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Arizona aeronautical school hosts start of 2016 Air Race Classic

(Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Photo)

PHOENIX — Here’s to clear skies — pilots from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University took off from Prescott on Tuesday for the start of the cross-country 2016 Air Race Classic.

The all-female race finds its roots in the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, when Amelia Earhart and 19 others raced from California to Ohio.

Embry-Riddle will not only host the start and finish of the race (the race concludes at the Daytona Beach, Florida campus), but it has 10 students and flight instructors competing against over 100 other fliers of all ages.

Three teams of students, alumni and instructors will be representing the Prescott campus.

Riddle Racer Blue team members are Sarah Wendt and Sojung An; Riddle Racer Gold has Emmy Dillon and Abbie Pasmore aboard.

A third team, Naiara Petralanda and Virginie Rollin, are faculty members. It’s the first time Embry-Riddle faculty has competed in the race.

The pilots only fly the four-seaters during the daytime during and safe conditions.

Turbulence presents a test of ability piloting the 2,000-pound Cessna Skyhawk.

“You feel like a beanbag or like a hacky sack being tossed around,” Dillon told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

This year’s race, themed “Collegiate Cross-Country,” features stops at or near places of higher learning with aviation programs.

It is the 20th anniversary of the last time that the race ran a route between the two campuses.

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