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

Interview with Tiger Destefani – September 2010 – “If it Runs, it Will Win..!”

I was priviliged to have a moment with Bill “Tiger” Destefani, Pilot and Owner of the beautiful P-51D Mustang Strega ( Race #7) prior to the weeks start of official Unlimited racing at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

The  Strega crew wasn’t too busy with the aircraft – mostly polishing was all that was visibly required… The P-51D seemed to be running in tip -top shape.  She proved her superiority with a qualifying time of  over 484 mph.  That’s flying a lap (8.433 miles) in about 1:03 (one minute and three seconds…whew!).

Tiger said, “If it runs, it will win.”  And win she did – piloted by the amazing Steve Hinton Jr. 

Little did the pilots and fans know, the final race would really be held on Saturday.  The Reno weather didn’t cooperate for the Sunday afternoon race.  The desert winds were howling though the grandstands and pits, gusting at over 29 mph – with 30 mph being the limit for air traffic safety and race cancellation.

Personally I think all the pilots hold off until the last day to realize the true limit of the (current) engines.  If the machines are running well leading up to the final race, I think it’s a judgement call between the Owner, Pilot and Crew Chief that determine the final race speed. 

I surmise that if all are in agreement, the pilot will open it up and see what kind of performance he or she can finesse from the finely tuned equipment.  ….At least that’s what I read between the lines when I talked with Tiger.

Even though it was a huge disappointment for all the race fans who live and love the final race day Unlimited event, I’ll bet the disappointments for all the pilots and crews who wanted to give it their all for the last event, were immeasurable.

Tiger has a great aircraft that has been performing well for several years now.  It’s been a mesmerizing last two years watching Stevie Hinton gain confidence, race faster and intrigue a new generation of aviation enthusiasts. 

As it seems with all business ventures, a successful outcome starts from the top.  Leadership that provides respect, room to learn and grow always makes for happier, more productive, winning teams.

Speaking for race fans throughout the world, thanks for creating an awesome Strega Unlimited Race Team Mr. Destefani, we’re all rooting for another successful race year in 2011!

Good Luck and God’s Speed~

Warbirdbabe

Reno 2010 – Another Great Year at the Races!

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This year I had an opportunity to interview more pilots and crew than ever. I am so pleased to post these interviews in their entirety. With special permission from the RARA, I talked more candidly with the pilots and crews in the pits and was not concerned about hitting key points in only 30 seconds.

I really enjoyed hearing the individual stories of past flight experiences, interesting aircraft flown and or tested and what draws pilots and fans to the races each year. I take pleasure in learning more about the illustrious careers of these interesting people and I hope you will as well. I’ll be posting these interviews throughout the next few weeks and months.

Like every year, I wish there were more days to this event. I never seem to meet my goals for those I hope to interview. As the races approach the final two days of events, the crews and pilots are increasingly busy and focused.

This year the pilots and crews were all so very nice and gracious to let me steal a moment of their time – I appreciated every minute. My thanks to all who let me in their world for a moment – I truly loved meeting everyone.

Thank you Reno Air Race Association and all the volunteers, (especially media personnel who shuttle us around for a week) and for coordinating a wonderful event for the world of race fans scattered on every continent – it’s always amazing to see who shows up from where.

I for one think it’s the best spectator sport out there and seems to getting better every year – don’t you think?!

For those who didn’t have the opportunity to be there in person this year, here’s a tiny sliver of what happened for a few days in September, 2010 in Reno…