LAKELAND, Fla. — Lakeland commercial pilot Richele Floyd leads a team of women pilots known as the Lady Aces. They are among more than 50 teams that will take to the skies on June 21, for the Air Race Classic, the only women’s airplane race in the country.
“It is very unique. As a female we are still a very low percentage of the aviation industry,” said Richele Floyd.
It’s the very first time a team from Lakeland will be participating in the Air Race Classic. This female powerhouse includes co-pilot Kaitlin Conway who is a student in the Polk State College Aerospace program. Jensen Dix will serve as the team’s navigator. At just 17 years old, she is the youngest participant in the air race.
“My freshman year I started going to Central Florida Aerospace Academy and that just basically kicked off my love for aviation,” Dix said.
The route is different every year. It will be the first year the race starts in Lakeland. They will fly 2,500 miles over four days and end in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“The farthest, I’ve gone was 250 miles. This is quite a lot longer. So we brought the aircraft here early, so we could practice take-offs and landings. It’s a full-throttle race so that changes the characteristics of your flight greatly,” Conway said.
For nearly 100 years, the Air Race Classic has supported women in aviation by providing a race to display their talents. The Lady Aces are holding a fundraiser to raise $6,000 to help with costs as they compete.
“With fuel prices, we do have to stay in hotel rooms, we will obviously need some food along the way. We're hoping for no maintenance issues, but we are raising money to support the expenses associated with the race itself,” Floyd said.