2012 Reno Air Races
If you have not been to the Reno Air Races now is the time to go. The Reno Air Races date back to 1964 when Bill Stead organized an air race near Reno. The event has only been cancelled once, in 2001, when all airplanes were grounded.
The Reno Air Races consist of 5 days of action packed, adrenaline pumping, wingtip to wingtip racing. I look at the Reno Air Races as competitive formation flying where everyone is fighting to be the lead pilot.
There are seven classes of aircraft racing at Reno, each class is broken down into three categories (Gold, Silver, Bronze) based on qualifying speed. This guarantees that the fastest aircraft in each class make the cut. If there are too many aircraft for a given class, the slowest ones go home without racing.
The classes are broken down by aircraft type. The biplane class consists of mainly Pitts S1 and Mong biplanes, there are a couple exceptions but this platform is what the class was built from. The biplane class fly at speeds around 200mph. The formula one class all have the same motor, they race with a continental O-200, these small airplanes are often owner built and flown, with the main variation in aircraft being the wing design. These aircraft will fly at speeds approaching 250mph. The sport class was designed for the kit built aircraft, some of which have really made an impact on airplane racing. This class of aircraft race at speeds approaching 350mph. In the sport class, people started building aircraft specifically for racing. Because these aircraft were so much faster a new class was designed for them and it is call Super Sport. Super Sport aircraft are getting incredibly fast at speeds over 400mph. The T-6 class is one of my favorites though they are by no means the fastest. The T-6 class cruise around a rather big course at speeds just over 200mph. The reason this is one of my favorite classes is because they have some great racing. Most of the airplanes are very similar, making it more like NASCAR, so the racing comes down to pilot skill more than pure horsepower. You will see some of the best side by side racing in the T-6 class. The jet class is one of the fastest classes and personally my least favorite. I like the sound of piston engines being pushed hard. Although the jets are often moving in excess of 500mph, they are not making much noise. Saying a class is my least favorite though doesn’t mean I don’t like it, quite the contrary, I watch every second of the jet races. Where else in the world do you get to see a group of jets moving at over 500mph, 50 feet off the ground, close enough to see the pilots? No Where. The final class and the one most spectators announce as their favorite is the Unlimited class. This class is dominated by WWII fighters including the P-51 Mustang, F8F Bearcat, F4U Corsair, Hawker Sea Fury and F7F Tigercat. These make incredible noise, travel at speeds exceeding 500mph and will make your heart skip a beat.
As if the racing wasn’t enough, there is also performers that entertain the crowd between races. This year you will see the F-22 Raptor, Kent Pietsch, David Martin, Patriot Team – L-39 Formation Team, Jim Peitz, Shockwave Jet Truck, and Patty Wagstaff. For more information check out www.airrace.org
Wingster.aero will be at the races this year with Estelle, our Cessna 195. Though we don’t get to race we are happy to be part of the show. Come by, say hi and ask Michael for a T-shirt.