Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
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By cirrostratus
Went in 2010.. Mere words cannot describe the spectacle ! All classes of racing were manic , from the Formula One and Biplane classes to the Unlimiteds, and with a pit pass you can wander around the competitors and chat to the Engineers , support crews and maybe the Pilots between the races.
Hope they resolve the issues and keep racing
Fly Low, Fly Fast, Turn Left
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By Flyingfemme
Go, Ian. Go this year.
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By AerBabe
My housemate goes to Reno every year to engineer for a team. Every year he says there are more rumours it will end. It would be a heck of a financial loss to the local area...
It's still very high on my to-visit list though, just in case.
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By Moli
I went in 2006, an amazing expierience. Pit pass is a must, go for it :thumright:

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By Rob L
The Pylon Place (Ian's link) wrote: ...<snip> and every time we tell people we are Air Racers – they ask about Red Bull. Where did we go wrong!? </snip>

They should ask where Red Bull went right: Marketing, money and marketing.

Reno is the end result of all those 1920s and 1930s and later races which attracted huge audiences because it was new and dangerous. The pilots were the "film stars" of the day; front page news all the time. Lots of crashes, deaths & glory.

We live now in a different era. Crashes are no longer acceptable. Reno is now a one-off event per annum and has traditionally been run by and for the participants. It is boring TV unless you can have a huge marketing budget, paid for by sponsors larger than those who pay the individual aircraft/pilot teams.

I wouldn't bother going on my own coin now because its heyday has been & gone.
I went in 2009 for the entire week with a few pilot friends. Flew into LA hired a minibus and spent nearly a week visiting all the airfields on route. Mohave and Chino being my favourites.
Pay the extra dollars for a pit pass. Compared to the cost of getting there and the Hotel the pit pass is cheap. The entire crews and pilots were so friendly and welcoming. You can spend hours discussing the finer points of how to seal a control surface, to how can a 0200 engine can do 4000rpm for an entire race and not blow up.

You have to be there very early to see the F1 planes flying.
The engineering on all the planes (apart from some of the f1 planes!) was outstanding.

The flying was very disciplined and airmanship outstanding.

Biggest memories were the sound of Harvards starting their race at VNE wingtip to wing tip and the the amazing experimental aircraft that were so amazingly fast.

I hope the show keeps going as I want to show my children what a great spectacle it is. Now how to convince their school to leave in term time....
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By gfry
A group flyout would be cool. Wonder what it would cost? Might be a good bit of PR for Flyer and the air races to have a load of Limeys cross the pond in their beat up EASA machines.
By Skymonster
You're correct Ian - the National Championship Air Races do have their issues. Its a sad reflection on their inability to engage and attract spectators that the editor of one of the world's major pilot magazines hasn't been to Reno yet! ;-) The blog was written by Marilyn Dash, one of the biplane pilots who has been racing at Reno for many years, so she speaks fairly authoritavely about what's going on. I too have a reasonable understanding, having been to Reno most years recently.

The current state of the races and the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA) that runs them wasn't helped by the tragic accident back in 2011 that resulted in vastly increased insurance premiums, but it was exacerbated last year (2013) by a debacle during which RARA and the pilot group representing the Unlimited Class (i.e. big warbirds) couldn't agree on revised race rules - revisions that came about in part from an FAA requirement to cut risk to the crowd, but which resulted in a significantly reduced entry line-up and fewer race heats at the top end of the race meeting. And in reality, its the Unlimiteds that most of the casual crowd go to Reno to see. There are signs that RARA are trying turn things around - rather than doing things internally, a media company that works with other major sporting events like golf and motor racing has been appointed to promote the event, and RARA has slowly started to embrace the digital broadcast and social media arena. Somehow though, to attract the sponsorship and gate receipts they need to make the event financially robust and viable (as both a self-financing event and for the pilots / teams that attend that need a good prize purse), they need to extend engagement beyond hardcore air race fans, pilots and aviation enthusiasts and move air racing to a similar level to NASCAR/Indycar - I don't think that's going to be easy.

You really should go this year if you get the chance Ian, but don't bother with buying a pit pass - request media accreditation in advance instead! ;-) RARA look after media really well (well, they did until they let the media and marketing team go late last year, so things might be different this year!), and trips out to some of the pylons during the races are eminently possible... You'll enjoy it if you go, I'm absolutely sure of that!

Pardon me for clogging up this thread with a few of my shots, most taken out at the pylons...


Last edited by Skymonster on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:48 pm, edited 8 times in total.
By Skymonster
gfry wrote:A group flyout would be cool. Wonder what it would cost? Might be a good bit of PR for Flyer and the air races to have a load of Limeys cross the pond in their beat up EASA machines.

Unless you're racing or displaying in the air show or ground static airplane park, Reno / Stead Field where the races take place is closed to all air traffic (both visitors and based aeroplanes) during race week. Visiting pilots are required to use Reno / Tahoe International Airport which is about ten miles away, down the hill much closer to town. However, I guess RARA might just make an exception for a group of Limeys coming all the way from the Old Country! ;-)
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I'll be going year, and will of course be applying for media accreditation. A fly-out would be spectacular, but it's a bloody long way!

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By Adrian
I went for the full week in 2010 and 2012. While RobL may be right that its heyday has passed, it was still absolutely fabulous - even in the year following the accident. The sights and sounds are amazing, whether it's the eace aircraft or the airshow acts. Clay Lacy's low level aerobatics in a Learjet were a particular highlight.

While the unlimited class is what everyone goes for, the other classes - F1, biplanes, "sport" class (some of which are much faster than the unmodified WW2 fighters) and jets - are most entertaining.

RARA seems to be a rather cliquey and political organisation, Which concentrates on just a small subset of the race teams and pilots, and upsets a lot of people. Hopefully they can get themselves sorted out so that this fabulous and uniquely American event can continue.
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By Katamarino
This thread has inspired me to reserve a club aircraft for the week of the races this year. 16 hours each way from here, give or take...
By aerofurb
I went out in 2007 with media accreditation acting on behalf of Mr Unwin at Today's Pilot. Excellent time (mostly*) - especially stood out by one of the pylons. It has to be done!

It seemed a bit strange buying a Rare Bear woolly hat given the temperature out there....

*Downside were 3 fatalities that year in separate events - one was an L-39 that got caught in the wake of another on the start/finish straight. :(