Preparation for the Air Race Classic looks a lot like homework.
“We’ve been reading over all of the rules and getting the airplane ready,” said Natalie Butler, captain of the team. “We took a couple more lessons in the airplane and are getting familiar with the route and where we will be doing flybys.”
Butler and her co-pilot, Molly Van Scoy, will fly nearly 2,200 nautical miles June 22-25 as they try to outpace 55 other teams.
Flying their Cirrus SR22 from Fredericksburg, Virginia, to Fairhope, Alabama, the team will try to beat their handicap speed. Both flight team members have served as part of the Purdue team’s ground crew in previous years. This is the first year either has flown in the race, however.
"It's been one of my goals since my freshman year, when I remember getting an email about it," Butler said. "It's a great experience. You learn a lot, network, and make lifelong friends. It’s really cool to see women in the industry supporting each other."
Butler is a professional flight major from Palos Park, Illinois, and Van Scoy is an aviation management major from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania.
“I started taking flight lessons when I was 13 and from then on new I wanted to be a professional pilot," Van Scoy said. "There are not many women in the aviation Industry, so I am looking forward to meeting some wonderful ladies this weekend who share the same passion.”
Follow the team's progress on their blog.
The first race took place in 1929, originally called the Women’s Air Derby and included a field of 20 women pilots that included Amelia Earhart and was won by Louise Thaden. That race flew from Santa Monica, California, to the Cleveland Air Races in Ohio. The All Women's Transcontinental Air Race (Power Puff Derby) was formed in 1948 and ran until 1977. The ARC ran it's first race in 1977 with a 2400 mile race from Santa Rosa, California, to Toledo, Ohio, and is the longest running air race in the USA.