Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Reno Air Races Day 5

The final day of races. Due to the cancellation of the afternoon races on Thursday, Sunday's crowd was offered a full day of racing.

Pull-ups due to engine problems were common, and several dead-stick landings were made. The most notable and event-thrilling one occurred at the end of the supreme race, the Unlimited class, when "Rare Bear", the winning Bearcat, after a scotching near 500 mph pass over the finish pylon, could not reduce power on his engine! He pulled up, was joined by a T-33 to look over the aircraft, flew it almost out of fuel, shut the engine down and 'glided' to a successful landing on the runway.

The races are a 'must see' event - much different from what one witnesses at shows such as Oshkosh. Reno is not an air show. It is a series of very tight low level races around a series of pylons.

Although marred by several fatal accidents this year, the fact that races were clearly flown more safely following the last crash and subsequent afternoon off, shows that such racing can be thrilling and safe.

Plan to go. Arrive by 7 AM and visit the Pit Row where preparations for races are made. Watch your favorite class of aircraft in a race. Visit the winning team's booths/parking area, and spend some time after the show talking to pilots and crew. Bring a friend with a good telephoto lens. Bring sunscreen - these races had 5 continuous days of great weather. And watch the development of the new Super Sport class where anything up to 1000HP goes. I believe these new racers will achieve speeds equal to or greater than the Jet or Unlimited classes.

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