One of the 51 planes taking flight.

By Nick Edwards

Last month, an astounding 115 women representing 51 teams took to the sky, all with the goal of flying their way to the winner’s circle. Each year, teams from all over the country participate in the Air Race Classic, the only all-women cross-country race in the nation. The race dates back to 1977 and includes pilots ages 16-90.

The 2022 race was the first in-person race since 2020, appropriately themed ‘A Return to Tradition.’ Last year’s race was remote and allowed women pilots to showcase their flying abilities from anywhere in the country. The course varies every year, but this year’s race took off from Florida’s very own Lakeland Linder International Airport in Polk County. This airport hosts the SUN ’n FUN Aerospace Expo every year and is even home to the southeast regional air cargo hub for Amazon, so it was the perfect place to begin the 2022 course.

Teams took off on June 21 at 8 a.m., and over the course of four days they made their treks all the way to Terre Haute, Indiana. The lady pilots of the Air Race Classic were only permitted to fly during daylight hours, making nightly stops at one of the nine designated stops.

According to Air Race Classic director Theresa White, “Stop airports must have a parallel taxiway, ramp or off-ramp parking to accommodate tie-down parking for approximately 50 airplanes, nearby hotels and restaurants, sufficient fuel, maintenance and a volunteer source, such as a Ninety-Nines, Women in Aviation or an EAA chapter.”

Quickly making their way through each of the checkpoints, most teams stayed together, stopping nightly during the dark hours. By the end of the day Friday, all teams had made their way to the finish line at the Terre Haute Regional Airport in Indiana. Flying Flashes, a team from Kent State University in Ohio, took first place.

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