When the 39th Annual Air Race Classic (ARC) takes off in Fredericksburg, VA on June 22, two Huntsville pilots, Ramona Banks and Caroline Hodges, will be taking off with a higher purpose in mind: to raise awareness and funds to benefit FlyQuest, a non-profit organization based in Huntsville whose mission is to awaken dreams and provide educational opportunities for young people to pursue aerospace and aviation careers.
The Huntsville team, known as Team FlyQuest, will be flying more than 2,500 statute miles over a four day period in a 1964 Cessna 182 Skylane, lovingly called Sierra, owned by Banks. Team FlyQuest drew the Classic Racer Number 7 out of the 55 teams of female pilots racing in the ARC this year, which culminates in Fairhope, AL on June 25. Their lofty goal is to raise $20,000 to $25,000 for FlyQuest’s youth education programs, which include public and home school Aviation Fundamentals courses and one-day aviation overview programs that expose young people, including the underserved, to career opportunities in the aviation field that they might not otherwise have access to.
The ARC is the perfect forum for this philanthropic team, since the race itself preserves and promotes the tradition of pioneering women in aviation by educating and encouraging current and future women pilots. Corporations who wish to sponsor Team FlyQuest can earn logo placement on Sierra by donating $1000 or more by June 1.
Banks started working on her pilot’s license in 2005 and met Hodges, a Certified Flight Instructor at Redstone Arsenal, during her training. Hodges holds a commercial pilot’s license in single and multi-engine planes and has been flying since 2005 also. In 2013, Banks and Hodges founded FlyQuest with two other Huntsville area pilots. The corporation houses the only 6 Degrees of Freedom Flight Simulator in North Alabama available to the public, which enables them to give students safe, hands-on experience with different aircraft. The simulator is also available for rent by pilots for training and to maintain proficiency.
This is Team FlyQuest’s first year to compete in the ARC. Their adventure can be followed at www.FlyingWithSierra.com.