September 17, 2009
Mechanics work on Voodoo, the P-51D Mustang flown by Will Whiteside.
The 46th National Championship Air Races began Wednesday, Sept. 16, at Reno/Stead Airport, north of Reno, Nev., and continue through Sunday, Sept. 20.
Defending champion Bill “Tiger” Destefani of Bakersfield, Calif., won the Unlimited Breitling Gold race last year flying his P-51 Mustang, Strega, at an average speed of 483 miles per hour.
The event, held annually since 1964, features racing by six classes of aircraft. Racers in the Unlimited class—many of them highly modified ex-military aircraft from the World War II and postwar eras—reach speeds of more than 500 mph. The smaller, lighter Formula 1 and Biplane class races are held first thing in the morning, while the T-6, Sport, Jet, and Unlimited races take place during the afternoon. All six classes of aircraft are scheduled to race every day.
The event also includes a world-class airshow. Featured this year are the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels flight demonstration team, flying the F-18 Hornet, as well as David Martin, the Red Eagles, Patty Wagstaff, and other civilian and military flight demonstrations.
Transient parking is not available at Reno/Stead Airport during the races, and pilots flying in the area are reminded to check notams because of airspace closures. Live streaming video of the races will be available on a pay-per-view basis through the Reno Air Racing Association’s Web site; live audio feeds are available for free, and race results are posted almost immediately following each heat. AOPA Online will provide a wrap-up report on the event next week.
The Flying Physicians Association (FPA) has become the latest group to lend support to third-class medical reform and urge government officials to speed up their review of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). The NPRM would expand the number of pilots who could fly without needing to obtain a third-class medical certificate, a standard that has been successfully used by sport pilots for a decade.
California pilot Christopher Braun has created a revamped version of the cleco plier that is said to be lighter and more ergonomic.
There is no shortage of pilots in eastern Washington, but there does seem to be a scarcity of clubs in that part of the country.
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