Kelly Burris of Pleasant Ridge and a shareholder in the Ann Arbor office of Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione, one of the largest intellectual property law firms in the U.S., and co-pilot Erin Recke of Atlanta, Georgia, were announced the First Place winners in the 2009 Air Race Classic, an all-female aviation race that dates back to 1929 and the era of famed woman pilot Amelia Earhart.
Burris was piloting her 1962 Beechcraft Debonair airplane, which is affectionately known as ‘The Deb.’ The race route, which started in Denver, Colorado and ended in Atlantic, Iowa, covered approximately 2,400 miles and was held from June 23-June 26, 2009. Winners were not announced until the evening of June 28th, however, because of the complexity of the scoring.
Ms. Burris and Ms. Recke will donate their $5,000 prize to Air Charity Network, a charity that matches people in need with free flights and other travel resources. They flew on behalf of Angel Flight Central, part of the Air Charity Network. Ms. Burris has been a volunteer pilot with Angel Flight Central Mid-Atlantic and Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic Central, members of the Air Charity Network, since 2004. In addition to the competition of the Air Race and the chance to experience the camaraderie of the other women pilots, Ms. Burris used the race as an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the charity.
“I raised about $12,000 for Air Charity Network through the 2008 Air Race Classic and my goal was to raise more than $25,000 this year; I believe we are very near that goal,” says Ms. Burris, who enlisted the assistance of the Angel Flight Central member organization throughout the race route to promote the charity to communities along the route stops. Every dollar raised by Ms. Burris will be donated directly to Angel Flight Central; no donated monies will be used to offset the expenses Ms. Burris incurred to compete in the race.