By Alyssa J. Miller
Flying from 150 to 500 mph while abruptly maneuvering around pylons has its dangers. That's part of the thrill of the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Unfortunately, three racers died during the forty-fourth annual event, Sept. 12 to 16.
On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Steve Dari of Lemon Grove, Calif., died during a test lap, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. Dari was registered in the Biplane Class.
Racer Brad Morehouse of Afton, Wyo., was killed on impact Sept. 13, when the L-39 Albatross he was flying crashed during the first lap of the Jet Class 1A Heat Race, according to the Reno Air Racing Association.
Races were temporarily suspended on Friday, Sept. 14, after a midair that morning claimed one pilot and injured a second.
The accident occurred during the Formula One Heat Race when the aircraft piloted by Jason Somes of Simi Valley, Calif., and Gary Hubler of Caldwell, Idaho, clipped each other. Somes was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, according to the association. Hubler, who had competed at Reno for more than two decades, died in the crash.
During the race suspension, competitors remembered the pilots who lost their lives. Racing resumed Saturday and Sunday.
"Each pilot spends all year preparing for the races and would like to see the event continue," said National Championship Air Races President and CEO Mike Houghton.
Pilots tested their skills over the high desert at Reno Stead Field, flying around seven to 10 course pylons—50-foot telephone poles with specially made drums on top. (Judges sit at the base of the poles and look straight up through the drum to catch racers who "cut the pylons." Pylon cuts are figured into the pilot's official race time and standing.)
Other results are available on the Reno Air Racing Association's Web site.
September 18, 2007