Billings West High School freshman Kassi Slowey started the school year as the toast of the aviation world for a piece of artwork she created that captures the adventure and romance of “Flying Cross Country.”
Kassi, a 14-year-old student pilot, was the winner of a nationwide art contest sponsored by the Air Race Classic, the all-women cross country airplane race. The competition was open to girls ages 12 to 17.
A panel of judges from the American Association of Aviation Artists chose Kassi as the young artist whose entry best evoked the theme “Flying Cross Country,” a subject reflecting the freedom and skill involved in flying the Air Race Classic, an annual four-day, 2,500 mile airplane race for women pilots, according to a press release.
Her artwork, created with a combination of paints, pastels and markers, depicts a skyscape with a flock of soaring birds, an airplane in flight and a young woman about to take wing. Click here to view her winning entry.
Kassi “captured in her winning artwork the spirit of flight and dreams of a strong young woman,” said aviation artist and contest judge Kristin Hill. “As ARC opens people’s imaginations regarding possibilities for women of all ages, Kassi shares that inspiration with others through the expressive image she has created. As a career aviation artist, I look forward to seeing more of Kassi’s achievements in art, aviation and life.”
To celebrate the young artist’s achievement, Hill exhibited Kassi’s winning entry among her own works of aviation art on display at the nation’s largest gathering of pilots, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture convention in Oshkosh, Wis.
The event, held the last week in July, drew more than a half million pilots from across the country and around the world.
Members of the American Association of Aviation Artists will be mentoring Kassi throughout the year, to keep nurturing her artistic talent.
While she was at Oshkosh, the young pilot-to-be also was treated to a 30-minute airplane ride with U.S. national aerobatic champion Debby Rihn-Harvey.
“I was extremely honored that my art was on display at such a huge event as Oshkosh, among the amazing artwork of Kristin Hill,” said Kassi. “Flying with Debby Rihn-Harvey was absolutely amazing. I had so much fun. I’d like to express to everyone who was involved in making that happen that I cannot thank you enough!”
Kassi, whose parents are both pilots, has been flying for almost her entire life. She loves aerobatics and has flown seaplanes and gliders as well as land-based aircraft. Once she turns 16 and is old enough to solo, Kassi plans on earning her pilot’s license and eventually becoming a commercial pilot and traveling the world.
Kassi is also an athlete, musician and animal lover. She plays ice hockey and lacrosse – she is a member of the Billings Scorpions – writes songs, plays guitar and volunteers at the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter.
Air Race Classic Inc. is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with a mission of encouraging and educating current and future female pilots, increasing public awareness of general aviation, demonstrating women’s roles in aviation, and preserving and promoting the tradition of pioneering women in aviation. For more information, go to airraceclassic.org.