Tiffany Brown, deputy director of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s aviation division, is planning to participate in her first race as a pilot.
Brown, a pilot since 2013, will be the pilot in command of Team TNT in the 2015 Air Race Classic, a four-day, 2,199 nautical mile air race that begins June 22.
“It’s a way to expand my flying skills, expand my scope as a pilot,” said Brown, 27.
She’ll be partnering with Winfield High School senior Taylor Humphrey on the nine-stop race that begins in Fredericksburg, Va., and ends in Fairhope, Ala.
They will be competing against more than 50 other teams of two- and three-women in a race that shares a Top 10 purse of $15,000.
Brown earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas and has worked for the state’s aviation division for two years.
Brown grew up around airports because of her father, who is a professional skydiver. But she didn’t have her first flight in a small aircraft until she was in college.
“It’s just very gratifying to have control of a complex piece of machinery,” Brown said of her love for flying. “It feels good to have that kind of skill and control.”
She earned her private pilot’s license two years ago, and has since earned an instrument rating. She’s on the cusp of earning her commercial pilot’s license. In fact, she would probably be one this week if it weren’t for a partial engine failure on Sunday in which she had to make an emergency landing.
“We were practicing short-field landings and on one of them I went full throttle on the ascent and I heard a popping,” she said. That popping was a blown cylinder, forcing Brown to land the airplane.
It was the same aircraft that she was scheduled to fly for her check-ride on Tuesday to get her commercial license.
“If anything else, it (the emergency landing) gave me street cred,” Brown said, laughing.
Brown said she and Humphrey are funding their air race team on their own, from sponsorships through Hardy Aviation Insurance in Wichita and Hetrick Air Services in Lawrence, and a crowdfunding campaign.
She said so far Team TNT has raised more than $3,000, but estimates it will cost $8,000. Even if they don’t hit their fundraising goal, they are committed to participating in the race.
“Whatever we don’t raise, it comes out of pocket,” she said. “It is expensive (but) we’re committed to do this. We’ve submitted the $1,200 registration fee.”
Brown said she’ll keep Air Capital Insider posted on how she and Humphrey do in the race.