Wednesday, June 20, 2012

CPHS grad Keck to fly in women's cross-country air race

From Crowne Point Community (yesterday):  CPHS grad Keck to fly in women's cross-country air race

Amanda Keck, of Crown Point, will be the co-pilot Tuesday when a women's cross-country air race begins at Lake Havasu, Ariz.

Keck, 20, a Purdue University junior, will navigate, handle radio calls and, at times, fly the single-engine Piper Warrior with teammate Chantel Steele as the pilot.

The 2012 Air Race Classic covering 2,700 miles from Arizona to the Canadian border and then southeast to Batavia, Ohio, pits 56 racers in a competition, which traces its history to pioneering female aviators.
The challenge is nothing new to Keck, a self-described daredevil who as a child jumped off the top of a backyard tree house into a snow bank on the ground.

"I love flying," she said. "I love going up there. I like the challenge."

The mother of the children Keck baby-sat as a youngster was a pilot, and her exotic destinations piqued Keck's interest. "I knew that was what I wanted to do," she said.

After graduating from Crown Point High School in 2010, Keck entered the Purdue flight technology program and went up in a plane two days later.

"The first flight was pretty easy and I definitely liked it," she said. The courses got more difficult, including a rigorous exam to earn a flight instructor license.

"That was the hardest rating to get," Keck said. "It was a brutal six-hour oral discussion and a 1½-hour flight."

Keck's plane is set to take off at 8 a.m. Tuesday from Lake Havasu, high above mountainous terrain far different from the Indiana flatlands.

"Here you're so high up and you've got a ton of mountains around you and updrafts and downdrafts. But I like the challenge. I'm very competitive," she said.

Keck plans to become a commercial pilot or an air traffic controller.

People tell Keck it takes a certain kind of person to be a pilot, and she believes it.

"They're people you really look up to and respect like firefighters, policemen and doctors," she said. "You have to be respectful and confident."


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