Strega Stuck at Stead
1997 Gold Winner Spends Winter In Reno
|FlightLine Update 1/13/98-
When the 1997 Unlimited class winner bounced on landing last September no one had any idea just how badly the Team Strega entry was damaged. "Strega" Crew Chief, Bill Kerchenfaut only had time for a cursory inspection before the team had to pack up and return to California and their "normal" jobs. The damage was determined too severe to allow pilot Bill "Tiger" Destefani to fly the incredibly fast P-51 back to its base in Bakersfield. When we reported this story last October, the preliminary diagnosis by the long time veteran crew chief was somewhat bleak, the prop was ruined and there were other potentially more severe problems. "Strega" would have to return home on 18 wheels, its sleek wings removed and cradled for transport overland. Original plans were for an early return to base for further inspection and repairs. Unfortunately, circumstances within the Team Strega organization have delayed the disassembly and move. As of this writing "Strega" sits in a hanger at Stead Field just outside Reno, Nevada awaiting repairs. Due to the dangers of trucking the aircraft over the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter snows, the move is unlikely to occur until after the spring thaw. When asked if there were any chance of repairs being completed in time for the 1998 Reno event Kerchenfaut stated "without a close evaluation, I'm not prepared to say one way or another on that possibility".
Bill Kerchenfaut has a long and colorful history in Championship Air Racing and is the subject of our next "People Who Race" feature in the Reno Air Race section of All Aviation FlightLine OnLine.Watch for his story in a future update.
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