Each summer, women pilots from around the country take to the skies for the annual Air Race Classic flying competition. This four-day, cross-country race is considered the premier women’s air race event, and attracts an incredible caliber of pilots from a wide range of background and professions.
This year’s race, which ran from June 20-23, started in Frederick, Maryland and ended in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with 8 checkpoints in between. Teams must make flybys at each checkpoint en route to the final destination.
Teams consist of a pilot and co-pilot, as well as up to two additional optional teammates to help distribute the flying. A total of 46 teams competed in this year’s event, including 15 collegiate teams. Teams may fly a wide variety of single or twin engine aircraft, with this year’s entrants flying planes ranging from Piper Cherokees and Cessna Skylanes, to Beechcraft Bonanzas and Cirrus SR20s.
The Air Race Classic is unique in that the winner isn’t the team that crosses the finish line first – in fact, the team crossing the finish last could be the winner.
Rather than racing against each other, teams race against a handicap speed assigned to their specific aircraft. The object of the race is to have the actual ground speed (the horizontal speed of an aircraft relative to the ground) be as far over the handicap speed as possible. The winning team is the one who beats their handicap speed by the largest margin, meaning that teams are essentially competing to see who can get the best performance out of their aircraft. Since crossing the finish line first isn’t the objective, teams can fly around unfavorable weather conditions or even wait for weather to pass.
Compass has proudly played a role in this incredible event for the past two years. In 2016, Compass sponsored a four-person team from the University of Minnesota Mankato. Dubbed “The Wright Women,” the team was the school’s first ever Air Race Classic entry.
This year, Compass was an overall sponsor of the race itself, as well as the post-race hiring fair for all racers. “These women are hardworking, ambitious, and incredibly talented pilots,” explained Compass pilot recruiter Captain Lane Dulon. “Pilots of this quality are exactly the type of individuals our recruiting team is looking for, which is why sponsoring an event like the Air Race Classic is such a great opportunity for Compass.”
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