The Air Race Classic began in 1929 as the First Women’s Air Derby, and June 18 two professional aviation students took off to represent Tech in the 2013 competition.
The race lasted four days, consisted of 2,128 miles and 49 teams, of which 14 were collegiate. The object of the race was to fly a perfect cross-country; each team was given a handicap speed and the goal to surpass that handicap as much as possible.
According to airraceclassic.org, “Air Race Classic, Inc. is dedicated to: encouraging and educating future women pilots, increasing public awareness of general aviation, demonstrating women’s roles in aviation and presenting and promoting the tradition of pioneering women in aviation.”
The teams are comprised of at least two female pilots, and they are allowed to fly a single or twin-engine airplane with some specific certifications.
Jessica Lowery, a Tech graduate in professional aviation, and Andrea Ziervogel, a sophomore professional aviation major, began in Pasco, Wa., and ended in Fayetteville, Ark., with a fourth-place finish in the overall competition and second place in the college division.
“The race is an all-day VFR (visual flight rules, no clouds or bad weather),” Lowery said. “There are nine different legs and airports we must do a fly-by over before continuing on to the next airport. We can stop at any of the stops along the way to stay overnight but must be on the ground by sunset and remain until sunrise.”
Because the objective is to fly a perfect race, technically, the last team to finish the race could be the winners.
“After days of safety briefing and training courses, we will manipulate our altitudes, navigation and flight techniques to try and beat our own speed,” Lowery said.
A task such as flying in the Air Race Classic requires extensive planning prior to take off.
“We have worked really hard to raise money for the race,” Ziervogel said. “We have also spent time planning our flight to the race start and planning out the actual route of the race on the map.”
Lowery said the weekend event played host to several professional airline pilots and recreational flyers, alike, with ages ranging from 18 to 85 years old.
“Although a top-10 finish would be great, the experience is more important than that,” she said. “The race is not only about flying techniques but also to learn from the ladies we are racing against. Their experiences differ so much and there is something to learn from each one.”
When the Air Race Classic began in 1977, the top-10 purse awarded was $8,550, which then increased through the years to a current purse of $15,000.
The competition is known for getting others involved through sponsorships, various volunteer work and spectating.
Lowery and Ziervogel have had several hours of training and feel grateful for their education.
“Our community has been amazing in their support for us,” Lowery said. “I am looking forward to representing our university and seeing how our education and training from our nationally accredited aviation department compares to our competition. We would like to thank our university and department for allowing us this experience.”
Next year’s Air Race Classic will be June 16-19, 2014 with a course beginning in Concord, Ca. and ending in New Cumberland, Pa. The top-10 purse for the 2014 race is currently valued at more than $16,500.
Email comments togm...@latech.edu.