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Thu, Jun 30, 2011

Jacksonville, FL University Team Wins Air Race Classic

First Time A College Team Has Won Overall Top Honors

When the final calculations were finished at the end of this year's Air Race Classic ... the all-women transcontinental national air race ... a team representing Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, FL, emerged as the first university team to take overall top honors in the event.

JU Senior Leah Hetzel and 2010 graduate Sarah Morris not only beat out the 11 other participating collegiate teams but they also bested all 50 teams made up of the top female pilots in the nation. Forty-three teams finished the race. Hetzel and Morris discovered they had won at an awards banquet Saturday in Mobile, AL.
 
“This is pretty incredible,” said Hetzel. “We just kept jumping up and down and screaming when we found out we were number one. And then hearing that we were the first collegiate team to do it was just amazing.”

The win was especially rewarding to the pair who had competed in the Classic only a year ago and finished 14th out of 51 teams. “We were a lot more comfortable and confident this year,” said Morris. “We applied more of what we learned in class and studied the actions of the previous winners.”
Hetzel and Morris did, however, run into bad weather as half the race was cancelled due to storms. The race, which was supposed to begin in Iowa City, Iowa, was relocated to Alliance, Neb. They finished the race in Mobile, AL. Hetzel and Morris say that they hope to see more women aviation majors from JU enter the contest, where they will be ready to pass on all of their secrets and tricks for success.

“I am so proud of these two women,” said Dr. Juan Merkt, director of aviation. “Their professionalism and dedication to learning and excelling in their craft are what make these two true winners. I would also like to thank our sponsors: Aerosim Flight Academy, Michael McKenny, the JU Aviation Advisory Board and our Women in Aviation Chapter who have made this historical accomplishment possible.”

Hetzel will be graduating this summer with her degree in aviation management and flight operations after completing one of the most sought-after internships with Delta Air Lines. She is the former president of JU’s Women in Aviation chapter and the founder of JU’s highly successful “Women in Aviation Speaker Series.” She is also a member of Alpha Omicron Alpha Aeronautical Honor Society, the national organization dedicated to recognizing student leaders and promoting safety among collegiate flight programs. Her career goal is to become an airline pilot.

Morris graduated summa cum laude this year also with a degree in aviation management and flight operations. She was named the 2010-11 top Aviation Management & Flight Operations and DCOB senior and received the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership for her academic, leadership and service accomplishments. She was co-captain of the JU Flight Team and became the nation’s top scoring female at the 2010 National Intercollegiate Flying Association's (NIFA) Safety and Evaluation Conference (SAFECON).  Morris plans to earn her FAA Airframe and Powerplant license and use her aviator and airplane maintenance skills to become a missionary pilot.

FMI: www.airraceclassic.org, http://aviation.ju.edu
 

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