Sunday, 08 July 2012 by Colleen Cornelsion
Victoria Holt, of Belton, and her teammate, Diana Stanger, otherwise known as "The Racing Aces," were recently crowned the champions of the 36th Annual Air Race Classic.
The race is a continuation of The Women's Air Derby that started in 1929, and is a 4-day, 2,682 mile race, and is one of a rich tradition in which Amelia Earhart raced, but finished third.
Holt, a mother of four, has been flying for 21 years. Her first flight was in a glider on a blind date; Holt was hooked.
"I came to the ground knowing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life," Holt said. "That was in October of 1990, and by January, I was a full-time college student."
Holt's journey to attaining the highest level pilot certificate, as an Airline Transport Pilot, is an inspiring one. A single mother determined to attain her dream; she worked at an airport near McKinney, where she traded her labor for flight time. Holt also has a degree in Aeronautical Science from the University of Central Texas. She is a corporate pilot, and wanted to try "another arena of flying" when she and Stanger entered the Air Race Classic.
Although Holt's plane was the 20th to land, she and Stanger implemented many strategies in order to beat the handicap speed that was assigned to their plane, a Cirrus SR-22.
For the competition, each plane is given a handicap, and the goal is to beat one's handicap by the most points. Holt and her racing partner beat their handicap by 11 points.
"We knew we did well because we had a tail-wind on every leg, and because of the speed of our airplane, we were able to ride the cold-front, all the way up to the northern part of the route," said Holt.
Upon landing on Friday, the duo was "hopeful," but had to wait until Sunday to learn they were indeed the victors.
"I was just so excited," Holt said. "We were hopeful, but we didn't want to jinx it."
Stanger, Holt's fellow winner, is one of Holt's clients. The two fly together year round and thus have excellent "crew coordination."
Holt believes this was also part of their winning strategy.
"We know each other well," Holt said. "So we can almost tell what the other is thinking."
The Racing Aces, Holt and Stanger, plan on entering the Race again next year.
"We hope to defend our win," said Holt.
Last year, the two finished the race "in the middle of the pack," but "came away with quite a bit of knowledge."
The Racing Aces plan to give the money they won to scholarships.
"The biggest personal reason for this is that I was a displaced housewife and wanted to be a pilot in the worst way, and I didn't have the means to do it," Holt said. "I had some very worthwhile mentors that hold a special place in my heart. I want to give back to aviation, and I want to see more women licensed to fly planes."