Two University of Dubuque students and a flight instructor will participate in the 42nd Air Race Classic (ARC), an annual all-women cross-country airplane race, from Tuesday, June 19, to Friday, June 22. It’s the first time UD has had a team participate in the preeminent air race.

 “It will be an invaluable opportunity for the students to build flight time as well as to meet and network with other aviators. The students will also be assigned a ‘mother bird’ who will help mentor and guide them through the process,” said Chaminda Prelis, head of aviation programs and associate professor of aviation. “For UD, it will give us another avenue to engage with our aviation community and promote women in aviation.”

 Kate Hanley, a junior flight operations major from Dubuque, Monica Skrezyna, a junior flight operations major from Lockport, Illinois, and Dallas Syverson (C’17), a flight instructor from Walker, Iowa, will represent UD. They will fly the Top Hawk Cessna 172 aircraft for a 2,656-mile sprint race across the United States from Sweetwater, Texas, to Fryeburg, Maine.

“I’m excited to be participating in the Air Race Classic this year,” Syverson said. “It’s going to be an amazing learning experience and a great opportunity to strengthen relationships in the aviation community, especially with other female pilots.”

 The ARC is the epicenter of women’s air racing, with participants ranging in age from 17 to 90 years old and representing diverse backgrounds within the aviation community. UD is one of 18 universities with teams, and it is only one of four such institutions to be participating for the first time.

 Fifty-six teams of two or three women pilots from around the world will have four days to complete the ARC, flying normally aspirated, piston-powered airplanes in visual flight conditions during daylight hours. This year’s course will take racers through 15 states. At eight intermediate stops, teams will execute high-speed flybys over a timing line as they race against the clock.

 “I honestly did not see myself doing something like this in my flight career,” Skrezyna said. “I know there will be a lot to get everything ready, but we are not afraid of hard work and perseverance.”

 The oldest race of its kind in the nation, the ARC traces its roots to the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, in which Amelia Earhart and 19 other female pilots raced from California to Ohio. Today, the ARC is the ultimate test of piloting skill and aviation decision-making for female pilots, according to a press release from the Air Race Classic.

 “UD has helped prepare the UD team for the ARC by providing the support system we need in order to excel in the race. I know that I can go to any member of our team for help, as they are doing everything they can in order for us to succeed,” Hanley said. “We have our fingers crossed for good weather and a strong tailwind!”

The UD Chapter of Women in Aviation have been helping to raise funds for the team.

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