Selected Reno Races 50th Anniversary Photos by Tatsuo “Ken” Sakurai

Here’s a quick Compilation of Awesome Photos by Ken Sakurai from the Reno Race’s 50th Anniversary.

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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

Blue Ribbon Panel Formed by RARA

Jet Class TS-11 Iskra

The Reno Air Race Association (RARA) announced on January 4, 2012 the formation of a Blue Ribbon Review Panel to study the events occurring around the tragic accident on September 15, 2011 that took the life of pilot Jimmy Leeward and 10 fans on the ground and injured more than 60 spectators.

The panel will examine any possible changes or modifications that could be made to enhance the already high level of safety established by the FAA and existing RARA procedures.

Headed by former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Jim Hall, and former
Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Nick Sabatini, the four members of the panel bring a wide breadth and depth of experience.

The panel also includes Steve Hinton, the current pace plane pilot in the Unlimited Class and a highly‐acclaimed movie stunt pilot, aviation choreographer, two‐time national Unlimited Air Race Champion and John Sharp, an Aeronautical Engineer and a pilot with the most wins in the history of air racing.

RARA also announced that, despite many challenges in the near and long‐term future, they are planning to hold the 49th Annual National Championship Air Races at the Reno‐Stead Airfield.

In a statement made by President and CEO of RARA, Mike Houghton stated, “Buoyed by the overwhelming support of the victims and families of last year’s terrible tragedy, our sponsors, air race participants and fans and aviation enthusiasts all over the world, we are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to hold this historic event in 2012. The safety of our fans and pilots has always been our foremost and primary concern, which is why we feel so strongly about a blue ribbon review. This effort is not designed to interfere or duplicate the efforts of the National Transportation Safety Board and we will continue to cooperate with them to the fullest extent.”

The panel conducted its first meeting shortly after the press conference and will release its preliminary results and recommendations to RARA within the next 90 days, allowing race officials to study them before the event’s annual Pylon Racing Seminar (PRS) in June, 2012.

Steve Hinton - Pilot

T-33 Pace Plane – Unlimited Class

Steve Hinton Sr. – Blue Ribbon Panelist – Unlimited Class Pace Plane Pilot

Landing for Heritage Display – Grumman A-6 Intruder Partially Loaded – All Weather Attack Aircraft for US Navy & US Marine Corps