Cone confident a US pilot will scoop Air Race 1 World Cup
Tim Cone is ‘breathless’ with excitement ahead of next month’s Air Race 1 World Cup Presented by Chang – and the Californian is adamant the trophy is heading for the US.
Virginia-native Tim, who now lives in Fresno, is one of 12 Americans among a 17-strong field targeting silverware at U-Tapao Naval Airbase, Thailand, from November 17-19.
He has laid down the gauntlet to the rest of the world, with his confidence in his own chances of success only superseded by his certainty of a US victory.
Canada’s Scott Holmes, Scotland’s Des Hart, English duo Yves Clarke and Trevor Jarvis and France’s Lionel Mougel, now based in Thailand, will also be among the highly-skilled race pilots competing at the world’s premier airborne series, known as the formula one of air racing.
But Tim, who boasts almost 15,000 hours’ flight experience, insists the trophy is heading Stateside.
“I’m breathless with anticipation about the Air Race 1 World Cup,” said the 52-year-old, who will be racing up to seven rivals at a time around a tight oval circuit, at speeds of 250 miles per hour, just metres above the ground.
“It will be an amazing event in a spectacular location. The promoters have done an amazing job in ramping up the buzz around the event and we can’t wait to show everyone what our super-specialised toys can do.
“It’s almost a foregone conclusion that a US pilot will win, as we’ve had formula one air racing in the States for many years. We’ve now got a few upstarts from Europe and other countries fancying their chances, but I’m sure we’ll put them in their place!
“I’ll be giving it a serious shot at winning. It’ll probably be between me and Philip Goforth for the title. He’s a perennial dark horse. But if I do my job and my plane continues to perform, it could be a very close race at the front.”
Tim, whose aviation talents featured in a 2011 episode of science entertainment show MythBusters, will be racing in a Grove-Winged Cassutt aircraft called ‘What Airplane, Honey?’.
Aviation is a way of life for Tim. He has lived with wife Clari at Sierra Sky Park – the world’s first aviation residential housing development with its own runway, built in 1946 – for 12 years and parks his race plane in his 50ft x 50ft garage. His ‘day job’ sees him operate as a corporate pilot for Harris Ranch, and he is also a formation flight lead.
Despite how fast, and how close to each other, the planes race, Tim’s closest shave during competition came when he narrowly missed a turkey vulture at 300mph!
“This is the only head to head air racing in the world that features pure race aircraft,” he explained.
“Our planes do one thing and nothing else – and that’s race. People who have never seen Air Race 1 would be amazed how fast we’re racing each other.
“I often get asked where ‘What Airplane, Honey?’ comes from. Clari overheard me discussing the plane I’d just bought, without telling her, to a friend on the phone. So the question she asked me became the name of my plane!
“My sister Tamera has already come up with the name of my next plane: ‘Another Airplane, Honey?’!”
Hosted by the Sports Authority of Thailand, part of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport, the world’s purest air race challenges pilots in a demanding test of skill.
To ensure a fair competition between pilots, each plane must be built to a specific formula that covers most aspects of the race plane’s characteristics, including wing area, weight and engine size.
The class of airplanes incorporate the most modern materials and cutting-edge technology for those all-important marginal gains.
As in all motorsport, an element of success is down to the designers, engineering teams and ground crew support in the pits. Many of the pilots and teams design and build their own race plane to capitalise on unique innovations.
Such care is taken with the airplanes that each one is given its own unique moniker. This year’s roster includes the colourfully named Outlaw, to be raced by Canadian Holmes, and Goforth’s Knotty Girl.
The Air Race 1 World Cup Presented by Chang will be shown live in Thailand, and later screened in over 100 countries across Europe, Asia and the USA.