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2006 Reno National Championship Air Race News
Reno Air Races
Air Race News 02-07-06
By: Wayne Sagar

Jet Racing Not Scheduled For 2006

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Jet Racing Going Away

In a press release dated Feb. 3, the Reno Air Racing Association has confirmed reports we aired on the Hangar Talk Message Board late last month. A phone conversation with Mike Houghton last week essentially contained the same information in the release with a further explanation of the pressures of the cost of fielding the class since the jets adopted a purse based structure two years ago. Houghton explained that initially, they had raced for honors and a trophy only. Bottom line: there will be no Jet Racing class at the 2006 Reno Air Races. The news was met with mixed reaction from die-hard air race fans who frequent the message board but it should be seen as a progressive move by the venue.

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When the jets were first tested at the 2000 Pylon Racing School (see link http://aafo.com/gallery/2000/prs/jets/index.html ) and then later run as a demonstration at the 2000 National Championship Air Races in a mixed format, the potential for a real crowd-pleaser seemed obvious.

Personally, I thought the mixed format as run in 2000 was an absolute hoot! The banter between the pilots on the public address system while they "discussed" using or not using afterburners… let’s read that "cheating" was extremely entertaining. The spectacle of the MiG’s going around the back side of the course trailing their sharp plume of flame was straight out of Star Wars!

There’s no question that the Jet Races were very hotly competitive but let’s face it, not to take any fun away from the pilots, the Jet races were probably most well enjoyed by those who flew them. Most of the seasoned race crowd that is the Reno Air Race visitor used the event as a break to get some much needed refreshments! The action was fast, competition was close but there was just something lacking… I think it was very likely NOSE! The L-39’s are just too darn quiet!

In my conversation with RARA’s Houghton last week, I did not ask the obvious question, but with the Rocket Racing League event announcement for the 2007 schedule at Reno, something was going have to give. Clearly, with the amount of time available for qualifying and racing at pretty much an all time premium, adding a racing event would almost have to mean losing a racing event. Traditionally, the air show acts are staged between races and losing one of them would not likely solve a "racing time crunch".

All things considered, things seem to be shaping up for a stellar year at Reno. All current classes have developed well rounded fields. Some incredible battles are in the making, there’s much "unfinished business" from last year… The Thunderbirds will be returning... and there’s always the unknown.

It wouldn’t be Reno if we knew what was going to happen on race day…. Would it!

Unless otherwise noted, photography by the author

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