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

 Qualifications are over, heats have been assigned and the pilots are racing!  Some pretty fast times are being recorded – the Jet Class has set a new course record – fastest in the 46 year history of the Reno Races.  Curt Brown, Pilot of “Viper” an L-29 Jet officially raced at 510.605 mph!  (Unofficially 515.516mph) Wow – that’s FAST! 

Elaine "Pip" Conklin, Owner Viper & Pip Squeak w /Pilot Curt Brown

Elaine "Pip" Conklin, Owner Viper & Pip Squeak w /Pilot Curt Brown

I was privileged to meet with Curt today, via Reporter Guy Clifton, The Reno Gazette, and heard just how much fun he was having bouncing around in his little L-29.  Displaying a few bruised elbows, Curt told us it’s a wild ride in the L-29, a jet with a smaller wing area.  He explained the science behind the smaller wings as transferring air turbulence throughout the fuselage making it the next best bone shaking ride after the space shuttle – the bruises, only a minor inconvenience…! 

Blue Angels - Origami

Blue Angels - Origami

The day included a practice run for the Blue Angels, performances by Patty Wagstaff in her Cirrus SR-22, the Red Eagles performing their synchronized bi-plane routine and David Martin dazzling the crowd with his aerobatic performance in his CAP232.

Blue Angels

Blue Angels

Fans attending the National Championship Air Races can help in the fight against cancer and win a jet ride with pilot Curt Brown

A fund-raising raffle in the Jet Class pits in front of the planes Pip Squeak and Viper, is raising funds for the Cancer Care Connection, a non-profit Web- and telephone-based service that helps cancer victims and their families by

T-6 Class, Race #43 & Race #75

T-6 Class, Race #43 & Race #75

providing free information on the resources available to help them, according to Elaine “Pip” Conklin, a cancer survivor who owns the jets Pip Squeak and Viper.
“It’s for people with all kids of cancer,” she said. “The Internet is a wonderful tool, but what we’ve found is a lot of the research on the Internet is inaccurate. Cancer Care Connection provides all neutral information.”

Sport Class Race #76, Lancair 320, Pilot Greg McNutt

Sport Class Race #76, Lancair 320, Pilot Greg McNutt

Tickets are $10 for one or $25 for three. The first 50 people who purchase the $25 package also receive a free Viper or Pip Squeak T-shirt.  The drawing for the jet ride will be held on Saturday.


Blue Angels #6 Jet

Blue Angels #6 Jet

T-6 Race #69 "Eros", Pilot Lee Oman & Race #26 "Happy Hour", Pilot Jim Thomas
T-6 Race #69 “Eros”, Pilot Lee Oman & Race #26 “Happy Hour”, Pilot Jim Thomas
T-6 Class Race # 28
T-6 Class Race # 28

Stay tuned for more from the races!

Until then, Take care, Good Luck and Godspeed!
Kimberley West, WarBirdBabe




Here’s What You Can Expect at the Races!

Hey Newbie Janet!

 Great Questions and thanks for writing!  Here’s what you should know and can expect from the races as a newbie. 

 First, the “Reno Races” are in fact “air races” with lots of thrilling and entertaining “air show” events occurring between the races within the tightly choreographed four day event.  You will be attending with about 210,000 of your new race friends!

 About the Races

The aircraft race in a basic circle course around Pylons (flying low and flying left) and each category of aircraft listed below have their own course, varying in length depending on the speed and size of the aircraft.  The “home pylon” is front and center of the Grandstands and Box seating, so you can see the winners zipping by and pulling up at the finish of their race!  You might want to bring binoculars to see the planes as they are flying their laps on the far side of the course and to people watch!

 These are the six classes of aircraft that will be racing, their average speed and course length:

  • The Unlimited and Jet classes fly the same and largest course of approximately 8.43 miles.  The Unlimited class fly between 465 mph to 487.9 mph* (a course record in 2007, although I was there when a 501 mph was recorded on a qualifying lap).  The Jets fly about the same speed and I’m betting they’ll fly about 10 mph faster this year.
  • The Sport Class has a slightly smaller and tighter course of approximately 7 miles (6.9992).   These small planes fly fast, about 400 mph.
  • Formula 1 aircraft are built according to strict specifications and reach speeds of about 250 mph on a 3.1875 mile course.
  • Biplanes, the small aerobatic aircraft fly about 250 mph on a 3.1761 mile course.
  • My personal favorite, the AT-6’s fly a 5.0693 mile course at speeds that range from 210- to 235 mph.

 Be prepared to enjoy the roar of the radial engines up-close and personal!  Most of the aircraft will be starting their planes in view of the grandstands and will set the tone with the chest rattling sounds of heavy metal – just for you!

 About the Air Show

Secondly, the Reno Races feature a first class air show with incredible talent and incredible machinery.  This year the Blue Angels will perform (first time since 2000) in their F-18 Hornets – always a show favorite with their tight precision maneuvers and screaming fast fly-bys.  Be sure to keep your eyes on the solo flyers.  If you’re not watching, you won’t see them; you’ll just be startled by their AWESOME SCREAMING sound!

 There’s always an impressive US Navy Legacy Flight which features the beautiful and rare P-38, Glacier Girl, P-51, an A-10 and an F-16.  The Navy chooses two pilots from a special list of civilian pilots to fly the P-51 and P-38.  What an honor for those lucky pilots!  They’ll fly by low and slow in tribute to our armed services and flying heroes.

 Patty Wagstaff in her Extra 300S will dazzle with her aerobatic performance as will David Martin in his aerobatic show with the same type of aircraft. The precision team Red Eagles, Dan McClung and Buck Roetman in their low flying pretty bi-planes will show you what a snap roll, flat spin, torque roll, tail slide and inverted flat spins are all about – but warning: don’t try these at home… !  (There will be more performers, so check the official website provided on my side bar for the latest show additions.)

 Static Displays

Thirdly, you’ll have the opportunity to view the static displays of Vintage aircraft and Heritage Trophy aircraft.  There’s an award ceremony with trophies presented by aviation VIP’s and the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum.  You’ll also have access to the Military Static Display with impressive hardware like the Harrier, the Predator, C-130, C-12, C-21, F-5, F-15, F-16, F-18, KC-135, T-1, T-6 and many more.

 The Pits

Fourth, if you’d like to see and admire the racing aircraft, their pilots and crew, I’d strongly urge you to purchase at least one day of “pit access” tickets.  You can walk all aisles of parked aircraft, the T-6 and Unlimited, and visit the crew and friends of the Sport, Bi-plane and Formula planes under two hangars.    The air show performer aircraft are parked next to the Exhibitor aircraft and you may see “Hoot” Gibson, Space Shuttle Columbia’s Commander and 1984 Challenger’s Pilot flying a demonstration of the latest Gulf Stream Jet – for those who’d like to take home a little something special.  

 You can still view the races in the Pit Area and see the air show events in progress.  You may even catch a glimpse of the legendary Bob Hoover and other racing VIP’s and performers!

 And last, but not least, expect the sun to shine brightly, the weather to change on a dime and the wind to blow hard sometimes.  Expect to be overwhelmed with beautiful aircraft, lots of people, and your feet to say “sit down.” Be thrilled by the talented pilots flying all kinds of aircraft for your enjoyment – it only happens once a year and in one place on earth – that’s Stead Air Force Base, the home of the Reno National Championship Air Races.  Take your time, soak it all in, talk to the other fans and take lots of pictures.  And remember, you’ll be viewing history in motion!

 Enjoy your races Janet!  We’ll be looking for you!

 Good luck and Godspeed~

Kimberley West, WarBirdBabe