September 12, 2012
A racer's six-blade prop is ready for action.
Two T-6s make their way around the course.
Biplane Class entry Phantom is a modified Mong Sport.
A heat of T-6 racers waits to take off.
P-51 Precious Metal basks in the sun.
Race aircraft, their pilots and crews, and air race fans from across the country have descended on Reno/Stead Airport north of Reno, Nev., for the 2012 National Championship Air Races. Qualifications for all race classes ran from Sept. 10 through midday Sept. 12, when racing began.
A fatal crash during last year’s air races, when the highly modified P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost abruptly rolled, pitched up, and crashed—killing longtime race pilot Jimmy Leeward and 10 spectators on the ground—cast a pall of uncertainty over this year’s event. However, course modifications, additional pilot training, and a $1.7 million insurance premium increase allowed the races to continue. This year’s races continue through Sept. 16.
Rare Bear's engine receives some attention. Photo credit: Robert Fisher.
Unlimited Class race pilot Matt Jackson of Van Nuys, Calif., was not injured Sept. 11 when the right landing gear of his Hawker Sea Fury, Furias, collapsed after landing. “He had three green lights but one was flickering,” a journalist at Reno told AOPA. “Somebody came up behind him and told him the gear was down and couldn’t tell if it was locked,” he said. “He came in nice and slow, landed down on one wheel—nice and easy—then the other side collapsed,” causing the airplane to ground loop. Furias had qualified third in the Unlimited Class with a speed of 467.287 mph.
The number of racers this year is down in most categories except for Sport Class, which is at capacity, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.
Racing began Sept. 12 in all classes except Unlimited, which will fly its first heats Sept. 13. Three heats are flown in each class daily, with airshow performances between the heats. Race results are posted almost immediately on the Reno Air Racing Association website, or through the Air Races app for the Apple iPhone.
Red Bull Air Racing has returned for 2014, with Paul Bonhomme, twice a world champion of past years’ competitions, claiming a victory.
AOPA President Mark Baker flew four women and girls on two flights March 4 as part of Women of Aviation Worldwide Week activities designed to introduce more women and girls to aviation.
Pilots from Maine and New England turned out in numbers for the annual Maine Aviation Forum hosted by EAA Chapter 1434.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.