Indiana ladies triumph in collegiate division of air race

Indiana State University pilots Jessica Campbell and Victoria Dunbar returned to campus victorious after capturing top collegiate honors in the annual Air Race Classic, a transcontinental air race for women.

The pair of pilots competed against 34 teams, winning first place in the collegiate category and finishing second overall. The race across the mid-section of the U.S. covered 2,715 miles, starting June 23 at Centennial Airport near Denver and ending June 26 in Atlantic, Iowa. The ISU aviators flew in a Diamond DA40 plane, owned by Dixie Chopper Air based at Putnam County Airport.

“Our goal going into this was to take home the collegiate trophy, so to win second place is just icing on the cake,” Campbell said.

Strategy was a major factor throughout the race. Each plane was assigned a handicap speed, with the goal to have the actual ground speed as far over the handicap speed as possible. That meant judging weather patterns, wind speeds and other elements in order to make the most of each day’s flight.

Two students in Purdue University’s Department of Aviation Technology also competed in the 33rd annual all-female Air Race Classic. Juliana Lindner, a senior from Hanover Park, Ill., was captain of the team, and Lauren Steele, a junior from Lapel, Ind., was co-pilot. Purdue University presented this video of their hopes and aspirations.

It was without doubt a great race presenting many different challenges to all the competitors.

“The biggest challenge was figuring out when to fly and when not to fly,” Dunbar said, “The altitude starting out in Denver was different from anything I was used to,” she said. “That’s something they teach you in class, but something I have a lot more respect for now that I’ve experienced it.”

Women’s air racing starting in 1929 with the first Women’s Air Derby. Since then the race has served as a way to for women in the aviation industry to connect with one another and expand their skill sets.

There is no doubt that all the participants learnt a great deal from their experience.

Below: Jessica Campbell (left) and Victoria Dunbar stand next to the Diamond DA40 airplane with their trophy after winning top honors in the collegiate division of the Air Race Classic

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