September 17, 2009
By Mike Collins
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.
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
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