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Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 6:00 AM
— The fastest woman in motor-sports just landed at the Dayton International Airport.
Aerobatic pilot Vicky Benzing, who made Reno Air Race history in 2015 as the fastest woman ever on the course, will perform at the Vectren Dayton Air Show for the first time this weekend.
“Welcome to my office,” Benzing said, pointing at her glittering purple Extra 300S aircraft. After a more than 12-hour flight from California to Dayton, she leaned against the plane and reflected on prepping for her debut performance in the Gem City.
“It’s the birthplace of aviation,” she said. “It’s going to be a lively performance, and it really shows the airplane well. It certainly won’t be boring.”
» WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Here’s how Dayton air show officials prepare for worst case scenarios
Dayton air show officials told this news organization that they were thrilled to add Benzing to the line-up of performers this year, which includes the F-22 Raptor, Sean D. Tucker and the Blue Angels.
Benzing’s background is anything but boring. She has nearly 8,000 hours of flight time and has completed more than 1,200 parachute jumps. The California native started flying with her uncle when she was in college, and it’s been her passion ever since.
“I was bitten,” she said. “If it’s in your blood, it’s just something you can’t leave alone for the rest of your life.”
After earning a PhD in Chemistry, Benzing spent years working in the tech industry in Silicon Valley. In 2006, she cut her hours down to part time. Then in 2012, she decided to “retire” altogether to focus on air shows and racing.
“I wanted to do it while I was still young,” she said. “It’s physically demanding,” noting she has a regular regimen of weight training and other exercise to stay in top shape.
She’s gearing up for even bigger goals in the next year. She’d like to beat her own time at the Reno Air Show. She also placed second at the Sport Class Gold race, and now she’s hungry for first.
» PHOTOS: The Dayton Air Show through the years
“None of these guys want to be beaten by a girl,” Benzing said.
When she first started flying, there were hardly any female voices she heard over the radio or other women pilots. Now she’s thrilled to see more women enrolling at the California Aeronautical University, the flight school that sponsors her performances.
“Really, it’s a great time to be alive as a woman,” Benzing said. “I want little girls to see me and know that girls can do anything guys can do. Train hard. Work harder. You can do anything.”
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