An MTSU aerospace student and a recent graduate, both aerospace professional pilot majors, withdrew from the June 18-21 Air Race Classic.
Alison Taylor of Murfreesboro and Alexis “Lexie” Hutchinson of Nashville flew more than 1,400 miles in the 37th annual event, but came up about 1,000 miles shy of reaching their final destination of Fayetteville, Ark.
Watch a video of the pair discussing their prerace strategy and plans below:
No reason has been provided yet on why they were forced to withdraw after competing for two days. The first day’s flights were postponed because of inclement weather. Several teams withdrew before the race began; 15 teams withdrew altogether.
This year’s race started in Pasco, Wash. On the way to Arkansas, they were to fly through Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma. They were flying in Taylor’s 1971 Piper Cherokee 140D.
Despite not finishing the 37th annual Air Race Classic, the pair continued on to Kitty Hawk, N.C., where the Wright brothers flew the first airplane.
Taylor, 20, a May 2013 graduate of MTSU, and current student Hutchinson, 23, were one of 45 teams originally set to race in the event.
The Air Race Classic is the longest running transcontinental air race that features all-female pilots. The teams had stops in Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma before finishing the 2,450-mile competition in Arkansas.
“All the flight training I’ve done now so far is in a controlled environment,” Hutchinson said before the race, referring to her experience in the cockpit in MTSU classes, “so this air race is about real-world environment.”
Taylor added that pilots have no shortcut for experience.
“The biggest thing is the experience, 65 hours of logged time,” she said. “If you put a monetary value on it, it’s about $10,000 (worth of flight time each). … That 65 hours of experience … (can) help us get the jobs that we’re looking for.
“Also, we’re getting the experience that we’ve never had to deal with. So we’re going to have to sharpen our skills with cross-country flight planning. We’re going to have to really understand aircraft performance.”
Hutchinson enrolled at MTSU planning to study animal biology. In 2011, admittedly “bored” with her choice of major, she said she was “walking somewhere on campus” and “looked up and saw a Diamond (aircraft).”
Not realizing it was part of the university’s fleet of planes, Hutchinson recalled: “I said to myself, ‘I’m going to be a pilot.’ This was my mid-college crisis. I didn’t want to do that (study animal biology); I’m too spontaneous. I didn’t even know MTSU had a flight school. It was fate, and it all worked out for me.”
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)