Kent State pilots fly across US in all-female air race

Cameron Gorman

This year’s Air Race Classic, the only female cross-country air race in the United States, has the addition of two Kent State aviation students in its 40th annual run.

A total of 130 women pilots across 55 teams took off Tuesday in Prescott, Arizona. The race passes over 12 states, finishing Friday in Daytona, Florida.

Kent State’s team consists of Jaila Mang, a junior aeronautics major at Kent State, and alumna Carissa Marion, a Kent State flight instructor.

The race, which began as the Women’s Air Derby in 1929, was formed in part by aviator Amelia Earhart when women pilots were banned from competing against men.

Rather than race each other’s times, teams aim to beat specific handicaps determined for the different types of planes and engines. Prizes for the race include $16,500 in cash, awards and trophies.

Marion and Manga will fly the route in a Cessna Sky Hawk named after late Kent State aviation student Nicole Kukwa, who passed away from leukemia in 2006.

This is the first year a Kent State student has competed in the Air Race Classic. Follow #NikkiTheTopHawk on social media to track the team’s progress throughout the race.

Cameron Gorman is a general assignment reporter, contact her at [email protected].