reno air races air race news!DAY TWO!


by: Mark Kallio

RENO NEVADA Sept 9, 1997-

Hello again air race fans! Tuesday was a very busy day with many things happening! Before we get started with today's events we have an update on the Dago Red story- Pilot David Price, flying the highly modified P-51 Dago Red, did set the worlds speed record for the 15 to 25 kilometer distance for piston powered aircraft on August 23, 1997 . His average speed was 537 MPH, besting the old mark set by Rare Bear. Dago Red will be absent from Reno this year. {editors note- although the speed mark was broken and word had circulated around the pits at Reno that indeed Price had broken the record, his attempt had been disqualified due to timing errors}

One of the more interesting and frightful happenings today, occurred during the 1st round of today’s unlimited qualification. Race #29 Czech Ride pulled up declaring an emergency in what seemed, at the time, to be nothing more than the usual problems (lost engine power, etc.). However it soon became apparent that he was a victim of a mid-air collision with race #66 Fury piloted by Howard Pardue. I didn’t actually hear the mayday called by Howard, but I could almost be sure he did that as well. What followed happened very quickly, with both aircraft landing safely. Czech Ride had the most damage with approximately 1/2 of her rudder sheared off. Fury fared somewhat better, suffering a 6 inch notch taken out of one of her 4 propeller blades. Arriving at the pits, Howard’s crew covered the prop blade immediately with a large garbage bag to avoid gathering a crowd, and Czech Rides’ crew went to work repairing the damage to the vertical stabilizer, however this damage seemed quite substantial and it looks unlikely that the crew will be able to have her ready for the remainder of the event. The cause of the accident is still unknown, but eye witness accounts revealed that Fury (high) was crossing the path of Czech Ride (low and climbing) at approximately a 30 degree angle. It's unlikely either pilot saw the other. By all accounts this was just another unavoidable occurrence, falling under the "That's Racing" category. I’m just happy no-one was injured!

Race #76, a Hawker Sea Fury piloted by Matt Jackson also declared an emergency when one of his gear doors hung up. Soon afterwards the problem was corrected and Matt went on to qualify this aircraft.

During afternoon qualifying race #32, a P51 Mustang (the rebuilt Stiletto, now configured as a twin seat "stock" bird) piloted by Alan Preston declared an emergency due to sudden loss of power. This occurred at a really bad time for Alan (low and not quite up to speed) so he had to opt for a downwind landing. With a 45 degree crosswind, blowing at 25 to 30 MPH, this was a difficult maneuver at best. Alan was up to the task and after what I call a *hairy* approach ( fast and high, side slipping approx. 20 feet above the runway for what seemed like forever) he landed hard, *but* safely.

Now to catch you all up a bit, yesterday [monday] during afternoon qualifications Strega had her share of problems. While flying down the front stretch at about 460MPH, she suddenly lost *all* power! She landed safely and it was discovered that an exhaust header leak had burned through both power cables to the magneto. After an all-nighter by the crew, Strega was back in form when she qualified during today's’ afternoon speed runs at an unofficial 464 MPH (more on this below).

Some of the speeds posted today were a bit down from last year (sorry, all unofficial as none were available prior to my departure from the airport to the photo lab to *hopefully* get the pics ready in time for toady's’ article :). This was in no small part due to the strong winds that were occurring throughout the day. Miss Ashley never "called the clock" but a person sitting next to me was timing the laps - she did about 405 MPH. You could tell just by the sound of the Griffon powerplant that this bird has much more potential. Rare Bear posted a 469 MPH timed run (again unofficial) and Critical Mass posted a 400 MPH lap (her best showing yet).

So you can see, a great many things happened today - more than I could keep track of *and* attempt to take some good photos. Which reminds me……. I have finally found the absolute greatest place to sit in the pits. For the first year ever, the Museum of Flying is allowing spectators to purchase ($20 a day) a ticket to sit on top of their trailer. This gets you right on the flightline - at about 15 feet above the ground with an unobstructed view of the action. This is an all day pass and you can come and go as you please, but I’d think that you rather stay up there as long as possible - it’s a hell of a seat! <G> and a sweet deal at twice the price. Besides, all the proceeds go towards their Museum and a more worthy cause I can’t think of.

Well, that does it for today. Our next update won’t be until Late Thursday evening because "the Boss" will be on his way to Reno. Now with him doing the stories and freeing me up to do what I do best - you’ll all reap the benefits.

Cya on the Trailer <HG>,




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