Reno Air Races (2008)

The 45th Annual Reno Air Races

For me it was an excuse to ride. Reno Air Races? Sure, that’s a fine destination. Dan and I packed up our bikes Saturday morning and headed over to Nevada. We arrived much later than expected and decided to stick around for Sunday’s show. This was my first time in trying to take “action shots” with my camera. Suffice it to say that I have much to learn.

September 13-14, 2008
Total Miles: 240 miles
Mountain View, CA to Reno, NV

We arrived in Reno around 3pm. By the time we found our campsite, set up camp and got organized, the day was pretty much over. We decided to walk the few blocks to the show itself and see what was there. Surprisingly enough, because it was so late in the day there was no one guarding the gates and we were able to walk right in. So we did. We toured the static display of planes (and some cars) and then out to the pit area where the competing planes were parked. Ha! We saved a bit of money by doing it this way. Now we wouldn’t have to come back Sunday morning to see everything. Or so we thought…

I know very little about planes. Therefore I won’t even attempt to name anything that has been pictured here, as I’ll inevitably get it wrong.

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Go to an air show and take pictures of cars.

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But they were beautiful cars…

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“Osa’s Ark”

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This is about my size

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I thought that this one looked awesome

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Oh! oh! I think I know what this one is!!!

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Think this would get along with my car?

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A long day at work

From the static display (above) we strolled down behind the grandstands, looking at various booths selling everything plane related. I scoffed at the silliness of it all until I thought of the International Motorcycle Show. Oh well; everyone has their hobbies. At the far end of the grounds was the Pit Area. Presumably, most (all?) of these planes would be flying at some point during the show.

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For dinner that night, Dan and I met up with some fellow motorcyclists at a local pub. It was fun to hang out with them. Not to mention that the steak was really good.

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Camping in the yard of a local church

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The bicycle belongs to a man from England who was touring here for a few weeks.
Sunday morning came. Dan suggested that we watch the races that day instead of riding home. Sure, why not? We took a long walk trying to find a place where we could view the planes without having to pay to get in, but it looked like this would be a futile effort. So we went back to gate, paid our monies and took some seats. It was amazing how sitting at one end or the other of the seating area could change your perspective of the planes as they flew by. And if you left the seating area then you couldn’t hear the announcers at all, which was too bad, because they really helped in understanding what was going on up there in the air.

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The military’s latest weapon: the Raptor

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The first race of the day, the bi-planes

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I had no idea that the bi-planes were so small!

Many races followed, usually with a stunt show in between the races themselves. Each race was for a progressively faster class. There were pylons out in the fields that the pilots had to be sure to go past, rather like buoys in a boat race. Cutting one short would put you back a place after the race, as indicated by one pilot who was really gunning for a better position before reaching the finish line and missed the pylon. He was dropped back a place once the judges had made this determination.

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The planes flew quite close.

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Even on the far side of the course the planes were visible. The only time they were out of sight was just before the race, when they circled overhead with the pace plane to get lined up for the start

After the race, the planes would land and taxi passed the grandstands. It was interesting to be able to see the planes at less than 300 mph

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Two stunt planes went up during this show

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A little blurry, but you get the idea.

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The stunt planes have landed and the planes are already taking off for the next race.

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The pack just after the official “start” given by the pace plane

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A couple of races were very close

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Another stunt plane show

After a few races and stunt shows, the military C17 (from Alaska) took off, only to drop three paragliders back down to the runway. There was a grand speech about the Tuskegee Airmen during this and the National Anthem was played.

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After the race there was a military “Heritage Display” where planes from various wars all flew together. The announcer did a great job of describing the planes and their functions during their service.

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And then the Raptor was set to take off. There was a lot of military pomp going on around this plane while they were getting ready for flight. It was interesting and amusing to watch. This is a very fast and maneuverable plane. It was impressive to see how tight it could turn and how it could perform up in the air.

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The military show was the last one for Dan and I. Even though there were more races planned, it was time for us to pack up and head home. It was an uneventful ride over a crowded I-80 and the hot tub was very welcome when we got home.

Some videos, sorry, but there’s no sound with any of these:
Stunt planes
Raptor – flight
Raptor – bomb bay door
Raptor – slow fly-by

Tell me what you think! I want to know!