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"Leaving Las Vegas" - Thunder 351 Returns To Reno Stead Airport
Reno Stead Airport
May 02, 2004

click to enlargeReno Stead's "other" resident Air Racer has finally brought his kit built airplane home to roost. American Air Racing's John Parker had to call a when his engine while flying with the "big boys" in the Unlimited Division at the 2003 Nellis Air Show, "Aviation Nation 2003," during the Las Vegas Style Air Racing demonstration of the "world's fastest motorsport".

"I might have pushed it too hard" was all the smiling Thunder Mustang Pilot had to say after his successful landing at the 2003 event, held at the United States Air Force Base (Nellis AFB) located on the northern outskirts of Las Vegas, Nevada. In subsequent mailings from Parker, we've learned that several pistons were damaged in the Ryan Falconer V-12 mounted in the Thunder Mustang known to many as "Thunder 351".

click to enlargeParker made several trips to Las Vegas since last November's event, including one to tow the airplane from its temporary storage area at the Nellis Air Force Base, to North Las Vegas Airport where he could perform the needed repairs.

At long last, repairs completed! "In early April I picked up version 3.0 on Blue’s engine number 12023." stated Parker via email this week. "Last Sunday, April 25, 2004, I transported it down to Lone Mountain Aviation where I installed it during the week of April 26th 30th. After a little test flying at the North Las Vegas Airport , I flew 'Blue' back to our Stead Airport home."

click to enlargeHow long does it take a fully race prepared Thunder Mustang to get from Vegas to Reno? According to John Parker - "The trip back took one hour and ten from take off to parked on the AAR ramp. The trip time included two low passes of the 4SD ramp. Except for take off, 19 20 in. hg. MAP was used, at 4000 RPM with the trim switch in position 5. It sure feels good to have Blue in our hangar again."

No word, as yet, whether Parker will enter the 2004 Reno National Championship Air Races.

For more information on the Thunder Mustang, John Parker and American Air Racing, visit their website at

unless otherwise noted -
story and Nikon Digital Photography by:
Wayne Sagar


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