Reno Air Races Launch Next Week


The National Championship Air Races will take place in Reno next week, Sept. 16 to 20, and this week, teams already are on site getting prepared for the competition and the qualifying events, which start on Sunday. Custom-built race planes will compete around pylons at speeds up to 500 mph and more. The show also offers a slate of military and civilian airshow performances, including the F-16 Viper Demo/Heritage Flight, the USAF Wings of Blue Jump Team, the Breitling Jet Team, Tora Tora Tora, and a fly-by by a B-25. But the stars of the show are the racing planes, which compete in tight races around pylons at speeds exceeding 500 mph. “This is arguably one of the most competitive fields in the history of the National Championship Air Races,” said Mike Crowell, CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. “Truly, with such a stacked racing field, our fans are in for an unforgettable experience.”

One unique aircraft in the competition is Dianna Stanger’s beautiful L-139 Aero Vodochody Albatros, which took the prize for best jet in the warbird division at EAA AirVenture this summer. The jet had only 500 hours on it when she acquired it, she said, and had mainly been used as a demo plane. The standard Czech engine had been replaced with a Garrett jet engine, and Stanger had the airplane fully reconditioned with four Garmin touchscreens, video cameras installed on the exterior, and custom leather interior. “It’s real nice and stylish on the inside,” says Stanger. The outside also got a thorough overhaul with a custom paint job. “It’s a wonderful aircraft and every time I take it up I just smile like a fool, being able to fly such an incredible machine,” Stanger told AVweb. Air race pilot Vicky Benzing will fly the L-139 in the Reno competition. Stanger said she plans to fly it to Oshkosh again next summer. (Click here for our podcast interview with Stanger.)