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Purdue Students Fly Race Across The Country

Pilot Rachel Borsa and copilot Haley Myers are flying from California to Pennsylvania.

A pair of Purdue aviation students are racing across the country.

Pilot Rachel Borsa and co-pilot Haley Myers are competing in the annual Air Race Classic, a race limited to female pilots.

The four-day race began Monday in California and ends in Pennsylvania on Thursday. But according to Borsa, the first plane to arrive will not necessarily be the winner.

“This race is really a race against your own air speed. We do a test to figure out what your handicap speed is, and you try to go over it at the fastest ground speed you can possibly get,” says Borsa.

It‘s Borsa‘s second Classic in the plane. She was co-pilot in last year‘s race, while Myers moved up this year from her job as ground crew coordinator in 2013.

“On a normal flight day, when we‘re about 60-percent power, it’s about 140 [mph], but we fly at full throttle because it‘s a race, so we’re at about 180 [mph]. That’s about what the speed we need to beat is,” Borsa says.

The Classic traces its roots to the Women‘s Air Derby, created in 1929 when women were not allowed to race planes against men.

Instrumental in some of the early Air Derbies was Amelia Earhart, who would later join the faculty at Purdue, home to one of the oldest aviation programs in the U.S.

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