WMU News

Women aviators take off for annual air race

June 11, 2002

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Two Western Michigan University women took off at noon Tuesday, June 11, from W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek to head for the start of more than 2,100-mile race that began in the days of Amelia Earhart. The race--the 2002 Air Race Classic--will begin June 18 in Silver City, N.M., and conclude June 21 in Chesapeake/Portsmouth, Va.

This is the third consecutive year WMU aviators have entered the all-woman event that first was held in 1929 as the Women's Air Derby. Amelia Earhart was the first president of the 99s, the organization that began the race. The event is made up of two-person teams from around the nation. This year, 40 teams have registered to compete in the event.

The WMU team is composed of senior Michelle Glisan, an aviation flight science major from Byron, Ill., and Michelle Homister, a flight instructor in the College of Aviation and a 2001 graduate of the University's aviation program who was a member of the 2001 Air Race Classic team. The pair will fly a sophisticated Mooney Ovation aircraft in this year's race. The Kellogg Company of Battle Creek is sponsoring the team, and additional support has come from Aerox Aviation Oxygen Systems.

Entrants fly under visual flight rules during daylight hours and all fly fixed wing aircraft. Since many types of planes are used to compete in the race, each plane is given a handicap in ground speed, and aviators earn points by surpassing that speed. The WMU participants have enlisted the aid this year of a weather specialist in Georgia who will be able to help them find the best tailwinds over the course of the race. Before arriving in New Mexico for the start of the race, Glisan and Homister will fly the planned course in reverse to familiarize themselves with the terrain to be covered.

Teams will race their planes from Silver City, N.M., to Las Vegas, N.M.; then on to Burlington, Colo.; Ponca City, Okla., Hot Springs, Ark;, Fayetteville, Tenn;, and Winnsboro, S.C.; before finishing in Chesapeake/Portsmouth, Va.

For a map of the race route, go to <www.faa.gov/NTAP/NTAP02MAY16/SP02019.HTM>. For more information about the 99s and the air race, go to<www.ninety-nines.org/arcwhy.html>.

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 269 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

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