Flying Flashes Prepare to Defend Kent State's First Place Title at the Air Race Classic 

Kent State Flying Flashes Laura Wilson, BS ’22, and junior Peyton Turner are counting down the days until June 20, when they will compete in the 46th Annual Air Race Classic in hopes of once again bringing home the first-place award. 

Wilson of New Richmond, Ohio, is one half of the reigning team that won the 45th Annual Air Race Classic (ARC) in 2022. Wilson and alumna Alex Johnson, BS ’21, flew to first place in a 2020 Cessna Skyhawk 172/SP. Johnson and Wilson also won the prize for fastest Cessna and first place in the Collegiate Challenge. 

Kent State alumna Laura Wilson, one of the winners in the Air Race Classic in 2022, is competing this year.


Turner, who is a flight technology major in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, has her sights set on a repeat performance, with the Flying Flashes team No. 52 soaring away with more first-place wins.  

“I am beyond excited to compete in the Air Race,” said Turner of Chicora, Pennsylvania. “I cannot wait to fly beside the reigning champ and hopefully bring home another win for Kent State.” 

During the four-day event, Turner and Wilson will fly 2,400 miles, making nine timed flybys at airports in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Florida, before landing in Homestead, Florida. The ARC will be a fantastic opportunity for Wilson and Peyton to hone their skills inside an airplane as well as outside of it.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the friends I made last year,” said Wilson, who works as a certified flight instructor at Kent State University Airport. “I am also looking forward to using the skills I’ve learned over the last five years in an environment outside of flight training. The race is a challenge in flight planning, endurance, teamwork and flying skill. I’m looking forward to the challenge.” 

Pilots in the ARC range in age from 17 to 90 years old and hail from a variety of backgrounds, including airline pilots, students, teachers, doctors, business owners, professionals and air traffic controllers. 

Kent State junior Peyton Turner started flying in 2021during her first year at Kent State.

Prior to flying in the ARC, Wilson and Turner will spend three days in briefings to ensure their safety during the competition. In addition to Kent State, the 2023 lineup includes teams from Western Michigan University, Indiana State University and Auburn University. 

“We’ve been working with a lot of different parties to make sure everything is prepared before we leave for the start,” said Wilson, who began flying in 2018 during her second semester at Kent State. “We’ve been working with our maintenance department to get the airplane ready and the university to register the team, and Peyton and I have been attending required racer training sessions online.” 

Peyton, who began flying in 2021 during her first year at Kent State, said she is studying the route and has begun “flying with Laura to understand better the way we configure the airplane for the race.”  

In addition to the air race, Wilson is looking forward to beginning a training program at Endeavor Air in November. “I am very excited to start my career as an airline pilot. While that’s where I know I will be in the near future, I’m keeping an open mind about where I ultimately want my career to go. There are a lot of opportunities in aviation, and I feel like I’m only just beginning.” 

During the event, the Air Race Classic homepage will be continuously updated, allowing the Kent State family to follow the Flying Flashes (team No. 52) as they make their way along the race’s course. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

The race will also be viewable in the first- and second-floor atriums of the Aeronautics and Engineering Building and in the Schwabe Lobby of the FedEx Aeronautics Academic Center at the Kent State Airport (1G3).

For more information about the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, please visit 

POSTED: Friday, June 9, 2023 10:07 AM
Updated: Tuesday, June 13, 2023 11:23 AM
April McClellan-Copeland