Reno Air Races Addresses Financial Difficulties
The Reno Air Racing Association says it has had to cut wages and benefits, furlough staff and eliminate some positions. It also needs to raise $500,000 by Dec. 15. In an open letter, RARA President Mike Houghton said the "agonizing" cuts were made following three years of financial losses in the wake of the crash of Jimmy Leeward's P-51D, which killed 11 and injured 69 on Sept. 16, 2011. Houghton said the cuts and the fundraising are necessary to ensure the long-term financial viability of the event. "As difficult as these steps are, they are intended with the sole purpose of keeping air racing alive and preserving this historic aviation event for our community and the world," Houghton said.
He said the event is moving forward after the tragedy and the races remain popular, as evidenced by the 50th annual spectacle held last September. "This year’s event marked a recovery from the many emotional, financial and operational challenges of the last three years," he said. "The crowds were back, the weather was good and the racing was thrilling and safe." Houghton said the board of directors is restructuring itself and the fundraising mechanisms and will announce details before Thanksgiving.