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Cross-country air race will take off in July from Mitchell

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Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A multi-state air race will launch in Mitchell this summer.

The 2012 EAA AirVenture Cup race will be held on Sunday, July 22, in advance of the EAA AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wis.

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This year's race will commence in Mitchell and end in West Bend, Wis., with checkpoints in Sheldon, Iowa, and Pocahontas, Iowa.

The 450-mile course starts at Wright Brothers Aviation, which is located at the Mitchell Municipal Airport.

The race also started at the Mitchell Airport in 2008 and 2010.

Mike Scherschligt, the airport's manager, said planes will start arriving Friday, July 20, and will be on display that night and all day Saturday, July 21. They will head out Sunday morning, he said.

Scherschligt said he is working to add more events and attractions to the event this year. The National Guard has shown interest in bringing some equipment to the airport, he said.

The air contest will have 11 classes of homebuilt aircraft, some of which reach speeds of 400 mph.

The competition is a timed race, meaning that each aircraft will take off individually and fly in pursuit of the best time. The times are used to determine final race results.

Cross-country air racing has a long history in the United States, starting in the early 1920s, and has been credited with many advances in aviation technology, speed and reliability of engines.

"This is truly a grass-roots aviation event," said Eric Whyte, the race's chairman. "The event keeps cross-country air racing alive and lets younger generations experience a piece of aviation history."

Upon completion of the July 22 race in West Bend, the aircraft will depart for Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, where they are scheduled for a mass arrival that afternoon.

The race is supported through corporate sponsorships and EAA.

For more information on the race, including sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.airventurecuprace.com.

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