WMU News

WMU team completes 2,200-mile air race

June 27, 2003

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Western Michigan University aviators Michelle Glisan and Amanda Gruden successfully completed the 2003 Air Race Classic, finishing 23rd out of 34 teams, the highest finish for a WMU team in four years of competition.

The Air Race Classic is an annual all-woman, cross-country 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. This year's race began in Pratt, Kan., on June 21, and concluded 2,192 miles and four days later in Kitty Hawk, N.C., site of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight 100 years ago.

The 2003 race course took teams to airports in Grand Island, Neb.; Albert Lee, Minn.; Menominee, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula; Peru, Ill.; Dayton, Ohio; Altoona, in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania; and over the Shenandoah Valley to Danville, Va. From Danville, planes flew to North Carolina's Outer Banks and over the finish line at Kitty Hawk, landing at nearby Manteo.

WMU's team made overnight stops in Menominee and Danville, finishing the course on Monday, June 23, a day ahead of the deadline. Glisan and Gruden sent daily reports of their journey, which were published in WMU News.

Glisan is an April 2003 graduate of WMU's aviation flight science program. Originally from Byron, Ill., she was a member of WMU's 2002 team and is currently working as an intern in Chicago for Atlantic Coast Airlines. Gruden is lead flight instructor for the College of Aviation and a 2000 graduate of the aviation program.

Sponsors for this year's team were the Kellogg Co. of Battle Creek; Piper Aircraft Inc., the maker of the plane the team used; Northern Air, the exclusive Piper dealer for Michigan and parts of Ohio and Wisconsin; and by Mayday Avionics, a Grand Rapids, Mich., avionics sales and services company.

Each year, the WMU team includes one pilot who was a member of a previous race team. In the 2002 Air Race Classic, Michelle Homister and Michelle Glisan flew from Silver City, N.M., to Portsmouth, Va. In 2001, Jo-Elle Warner and Michelle Homister flew from San Diego to Pratt, Kan. The 2001 race was originally slated to conclude after more than 2,200 miles in Batavia, Ohio, but because of severe weather along the end of the race route, the race was halted after about 1,500 miles, in Pratt. WMU's first Air Race Classic team was composed of Jennifer Richard and Jo-Elle Warner. They flew from Tucson, Ariz., to Hyannis, Mass., in June 2000.

Related articles
2003 Air Race Classic 'flight log'
WMU aviators take off for classic national race

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

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