Friday, September 14, 2007

Reno Air Races - Day 3

Day 3 at the Reno Air Races saw another fatal accident, this time involving a Formula 1 racer, last year's winner. This race, the silver medal race, had 6 very qualified pilots participating. At the first turn two aircraft collided. One crashed with fatal results and the othe raircraft made a succesful forced landing. Because the course is flown with left hand turns and because the winds required the aircraft to take off in a direction opposite to the course, the aircraft took off and did a scatter turn around a pylon and came back more or less as a group. That caused bunching at the first turn. Wreckage injured some of the judges at the first pylon.

Racing was cancelled for the remainder of the day. Presumably the FAA intervened, there not having been a fatality since 2003. However, although many people were disappointed by the cancellation at noon, the Canadian Snowbirds saved the day by performing an excellent air show. Hopefully racing will resume tomorrow.

Safety briefings in the morning were very thorough. The firefighters and the rescue teams were briefed on the operation of each participating aircraft in the hangars before flying started. Briefings included fuel systems and ways in which canopies are opened.

The unlimited class preparations were underway. I found it interesting that he big radial engines have their engine oil cooled with water, which drips out continuously from the aircraft, starting right after start-up. Some of them run engine boost anywhere from 56 inches to over 120. Their performance is impressive and worth a visit.

The Reno Air Races have a completely different atmosphere about them compared to the likes of Oshkosh. Even Garmin does not have a display. Aircraft are accompanied by very fancy tarilers which house complete machine shops. There is very little other aircraft associated advertising - except Lycoming, a sponsor of the race. T-shirts etc, are over-abundant.

More tomorrow.

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