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Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race

NAA is organizing a cross-country air race for electric propulsion aircraft!
The electric aircraft industry has been rapidly advancing in terms of technological readiness and growing in the number of new electric aircraft projects and potential race contestants.  The Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race will be a resumption of the Pulitzer races first held in the early 1920s. The winner will be awarded the historic Pulitzer Trophy on display at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

The Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race!
The first Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race, planned for May 2024, will be a four day, 1,000 nautical mile cross-country event beginning in Omaha, NE and ending at the Dare County Regional Airport near Kitty Hawk, NC.  The race is open to piloted aerodynes of all types using zero-emission electric propulsion (e.g., fixed wing aeroplanes, helicopters, or multi-rotor eVTOL Advanced Air Mobility [AAM] vehicles).  Because many of the potential competitors may be in a research and development phase and using experimental aircraft, the race will be a day only, Visual Flight Rules (VFR) event.  The race winner will be the pilot/crew with the fastest speed calculated from the cumulative flight time, not including time on the ground for maintenance, charging, or overnight stays.  The specific race rules have been developed by the NAA Pulitzer Race Committee and are available here.

The cross-country format, rather than a closed-circuit speed event, was selected to emphasize electric aircraft range and reliability, in addition to speed, in a realistic operating environment.  A cross-country race will require careful route selection and logistical planning from the race teams and highlight different electric propulsion technology choices and operational strategies.

As a long distance, multi-day cross-country event open to all classes and types of electric aircraft, we have designed the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race to provide an open canvas for design innovations and be a flying expo for the electric aviation industry. 

NAA Future of Electric Flight EXPO!
The day following the conclusion of the Pulitzer race, the NAA will host a one-day Future of Electric Flight EXPO at the Dare County Regional Airport.  The EXPO will be a day for the general public to celebrate the Pulitzer race and learn more about electric aircraft from Pulitzer race pilots and electric aviation companies and organizations exhibiting at the EXPO.  The race teams will have their electric race aircraft on display and be available to answer questions and engage with the public.  For many people this will be the first time they will have seen a full scale, operational electric aircraft.  There will also be plenty of other fun family activities in a festival environment to make the day a family adventure and a fun way to learn about the future of electric flight.  For the aviation professionals we also plan a half-day conference organized by the Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI) and the Vertical Flight Society (VFS) to focus on challenges and opportunities in electric flight and give them a forum to share their vision of the future for electric aviation.

Pulitzer STEM Engagements!
The NAA intends to partner with a Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) provider to develop a Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race STEM Kit focused on aviation and electric propulsion topics to leverage the Pulitzer race as a STEM educational outreach opportunity.  As the Pulitzer race teams make their way from Omaha to Kitty Hawk during the four days of the race, there will be exciting opportunities for elementary, middle, and high school students to make field trips at the end of the school year to a nearby airport and see their first electric aircraft! While aircraft are recharging, the Pulitzer race pilots and support teams will have ample time to engage with students and to answer questions about their aircraft and electric aviation. Students will go home with a positive STEM experience, an educational Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race STEM Kit, and a special memory of seeing history in the making as an eyewitness to the first Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race.

In future races, NAA would like to offer The Pulitzer STEM Challenge. Fifth and sixth grade school science classes will explore electrical power systems and their application to aeronautical engineering in the semester leading up to the race.  Science classes and clubs entered in the Pulitzer STEM Challenge will apply what they have learned to design their own electric race aircraft. The class with the best design and presentation will win the Pulitzer STEM Challenge and be invited to Washington, DC for a special VIP guided tour of the National Air and Space Museum and be honored guests at the Pulitzer Trophy presentation event. 

Make History and Be Part of the Action!
With the help of our sponsors, partners, and contestants, the Pulitzer Electric Aircraft Race can become the premier venue and showcase for the advancement of practical electric propulsion aircraft in terms of speed, distance, and reliability, much like the National Air Races of the 1920s and 1930s helped promote technological advances of internal combustion airplanes at the beginning of aviation.  

Download the draft rules here.