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Broncos place 11th in national women's flight event

July 1, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University aviators Meghan Burlager and Betsy Taylor captured 11th place in the 2008 Air Race Classic, a 2,000-mile race from Bozeman, Mont., to an east coast airport in Mansfield, Mass.

The WMU team was one of 30 of the original 34 race teams to make it across the finish line by the 5 p.m. deadline on the final day of the June 24-27 race. Official race results were announced at a June 29 awards banquet. The WMU women came in 11th overall and placed second to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University's team in the collegiate division. The team also won a Leg Prize for its top score on the third leg of the race, which went from Aberdeen, S.D., to Mason City, Iowa.

This is the ninth consecutive year that WMU has competed in the race, which has attracted women aviators from across the nation since the days of Amelia Earhart. Burlager, a WMU flight instructor and a December 2007 graduate of the College of Aviation, shared cockpit duties with co-pilot Betsy Taylor, a senior aviation flight science major, who is now working on her flight instructor license.

"We are so proud of these young women," said David M. Powell, dean of WMU's College of Aviation. "They were out there on their own. This is a challenging race and this year racers encountered some difficult weather. We just give these young women free rein to fly the race the way they think it needs to be flown, and we only step in to help them if they ask."

Burlager, who hails from Fraser, Mich., and Taylor, who is from McBain, Mich., were both new to the race. They were the third WMU team to fly one of the college's new Cirrus SR20 aircraft in the race.

The high-profile race is billed as "the only all-woman, cross-country event." 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 the goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible. The pilots have the leeway to play the elements by holding out and timing their travel for better weather or wind conditions, for instance. The objective is to fly the "perfect" cross-country course. In this type of race, the official standings are not released until the final entrant has crossed the finish line--and that last arrival could be the winner.

For the second consecutive year, the WMU Air Race Classic team competed with the support of corporate sponsorship provided by L-3 Avionics Systems of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Additional information on the annual race can be found at airraceclassic.org. The complete daily logs posted by Burlager and Taylor before and during the race can be found online in the duo's 'flight log.'

Related articles
Broncos in air race from Montana to Massachusetts
2008 Air Race Classic 'flight log'

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

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