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

Hello Race Fans! Only Five More Days to Go!

…Less days if you’re a dedicated fan and in the gates for Monday, September 12, 2011 Qualifying Starts!

Once again the Reno National Championship Air Races have lined up a fantastic race event with our beloved Pilots, Planes and Jets…with many race course records to shatter from last year… we all look forward to new race records and an incredible performance line-up for the air shows!

Qualifications for all six classes will begin on Monday, September 12th and will continue through Wednesday, September 14th. All pilots will be required to fly their course and record their times in conjunction with the official time keepers to establish their Bronze, Silver and Gold heat placements.

Races begin daily at 8 a.m. with Biplane and Formula One Class races – the remaining four classes, T-6, Sport, Unlimited and Jet follow later with Aerobatics and Flight Demonstrations mixed in rounding out the remainder of the day. All you seasoned Race Fans know schedules can change on a dime – for those visiting for the first time, races starts are approximate! Lots of variables in this action packed week!

We’ll see the spectacular US Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Squadron arrive on Wednesday, September 14th and perform a practice routine which is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and lasting about one hour. On Thursday, September 15th they will perform their amazing and beautiful routine at about 12:45 for approximately 45 minutes.

Sadly, the F22 Raptor will not be performing in Reno this year. The US Air Force has grounded the Jets due to mechanical issues. They truly are incredible performance machines – with mind blowing maneuvers…and pilots.

Another fantastic performance fly-by you won’t want to miss is the F/A-18E Hornet Legacy practice demo on Friday, September 15the and on Saturday, September 16th the F/A-18E Hornet Legacy Flight. This should be a crowd pleaser as this is the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation…Wow! Be sure to visit the Static and Heritage Displays of incredibly restored Vintage Aircraft – this year should have the best ever collection of War Birds – I’m hoping to see some of the early aircraft flown 100 years ago!

The Navy Parachute Team will perform their Leap Frog Exhibition which is made up of 14 jumpers – they’ll deploy at 5000 feet, free falling from 12,000 feet and create a variety of canopy shapes on their way down.

David Martin will fly an amazing aerobatic show in his Extra 300S sponsored by Breitling and the Patriot Formation Team will fly the beautiful L-39’s in a choreographed formation. Jim Piets will fly his Aerobatic Beechcraft F33C Bonanza and Eddie Abdreini will fly his Stearman Biplane with eye popping aerobatic maneuvers – double snap rolls, double outside loops, torque rolls and something called the “WOPCEVOK” – an end over tumble maneuver …crazy…!

For those who like big trucks on fire, you’ll be treated to the 7000 pound Shockwave Jet Truck. It has the capacity to accelerate at 3 G’s vertical – comparable to the Space Shuttle, but will simply race airplanes at 300 mph…did I mention it has 18,000 pounds of thrust?! Does it sound like a rocket?

There is much more to see and enjoy at this years National Champonship Air Races and Air Show. This year WarBirdBabe will capture comments from Race Fans on video as well as Pilots from all race classes and many WWII Living Legends and Historians – maybe a few astronauts too.  We’ll be posting many more photographs this year – of all kinds, with lots of Pylon shots!

Have fun and celebrate the Reno Races with Joy and Respect for those who have given so much for our armed services, then and now, and for all those who every year bring to life to the amazing aircraft and share their passion for flying with Race Fans all over the world.

If you can’t make it to the Reno Races, please come back and visit WarBirdBabe – we hope to post many thrilling moments for your enjoyment throughout this week and throughout the coming year. Please leave a message and let us know what you’d like to see – we’ll do our best to search it out and post it!

All the best to you Race Fans! …and Go Navy!
Good Luck and God’s Speed to all who will fly in the sky…

Kimberley West
WarBirdBabe

WarBirdBabe Blog Stats – 2010 in Review

Hello and Happy New Year WarBirdBabe Followers!

We thought you might like to see our viewer statistics for 2010.  I thought they were interesting and encouraging since we’re a “one gal show” at this point – with lots of room for expanding our photo galleries and stories.  

We would love to hear your thoughts about the blog, perhaps suggest some interviews you’d like to see in the future, or request postings of  your favorite War Bird Aircraft and last, but not least,  storey topics you’d like covered. 

We’d also like to post your interesting photos of  War Bird Aircraft or Military Service Men and Women.   All we need is an accurate description of who, what, where and when … and, if you don’t have all the details, perhaps one of our WarBirdBabe followers may have the answers you need!

Currently we’re editing a fantastic two-hour interview with Bob Hoover where he discusses the humble beginnings of the Reno National Championship Air Races and his current business venture. 

Another video will air this year with Jet Pilot Curt Brown and Journalist Guy Clifton of the Reno Gazette. 

We’ll also be posting more than 500 photos throughout the year from the recent Air Races and are in the process of accumulating photos from the archives of fans whose parents and/or grandparents served in WWII as Bomber Pilots and/or Crew.

Many thanks to all who have provided interviews and to those who have visited the WarBirdBabe blog and have taken the time to make comments in 2010 – we appreciate that very much. 

We hope to see you again and again in 2011 and look forward to providing an outstanding War Bird Aviation site – one worth telling your aviation friends about and visiting often!

God Bless and God Speed to all for this new year…

Kimberley West – WarBirdBabe

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2010. That’s about 8 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 20 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 29 posts. There were 107 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4gb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 20th with 136 views. The most popular post that day was Photo Gallery from Photog Jim Loveless.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were indytransponder.blogspot.com, facebook.com, bayarearidersforum.com, en.wordpress.com, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for heather penney, blue angels, steve hinton jr, rare bear, and tom aberle phantom.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Photo Gallery from Photog Jim Loveless September 2010
3 comments

2

Interview with Heather Penney Pilot of L-29 Raju Grace October 2010

3

Saturday, September 19, 2009 – Morning Photos & Heat Results September 2009
1 comment

4

Thursday, September 17, 2009 – Racing Starts at National Championship Air Races! September 2009
2 comments

5

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 – Qualification Day Three! September 2009
2 comments

Interview with George Andre: Former SR-71 Test Pilot, Owner/Pilot of Race 3 “Zipper” a Pitts S-1C

George Andre is a fun-loving, serious pilot whom I throughly enjoyed talking with early in the week at Reno.

George is the oldest pilot racing in any of the six classes presented at the Reno Air Races and most likely is one of only a handful of men racing who have flown, within the earths atmosphere, at +2,200 mph – about mach 2.2.

George has quite a collection of aircraft experiences, knowledge and skill under his belt and still yearns to fly the fast-moving jets screaming overhead throughout the week – like the screeching F-18 heard during this interview.

George, a former fighter pilot, flew one of his favorite aircraft of all, an F-86 while in the service.  Other aircraft included the F104, F101 Voodoo, and George – a man of skill and nerves of steel, was a test pilot for the F104 Starfighter (a rocket with wings…also capable of mach 2.4).

In 1960 George worked for Lockheed as a Test Pilot and then moved on to Skunk Works where he worked with aeronautical genius  Kelly Johnson and as a Flight Test Engineer racking up over 55 hours of flight time in the SR-71.   (Did you know the SR-71 flew at an altitude of over 85,000 feet?!)  Listen to his description of what the earth looks like from that height and the incredible speed he flew.

George is honored to have been inducted into the Mach 3 Club as its 16th member by Kelly Johnson.  What incredible aviation experiences this man possesses- and he’s here,  flying a Bi-plane in the Reno Races.

I hope you enjoy this 9 minutes of interesting stories – I only wish I could release the other half hour of conversation about the secrete projects, area 51’s Groom Lake and things that go bump in the night…but if I did, I think the men in black might track me down…

tee hee hee…!

Windy Conditions & Close-Call Accidents Cancelled Unlimited & T-6 Gold Races…

Thanks to the windy weather and two unfortunate accidents, the 2010 Reno National Championship Air Races ended in disappointment for those waiting for the big T-6 and Unlimited Class races on Sunday. This is the first time in 47 years (baring 9/11/01) that the Gold Race for the T-6 and Unlimited Classes were cancelled.

With the emergency support staff stretched at both ends of the field and gusty winds blowing up to 29 mph, the limit being 30 for take off, the core group of pilots decided to stand down for 30 minutes and see if conditions would improve. Sadly, the winds continued to howl.

Unfortunate for race fans and especially disappointing for the crews and pilots who didn’t have the final opportunity to show what they really had under their hoods – so to speak, many of whom worked into the wee morning hours tinkering, or for that matter, exchanging engines in preparation of Sunday’s big Gold race. Crews for Voodoo & Rare Bear were some of the most disappointed I’d imagine…

The final Gold Races for the T-6 and Unlimited Classes were called off officially by Reno Air Race Association CEO and President Mike Houghton mostly for safety reasons.

In those windy conditions, only runway 26 was be available for landing. In the event of a may-day, runway 26 would be out of commission leaving those in the air with limited fuel and options for landing. Not a good scenario.

The RARA staff considered the option to postpone the final Gold Races to the following morning; however 99% of the 2500 volunteers that it takes to mange the event, especially the Pylon Judges, were all planning to leave that Sunday evening. Really, a logistical nightmare avoided should the races have taken place on Monday morning…

So the awards went to the winners of Saturday’s races. Steve Hinton Jr. took the Gold in the Unlimited Class, making this his second win in Race 7 Strega, and Dennis Buehn brought home is 1st Place Trophy for in the T-6 Gold race in his beautiful Race 43, Midnight Miss III .

The Jet Class was able to race their Gold event and pilot Curt Brown, flying Race 77, Viper with a posted speed of 515.582 , blasted in to first place, passing Mike Mangold in Race 12, Euro Burner.

Do we need an introduction for the newest female Jet pilot on the block? Yes we do – the fans were delighted to see the aviation abilities of newbie Heather Penney, Pilot of Race 21 Raju Grace, a beautifully painted L-29.  Her father, John Penney flies Rare Bear Race 77 a Grumman F8F Bearcat. Look for an interview with Heather and learn about her aviation career as an F-16 pilot in the 121st Fighter Squadron, Air National Guard, in Washington D.C.

The Super Sport class has and incredible story of survival this year. Pilot George Giboney had a may-day in his Thunder Mustang, Rapid Travel, Race 75 and safely landed near the runway.

Unfortunately, just when he thought the worst was over, his lightweight checker-board painted aircraft hit a swale in the dirt and tumbled nose over end, loosing the engine to the left (barely missing him inside his canopy); both the wings snapped off with the fuel spraying into the air like a water balloon and tail departing. Miraculously, when what was left of his aircraft came to rest, George was sitting upright in his chair, seatbelts on and canopy gone. What a ride from which to walk away… God has surely blessed this pilot.

Pilot Gary Davis flying a Cassutt, Race 40 named Miss USA had a wind related accident on the runway just as his class was in formation and taking off. The wind blew hard enough to tip him on his nose thus ending the race for him. Fortunately there were no other planes on his tail that got too close.

So this is only a summary of events at the 2010 Races.

Look for these interviews to be posted soon:

SR-71 Test Pilot George Andre;    Heather Penney, Pilot Jet Class;    Bill “Tiger” Destefani, Owner Race 7 Strega;    Chris Rushing Pilot T-6 Race 42 Honest Entry;    Mrs. John Penney & Section 3;    Dan Martin Pilot P-51 Ridge Runner;    Rick Martin – President of the Van Nuys Flying Condors;    Curt Brown and my friend and favorite – Bob Hoover, Living Legend, Test Pilot, Pilot, Aviation Pioneer.