FORT MYERS, Fla. — A group of pilots are gearing up for a cross-country air race.
The three-person, female flight team from Paragon Flight training will be competing in this week’s 45th Annual Air Race Classic.
"This is the first time I’m doing anything like this.”
Inside an air hangar in Fort Myers, preparations are being made for a special, cross-country trip. And three ladies have their eyes on the sky.
“We are so excited!" says Katie Truedson, one of those competing. "We are pumped. We are just three pilots who have been training here at the school together or working at the school together. We are just so excited to see what we can do and put together and fly this race.”
The 45th Annual Air Race Classic invites women aviators to test their skills over four days inside a cockpit.
“Locally here, we have a very strong women’s pilot group and I had to ask them.," says Connie Hite. "They had told me two women actually had won it a couple of times that are from this area. So I had asked them about it, I went back and reported to Chris and he said would you be interested in running it? And I said of course!”
So the next step was assembling a team…
“I didn’t even know about this race until like a couple of months ago when Connie, our back pilot, came up with us and asked me if I wanted to do it," said Truedson. "I was so pumped to do it so I was like, ‘okay let’s do this race!’”
Also part of the team is Cassie Thompson-Pride. One of the youngest pilots in this year’s race.
“I’ve been at paragon for about five years now," she says. "I started here in my freshman year of high school and now I’m working here and working on my certified flight instructor license.”
And if that wasn’t impressive enough, some of the mechanics these pilots will be using are unfamiliar territory as well.
“It’s entirely brand new," said Thompson-Pride. "This plane is pretty much fresh out of the factory. Brand new avionics, it’s all touchscreen- it’s phenomenal.”
But no matter the tech, their age, or experience- these aviators are ready to take the world by storm.
"It’s a lot of states, basically, and so I’m excited to check those off my bucket list of being able to fly across the country," said Truedson. "This is such an epic opportunity.”
"It’s very thrilling to do," says Hite. "It’s very peaceful up there and it’s a career anyone can do at any age so I really enjoy it.”