Q. In Reno, Nevada, what’s Wacky & Orange all Over? A. Section 3 of Course!

If you’ve been to Reno Air  Races, you know the biggest Fans are seated in Section 3 – Undoubtedly you’ve seen and heard the fashion forward fans wearing Orange!C14C2684

If you’ve yet to attend the races, first, you must put it on your calendar, and secondly, upon your arrival to the world’s fastest motor sport, look for the color orange in the Grand Stands – you can’t miss it!  They’re the largest congregation of friends sporting Orange Tee’s, having the most fun in the entire spectator audience!   …Section 3, an enigma of its own…?

Frat Boys

Some Section 3 Awesome Dudes

Well, mystery no more, all that wacky uniformed enthusiasm expressed in complete abandon and unconcealed joy, is an entire collection of friends!

Turns out there is a Founder of Section 3, (who knew) and, his name is Robert Lewis.  He’s a delightful man from Boise Idaho and religious attendee of the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show for 34+ years. Robert lives and loves to entertain the Section 3 fans, and as can be seen, delivers every year!  All of these people are his friends!  Not kidding, …all of them!DSC_0584

When asked how Section 3 came into existence, Robert explained the serendipitous beginnings,  “It started along time ago when a few of us from the National Guard decided to take a road trip to Nevada to see this wild Air Racing with War Birds thing.” “We loved it so much and had such a great time that we returned the following four years. Then about thirty years ago I brought more friends and started section 3 and the group has grown every year since. What I love the most is seeing all my longtime friends, and the new friends we’ve made from around the world.  It’s a wonderful event I plan to never miss.”

Early Morning Section 3 Fans!

Early Morning Section 3 Fan

Here’s an interesting fact and technical detail I learned:  Section 3 created a complex numbering system whereby they communicate  utilizing a precision set of numbered cards. These cards when held up, above their heads for more emphasis, chest level for less, represents their precise emotions …at that very moment… It’s incredible.

Frenchy

Frenchy

Ok, …all kidding aside…the numbered precision cards are used to show their appreciation for all sorts of things.  Like a record breaking lap or course run, a pilot’s victory ride in the vintage fire truck, a beloved pilot, like Pilot John Penney for instance, who makes a point of Tagging Tees every year, or a favorite War Bird revving its big radial engine in front of the fans.  The list of things this group appreciates is endless and really fun to watch… and hear.

"Running with Chocks" Pilot John Penney, Race 77, Rare Bear

Race 77, Rare Bear      Pilot John Penney

Section 3 - Annual Reunion in Reno...

Section 3’s  34th Annual Reunion in Reno 2013

What I noticed most about Section 3  is that it breeds race excitement and enthusiasm – and it’ shared with everyone. What could be a purer testament of race fan loyalty?

So next time your’re at the races, check out the Orange Collection of friends in Section 3, you’ll be impressed – they come prepared to show the love…and are sure to  make you smile;)

Frenchy...!

Frenchy…!

Section 3, you  Rock!  I give you a 10….plus another 10… with both hands… really high above my head!!

Good Luck, Keep Growing and God’s Speed to Section 3!

Kimberley West for WarBirdBabe
DSC_7098 (2)e


Reno Nation Championship Air Race CEO & President Mike Houghton Dismissed!

Removed”…To Further Reduce Expenditures And Streamline Our Efforts…”

On the last day of 2013, the Reno Air Race Association provided a surprising press release which stated Mike Houghton, CEO & President of the Reno Air Race Association was relieved of his duties after 15 years of service.

The Reno Air Race Association stated that, “In its ongoing effort to revise and evolve its organizational structure and business model to ensure long-term sustainability, the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) announced today the departure of its President & CEO Mike Houghton.  The recently restructured board of directors cited recent changes in the governance of the organization and input from stakeholders that emphasized a need to restructure the day-to-day operations in light of the financial challenges facing RARA as Reasons behind the departure.”

2013 President & CEO Mike Houghton

2013 President & CEO Mike Houghton Driving “Red 1” VW Bug

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Race for Unlimited Gold is on at Reno! Strega vs. Voodoo!

Voodoo Race 05

Voodoo Race 05

Race 7 Strega, P-51D, Steve Hinton Jr. Pilot

Race 7 Strega, P-51D, Steve Hinton Jr. PilotThe 50th Anniversary of the Reno National Air Races Championship is providing a few changes in who’s piloting your favorite war bird planes.

Steve Hinton

Steve If you’re a fan of the Unlimited Class, then you know the last four years Gold Race was won by the youngest pilot in the Unlimited Class, Steve Hinton Jr., affectionately known as Stevo.

In 2009 Stevo shook up the seasoned Gold Race pilots in his first race at Reno by flying a super tight and clean course line and setting a new course record of 491.822 MPH in the beautiful red and white P-51 Strega, Race 7, owned by Tiger Destefani.

All eyes have been on Stevo since the first race four years ago with his fellow competitors.

We all witnessed the respect and support given to Stevo by the seasoned pilots he challenged in the Unlimited Class.  All genuinely thrilled to watch him consistently win the Unlimited Gold in Strega – fair and square …with no one holding back in their desire to win the Gold and, an engraving with their name on the beautiful silver-winged trophy.

Fans may be torn this year – which will they root for, the beautiful P-51 Strega, Race 7 , flow by Matt Jackson this year, or Stevo, now flying Voodoo, Race 05

Hinton’s competitors may feel they have an edge and an opportunity to win the Gold this year – at least the door seems open.   

Strega’s flown fast but  muscled thru a few troubles in the last few days – making it more of a challenge to earn a Gold Race position for Sunday Unlimited Gold.

Earlier in the week, Strega lost part of its canopy during a heat which would have qualified her for the Gold on Sunday. So, yesterday while making up for that missed opportunity, Jackson pushed hard to win Heat 1 of the Unlimited Silver Race.

While going for a pass of Race 47, the P-51D Mustang Ole Yeller, piloted by John Bagley, Strega flew out of bounds and was disqualified or given a DNF (did not finish), as well as Old Yeller.

Voodoo has performed well, but hasn’t produced the performance or speed to win the Gold for a few years.

The $64K dollar question:  Will Hinton be the determining factor that finesses Voodoo to a win this year?

Or will the sheer power and consistency of the winning P-51, bring Strega and its new pilot Jackson, over the home pylon first?

Either way, it sure makes for a fun weekend of racing!

Good Luck and God’s Speed Racers!

Kimberley West, WarBirdBabe

Check out Matt Jackson’s credentials in the informative article written by Caroline Sheen of Air & Space Smithsonian http://www.airspacemag.com/flight-today/sticks.html

2010 & 2012 Reno Air Race Photo Gallery by Tatsuo “Ken” Sakurai

Race 232 September Fury, Hawker Sea Fury

Race 232 September Fury, Hawker Sea Fury

…Through photography, creativity flows and spreads around the world, quietly benefiting  everyone in its infinite exchange of beauty and grace…

Each year, world class photographers meet at Stead Air Force Base in Reno, Nevada to capture breathtaking pictures of grand aircraft – old and new, exceptional pilots, race fans and many of the small intricacies that most eyes overlook at this extraordinary event, The National Championship Air Races and Air Show.

Ultimately, feelings of awe, joy, excitement, and many other emotions unique to each individual, are captured in these photographs, all in a collective moment in time.

As these photographers share their best pictures taken each day, I am endlessly amazed that we are at the same event, with the same opportunities to capture the same images.

The combined talent meeting each year for one week in September is unparallelled, the photographs are breathtakingly beautiful and quite moving.  I am humbled and grateful to be among my talented friends.

The following pictures are only a few photographs taken under the pylons that my exceptional friend from Japan, Mr. Tatsuo Sakurai took in 2010 and 2012.  I’ll be posting another collection of his photographs from 2012, that not only showcase his immense technical talent (as seen here in these perfectly clear pictures of Jets and other aircraft flying at speeds of up to 500mph), but also his incredible artistry that transforms simple things into beautiful photographs.

We’re all looking forward to the Air Races, and the best aviation photographs taken by the best aviation photographers!

Until then…

Kimberley West, WarBirdBabe

Race 7 Strega, P-51D, Steve Hinton Jr. Pilot

Race 7 Strega, P-51D, Steve Hinton Jr. Pilot

Race 38 Precious Metal, P-51XR, Thom Richard, Pilot

Race 38 Precious Metal, P-51XR, Thom Richard, Pilot

Race 64 Red Knight, T-6, Keith McMann Pilot

Race 64 Red Knight, T-6, Keith McMann Pilot

Pace Plane T-33, Steve Hinton Sr. Pilot

Pace Plane T-33, Steve Hinton Sr. Pilot

Race 55 Here Kitty Kitty, F7F Tigercat

Race 55 Here Kitty Kitty, F7F Tigercat

Race 55 Here Kitty Kitty, F7F Tigercat

Race 55 Here Kitty Kitty, F7F Tigercat

Race 31 Taango-Tango, Bi-Plane, Tony Higa Pilot

Race 31 Taango-Tango, Bi-Plane, Tony Higa Pilot

Race 31 Tango-Tango, Bi-Plane, Tony Higa Pilot

Race 31 Tango-Tango, Bi-Plane, Tony Higa Pilot

Race 62 Phantom, Modified Mong Sport, Tom Aberle Pilot

Race 62 Phantom, Modified Mong Sport, Tom Aberle Pilot

Race 4 Ruby, Pitts S-1S, Marilyn Dash Pilot

Race 4 Ruby, Pitts S-1S, Marilyn Dash Pilot

Race 4 Ruby, Pitts S-1S, Marilyn Dash Pilot

Race 4 Ruby, Pitts S-1S, Marilyn Dash Pilot

Race 71 Sawbones, Hawker Sea Fury, Dan Vance, Pilot

Race 71 Sawbones, Hawker Sea Fury, Dan Vance, Pilot

Race 1 Hot Section, TS-11 Iskra, Lachie Onslow,, Pilot

Race 1 Hot Section, TS-11 Iskra, Lachie Onslow,, Pilot

Race 66 Black Czech, L-39 Jet, Mark Pracy, Pilot

Race 66 Black Czech, L-39 Jet, Mark Pracy, Pilot

Race 14 Baron's Revenge, AT-6B

Race 14 Baron’s Revenge, AT-6B

Race 66 Black Czech, L-39 Jet

Race 66 Black Czech, L-39 Jet

Race 54 Robin 1, L-39 Jet

Race 54 Robin 1, L-39 Jet

Race 54 Robin 1, L-39 Jet

Race 54 Robin 1, L-39 Jet

Race 232 September Fury, Hawker Sea Fury

Race 232 September Fury, Hawker Sea Fury

Race 1 Hot Section, TS-11 Iskra

Race 1 Hot Section, TS-11 Iskra

Race 7 Strega, P-51D

Race 7 Strega, P-51D

Race 71 Sawbones, Hawker Sea Fury

Race 71 Sawbones, Hawker Sea Fury

Race 38 Precious Metal, P-51 XR

Race 38 Precious Metal, P-51 XR

Mark Mangold Interview at Reno Pylon Racing School – from National Air Race Podcast

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUa6bnmrRJI

I had a fun time interviewing Airline Pilot and Red Bull Racing Champion, Mark Mangold at the Reno Pylon Racing School (PRS) which is held each June prior to the official start of the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show held in September.

I spoke with Pilot Mike Mangold about the changes made to the race course which decreased in size from 8.4 miles to 8.1 miles but increased the safety radius margins.  Mike explains that another advantage of the course modification is seeing the pylons better.  With jet speeds close to 500mph, pilots need to look about 1000 feet ahead to establish their flight line; with the pylons more visible, the 1-1/2 seconds it takes to fly 1000 feet becomes slightly easier… ok now, that’s fast!

You can see part of my interview with Mike Mangold starting at 1:10 of the youtube video which has commentaries and interviews of other race pilots who participated in PRS:

See Dennis Buehn, Race 43 T-6, Midnight Miss III; Mark Pracy, Jet Class Pilot, Race 66; Pete Zaccagnino, Sport & Jet Racer/Instructor for Rookies; Rob Sandberg – Rookie Pilot, Race 42, Honest Entry, SNJ-4; Mike Mangold, – Jet Racer, Race 12, Euro Burner; David Sterling – Sport Racer, Race8, flying a Lancair Legacy; Kevin Eldridge – Sport Racer, Race 42, Relentless; Lee Behel – Sport Racer, Race 5, Breathless, John Parker – Pilot, Race 352, Blue Thunder II; and Terri Adams – Pilot and T-6 Rookie (look for my video short taken after the Sunday Races – this was one happy pilot!).

Linda Shiner, Editor of Air & Space Smithsonian Magazine at Inaugural Presentation of the New Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage Trophy, Reno Air Races

The charming Linda Shiner, Editor of Air & Space/Smithsonian Magazine was part of the inaugural presentation of the new Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage Trophy on the last day of the Reno Air Races, Sunday, September 16, 2012.

The six-foot trophy was on display at the Reno Race Invitation for Sunday’s trophy presentation and  then will be flown back to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington DC where it will reside for another year.  The winner of the Trophy, Duncan Cameron of Lebanon, TN will have his name engraved on a plaque and placed on the trophy.  His beautiful 1944OY-1 Consolidated Vultee Stinson won the competition by meeting the “gold standard”  for restoring the aircraft to the manufacturer’s original condition with fellow restorer Tom Westfall .

The National Aviation Hall of Fame partnered with Rolls-Royce North America, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Reno Air Racing Foundation and many aviation related organizations to establish and support the National Aviation Heritage Invitational, which was created to foster the preservation of our rich aviation history by encouraging the restoration of vintage aircraft to airworthy condition.

We look forward to seeing next year’s competitors of the National Aviation Heritage Invitational at the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show!

Good Luck and God’s Speed to all who fly~

Kimberley West – WarBirdBabe