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Minnesota State University, Mankato
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Air Racers Finish Strong

Students Jessica Adams and Amy Dahlheimer competed in the Air Race Classic all-female aviation contest.

Kristine Goodrich, Mankato Free Press, 6-25-2016

They won’t know until Sunday if they earned a trophy, but two aviators from Minnesota State University, Mankato are pleased with their performance in a crosscountry race that ended in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Students Jessica Adams and Amy Dahlheimer competed in the Air Race Classic all-female aviation contest Tuesday through Friday.

The pair was among 128 pilots who flew more than 2,700 miles from Prescott, Arizona, to Daytona Beach.

The race wasn’t a race of traditional form. Teams took a test flight and were given handicaps depending on the capacity of their planes.

The teams will be ranked based on how fast they traveled between stops versus how fast the judges thought they were capable of flying.

The Minnesota State Mankato student aviators flew a Piper Warrior on loan from North Star Aviation.

Dahlheimer said the first two legs of the journey over the mountains in Arizona and New Mexico were the most challenging.

The pair had never flown over mountains before and the temperature was unusually hot. It was so hot they couldn’t climb to the necessary high altitude after their first midday stop and they had to stay the night and wait for a cooler morning.

“It was pretty nerve-racking,” Dahlheimer said. “After we got out of the mountains, it was a lot more fun.”

The Minnesota State Mankato seniors flew long days Wednesday and Thursday to make up for lost time.

One of the days they were in danger of not making it to their destination by the required time to stop for the night. But strong tail winds propelled them with 20 minutes to spare. Another team was behind them and they shared the altitude at which they found their tailwind, helping that team make it in time as well.

The duo bested their handicap target on a few later legs of the race, by as much as 15 knots on one leg.

Dahlheimer said there isn’t anything she would have done differently.

“I think we made the best calls we could have based on the weather,” she said.

They’ll have to wait until Sunday evening to learn if it was enough to put them into contention for a trophy and a cash reward.

In the meantime the duo said they are enjoying the opportunity to socialize with fellow female pilots.

They’re especially excited to spend time with two accomplished women who served as their race mentors: Gretchen Jahn, former executive of aircraft manufacturing companies and a 21-time Air Race Classic competitor, and Stephanie Wells, a former U.S. Air Force and NASA pilot and Federal Aviation Administration operations inspector.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at

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