April 25, 2003
Purdue students prepare for Air Race Classic
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Female aviation students at Purdue University are preparing to compete in the Air Race Classic, an all-women stock airplane flight competition that attracts female fliers from throughout the world.
The Air Race Classic is the longest running all-woman airplane race in the world. Its roots originated more than 70 years ago when the Women's Air Derby took place in 1929. Among the competitors in that race were Bobbi Trout, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart and Louise Thaden, who finished first.
This year's 27th annual race will take place June 21-24. The race will begin in Pratt, Kan., and conclude in Manteo, N.C., after flying over Kitty Hawk, N.C., where the Wright brothers first flew 100 years ago.
Keri Wiznerowicz of Richmond, Ill., will pilot the Purdue airplane. Heidi Moore of Columbus, Ind., will serve as co-pilot. Both flew in last year's race. They hope their experience will aid their chances for success.
Wiznerowicz says she is looking forward to participating in the race and hopes to inspire others to pursue their goals.
"I want to be a role model," Wiznerowicz says. "Not just for little girls wanting to fly, but hopefully to anyone with a dream."
Moore says competing in the Air Race Classic has been a goal of hers since she first heard about the race.
"I knew that flying in the race was something that I really wanted to do," Moore says. "It has proven to be the most rewarding aeronautical experience thus far, and this year can only get better. "
Purdue teams have competed in the Air Race Classic the past eight years. In 1996 the Purdue team finished first. The Purdue Department of Aviation Technology also was the first to assemble an all-student team to participate in the race. Students from all sectors of aviation assist the flight team by preparing the airplane, developing flight information and weather data, and serving as communicators.
Elizabeth Woelfert, flight team public relations director, says Purdue is proud to enter a team each year, despite the historically low representation of women in aviation related fields.
"The presence of such a prestigious race for women who have devoted themselves to aviation provides them with an unforgettable experience and many lifelong friendships with incredibly accomplished mentors," Woelfert says. "It is our intent to leave a 'legacy of excellence,' a tradition that will be fostered and nurtured through a perpetuating Purdue Air Race team."
Woelfert says the Purdue teams pride themselves on the skill and safety needed to secure a top finish in the race.
"The Air Race Classic is not a race won by speed, nor is it a race dependent on the size of an aircraft's engine," Woelfert says. "Only stock aircraft with no modifications made to the engine or airframe may be raced. As a result, the competitors race against handicaps, predetermined average cruise speeds at which that particular make and model of aircraft is expected to fly. What is measured then is not speed, but the pilot's ability to fly the airplane at an optimum efficacy and performance level. It is a test of proficiency, accuracy and excellence in all aspects of flight."
The Purdue team plans to fly the course in reverse approximately one week before the race to familiarize themselves with the airspace and airports. The flight committee also will periodically test the aircraft prior to the competition.
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; firstname.lastname@example.org