Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

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Getting Ready for the Air Races

Fire Bomber on the ramp at Reno-Stead AirportIt’s that time of year again around the Reno-Stead Airport. Preparations for this year’s National Championship Air Races began almost two weeks ago when workers started putting up the sections of temporary grandstands. Those grandstands don’t effect airport operations very much, nor do all the vendor tents that have been assembled in the area behind the grandstands – it just turns into and autocross trying to drive through the area. Now, however, they have started blocking off taxiways with more tents going up for VIP areas. Workers are occupying the area west of the permanent grandstands and detour signs are warning aircraft to use alternate routes to their hangars.

The fire tanker show here is parked on the ramp at the west end of the permanent grandstands. In the larger version of the photo you can see one of the fire base workers taking it easy under the airplane’s right wing. It’s a perfect place for a nap between race planes in the pattern. There was quite a bit of local traffic today – probably because it is the last day without a control tower in operation. They fire up the radios in the control tower and Race Control tower tomorrow at noon.

In addition to the local traffic today we saw Rare Bear out and about and sounding strong. It’s good to see it in the air before qualifications week – the crew is historic in their all-nighters to get the plane flying well enough to qualify. We also saw Marilyn Dash’s racing biplane out flying today – testing the new drag reduction modifications the crew has been working on lately. Nemesis NXT racer preparing for the 2011 Reno Air RacesWe also saw a French Nemesis NXT, shown here.  Apparently they got the plane flying in France, then dismantled it and flew it over here in a 747. The crew has been working on it for a couple of weeks. It seems to be running really well. The name under the canopy is “Big Frog.” Power is said to be a turbocharged diesel. Always something new going on around here.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday will find race teams all over the ramp setting up their pits in preparation for the Sunday practice sessions. Qualification runs will start Monday morning.

Aviation Stories for June 17, 2011

Here are some flying stories from the past week that you may have missed.

I was always of the opinion that you should never be the first to do anything – sometimes you have no choiceRear seat ejection from a British aircraft.
This one if from FT.com. Linda Maloney finally found herself flying a for the Navy – it was in a support aircraft, but it was flying. Then one day she became the first woman to … Well, you read her story.

This year’s women’s Air Race Classic is about to start
This article is from tribstar.com. there are 50 2-person female teams entered in this year’s Air Race Classic. Two of them are going to fly an open cockpit, amateur-built aircraft around the 2500 mile route.

Another person who was involved with an aviation first.
This is from the LA Times. Who would think that one of the crew members – a flight attendant in this case – from the first airline flight that was ever hijacked would still be around. Yes, she has a story…

Part 1 of a wing-walker’s story.
Part 2 of the story
This one is from Murfreesboro, TN. It is a 3-part article they call Love in the Clouds. The story is about Louie Gasser and Nora Lee Davenport. Gasser was Nashville’s first civilian commercial pilot and still hold the patent on advertising banners towed behind aircraft. Davenport became his wife – and wing walker. Her story is in part 3 which will probably be published Sunday (19th). You can access it by clicking on one of the Tags at the bottom of either article.

Yes, Bugatti built an airplane, too…
This article is from Tulsa, OK. A group of aircraft builders are trying to build an exact copy of the Bugatti 100P. The original aircraft never flew and remains in the EAA Museum in Wisconsin. The designers were building the plane when WWII broke out and, to prevent it from falling into German hands, they dismantled it, put it in crates and stored it in a barn in the French countryside. They are hoping to have the replica at EAA AirVenture this summer.

A Bleriot XI replica takes flight
This article is from Wired Magazine. It describes the EAA replica of the Bleriot XI that just made it’s first flight recently. It is a totally authentic replica down to the original three cylinder Anzani engine that they say hadn’t flown in 100 years. Nice photos.

My apologies to the AOPA eNewsleter writers – this is lifted completely from the latest issue. Sounds like an interesting seminar.

Aerodynamics: The alpha factor

Venture beyond Bernoulli and Newton in a live Air Safety Institute Webinar, “Aerodynamics: The alpha factor,” at 3 and 8 p.m. Eastern time, June 20. Join AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg and panelists Rich Stowell, master aerobatic instructor, and Brian E. Smith of NASA’s Ames Research Center in an energetic review of aerodynamic principles beyond the four forces of flight. As Landsberg leads a fast-paced discussion with amazing video clips you’ll discover the true meaning of power and pitch and what flying angle of attack is all about. This Webinar, sponsored by the AOPA Insurance Agency, qualifies for AOPA Accident Forgiveness and the FAA Wings program. Register online >>

And one last item – This week is the Pylon Racing School at Reno-Stead Airport. There were 116 pilots and crew members registered for the event this year. There are a lot more jets in the course this year than I have seen in the past.

Rare Bear Unlimited Class racer in it's BearCave. And wonder of wonders – Rare Bear was out flying yesterday. The team has a new maintenance manger and dedicated team of workers. They appear to be way ahead of the game this year – in past years it wasn’t unusual to see them finally get airborne on the last day of qualifying during race week in September.

Reno – Day Four and Five

Day four was Saturday. More heat races and the Snowbirds show and  the super-loud F-18 demo. (Make sure that you bring earplugs when you attend the races.)  I got out of the hangar for a little while, but spent most of the time there talking with the people who stopped by.

After the racing had concluded on Saturday I helped out with a BBQ dinner that some of the RV builders on the airport have started hosting. Each year on Saturday night the Stead RV builders host a BBQ for anybody who has built or is building one of Van’s RV series of aircraft. Last night about 55 people showed up for the donations-only dinner. No, I have not built an RV of any kind. Since I brought one of the BBQ units, offered to cook and have a metal airplane they said they’d let me stick around and have dinner. Nice bunch of folks from all over the U.S. and Canada.

I was surprised at the amount of flying that was going the race schedule had been completed. A few planes went out on what appeared to be test flights but the majority of the flights had two people in the plane.  Right at sundown a four-ship formation came back and did an overhead pattern to landing – two F7f Tigercats and two P-38s. I was aimed the wrong direction to get a photo of the formation – sorry. I’m not sure if they managed an air-to-air photo shoot, but if they did the results will be in the magazines in a couple of months.

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