Women pilots fly over Wisconsin this week as part of the 80th Annual Air Race Classic. The transcontinental race began in Denver, Colorado Tuesday. The pilots fly through the deep south and back to the Midwest to wrap up in western Iowa. The all-women air race began 33 years ago as the Powder Puff Derby.
Lori Reid co-manages the Atlantic Municipal Airport, which serves as the finish line. She says the trip takes them through Kansas, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. The whole journey is about 2,400 miles. The pilots are required to arrive at the Atlantic airport by no later than 5 P.M. on Friday, but some may begin arriving as early as Thursday, depending on the weather.
Airplanes entered in the competition must be "stock" or minimally modified with a variety of restrictions on the engines. Reid says the planes are inspected at the beginning and end of the race to make sure no modifications have been made that would disqualify the racers. She says none of the women are professional racing pilots, but some do fly for a living, are professional instructors, or work for air ambulance services.
Thirty-four teams are registered for the event this year, with a total of 73 pilots. Included in the mix are seven collegiate teams comprised of women in their early 20s. The oldest pilot is Ruby Sheldon, who is 91.
Teams are expected to start landing at Batten International Airport in Racine at around 8 on Thursday morning.
Audio courtesy of Radio Iowa