Antique airplane fans and race fans of all types like attending. Heck, you can plan a combination trip... a little gambling, a show or two, air races AND antique airplanes.
The scene at the Reno Air Races is different from a typical air show. The first thing you see after you wander past all the vendors and get through the grandstands is the runway and the race course. That's what draws most people.
Planes in all of the "classes" fly everyday. Sit and watch a few heats, but be sure to explore the whole area. You can walk among the jets in the area set aside for those and admire the race planes in the pit area if you have purchased a ticket for that. (We highly recommend getting the pit passes for the total experience.)
But there are other airplanes. You won't have as many rows of airplanes to wander among as at a traditional air show perhaps, but the ones you do find with be highly restored and/or highly modified.
The Highly Restored Aircraft?
Several sponsors including the Rolls Royce, the Reno Air Racing Foundation and the National Aviation Hall of Fame have banded together to promote aircraft restoration. They have a competition at the Reno Air Races, and you can see the aircraft that have been entered in this showcase square.
The Highly Modified Aircraft?
In the early week days there are several heats in each class... the top couple of finishers move on to the next stage of the competition.
They fly more than those "big bad boys of air racing" you know. We love the bi-plane class. Think Reno Air Races and bi-planes just really don't go together... think again.
What Are the Classes of Aircraft That Fly?
Formula 1 - Small aircraft powered by a Continental O-200 engine according to the NACR website. Many aircraft are homebuilt. They are all built to strict technical specifications. It's a fun way for pilots to say they flew at Reno. These also race on the "little" 3.11 mile course.
Sport Class - High performance kit built aircraft. They race on a 6.39 mile race course.
T-6 Class - These are "stock" T-6s by any designation.... Texan, Harvard or SNJ. Their race is on a 4.99 mile course.
And of course.... (and this is what you think of for the Reno Air Races isn't it...?)
More Than Racing
Besides the National Aviation Heritage Invitational event we mentioned above, there are other performers that really make this a first class air show...
Count on military precision flying teams.... In 2010 is was the Canadian Snowbirds.
You even have "smoke and thunder" displays and cars racing against planes... the kind of things you expect to see at a lot of more traditional air shows.
Bring plenty of sunscreen and a good hat no matter what. There are no shaded grandstand or box seats, and that sun can get pretty intense even if it isn't hot.
There are all the vendors you expect to see at air shows. No need to worry about food or drink.
The air show is held in mid-September. They are trying to go ahead with the races after the 2011 crash. Dates for 2012 are Sept. 12-16.
Some people go every year... we don't, but it sure is tempting.
Judy and Mark
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