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

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.

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…