July 30, 2008
By Alton K. Marsh
There will be a demonstration rocket race at the National Championship Air Races in Reno this year, to be followed next year by competitive rocket races.
The Rocket Racing League staged a demonstration flight at Oshkosh featuring a racer based on the Velocity Aircraft canard airframe and flown by former astronaut Rick Searfoss. It uses an XCOR Aerospace liquid oxygen rocket engine capable of 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of thrust.
Searfoss flew an oval pattern marked on his cockpit display by a series of boxes and used the rocket intermittently. During a 10-minute race, the rocket engine may be used only three to five minutes.
Reno former sport category champion Dave Morss plans to race a rocket for the Santa Fe Rocket Racing team owned by Marc R. Cumbow.
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
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