June 1, 2010
An Indiana State University student and a May 2010 ISU graduate will take to the skies this month to compete against more than 50 teams in one of the most prestigious aviation races for women in the United States.
Last summer, Jessica Campbell - then an ISU senior - and ISU aviation technology instructor Victoria Dunbar placed second overall in the Air Race Classic and won the collegiate portion of the competition.
The Air Race Classic begins June 22 and is a four-day, 2,483-mile race across the mid-section of the United States. It begins this year in Fort Myers, Fla., moves west as far as Cameron, Mo., and ends in Frederick, Md.
Campbell is returning to the competition along with ISU sophomore and newcomer Kay Brown, and together they hope to build on the success of 2009.
"I learned so much in last year's competition," Campbell said. "It was one of the first times I'd flown outside the area of Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, and it was more challenging than I expected."
Campbell said the most significant challenge was piloting in high altitudes like those near Denver, Colo. that generally slow the speed of the aircraft and influence how the plane will react.
"You learn about these things in the classroom and in simulators, but there are just some conditions that you can't duplicate," Campbell said.
Even though Dunbar was instrumental in last year's success, she has given up her seat in the aircraft this year to assist Campbell and Brown from the ground and offer advice only if and when they need it.
"This is a real-life experience that our female students need to have," Dunbar said. "There are lots of women participating in this competition who work for the airlines, the military or are aviation faculty members at universities. There are all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds involved in this, so it's a great way for our students to network."
The annual Air Race Classic, first flown in 1929, includes a race route approximately 2,400 miles in length that can be flown only during daylight hours. Each competing team's plane is assigned a handicap speed and each team can take up to four days to complete the race. Pilots are given the leeway to fly at times of their choosing and strategize based on weather patterns and wind speeds. The official standings are not determined until after the final entrant crosses the finish line, and the latest arrival can actually turn out to be the winner.
This year's ISU flight team is being sponsored by the ISU Foundation as part of March On! The Campaign for Indiana State University. With events planned throughout the country during the week of the flight competition, the Foundation hopes to make a national audience aware of some of the great things that are happening at ISU, Foundation Director Gene Crume said.
"There's nothing better than the Air Race Classic to bring attention to the diversity in the field of aviation, ISU's history with women's aviation and our commitment to and appreciation for that diversity and history," Crume said. "We are quite pleased to have the opportunity to be involved."
Follow the ISU team in action at www.flightaware.com, type in Flight/Tail # 765AM to the Private Flight Tracker, or connect with the ISU pilots on the Indiana State University Alumni Association Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/indstatealumni?ref=ts.
Writer and contact: Rachel Wedding McClelland, assistant director of media relations, ISU Communications and Marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-237-3790.
Kay Brown (left) and Jessica Campbell have been training throughout the past year to ready themselves for the upcoming air race competition (ISU Photo/Kara Berchem).
After an ISU team placed second in the competition last year, a new team is hoping to repeat that success in the race that begins June 22.