Rare Bear Charges to Victory at Reno


The highly modified F-8F-2 Bearcat Rare Bear, flown by John Penney, blew away the competition in the Gold final of the National Championship Air Races at Reno-Stead Airport on Sunday. The exotic machine finished the final with an average speed of 478 mph, 44 mph faster than second place Sherman Smoot flying Czech Mate, a Yak 11. Third spot went to Stewart Dawson in the Spirit of Texas Hawker Sea Fury. Dawson was less than two mph slower than Smoot. The final day of the event went off without tragedy as the crowd paused to pay their respects to the three pilots who died at this year’s meet.

Three pilots were killed over four days at the races but organizers said they were all very different accidents with no common safety thread. Steve Dari died Tuesday during practice when his biplane stalled on takeoff, Gary Hubler was killed when his Cassutt brushed wings with another aircraft during the Formula One competition and Brad Morehouse’s L-39 crashed in the jet races. A formation of five aircraft performed the missing man formation for the three pilots after a minute of silence at the races.

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