Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Reno Air Races (Page 2 of 5)

Air Races – Day 2

Right now it’s Wednesday morning and the Thunderbirds are beating up the place with their ‘arrival show.’ They are performing at Reno only one day this year – tomorrow (Thursday).

I seem to be having computer/camera challenges today. When I attempted to do some photo re-formatting at home last night my copy of Photoshop locked up. So I’m doing all my work in the hangar on my notebook. But I forgot the camera cable, so the photos of the qualifying results are stuck on the camera’s SD card. I’ll get this out and then go try my neighbor’s card reader and see if it works. If you find an extra photo at the end of the article with the qualifying times you’ll know it was successful.

Day two was taken up with more qualifying periods – and more vendors setting up their displays. The end of my hangar row now has the Piper display area with their King Airs, etc.  Here are a few more photos – Most of the remainder of the Unlimited racers.

Grumman FM-2 Wildcat, Race 2

Grumman FM-2 Wildcat, Race 2 “Sea Biscuit” being flown by Brian Sanders this year.



Hawker Sea Fury, Race 8

Hawker Sea Fury, Race 8 “Dreadnaught” flown by Dennis Sanders. Dreadnaught is powered by a 28-cylinder P&W R-4360.



F-51 Mustang, Race 16


This is listed as an F-51 Mustang, Race 16 “Lou IV” flown by Chuck Greenhill.


P-40E, Race 18

This is a P-40E, Race 18 “Sneak Attack” flown by John Maloney of the Planes of Fame in Chino, CA. My shutter speed isn’t super fast – the prop was stopped as he rolled to his parking spot.

North American T-28, Race 66

The lone North American T-28B in the race, Race 66 “The Bear” flown by Dave Morss.  Way back when the T-28 group used to have their own race class, similar to the T-6 group now. Not sure what happened.

Grumman F8F-2, Race 52

The second Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat in the field. This is Race 52 “Blue Angel #1” flown by Nelson Ezell. The other bearcat, of course, is Rare Bear, Race 77.


Hawker Sea Fury, Race 71

There are 5 examples of the Hawker Sea Fury in the Unlimited Field this year. This is Race 71 “Sawbones” flown by Dan Vance.



P-51D, Race 177

This is listed as a P-51D and I guess that’s how it started, but it’s a bit modified. This is Race 177, “Galloping Ghost” flown by Jimmy Leeward. The wings have been modified, the canopy is obviously not original and the belly scoop is removed with engine cooling now provided by a ‘boil-off” system.

Strega, Race 7 in it's pit area


I was up on my neighbor’s balcony and shot this. Strega in it’s pit area minus propeller. They must have found something after that blistering qualification run – or they’re trying to go even faster.

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.

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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