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Purdue Air Race Classic Team papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: UA 54

Scope and Contents

The Purdue Air Race Classic Team papers document the Purdue Air Race Classic teams' involvement in the race. The papers feature Purdue Air Race Classic team photographs, clippings, correspondence, general race information; including participant lists and race results, Purdue team updates provided throughout the races and Air Race Classic programs which document Purdue's involvement in the races from 1994 – 2005. 

Some of the miscellaneous materials include a pamphlet from the "Round the World Air Race," which features Margaret Ringenberg, a flyer announcing Putnam County Flying Service, "Pam's Place," and correspondence, photographs, and press material from Sheila von Geyso to Professor Mary Ann Eiff and Dr. Gary Eiff, in regards to bronze bust of aviation pioneer, Amelia Earhart, created by von Geyso, upon Earhart's 100th anniversary, September 15, 1995. There are also obituaries for Amelia Earhart's mechanic, Ruckins McKneely Jr. and Earhart's sister, Grace Muriel Earhart Morrissey. 

The papers also contain numerous clippings about the tragic plane crash that occurred at the Purdue Airport in September 1997, which killed Purdue Air Race Classic team member, Julie Swengel, fellow student, Anthony Kinkade and their instructor, Jeremy Sanborn.  Included are Sanborn's and Swengel's memorial booklets. '


  • 1994 - 2005


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Portions of material in this collection are in the public domain. Other material copyrights held by Purdue University or original creator. Consult with Purdue University Archives and Special Collections prior to reproduction of materials.

Historical Information

Women's air racing all started in 1929 with the First Women's Air Derby. Twenty pilots raced from Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH, site of the National Air Races. Racing continued through the 1930s and was renewed again after WWII when the All Women's Transcontinental Air Race (AWTAR), better known as the Powder Puff Derby, came into being. The All Women's Transcontinental Air Race held its 30th, final and commemorative flight in 1977. The Air Race Classic, Ltd. stepped in to continue the tradition of transcontinental speed competition for women pilots and staged its premier race. The Air Race Classic was reincorporated in 2002 into the Air Race Classic, Incorporated.

The early air races were the "on to" type, with noon and night control stops, and the contestants more or less stayed together. In that manner, weather and flying conditions were practically the same for each entrant and the race officials could release standings to the media after each day of racing.

The current race routes are approximately 2,400 statute miles in length, and the contestants are usually given four days, flying visual-flight rules (VFR) in daylight hours, to reach the terminus. Each plane is assigned a handicap speed – and the goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible. The pilots are thus given the leeway to play the elements, holding out for better weather, winds, etc. The objective is to fly the "perfect" cross-country. In this type of race, the official standings cannot be released until the final entrant has crossed the finish line. Actually, the last arrival can be the winner.

Scoring techniques evolved over the years, and in 1952 the All Women's Transcontinental Air Race began using the handicap system of scoring. The Air Race Classic has continued to use this type of scoring throughout its history. The 1929-30s races flew shorter legs and made more stops than the current races. Now the legs are 280 to 320 statute miles, and seven or eight control stops are designated for either landing or fly-by. The races are open to all women with fixed wing aircraft from 145 to 570 horsepower. In earlier days, the fastest airplane with no specified handicap was in a good position to win, if it held together over the long haul and there was no big navigational error committed. Now the handicapping system is used – each plane flying against its own speed. Supposedly any entry has an equal chance of victory, depending on the accuracy of the handicapping. All participants are true winners in their own right, flying the best possible race.

Award-wise, the Air Race Classic started in 1977 with an $8,550 purse for the top-ten crews, with additional leg prizes for those finishing outside the selected group of ten. The awards have been increased over the years, so that the current top-ten purse is $15,000.

The Air Race Classic is the longest-running all-female airplane race in the world. Purdue University teams have competed in the Air Race Classic since 1994. Mary Ann Eiff, assistant professor of Aviation Technology was the faculty advisor to Purdue's chapter of Women in Aviation when Purdue teams first took part in the race. Purdue University hosted the race in 2005.


0.727 Cubic Feet (Two letter-size full-width manuscript boxes)


The papers have been arranged into seven series. Materials have been placed in chronological order within each.
  1. Purdue's First Air Race Classic Team - Krystal Lewis and Heather Penney
  2. Purdue's Second Air Race Classic Team - Krystal Lewis and Lauren Nicholson
  3. Purdue's Third Air Race Classic Team - Lauren Nicholson and Jackie Battipaglia
  4. Purdue's Fourth Air Race Classic Team - Jacqueline Battipaglia and Julie Swendel
  5. Purdue's fifth Air Race Classic Team - Amanda Zerr and Raegan Frazier, Rookie Award Winners
  6. Purdue's 2004 Air Race Classic Team - Tina Lukas and Allison Martin
  7. Purdue's 2005 Air Rcae Classic Teams - #5, Tina Lukas and Katherine Conrad and #6, Sarah Andersen and Kirsten Korkus; Purdue Hosts Race

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Mary Ann Eiff, Purdue assistant professor of Aviation Technology and faculty adviser for Purdue Women in Aviation, November 26, 2007.

Processing Information

All materials have been housed in acid-free folders and acid-free boxes. Ployester sleeves were used where warranted.  All newsprint has been photocopied and original newspaper clippings have been retained for display purposes, with photocopies made available for research.
Purdue Air Race Classic Team papers
Under Review
Mary A. Sego
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description first completed 2013-01-07.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States