A northern Nevada institution since 1964, the National Championship Air Races, one of the premier events of its kind in the country, takes flight Sept. 16-20. Featuring six racing classes, flight demonstrations and a bevy of air crafts on display, the event promises four days of exciting activities and sights from its home at the Reno-Stead Airport.
In addition to the daily race heats, this year boasts one of the biggest entertainment line ups in the event's 52 year history, and will feature renowned aerobatics pilot David Martin. Events begin daily at approximately 8 a.m., and run through the afternoon and early evening. The new events and demonstrations on the schedule make this year's Air Races one of the can't-miss events of September. Here's what's new at this year's event:
Tora, Tora, Tora!
Including authentic aircraft from the time period, the Tora, Tora, Tora Airshow transports audiences back to WWII and that fateful day in December when Pearl Harbor came under attack. Put on by the Commemorative Air Force, the airshow brings history to life with replica planes and pyrotechnics, and serves as a memorial to those, on both sides, who fought and lost their lives during the conflict.
Martin will maneuver his Breitling CAP 232 sideways and upside down, and send it tumbling through the sky in a series of performances from Thursday through Sunday. Flying since he was 12 years old, Martin began competing in aerobatics shows when he was only 16, a passion he's carried throughout his career in the military and beyond. Known as a "consummate aviator," Martin has accomplished feats in the air that have never been duplicated by another pilot.
Expanded Drone Zone
Last year's highly popular Drone Zone is back, with extended challenges for those looking to test their unmanned aircraft skills. Competitors will fly their aircraft through a variety of obstacle and speed challenges, hosted by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Competition takes place inside a netted tent, and will feature representatives from NASA and the University of Nevada, Reno, whose Advanced Autonomous Systems Innovation center is sponsoring the event.
The Red Eagles
Coming from Southern California, the Red Eagles Formation Team is the only warbird formation aerobatic team on the West Coast, and one of only a few in the nation. On Thursday and Friday, they'll demonstrate military flying skills in their YAK-52 aircraft, modified with smoke systems to enhance the performance even further.
F-16 Fighting Falcon
Thursday through Sunday, the F-16 demonstration is undoubtedly one of the most thrilling events of the races. Capable of reaching a whopping 1,500 miles per hour, this type of fighter is considered the backbone of the Air Force and in combat situations, is used in both air-to-air and air-to-surface attacks. During the air show, the F-16 will showcase some of the maneuvers and techniques that make this aircraft the most successful fighter of its generation.
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Races are slated to run daily, with qualifying heats held in the mornings and main heats held throughout the rest of the day. Biplanes, Formula One and Jets are just a few of the classes of competition, and there are seven different courses on which competitors will fly. Fans will witness planes flying at speeds in excess of 500 miles per hour in this "fastest sport on earth."
Wings of Blue
The Wings of Blue USAF Academy Jump Teams travel the country demonstrating the precision parachuting the group is known for. When members aren't touring, they serve as jumpmasters and instructors for the Airmanship 490, the Air Force's basic freefall parachuting course. The members of Wings of Blue Flag Jumpers will be present at all welcoming ceremonies, Thursday through Sunday.