Speed Record Falls At Reno

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The National Championship Air Races are under way this week in Reno, Nev., and before the official races even started on Wednesday, a major speed record was broken. Curt Brown flew his L-29 jet around the pylons on Tuesday at a rate of 543.568 mph, the fastest speed ever recorded at the races since they started, 47 years ago. Brown broke his own record from last year by more than 5 mph. "I don't think I can ever go any faster than that, not in that airplane," Brown, a former space-shuttle pilot, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "It was a heck of a ride. That was a bucking bronco." The races officially begin on Thursday and continue through the weekend, with six classes of competition from biplanes to jets, plus airshow performances by Michael Goulian, Greg Poe, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds, and more.

The Unlimited Class generally offers the fastest racing, and this year 26 pilots will compete. The airplanes in that class include 12 P-51D Mustangs, a rare P-51A, three Hawker Sea Furies, two Yak 3s, two Grumman F7F Tigercats, and several other airplanes, including an ultra-rare German Fockewulf FW-190. The event also features a gathering of Lockheed P-38 Lightning aircraft. "This is the largest gathering of P-38 aircraft since World War II, and it's happening right here in Reno," said Mike Houghton, CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association.