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WMU women aviators beginning national cross-country race

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Two Western Michigan University female pilots are taking off on a cross country journey on Tuesday.

Elizabeth Bates, an April 2016 WMU graduate from Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Shelby Satkowiak, a WMU senior from Mio, Michigan, are in Prescott, Arizona, preparing for the race that will take take them 2,700 miles across the country to Daytona Beach, Florida. Both women are joining 50 other female pilots, according to a press release issued from Western Michigan University.

Elizabeth Bates discussed some of the challenges that may be ahead in the coming days.

“The biggest challenge will be the changing terrain,” Bates said in a statement. “We’ll be flying from the mountains to the beach over four long days, and some of the southern area of Texas are known for pop-up thunderstorms we’ll have to watch out for.”

Western Michigan University released a statement mapping out the journey ahead for the young pilots this week:

The 2,716-mile race begins and ends Embry Riddle Aeronautical University campuses in Prescott and Daytona Beach and follows a path over mountainous terrain, through America’s heartland and into the the deep south. Official race checkpoints along the way include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Midland, and Waco, Texas; Arkadelphia, Arkansas; Warrensburg, Missouri; Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Murfreesboro, Tennessee; and Americus, Georgia.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to be part of this year’s team and get to meet new people while competing against experienced pilots,” Satkowiak said. “For me, this will be the first time I fly not for training, but in a competitive situation.”

The event is in its 87th year and features some of the top women pilots across the country. There are also 51 teams from 14 universities participating this year.

To follow their progress, you can link up through their Facebook page by clicking here.

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