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Competition in the clouds; Local pilots selected to participate in 10,000-mile airplane race
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Randy Brookshire inspects his Piper Arrow while maintenance is being performed at the Statseboro-Bulloch Airport in preparation for the Great American Air Race. Brookshire and partner Jim Chaney, Jr. will pilot the plane in the event where fifty planes will fly 10,000 miles each.
    One hundred pilots in 50 planes representing each of the 50 states, all leaving from the same place, will race around the United States in what is being billed as The Great Air Race beginning in early August.
    Representing Georgia will be Statesboro residents Jim Chaney and Randy Brookshire, who were selected after responding to an advertisement for the race.
    Every airport and flight school got a fax asking for pilots interested in competing in the Great Air Race,” Chaney said. “I sent in my application and it just so happens they selected Randy Brookshire and myself.”   
    The Great Air Race is scheduled to begin on Sunday, August 5, from Peachtree City and fly to all four corners of the country. There will be 13 different mandatory layovers in Texas, California, Washington, Maine and finally ending in an undisclosed location in Florida.
    The race, being put on by Papillion Productions, will last 13 days and will be turned into a reality television series expected to last 13 weeks. More than $1 million in prizes will be given throughout the race, but Chaney said he doubted most of the pilots were in it for that reason.
    “It’s not every year you can fly 10,000 miles or fly 100 hours in 13 days,” Chaney said. “And I’ll have the right to say I flew around the United States.
    “This is a once in a lifetime thing,” he added. “I don’t think something like this is ever going to come up again for me or Randy to do this.”
    Brookshire said he’s flown to nearby states, but has never done anything like flying to all four corners of the nation in 13 days.
    Two pilots from each of the 50 states were selected to compete with planes ranging from 65 horsepower to 225 horsepower, Chaney said. Organizers of the race will handicap the field to ensure each plane has a fair chance of winning.
    The competition is not necessarily based upon speed, but on pilotage and how good the pilots’ skills are in the air and on the ground.
    Brookshire said he also wasn’t aware of the prizes associated with the contest. Instead, he wanted to participate because he enjoys flying and wanted to meet pilots from all around the country.
    For Chaney, flying has always been something he wanted to do, but circumstances prevented him from doing so until about a decade ago.
    “I went into the army right out of high school. Then I got married and had a family and couldn’t afford the flying lessons.”
    He had a cousin who flew commercial flights and both is father and grandfather flew planes in the military.
    Chaney owned his own automotive business for years before getting “burned out” and decided to do something else. He saved some money and began taking flying lessons and now serves as the chief flight instructor at Pegasus Air at the Statesboro Airport.
    Brookshire, meanwhile, started flying about five years ago.
    “My family lived in north Georgia, which is about a five or six hour drive to go visit,” he said. “I thought to myself ‘there’s got to be a quicker way,’ so I decided to learn to fly an airplane.”
    More information on the great air race can be found online at
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