April 12, 2010

Fundraisers to help SIUC’s Air Race Classic teams

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Several fundraising activities over the next five weeks will assist three teams from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Aviation and Management Flight program as they prepare for the 2010 Air Race Classic.

The 34th annual Air Race Classic covers 2,157 nautical miles in four days, June 22-25. The event begins in Fort Myers, Fla., and will end in Frederick, Md. Southern Illinois Airport is one of the competition’s eight legs and check-in points. The event celebrates the history of women in aviation. Amelia Earhart was one of 20 women to compete in the first women’s Air Derby in 1929.

SIUC will send three teams to compete, with each team comprised of a pilot and co-pilot. Since February the teams have been working to secure sponsorships and set up fund-raising events. The Saluki flight crews are flight instructors Sabrina Zwego and Heather Heidinger, Katie Lake and Ashley Carder, and Erin Jackson and Christine Zoerlein. The first two teams will compete in the event’s collegiate division while Jackson and Zoerlein compete in the open division.

Cost estimates are $4,000 to $5,000 per team for meals, lodging and expenses over the 10-day event, which includes pre-race and post-race activities. The University is responsible for the three Cessna 172R planes and maintenance for the competition.

“The SIUC entries into the Air Race Classic are an important way for the University to celebrate the 50th anniversary of SIUC Aviation as well as the 100th anniversary of the first certified women pilots in the United States,” said David A. NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight.

“Our fundraising efforts for the Air Race Classic are crucial in these tight times and I am very proud of our six team members for all they have done to get out and raise funds,” he said. “I am equally proud of all the Air Race Classic supporters we have found in Southern Illinois as well as throughout the aviation industry and among alumni.

“Ashley, Christine, Heather, Erin, Katie and Sabrina have all done a great job of getting the word about the Air Race Classic out to family and friends; those family members and friends have really stepped up to support their respective team members,” NewMyer said. “I am very thankful to all of the supporters for their help.”

Each of the fund-raising events is on a donation basis. The suggested donation for the May 8 showing of “Amelia” at the Liberty Theater in Murphysboro is $5. There will also be raffles, including a one-hour “Discovery Flight” for two that offers a bird’s eye view of Southern Illinois.

The events are:

  • 8 p.m., April 21 -- Tres Hombres, 119 N. Washington, St., Carbondale. “The Giant City Slickers.” Dinner specials begin at 6 p.m.
  • 7 p.m., May 8 -- “Amelia.” Liberty Theater, 1333 Walnut St., Murphysboro. Doors open at 6 p.m.
  • 8 a.m. to Noon, May 15 -- Experimental Aircraft Association Pancake Breakfast Fly-In, Midwest Aviation, Williamson County Regional Airport, Marion. Airplane wash from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In addition, Silkworm is offering Air Race Classic/50th Anniversary of SIU Aviation T-shirts. The cost is $10 with proceeds going to the three SIUC air race teams.

The teams have a Web site set up at airrace.aviation.siu.edu and also have a Facebook page. More information is available atairrace@aviation.siu.edu.