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ERAU dominates Air Race ClassicERAU dominates Air Race Classic

Emmy Dillon and Abbie Pasmore took first place overall, and first place in the collegiate division of the 2016 Air Race Classic, with the overall win a first for their school: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The Riddle Racers Gold team was among more than 50 teams of pilots, all of them women, who completed the course along a winding route of 2,716 miles between two Embry-Riddle campuses.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate Abbie Pasmore, left, and student Emmy Dillon won the 2016 Air Race Classic. Photo courtesy of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The 2016 edition of the oldest all-women’s air race was the first in 20 years that connected two campuses of the school, which coincidentally produced the winning team, along with a third-place finish by two first-time racers and faculty members. Dillon and Pasmore were both competing in their second Air Race Classic, and experience may have helped them win the all-female race that celebrated 40 years running and traces its roots to the 1929 Women’s Air Derby (also known as the Powder Puff Derby).

The race began June 21, when more than 50 teams set out from Ernest A. Love Field in Prescott, Arizona. Dillon, who is studying human factors psychology, and Pasmore, an Embry-Riddle graduate now working as a flight instructor at the Daytona Beach campus, beat the rest of the field by beating their own clock. Race times are recorded at various checkpoints, and each team’s final time is based on a handicap calculated from a pre-race flight by the given team and aircraft. (That handicap flight is flown with a data recorder in place and a race official aboard, so racers cannot gain an unfair edge by flying their handicap flight with flaps down at minimum controllable airspeed, if that’s what you’re thinking.)

The 2016 race, as always, was a test of airmanship and decision-making that required pilots to maintain discipline and attention to detail.

“Flying this race is a way for me to prove to myself of my abilities as an aviatrix, but more importantly to show that any woman from any stage of life and any individual with dreams to touch the sky, can do so, just as Amelia Earhart, Louise Thaden, and Pancho Barnes did back in 1929,” Dillon said in an email. “This race allows me to continue in their legacy and encourage the pursuit of aviation for those who dream of it.”

The race is as much about aviation’s future as achievements past, and the 2016 edition was dedicated to collegiate aviation. Four college teams finished in the top 10 overall: The Flying Sycamores of Indiana State University (Lydia Kost and Kayleigh Bordner) finished second to Dillon and Passmore’s Riddle Racer Gold team; Team Bernoulli, otherwise known as Embry-Riddle faculty members Naiara Petralanda and Virginie Rollin, finished third overall in their first attempt at the cross-country race. That pushed the Frozen Force, Dana Atkins and Tina Druskins of the University of North Dakota, to fourth in the final standings.

“We’re incredibly proud of our pilots,” said Embry-Riddle Interim President Karen A. Holbrook, in a news release. “To be part of an event such as this that empowers and inspires women is an honor, and it exemplifies the core values of our university—that there are no limits to what you can achieve.”

The overall win by Dillon and Pasmore was a first for the university, which has fielded teams since 2007 and won the collegiate division four times.

Many of the racers flew with a larger goal in mind than collecting a trophy.

“By flying in this race, I hope I can be a small part in opening the doors of opportunity for not only young aviators and women, but for anyone who has dreams that fill the sky,” Pasmore said in a message relayed by the school.

Among the other college teams, the Liberty Belles II team of Katie Wagner, Analise Nelson, and Alicia Isacson finished tenth overall, and fourth among the college teams.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web
Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot who enjoys competition aerobatics.
Topics: Air Racing

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