The Reno Air Races are coming. Air Races pilot Jeff Turney, Jet Class vice president, sat down with us to answer a few questions about flying and the event.
How long have you been flying?
I started flying when I was about 17, so about 32 years.
What kind of craft will you use in the Air Races?
I am flying an L39, named Robin One, which is owned by Bob Miles, from Oregon.
How do you prep for a race?
Prior to any race, the first thing that happens is we get a briefing from the pace pilot, who goes over all of the specific details, like when we are going to start our engines, when we are going to take off, the speed we’re going to rejoin at on the pace plane. And then, really, everyone has their own way of doing things. Most guys will wander off quietly and sit for 15 or 20 minutes going over everything they will do from the moment they get in the plane to the moment they get out of the plane.
And how about you?
I just kind of go off by myself, someplace quiet — usually my RV — and I go over everything that will happen throughout the course of the race and what I’m going to do if something doesn’t go according to plan.
What goes through your head when you’re up there?
First and foremost, you’re thinking about flying the most efficient path you can. Secondly, you’re always thinking ‘How is my airplane performing?’ Above all, you’re thinking of flying as efficiently and as safely as you can. You have to prioritize what you’re doing out there based on what’s going on at that moment.
Good idea to have a hot beverage up there with you or no?
Bringing a beverage — hot or cold — is not a good idea. When you’re flying, you really don’t have time to sit back and relax like you’re having a Sunday drive to church. It’s very hot inside the airplanes and, depending on conditions on the course, it can get really bumpy.