947 Piper SuperCruiser PA 12 that the ladies used to race. If you've never flown in the backseat of a cub, suffice to say - you can't see shi& out the front window, you have to use your periphery.
Now, you might know something about airplanes and flying and be wondering, how did an airplane that slow win the air race? Well, there's a handicap involved. But even with the handicap, the girls had to use all the prowess to make the VFR Day cut off rules for the race and use their mental and physical bodies to hand fly the stick and rudder airplane from Southern California to border of Washington/Oregon.
The Palms to Pines Air Race is put on by the 99s and goes all the way back to Amelia Earhart days, the race has been around for 40+ years.
To say we are proud of these two incredible pilots is an understatement. Photo below courtesty LA99s. Santa Monica take off race start.