…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!
Kimberley West, WarBirdBabe
…Less days if you’re a dedicated fan and in the gates for Monday, September 12, 2011 Qualifying Starts!
Once again the Reno National Championship Air Races have lined up a fantastic race event with our beloved Pilots, Planes and Jets…with many race course records to shatter from last year… we all look forward to new race records and an incredible performance line-up for the air shows!
Qualifications for all six classes will begin on Monday, September 12th and will continue through Wednesday, September 14th. All pilots will be required to fly their course and record their times in conjunction with the official time keepers to establish their Bronze, Silver and Gold heat placements.
Races begin daily at 8 a.m. with Biplane and Formula One Class races – the remaining four classes, T-6, Sport, Unlimited and Jet follow later with Aerobatics and Flight Demonstrations mixed in rounding out the remainder of the day. All you seasoned Race Fans know schedules can change on a dime – for those visiting for the first time, races starts are approximate! Lots of variables in this action packed week!
We’ll see the spectacular US Air Force Thunderbird Demonstration Squadron arrive on Wednesday, September 14th and perform a practice routine which is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and lasting about one hour. On Thursday, September 15th they will perform their amazing and beautiful routine at about 12:45 for approximately 45 minutes.
Sadly, the F22 Raptor will not be performing in Reno this year. The US Air Force has grounded the Jets due to mechanical issues. They truly are incredible performance machines – with mind blowing maneuvers…and pilots.
Another fantastic performance fly-by you won’t want to miss is the F/A-18E Hornet Legacy practice demo on Friday, September 15the and on Saturday, September 16th the F/A-18E Hornet Legacy Flight. This should be a crowd pleaser as this is the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation…Wow! Be sure to visit the Static and Heritage Displays of incredibly restored Vintage Aircraft – this year should have the best ever collection of War Birds – I’m hoping to see some of the early aircraft flown 100 years ago!
The Navy Parachute Team will perform their Leap Frog Exhibition which is made up of 14 jumpers – they’ll deploy at 5000 feet, free falling from 12,000 feet and create a variety of canopy shapes on their way down.
David Martin will fly an amazing aerobatic show in his Extra 300S sponsored by Breitling and the Patriot Formation Team will fly the beautiful L-39’s in a choreographed formation. Jim Piets will fly his Aerobatic Beechcraft F33C Bonanza and Eddie Abdreini will fly his Stearman Biplane with eye popping aerobatic maneuvers – double snap rolls, double outside loops, torque rolls and something called the “WOPCEVOK” – an end over tumble maneuver …crazy…!
For those who like big trucks on fire, you’ll be treated to the 7000 pound Shockwave Jet Truck. It has the capacity to accelerate at 3 G’s vertical – comparable to the Space Shuttle, but will simply race airplanes at 300 mph…did I mention it has 18,000 pounds of thrust?! Does it sound like a rocket?
There is much more to see and enjoy at this years National Champonship Air Races and Air Show. This year WarBirdBabe will capture comments from Race Fans on video as well as Pilots from all race classes and many WWII Living Legends and Historians – maybe a few astronauts too. We’ll be posting many more photographs this year – of all kinds, with lots of Pylon shots!
Have fun and celebrate the Reno Races with Joy and Respect for those who have given so much for our armed services, then and now, and for all those who every year bring to life to the amazing aircraft and share their passion for flying with Race Fans all over the world.
If you can’t make it to the Reno Races, please come back and visit WarBirdBabe – we hope to post many thrilling moments for your enjoyment throughout this week and throughout the coming year. Please leave a message and let us know what you’d like to see – we’ll do our best to search it out and post it!
All the best to you Race Fans! …and Go Navy!
Good Luck and God’s Speed to all who will fly in the sky…
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.)
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.
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