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AAE graduate student competes in Air Race Classic

Graduate student Nicoletta Fala was the pilot on the first AAE-sponsored Air Race Classic team. Fala competed in the 41st annual Air Race Classic, a 2,652-mile all-female airplane race across the United States. The race took off from Frederick, MD on June 20th and ended in Santa Fe, NM on June 23rd.

Graduate student Nicoletta Fala was the pilot on the first AAE-sponsored Air Race Classic team. Fala, a native of Nicosia, Cyprus, is a PhD student studying aerospace systems and general aviation safety under Prof. Karen Marais. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Purdue AAE in 2014.

Fala competed in the 41st annual Air Race Classic, a 2,652-mile all-female airplane race across the United States. The race took off from Frederick, MD on June 20th and ended in Santa Fe, NM on June 23rd.

The race is the oldest of its kind in the country, tracing its roots back to the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, where Amelia Earhart and other female pilots raced from Santa Monica, Calif. to Cleveland, Ohio. The winner is determined by which team beats its handicap speed by the largest margin over the course of the race.

Fala and her co-pilot Chloé de Perre, a chemist in the Department of Agronomy and native of France, are both members of Purdue Pilots, Inc., a student-run flying club open to anyone in the Purdue community. The Piper Warrior II aircraft they flew during the race is owned by the club.

More than 100 women in 52 planes participated in this year’s race. Fala and de Perre finished 22nd, and Fala won the Rookie Racer Award.

top photo: Nicoletta Fala in the Piper Warrior II she piloted during the Air Race Classic

middle photo: Chloé de Perre and Nicoletta Fala outside the Piper Warrior II they flew in during the Air Race Classic

bottom photo: the Piper Warrior II at a stop during the Air Race Classic, after waiting out a storm