If you are “into” aviation, the National Championship Air Races (aka the Reno Air Races) is a “bucket list” event. If you have already been there in the past; well, heck, go ahead and admit it (big ole grin), you know you are addicted and you know you want to come again. If you’ve never been, you absolutely “must attend” at least once in your life.
Here, for your viewing, is a photo gallery of scenes from previous NCAR events. Let my camera show you what there is to see each and every year at Reno Stead Airport just a few short miles north of downtown Reno. Sit back, enjoy, and let the thrill begin to build …. September 2016 is only five short months away.
On the evening before the start of the National Championship Air Races, the grandstand at Reno Stead Airport is quiet and deserted. It is like “the calm before the storm.” ((Photo was taken on the eve of the 2014 NCAR event.)
A North American T-28C “Trojan” (140071 … N28ZZ) is caught here as it arrives at Reno Stead Airport on the evening before the official opening day of the 2015 National Championship Air Races.
NC13041, a Waco UBA Biplane, is captured in the twilight from between the wing struts of another 1932 Waco, NC13027.
There is an additional fee to enter this area from the general admission military / civilian special aircraft static display and grandstand viewing sectors, but walking thru that small gate in the lower left of the photo takes you into the “heart” of the Reno Air Races … the pit area. Row after row after row; hangar after hangar after hangar; Biplane class racers, Formula One class racers, T-6 class racers, Sport class racers, Jet class racers, Unlimited class racers, and a special display aircraft or two fill in the lanes intersecting both sides of the main driveway shown here. It is aviation racing at its very best.
Owner Casey Erickson’s “Gone Batty,” a Pitts S-1S (N101HR), is snapped here at around 11:00 PM in the hangar where all Biplane Class racers are parked. Ms. Erickson is not only an owner, she is also a pilot; however, Philip Ensley piloted “Gone Batty” in the 2015 RAR.
A close check of the power plant before “Big Red,” an SNJ-4 (N7404C), owned by Sanders Racing and flown by Joey “Gordo” Sanders from Jasper, Alabama, goes up for a morning race.
This 1947 Cessna Model 140 (N4151N), seen here in the civilian special aircraft static display sector, holds the NCAR record, set in 2013, for the SLOWEST lap ever recorded around the Unlimited race course: just a few heartbeats longer than 5 minutes at 96.47 mph. A much more noteworthy fact about this Cessna is that it was flown in the 1949 All Woman Transcontinental Air Race from San Diego to Miami.
The pilot of a Lockheed Martin F-22 (10-4195 … Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska) preps his Raptor as “Precious Metal,” a P-51XR, taxies out for takeoff in this 2014 photo.
A pair of Cassutt IIIM racers, N5846 above and N6884 (“Margaret June”) just taking off below, participate in the Formula One class qualifying lap runs.
The Canadian Forces “Snowbirds” (431st Air Demonstration Squadron), flying CT-114 Tutors, completing a full formation pass during their performance at the 2010 Air Races. Since this appearance by the Snowbirds, the USAF Thunderbirds and the Breitling and Patriots demonstration teams have performed; and this year will feature the United States Navy “Blue Angels.”
Three of the Aero L-39C Albatros aircraft in the Breitling Air Demonstration Team are positioning to taxi past the main grandstand after the team completed a performance at last year’s National Championship Air Races.
The Commemorative Air Force’s N11171, a North American AT-6B “Texan,” is painted as a replica of a Mitsubishi “Zero.” It performed in the “Tora, Tora, Tora” presentation at last year’s NCAR. Another noteworthy scene here is in the background. Photographers who are awarded Media Passes are transported via the green bus out to the pylons (left side of picture) along the race course route where they are able to get exclusive closeup snapshots of the racing aircraft turning past the pylons. An application for a Media Pass must be submitted and a very limited number of Media Passes are awarded each year.
Thus far, I have presented twelve shots of scenes from past National Championship Air Races (aka: Reno Air Races) events. Twelve photos is a great start, but it is not enough … because there is so much more to see. As the rest of this month goes by, and then as May and June and July come and go, and as each passing day and week brings us closer to the excitement that will be the 2016 Reno Air Races; I will continue to add new pictures to this article. So if you are reading this PlaneViz blogsite post in April, come back again and reread it in May. In May, you will find additional photos to view. And the more days and weeks that go by, the more photos you will find below this paragraph. So come back frequently, and let these pictures help to build your anticipation of this year’s upcoming event. But most importantly, find that “bucket list” of things you absolutely, positively MUST do during your lifetime and right up there at the top of the list, write “ATTEND THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AIR RACES IN RENO.”
#77 (N777L), the eight-time Unlimited Class Champion (1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2004, 2005, and 2007), a Grumman F8F Bearcat appropriately named “Rare Bear,” is rolled out of the pit area a few minutes before taking to the air for a race. Even under cloudy skies, “Rare Bear” looks fabulous; it looks way beyond fabulous on clear days with the sun shining on it.
A McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle of the Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing (Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Oregon) launches into a straight-up climb toward the heavens after making a blistering low pass in front of the attendees at the 2012 Reno Air Races.
Although 1964 was the first year that the Air Races were held in the Reno area, it was not until 1966 that the event was held at Stead Airport (KRTS). So, the upcoming races in September of this year will mark the 52nd anniversary of the RAR .. AND .. the 50th anniversary of them being at Reno Stead Airport. (* Look in the lower right corner of this poster and check out those 1966 admission prices. *)
Kevin Sutterfield; a fighter pilot from Eagle River, Alaska; taxies “Honest Entry,” an SNJ-4 (N86WW) owned by Chris Rushing and Karl Koller, back to the ramp after completing a late morning qualification race at the 2015 event.
The Boeing Museum of Flight’s Douglas DC-2 is snapped here while on static display at the 2010 NCAR event.
“September Fury” (N232MB), the Hawker Sea Fury that won the Unlimited Class championship in 2006, is snapped here as it takes off to race in 2012.
Six competitors roar into the first turn at the start of a 2014 T-6 Class race.