Purdue undergrads compete with other women pilots in Air Race Classic

June 22, 2015  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Two Purdue University aviation technology students will race against more than 50 other teams in a four-day air race from Virginia to Alabama beginning Monday (June 22).

Captain Natalie Butler of Palos Park, Illinois, and co-pilot Molly Van Scoy of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, are both first-time competitors in the Air Race Classic, a race Amelia Earhart and her colleagues helped found in an era when women were prohibited from competing against men. Earhart was recruited by Purdue to counsel young women into nontraditional careers, including aviation.

“I’m here because of women such as Earhart,” said Butler, a senior studying professional flight technology. “They paved the route for us into the sky.”

The Purdue pilots have been preparing for the race since December. Each team brings its own small plane and and is “handicapped” based on the speed capabilities of the plane. The Purdue team has an entire ground crew on campus that constantly monitors radar and forecasts to help co-pilot Van Scoy navigate the most precise routes for their Cirrus to take advantage of the best weather and wind patterns.

“I love to fly - it’s something I have been doing since I was very young,” said Van Scoy, a junior studying aviation management. “It’s something I find joy and freedom in.”

Though neither pilot has flown in the race, both expect to benefit from having served on ground crews for their Purdue predecessors. The race takes a different course each year, but the Purdue team will see some familiar airspace this year. The course travels the length of Indiana twice as it zig zags through the Midwest before turning south to finish on the Gulf Coast at Fairhope, Alabama.

The Purdue team will blog its adventure on its Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PurdueAirRace.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Broadcast-quality B-roll and soundbites are available for download and use at ftp://news69.uns.purdue/purdue.edu/Public/2015AirRaceClassic/. For more information contact Jim Schenke, Purdue News Service, 765-237-7296 or jschenek@purdue.edu.

Writer: Jim Schenke, 765-237-7296, jschenke@purdue.edu

Sources:  Natalie Butler, butler42@purdue.edu
                Molly Van Scoy, mvanscoy@purdue.edu

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