Competition Taking LU's Female Flyers to New Heights

Campbell Co., VA - Liberty University's all female flying team is preparing for a national competition. None of it would be possible without support from local businesses.

Four members of the Liberty Belles leave for Arizona Wednesday morning to compete against dozens of other pilots across the country in the Air Race Classic.

The four-day race will take them all over the country, testing their flying skills, knowledge of wind conditions and even discipline.

The race hasn't even started, and the team is already making history.

"From what I know, I'm gonna be the first Papua, New Guinean pilot to compete in the air race. So, not only will I be representing Liberty but also my country," said Esther Dii, one of the competitors.

This isn't your typical kind of race where the goal is to be the first at the finish line. The Air Race Classic is based on skill rather than speed.

"They find what the fastest your airplane can fly is. And whoever can exceed that by the greatest margin wins," explained Coach Sarah Morris.

The Liberty Belles have a secret weapon: their coach won first place last year.

"I'm a little nervous, a little anxious mostly about the flight planning," explained one of the competitors, Naomi Satterfield.

"But, I don't think it will hit me until we are at the runway waiting for our turn to take off," she added.

They'll take off in two Cessna 172s, sponsored by eight local companies and a personal donor.

But the skills they'll come back with will take their careers to new heights.

The race begins on June 19 and ends in Ohio on June 22. The first-place winner will take home a medal and national recognition for their program.