2023 AirVenture Cup Race and Airport Open House brings in pilots from all over the world

Airplane taking off in Wausau.
Airplane taking off in Wausau.(WSAW Hailey Clevenger)
Published: Jul. 22, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The AirVenture Cup Race will begin on Sunday, but some pilots are already warming up. People got the chance come to visit the Wausau Downtown Airport to get a sneak peek of the race and learn all things aviation.

The AirVenture Cup Race is a cross-country race where pilots fly from city to city to compete against the clock. Some pilots fly on their own, while others have a co-pilot. The 25th annual AirVenture Cup Race is a competition for any type of pilot, beginning, intermediate, and pro.

“In the past, we had someone that passed the test for their pilot’s license, they applied before they had their pilot’s license and we approved them pending them getting their license and they got their license a week before they came to the race, and they did great. They flew a phenomenal race,” said Eric Whyte, the race chairman.

This year’s race comes with lots of redemption stories.

“This is the first time that we are doing the exact same course we did last year because out of the twenty-four previous races, last year was the most competitive one of all of them and we had four pairs of airplanes that finished within two seconds of each other,” said Whyte.

One rookie is not looking to win, but to see just how much he knows about his plane.

“This is my first time doing an air race, so I am kind of expecting to use this as a learning experience. Obviously, you are always hopeful to win, but this being a first time, you know, to understand the flow of things and how it goes and some of the little tricks of the trade to make the airplane go faster,” said Mike Doble, a private pilot.

In the race, the competition is tough and familiar.

“One of my competitors in this race has the exact same airplane I do. They are only a few serial numbers apart, so it’s the same engine and everything else, so it makes it challenging,” said Doble.

One of the pilots competing this weekend came all the way from Belgium. The race will begin at the Wausau Downtown Airport and end in Merrill.