As we await the Unlimited Gold final--which might as well be a private duel between Strega and Voodoo--there is a minute to scratch out some random observations from the pits at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Continue reading "Random Reno Notes"
Sunday, September 17, 2017 Reno, NV--The great news is no one was hurt, but there was a rare coming-together during the Sport Medallion final this morning at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada. Continue reading "Sport Class Mid-Air"
Reno Racing ends every day about 4:30 or 5:00 pm, but that doesn't mean that everyone (or anyone) goes home! Teams have pop-ups and coolers full of refreshments, and as they say - the party is just getting started. It's a relaxing time to be in the pits - the pressure is off, the engines are quiet (except for those who might have experienced problems during the day), and its time to kick back, relax, and trade aviation stories. Continue reading "The After-Race"
Back in 2014, we got a chance to fly "Last Lap Player", a Cassutt 111M owned by Creighton King, owner of the rights to the Cassutt plans. The plane was very "original" at the time, built many years before, and showing up at the Reno races pretty much as it was. Being the inveterate tinkerer that he is, King has since replaced the canopy, moved the engine forward six inches, built a new cowl, add swept wing tips, created wing/fuselage intersection fairings, and changed the shape of the fuselage around the instrument panel. All in his spare time, of course, and usually just weeks before he needed to bring the airplane to Reno. He seems to work well under pressure. Continue reading "Old Friend - New Look!"
Okay, airplane racing is never cheap but Sport Class racers are generally on a budget, unlike their Unlimited brethren, so they look for ways to minimize their expenses. With the "Metal Mafia" (RVs) and some other Sport Class planes booted out of their previous hangar home due to new ownership, the pits are out in the blazing sun with no race-provided resources. But, the legendary RV-community spirit has risen to the occasion.
Calm Under Pressure
Things don't always go the way we want them to in aviation, and at the Reno Races, with metal pushed to the limit, it is unusual to go a week without a few untoward events. Such was the case for previous Champion John Parker in his Thunder Mustang "Blue Thunder" on qualifying day. The engine apparently threw a connecting rod on take-off after an overspeed event, but Parker demonstrated his experience and cool professionalism as he gained enough altitude for a turn-around and executed a safe landing on the runway. He carried the power he had as long as he could to provide as many options as possible. We looked a at the motor afterwards, and the damage is impressive - holes on both sides of the crankcase even with the offending rod, and signs of of fire (notice the smoke in the video) in the same area.
We're sorry not to see Blue Thunder flying to compete for the title, but happy to see Parker safe and determined to fly again. Good job Mr. Parker!