Video Interview with Stephanie Penney – Wife of Unlimited Pilot John Penney & Mother of Jet Pilot Heather Penney


On Saturday – the last big day of racing at Reno this year, I snagged a moment of Mrs. Penney’s time while her Husband John Penney was visiting his favorite fans in Section 3

 Saturday was hot – about 98 degrees.  It was mid day in the direct sun and Stephanie was so sweet to indulge me as I placed her behind the box seats in front of the Section 3 fans.  Her back was to her husband who just happened to be wowing long time fans by signing tee-shirts, caps, bodies, programs, taking photos, shaking hands, or whatever…  it’s Section 3 after all…

John Penney being the accessible pilot for which he’s known, takes time each year to personally meet and greet the loyal race fans of Section 3.  You can see some love for the fans in the background of this video interview.

 For years I have been watching Stephanie & John Penney walk hand in hand from the pits to the tarmac line where the Rare Bear sits waiting to be flown in Sunday’s final big race.  (The only time media is allowed to be close to all the aircraft at race start.)

 Even though the gregarious Pilot John Penney shakes hands with all other pilots, RARA officials, Pace Pilot Steve Hinton Sr., the friends, crew and some long-time photographers with whom he’s made friends; Stephanie is always the last person to touch her husband before he enters the cockpit of the Rare Bear

 I so admire passion when I see it in others.  Observing only a small sliver of time, I’ve witnessed the mother load of passion in the Penney family. I’ve seen a quiet ritual between them for many years.  

With a small kiss and a few spoken words, they share a confirmation of knowing the inherent risks and potential dangers in the next flight.  And in so knowing, choose to embrace the shared passion of flying with a meaningful moment of understanding, support and affirmation of what is most important: each other

 So there is my inspiration for wanting to talk with Stephanie Penney.  Now that she has two members of her family flying, I thought it would be interesting to learn how she copes with the stress, if any, and see if there really are rituals that keep the family strong. 

 Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Stephanie!

 Good Luck and God’s Speed to the Flying Penney’s! 

Tom Aberle, Pilot, Race 62 Phantom Sets a New Course Record!

Reno Air Races, September 15, 2010
Yesterday during prequalification flight, Tom Aberle, Pilot and owner of Phantom, Race 62 set a new course record in his beautiful custom Mong Sport at 261.74 mph.

This year Tom has a shinny new engine – a Lycoming 360 with roller lifters – they operate the valves, and the rollers allow for a more aggressive cam profile equating to more torque.

Last year Tom had some engine problems and ran slower – two bad cylinders, so he flew a mere 236.9950mph. His last course record was in 2008 where he flew 251.75mph.

Ken Tunnel, engine re-builder for Ly-Con, won’t say what he did to the engine – Tom asked for a “dyno sheet” but mums seems to be the word, nothing was printed for the record….So, Tom will have to put more hours on the engine and evaluate the possibilities. Since the new engine is still being broken in, each time Tom takes it up for a spin the engine runs faster!

“We’ll see what he can do tomorrow with traffic, says Bob Brown, Race 62 Crew Glass and Aerodynamics man. “Race speeds are usually slower because you don’t have to worry about passing other airplanes or other airplanes passing you – you just have to fly your course with no accommodations for other aircraft.”

Today Tom’s sitting pretty with his qualification time a good 30+ mph more than the other competitors in the bi-plane class. He pretty much has to race against himself this year, improve his own record and see just what the performance capabilities are.

Tom is a charming, down to earth man, who willingly shares his wealth of information with the other pilots in Formula and Biplane classes and anyone with questions about aviation that visit the hanger.

From all your Race Fans Tom, Good Luck with the new engine! You’ve set the bar pretty high – if it isn’t asking too much, can we see a personal best in Sunday’s Gold Race??

Good luck and God’s Speed!

Kimberley West,

Six Weeks and Counting Race Fans!

We’re almost at the starting Pylon for the Reno Races! Six more weeks to go!
Pilots have completed the Pylon Racing Seminar and are preparing their aircraft to fly with precision and speed. Race teams are communicating weekly, probably waiting for parts to arrive and planning their strategies to move up in the pack or continue their winning streak.

Fans are you ready for a Spectacular 2010 Air Race?!? I for one have been waiting anxiously for the last 11 months! A lot has happened this last year keeping our Blog lean – however, our favorite race event is almost here, excitement is building and there is much to share from last year’s race season.

For this 2010 Race year, we plan to bring more videos and interesting interviews to the site providing more behind the scenes workings of the race pilots, crews and the meticulously run logistics of the Reno Air Racing Association staff and associated participants.

Be sure to send your questions and requests to us early! We’ll do our best to get the interviews you want, the pictures you love and commentary from participants and the Living Legends we are blessed to have with us at the races!

All the best to our Pilots, Crews and Racing Association Staff for a terrific 2010 Race Season in Reno!

Good Luck and God’s Speed!
Kimberley West, WarBirdBabe

Hello Race Fans!

It’s almost time again for the National Championship Air Races! My name is Kimberley West and I will be your host and guide to the races held this September at Reno, NV.

For five action-packed days, I will be publishing daily posts about the spectacular events happening at the world’s fastest air sport. I’ll have interviews with as many pilots as I can, and you’ll learn about aviation and its history. We may even get lucky and have interviews with some of the world’s aviation living legends, such as the remarkable Bob Hoover and Clay Lacy. I will also be interviewing race fans and the pioneers of the sport.

I would love to hear any comments and questions from you, whether you are an aeronautical veteran or a newbie race fan. 

We’ve only 24 days until the races begin!

Good luck and Godspeed.