Two teams from Purdue University will take part Tuesday in the annual Air Race Classic women’s cross-country competition. The students, representing Indiana, Ohio, Cyprus and France, will take off from Maryland and travel more than 2,600 miles to Santa Fe, New Mexico by Friday.

This is the first time in the 20-year history of the university taking part in the competition that Purdue is fielding two teams. The first team is comprised of senior Mary McCarty from Wilmington, Ohio and junior Alyssa Harvey from Crown Point. Both students are part of the Professional Flight program at Purdue.

The second team is comprised of pilot Nicoletta Fala of Cyprus, a doctoral student in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and co-pilot Chloé de Perre, a French student in the Department of Agronomy. They are representing Purdue Pilots Inc. and sponsored by the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

The competition follows a different route each year and Purdue says each plane is given a unique time handicap prior to the race. The team that beats its handicap by the largest margin wins. 

McCarty was a co-pilot in her place in last year’s competition. The university says one of the challenges is getting to know her co-pilot, with whom she hadn’t flow before this month.

The race, originally known as the Women’s Air Derby, first ran in 1929 with 20 women pilots, including Amelia Earhart. The Air Race Classic is the longest-running air race in the U.S.

You can learn more about Fala in the video below from Purdue: