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Air race winner an inspiration for the future of female pilots

Karns City Area Jr./Sr. High School graduate Peyton Turner, center, appears at the 2024 Air Race Classic awards banquet on June 23, in Loveland, Colo., with her parents, Deana and John Turner, of Chicora. Peyton Turner won the 2,500-mile race for the second consecutive year. Submitted photo

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 56.8% of the American workforce is female.

But information from the Centre for Aviation tells us only about 5% of all airline pilots in the U.S. are female.

While this is changing, it’s slow going.

According to statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration, the number of female pilots certified by the agency nearly doubled — from 4,800 to 8,200 — from 2002 to 2022.

Somewhere in these statistics is Chicora native Peyton Turner, who is flying high once again after winning the annual Air Race Classic for the second consecutive year.

This news was reported on in the Monday edition of the Eagle by community editor Paula Grubbs.

The event Turner took part in is a cross-country race whose contestants are women of all ages, backgrounds and professions flying a variety of airplanes.

Turner and co-pilot Laura Wilson flew the 2024 race in a Cessna 172S belonging to Kent State University. They won the four-day race with a total of 18 hours in the sky.

Turner is enrolled in the United Aviate Academy, which is a pathway to fly for United Airlines in the future.

She is building her flying hours by serving as a flight instructor at Kent State. After she attains the hours needed, she will move on to fly smaller passenger planes for one of United Airline’s regional partners before reaching her goal of flying the large airliners for United.

“This is a pretty renowned race with women in the industry, so winning this not only looks great on my resume, but I’ve also made a lot of connections with women in higher positions in the industry,” she said.

This week, Turner is running a three-day camp at Kent State with Alyssa Sheehan, her pilot in the 2023 race, and one other female pilot.

The 22 girls attending are in grades nine through 12.

“We are going to mentor the girls and hopefully inspire them to start their own careers in aviation soon,” Turner said.

According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “publicly available data on hiring, employment, and wages indicate strong current demand for pilots. Meeting that demand has been particularly difficult for regional airlines — which generally serve smaller communities — and has, according to them, affected their operations.”

This sounds like an opportunity for 56.8% of the workforce to reach even higher for the sky, and we applaud Turner for her work in that effort.

— RJ

Karns City Area Jr./Sr. High School graduate Peyton Turner, right, and her pilot, Alyssa Sheehan, hold the awards they won in the 2024 Air Race Classic, a 2,500-mile, four-day race flown by female pilots. Turner and Sheehan won the collegiate class, marking Turner's second consecutive Air Race Classic win. Submitted photo

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