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Women pilots taking to air in four-day race to Canada



In the morning hours on Tuesday, the sky above Oklahoma will be dotted with dozens of small planes headed north in the all-women Air Race Classic.

Some 47 teams of pilots will be racing to Canada, where they'll all be touching down no later than 5 p.m. Friday.

A rich tradition of female pilots exists in America, and this race is meant to promote camaraderie among female pilots and encourage prospective pilots to take to the air. The race has existed in one form or another since 1929, when 20 racers took off in Santa Monica, Calif., and headed east to Cleveland. Since then, the role of women pilots in the friendly skies has changed a lot.

"We have more and more women who are visible in flying," Oklahoma City pilot Margie Richison said. "They are in space, commercial (pilots), in the military. Women pilots have always been there, but the numbers haven't increased as much as we'd like, so we're working on it."

Richison is competing for her second straight year, and also works at the 99s Museum of Women Pilots in OKC. The museum helps organize the annual race, which they see as an opportunity to draw even more attention to female pilots.

"The race promotes women in aviation," said Dustin Wilcox, assistant director of the Air Race Classic. "They've come a long way, but are still the vast minority. This is a chance for women to get together and do something they love." "Charles Martin



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