This year I was not on assignment for AVWeb (they had been bought out and the new owners never answered any of my e-mail asking if they wanted me to cover the races this year or not) so unlike the last three years I could go wander, experiment, and have a more relaxed time than when on assignment.
I used my Nikon F100 and FE to capture all of these photographs using lens from 24mm to 1000mm. I ended up taking 11 rolls of film over the eight days I was there (when on assignment I took 25 or so). Thus these are only a small portion of the 300+ pictures that I took while at Stead Airport.
Plane without an aileron This air show act features the pilot flying a 1930s aircraft and deliberately jettisoning an aileron during the air show act.
Energy Management demonstration similar to Bob Hoovers but using an high wing utility aircraft from the 1930s. This shows that you do not need to have a running engine to do aerobatics. From 5,000 over the runway he spent the next 10 minutes gliding down doing rolls, wingovers, stalls and other slow (and quiet) maneuvers.
An Alaskan Air National Guard C-130 on takeoff. This Alaskan based C-130 "Hercules" was a daily air show performer in the morning hours. It was used to haul up the paratroops for their jumps every day.
A Sea Fury takes to the air for a heat race. There are usually around five Sea Furys at Reno Racing. Each pilot has a different style when taking off.
A pair of At-6 / SNJs fly pass the home pylon during a heat race. This class is the loudest overall due to the engine and prop combination. Since all aircraft are so similar the final Gold, Silver and Bronze racers are so evenly matched that sometimes less than 1/10 of a second is between 1st and 2nd.
Each day they have a raffle to win a ride in an AT-6 during the races. This year the winner got a treat of a low level pass down the runway after the race ended. I won a ride in 1995 but we did not do that.
Flying close in to the pylons also means close to each other. The first lap around the course is when they are bunched up the most. After three laps they are usually spread out over a mile from the leader to the tail end charlie.
This is how they look coming onto the course doing around 280 MPH while in a dive.
Traffic control is hectic at Reno Air Races. There is always something going on which means takeoffs and landings always occurring.
The static display area at Reno can see rare aircraft on display most every year - and all are flyable since that is how they got there.
Racing does not always occur on the course. Here Bob helps out some (pretty) women needing a lift from one end of the pits area to the other end. The pits are 1/2 mile from one end to the other. The whole length you can walk from the hangers to the western end of displays is just over 1 and 1/4 mile.
This aircraft raced from England to South Afrika in 1938 and set many records along the way there and back. Was shipped over to Reno just for this. First time out of the UK since 1939.
This year the Air Force is the sponsor of the Jet Car. Each day it raced the bi-plane down 1/4 mile of the runway. It can reach 250 mph easily since it has the same jet engine in it as an F4 Phantom.
Gene has some incredible aerobatic moves that he can do in this bi-plane. He can lose a few pounds of water during his flights due to the 5 to 9 Gs that he pulls during the routine.
Reno is about the best place to view air show performers. You look North into (usually) blue skies, the sun it at your right, back, or left, no obstructions (well there are a few light poles now) and with grandstand seating the person in front of you will not block your view unless they stand up.
Mixed aircraft flights regularly occur at Reno. F-18s with P-51s, A-10s with P-51s, formation flights and other surprises happen regularly at Reno National Air Races.
This AT-6/SNJ class racer has one of the most photographed paint schemes around.
Taxi prowess is required in WW-II era tail-draggers - you cannot see anything in front at all.
This side view shows the gear down and the technique needed to make good landings in a Mustang.
Once down at the far end you have a mile of taxiing to do in order to return to your parking spot in the pits.
Showing the early war color scheme along with invasion stripes used in the ETO this stock Mustang gets into the Bronze races every year.
No all P-51s are stock. Voodoo is highly modified unlimited racer with a very bright color scheme. You can always pick it out as it comes by doing almost 480 mph.
From the regular grandstands you have a good view up and down the line. The runway slopes down to the west so you cannot see in the pits at all. Only in the reserved seating area can you see the pits.
Knowing your camera gear, your film speed, lighting and aircraft engines is a must in order to get images like this. As they increase RPMs you must compensate in the camera to keep the same effect.
Engine testing is constant for the unlimited racers. Seldom do you see the need of other aircraft types to check out their engines.
The Russian Yak-9 fighter was one of the best aircraft Russia produced during the Second World War. All metal construction and entering into combat during late 1943 it was equal to and in some cases better than the Bf 109 that it was designed to counter.
From down under a Stearman, designed pre-World War II as a primary trainer, is painted with Zebra Stripes and is easily seen in the air.
Hawker Sea Fury Race 232 September Fury taken in the right after sunrise at Stead Airport. I got up at 5 AM so I could get there by 6 AM and be ready to take sunrise pictures in the race pits before the crowds showed up. Carried around my tripods, flash, two cameras and all my other gear to cover all lighting possibilities.
Members of the 52nd-Kiwi Squadron 5 members of the 52nd-Kiwi Squadron, who fly in the World War II simulation Aces High, at Reno in front of an FM2 Wildcat in the pits at Reno Races 2003.