Reno Air Races

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cozy171bh
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Reno Air Races

Postby cozy171bh » Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:23 pm

Hello UCAP Gang!

In the absence of any UCAP posts on the most exciting – and certainly the fastest – aviation event of the month, permit me to at least begin the discussion on the Reno Air Races. I was up at Stead (4SD) Wednesday for a few hours and got a feel for this year's races. It appears that the major players are ready to go. In the unlimited class this means that Rare Bear and Strega are primed. I don't know about Dago Red. The sport class looks healthy, as do the others. Although it is early in the race week, some of the vendors are reporting sales and the size of the crowd are down from previous years. This could be an indication of the economy's impact on ticket sales.

Sorry I don't have more to report, but I cannot be up there the entire week this year due to family and work commitments. I'll be up there again on Friday and Saturday and will provide a follow-up report then. Meanwhile, if there are any other UCAP members attending (or participating) at the races this year, please post your observations.

If nobody else volunteers, perhaps I will serve as the official UCAP reporter for next year's races. Perhaps Dave, Jeb, and Jack can preview and review next year's races as a topic in future episodes.

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Comanche Sue
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Re: Reno Air Races

Postby Comanche Sue » Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:05 pm

I'm here at the races and will be attending Thursday through Sunday. I've never been to THE race, or any other air race for that matter, so I'll provide the ignorant-race-attendee color commentary.

I heard Jack on a earlier episode say that he came here to Reno thinking he wouldn't necessarily like it but afterwards he recommended that if anyone gets the chance to go, it's definately worth is. I remembered those words when my boss asked me if I'd like to come out here as a representative of the company, since we were invited by a client. "Heck yeah", I said, so here I am. So far it's been a blast - surrounded by airplane junkies all the way from Florida, yakking about T6's and such, overhearing everyone talking about everything aviation, checking out shirts for airplane logos and tail numbers....who doesn't love that?

I'm really looking forward to seeing the races and activities tomorrow and deep diving into another hallmark aviation event.

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cozy171bh
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Re: Reno Air Races

Postby cozy171bh » Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:07 am

Well, Comanche Sue, glad to hear another UCAP listener is enjoying the races in person. I'll be back up Friday and Saturday, and you can bet I'll get a pit pass. I have friends in there who are either maintaining aircraft, flying them, or judging them. There is truly nothing on the aviation calendar each year quite like Reno. It has to be experienced to be believed. Enjoy.

A good source for news on the races, albeit a day late, is the Reno Gazette-Journal newspaper. Over the years their coverage of the Reno Air Races has been pretty good - much better than you typically get from the non-aviation media. But they have to report well because copies of their paper are sold in the thousands to those attending the air races who want a little more background information on the event.

Here's their link to their home page: http://www.rgj.com/

Enter "Air Races" in the search box and you are on your way.

And the quote of the day has to be this, from race pilot Curt Brown: "Out here in Reno, and it’s kind of an inside joke with pilots, we get to do things that are totally illegal anywhere else in the world at any other time. Out here, we can really go fast, close to the ground and have fun with other airplanes."

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Comanche Sue
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Reno Air Races - Friday

Postby Comanche Sue » Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:51 pm

Thanks for the tip on the Reno Gazette-Journal newspaper - I'll look for it. I also need to buy a program so I can find out more about the classes and heats.

Wow, those airplanes go really fast and do they TURN. I really enjoyed watching the unlimited class heats today, but everything was great. They really keep the events coming throughout the day and mix in "typical" airshow acts with the racing. I was surprised how well you could see the airplanes while they race; I couldn't really picture that before seeing it today.

The second to the last race was really close - the airplanes and the times. The leader clipped the pylon.....the pylon is only 50 feet off the ground...are you kidding me? And they're flying around at, oh, 400+ knots? Yikes.

We were sitting in the bleachers, on the east-end smack in front of where the Blue Angels parked their F18's. They put on a great show and it was fun to be able to see the end of their demonstration where they precision taxi, park, open their canopies, climb out, climb down and stand. Bravo.

I really enjoyed seeing the C17 Globemaster - whisper quiet and unbelievable short field landing and take-off capabilities. I wouldn't have thought twice about it had I heard or read about it, but seeing it was amazing. I have never paid much attention to the military hardware at air shows, but that was truly impressive. My tax dollars at work and worth every cent.

Tomorrow we have pit passes and hospitality tent access so more airplanes to gawk at and more airplane folks to talk to. All good.

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cozy171bh
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Re: Reno Air Races

Postby cozy171bh » Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:08 am

Comanche -- I suspect the aircraft CUT the pylon instead of clipping it. I don't want to think about what would happen if the aircraft actually clipped a pylon with a wing tip at low altitude and at race speed!

The pylon is something like a 55 gallon drum with the top and bottom ends of it cut out and a pole running up through the middle of it to elevate it off the ground. Notice that some are painted white while others are red and white. They mark the outline of the different courses used by the various classes of race aircraft. Race rules (at least for the Formula One class, and I suspect rules for the other classes are the same) state that a pilot can be disqualified for low flying if the cockpit of the aircraft is below the height of the pylon. When a race aircraft is rounding a pylon in a steep bank with the cockpit at pylon height the wing tip can indeed be quite close to the ground.

A pylon cut occurs when the aircraft turns over or inside the pylon, instead of flying to the outside of it. At each pylon is a team of pylon judges. One stands at the base of the pole looking up through the hole of the 55 gallon drum. During the race if he sees an aircraft through the hole he yells "cut", and other judges from the team identify the race number of the violating aircraft. After the conclusion of the heat any cuts are radioed back to the chief scorekeeper who adds a time penalty of a certain number of seconds to the race time recorded by the timekeepers. This creates a new time for that aircraft and may move that aircraft back in the final results. I have seen crowds cheer what they thought was the winning aircraft, only to find out a few minutes later that the official scoring put the second place aircraft into the money.

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cozy171bh
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Re: Reno Air Races

Postby cozy171bh » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:03 am

A few air race notes from Saturday:

Saturday morning dawned with someone performing a maintenance run-up on a jet (perhaps a L-39 in the jet class) somewhere on the field. Woke up the whole camping area at about 0540 -- and that's a good thing. Back in the early days of the Reno Air Races before authorities decided to take away some of the fun, someone would get the urge to fire up a Merlin at first light and ensure the campers didn't sleep in. A Merlin low overhead at 400 mph makes a good alarm clock!

Watching the IF1 (International Formula One) heat, one of the racers had a Mayday and pulled out of the race. To me it seemed that the pullup was a bit tentative. Usually a pilot will convert all that race speed to as much altitude as possible so as to position the aircraft for one of several runway options available at Stead. This one did not, although there may have been a condition with the aircraft of which I am not aware which may have precluded an aggressive pullup. In any case, the aircraft came down apparently off field in the Nevada sage brush. From my position in the pit area I could not see the actual landing, only a cloud of dust. Strange that I was never able to find out the rest of the day what happened or the condition of plane and pilot. Must not have been bad news otherwise the place would have been buzzing with information. So perhaps no news is good news in this case. Let's hope so.

For me the highlight of the day was watching a friend of mine pilot a P-51, Merlin's Magic, in the unlimited heat. It is a mostly stock Mustang so he placed 5th in his heat, but nobody on the planet was having more fun! He and I were in an airline new hire class together several years ago. We've both changed companies since then, but manage to catch up each September in Reno. He is a class act and it is always good to spend some time talking with him in the pit next to his plane.

Other notes: The P-38 Glacier Girl is a must see. The Cirrus Jet looks a bit bulbous to me rather than sleek. Breitling is here selling watches again, including a special edition Reno Air Race model--if you can afford one. Rare Bear has a new paint job - purple. The Nemesis team is great and they love talking to race fans. Where else but at Reno can you see a heat with three models of Mustangs all battling for position around the pylons: An Allison-powered A model, a D model, and the twin seat Lady Jo? Where else but at Reno will you see in a race a Wildcat, Bearcat, Mustang, P-40, and a Sea Furry -- all in the same heat? You like cats? You can see Wildcats, Bearcats and Tigercats in the air and on the ground.

Tip: Spend the money and get a pit pass. You will see some of the most remarkable aircraft up close. You can talk to the pilots and mechanics and get a lot of good information about the races you will not get from the announcers or by observing from the stands. You don't get a chance to see aircraft like this at your typical GA airport. It is a unique experience and unlike what you will see or experience on the regular air show circuit.

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Comanche Sue
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Reno Air Races

Postby Comanche Sue » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:39 pm

Cozy - yup, I got clued in my on the pylon cutting/clipping fauxpas when I borrowed a program and read the directions.

I get it: Nascar, sideways.

We stayed until the end and watched the Gold Unlimited Race. Now that we saw 'who's who' by walking around in the pit, it was more fun. Yes, a pit pass is a must but the grandstands are where you are going to see and hear the action. Haven't these guys heard about Flightline Radio? It would have worked great here since you can't hear the announcers if you are past the general admission areas.

The history of the event was highlighted today and we got to see history being made with Steven Hinton winning (22 years old - wow). It was a great race, but all of the events were a blast to watch. Highlights for me today were talking with Patty Wagstaff, getting her autograph and then watching her show again. She is awesome. So is David Martin in the Breitling plane. We were invited to the Jet Fleet tent so we got to hang near Bob Hoover for most of the day - what a class act.

It was a terrifc event to see and I'm very glad I got the opportunity to attend.

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txpilot82
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Re: Reno Air Races

Postby txpilot82 » Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:44 pm

Did anyone try to watch the Races on Oshkosh365? The resolution was horrible, but I'm wondering if it was my internet connection. :cry: I'm sure even HD quality wouldn't have done the event justice...
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