Three WMU aviators walked (flew?) away with first place in the collegiate division and fifth overall at the female only Air Race Classic cross-country flying event.

The three Broncos were Pilot Lauren Quandt of Grosse Ile, co-pilot Shelby Satkowiak of Mio and teammate Kelly Erdmann of Southfield. The trio finished a more than 2,600-mile course "against an aircraft-specific handicap, rather than head-to-head against other competitors."

This is only the second time the team has finished first. (The other time being 2005) The team has been racing off and on since 2000, and by comparison, last year, WMU ranked fifth in the collegiate race and 10th overall.

"The 2018 Air Race Classic was a very challenging race that presented many learning opportunities," - Lauren Quandt, WMU senior double majoring in aviation flight science and aviation maintenance technology.

In a release, WMU gave a history of this competition:

The 2018 race, which has its roots in an event that began in 1929, followed a zigzag route that started in Sweetwater, Texas, and ended in Fryeburg, Maine. Racers stopped or did flybys at checkpoints in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and New York. The 10 checkpoints on this year's race included one in Michigan--the Wexford County Airport in Cadillac.

WMU says "the race is the only all-woman, cross-country event. Since many types of planes are used to compete in the race, each plane is given a handicap in ground speed, and the goal is to have the actual ground speed be as far over the handicap speed as possible. The pilots have the leeway to play the elements by holding out and timing their travel for better weather or wind conditions, for instance. The objective is to fly the 'perfect' cross-country course."


More From WKFR