2006 Air Race Classic

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The Air Race Classic is a true example of women empowerment. It's the only all-woman, cross country air race flying today. Over 60 women left Mesa, Arizona Tuesday and will land in Michigan on Saturday.

It's an air race where no men are allowed.

37 two woman teams from all around the United States are competing for the 2006 Air Race Classic crown.

"Well being our first race we're in it to compete, not hit any towers and have a good time and enjoy the company of these wonderful people," Pilot Betty Pearce said.

But not every pilot is in it just to finish, some have been competing for years.

"I believe my first race was in 1968 and I have no idea how many I've raced but this race is my 21st I think," Pilot Ruby Sheldon said.

88-year-old Ruby Sheldon is no new comer to air competition. Fellow pilots keep her coming back.

"Seeing my old friends and meeting new ones that's the greatest thing in life you know," Sheldon said.

And she's not alone.

"Well you know it's the camaraderie within this group besides just flying and I don't know there is just something about watching airplanes go by that's really something," Pilot Joyce Woods said.

There are a few things that are for sure about this group.
There is no fear of the air.

"Um, no being on the ground scares me," Pearce said.

It would be nice to cross the finish line first.

"It sure would be great to win," Pilot Joyce Woods said.

And it's this race, take off to finish, that keeps them flying.

"Just knowing that when I got my license I had to have a reason to fly and this is why I do this, this is why I fly, " one pilot said.

The air race started in 1977 with an $8,500 award. Now, awards for the top ten finishers totals $15,000.