Reno Air Races: Your guide to what's best (and where to park)
Enjoy Go Pro footage as pilot Marilyn Dash participates in the Reno Championship Air Races.
Additional parking details updated Friday morning.
Prepare for a lot of "nnnnneeaoowww," "vvvjjjwoosh" "rrrrrr-air-ah-ah-rum" and "prt prt prt" this week when high-speed airplanes scream through the sky at up to 500 mph.
The 54th National Championship Reno Air Races start tomorrow through Sunday at the Reno-Stead Airport and this year will include some first-time ever events.
Race qualifications start Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Competitive races start Wednesday afternoon. The event will host a new Military Appreciation Day on Saturday and a new drone racing competition.
Here's the breakdown:
Where to park, or grab a shuttle
There are many parking options for the Reno Air Races. Shuttle tickets are available and paid parking is available first-come, first-serve around the airport.
Shuttles will run from the following casinos for $11.50 one way, $21 round trip, $52.50 for Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday pass, and $71 for a Thursday-Sunday pass.
- Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa: east parking lot.
- Eldorado Hotel and Casino: on Fourth Street between Virginia and Sierra streets.
- Nugget Casino Resort: 11th Street entrance between the casino and parking garage
- Grand Sierra Resort: motor coach transportation area on the south side of the hotel
- Peppermill Hotel Casino: motor coach boarding area
Military appreciation events
Military Appreciation Day will start Saturday at the National Championship Air Races. The day is dedicated to celebrating and honoring armed forces personnel and will conclude with a USO-inspired show.
As part of Military Appreciation Day, 1,500 complimentary Saturday tickets will be provided for active duty, reserves, national guard and retired military.
The 1,500 complimentary tickets for military personnel may be reserved by calling one of the following locations – first come, first served:
- Reno ANG: 775-788-4585
- NAS Fallon MWR: 775-426-2836
- Plumb Lane Armory: 775-384-5811
Immediately following the end of Saturday’s races, a 90-minute show will feature the Bama Girls Troupe — comprised of former Miss Alabamas — a fast-paced, high-energy show with songs and dances for audiences of all ages. They will perform military tunes as well as songs from other genres. Honor Flight Nevada will also attend.
On Sunday, the air races will honor the Tuskegee Airmen during the day’s opening ceremonies.
Airplane performances and exhibits
Performers for the 54th National Championship Air Races include:
- The Texas Flying Legends Museum
- The U.S. Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II Heritage Flight Team
- An AV-8B Harrier from the U.S. Marine Corps
- Brad Wursten Aerobatics
- Livfast FMX
- Gordon Webb Pyro
- A Falcon Jet Demo as well as a Honda Jet Demo.
Pending aircraft availability, a U-2, a B-1 and a B-2 may conduct fly-bys.
Large static display of military aircraft during race week include:
- A C-17 Globemaster III
- A C-130 Hercules
- An AV-8B Harrier
- A T-38 Talon
- A MH-60 Helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard
- An A-10 Thunderbolt II
- A CT-156 from the Royal Canadian Air Force Moosejaw
- An F-15
- A T-45 Goshawk
- An Apache Helicopter
- An F/A-18 Super Hornet
- An F-5N
- An F-18 Growler
- An E-2C Hawkeye
- An F-16
The drone zone competition
This year, the drone zone will expand with the addition of the 2017 MultiGP Drone Racing Championship, which will be held in the Air Races on-site drone zone during race week.
In total, 145 unmanned aircraft system pilots will compete at the championship, including the 2015 and 2016 MultiGP National Champion, Shaun “Nytfury” Taylor, who will have the opportunity to defend his title.
Know your airplanes
The event features six racing classes:
Biplane: The Biplane Class, represented by small, aerobatic aircraft like the Pitts Special, the Mong and the Smith Miniplane, gives pilots a chance to apply their skills to racing on a 3.18-mile course at speeds exceeding 200 mph.
Formula One: Formula One aircraft are all powered by a Continental O-200 engine (the same 100 hp engine used in a Cessna 150). The fastest Formula One aircraft reach almost 250 mph on the 3.12-mile race course in Reno. Many Formula One aircraft are built by the pilots that race them and are a relatively inexpensive.
Sport: The Sport Class highlights the new and innovative work being done in the development of high-performance kit-built aircraft. Competition in the Sport Class is fierce, with the rapid introduction of race-driven engine and airframe technology. Sport Class aircraft race on a 6.37-mile course at speeds reaching nearly 350 mph.
T-6: The T-6 Class features match racing between stock aircraft, including the original T-6 “Texan,” the Canadian-built “Harvard,” and the US Navy “SNJ” version aircraft. The fastest T-6 aircraft generally post race speeds into the 220-230 mph range on the 5.06-mile course at Reno. Because the aircraft are all of the same type, the T-6 Class provides some of the most exciting racing at Reno, with an emphasis on strategy and pilot skill rather than raw horsepower.
Jet: The Jet Class was inaugurated in 2002 as an invitation-only class, featuring match racing with Czech-built Aerovodochody L-39 “Albatros” jets. Today the class has opened the field by adding other aircraft such as Provost, Iskra, L-29 and DeHavilland Vampires. This class truly stands for the “Fastest Motor Sport” with speeds exceeding 500 mph.
Unlimited: With the exception of very few “scratch-built” aircraft, the Unlimited Class has generally been populated by stock or modified WWII fighters with the P-51 Mustangs, F-8F Bearcats and Hawker Sea Fury being flown most often. The Unlimited Class flies in speeds exceeding 500 mph.
Check out the kids discovery zone
Global Robot And Drone Deployment and the Nevada Business Aviation Association will expand offerings for youth education and host the “GRADD-NVBAA STEM Education Discovery Zone,” an area specifically designed to provide a science, technology, engineering and math education and learning environment for children of all ages.
This year’s STEM Education Discovery Zone will include re-imaginations of old technologies, like a PACMAN game inside a vintage Samsonite briefcase and an old rotary phone repurposed to function like a cell phone.
STEM Education Discovery Zone include:
- Eight flight simulator stations
- Drone flight training area
- Virtual Reality Zone, including virtual reality flight simulators – letting users virtually pilot an aircraft
- Interactive information touch-screens and interactive roving robots of all sizes
- Wearable arm computers with special sensors and capabilities
- 3D virtual models of locations across Nevada and the globe
- Four 3D printers working full-time – bring your own designs to get printed
GRADD and NVBAA will provide complimentary youth season passes for students who participate in the Education Program Wednesday through Friday. These passes will also get the students into the event on Saturday and Sunday.
Mike Higdon is the city life reporter at the RGJ and can be found on Instagram @MillennialMike, on Facebook at Mike Higdon, Reno Life and on Twitter @MikeHigdon.