UPDATE (6/25/2012): The Liberty Belles placed 27th and 28th out of 42 planes that finished the 2012 Air Race Classic. Mollie Melton and Esther Dii placed second in leg 7 of the race. The School of Aeronautics is bidding for Lynchburg Regional Airport to become a stop for future editions of the Air Race Classic.
Racing under the name “Liberty Belles,” the two-person teams will be flying a pair of Cessna 172S Skyhawk aircraft for the competition, which begins in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and finishes in Batavia, Ohio on June 22.
The race includes 50 teams and will cover 2,400 miles, making stops in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Michigan before finishing in Ohio. The event is based on the 1929 “Powder Puff” Air Derby flown by Amelia Earhart.
This is the first year Liberty has entered the competition. The teams consist of Lindsey Gray (’11) and Naomi Satterfield (’12), and Mollie Melton (’12) and rising senior Esther Dii. Their dispatcher is Aly Boardman (’11).
The students had a competitive edge in preparing for the competition, as their coach, Sarah Morris, won the race last year flying for her alma mater, Jacksonville University.
Gray recently completed Liberty’s aircraft mechanic program and serves as a flight instructor and maintenance specialist for the School of Aeronautics.
“Who can pass up an experience to fly across the country, not once just to get down there, but twice, as fast as you can,” she said. “It’s a really cool thing, and a great idea, and a once-in-a-lifetime experience I won’t otherwise get.”
Satterfield, an aspiring missionary pilot, said she is looking forward to the challenge.
“I’ve always been a fan of adventure, seeking out the stuff nobody else has done,” Satterfield said in describing the air race. “Some people collect things, I collect experiences.”
2012 Race En Route Stops
HII - Lake Havasu City Airport,
Lake Havasu City, AZ
GUP - Gallup Municipal Airport, Gallup, NM
HRX - Hereford Municipal Airport, Hereford, TX
GLD - Renner Field (Goodland Municipal Airport), Goodland, KS
OLU - Columbus Municipal Airport, Columbus, NE
ATY - Watertown Regional Airport, Watertown, SD
ASX - John F. Kennedy Memorial Airport,
CIU - Chippewa County International Airport,
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
BEH - Southwest Michigan Regional Airport,
Benton Harbor, MI
I69 - Clermont County Airport, Batavia, OH