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Reno Jet Race Division Opens To New Pilots
While at the EAA Sun-n-Fun fly-in and airshow two weeks ago, I was talking with a fellow who had ridden into the show in his friend's Aerovodochody L-39. He mentioned that the airplane owner was planning on attending the Reno National Championship Air Races Pylon Racing School in June so that he would be able to enter and race his L-39 in September. Knowing that in the past, the division had only been open on an invitational basis, with class winners and two astronauts being on that short list, I bit my lip and did not "correct" him.

Well, a bit of news has just crossed my desk that, though yet unconfirmed through the Reno Air Race Association, comes directly from a veteran Reno air racer, so we'll take it as fact. This year, the fledgling jet division will have the doors thrown open and any pilot who qualifies and attends "Rookie School" successfully, provided they pass school and are able to qualify within the division limits, will be allowed to race in the Jet Airplane Racing Division at Reno 2004!

Though somewhat short of what I would personally like to see happen in the Jet Racing Division, this is certainly an interesting development that should breathe some new excitement into this fairly recent addition to the National Championship Air Races lineup.

What would this reporter "like" to see racing in this division you ask? I would take you back to the first installment of the racing jet aircraft at Reno in 2000, where several types of jets run the course at the same time.

While the North American F-86, as well as other types available to civilian registry, might well be a bit over the top due to the length of the race course at Reno, the addition of some American built or designed jet racers, such as the Lockheed T-33 or its Canadiar variants, as seen above, would be a welcome change/addition to the Soviet designed L-39's which currently are the only jet airplanes allowed to compete in the races.

Above "reporter's opinion" not withstanding, if this new development proves to be true, which we have every reason to believe it will, some new and very exciting action is about to be experienced in this, the fastest of all motorsports!

story and Nikon Digital Photography by: Wayne Sagar

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