March 21, 2023

Air race pilot mourned, Reno races suspended – AOPA Pilot

Hogue’s L–29 Ballista was closely matched heading into the final heat with another L–29 flown by Peter Stavrides. The two were separated by a fraction of a second going into the race and had been running neck and throat in the particular third lap. Rounding a gate, Hogue eased out of the roll and began to climb, which the announcers remarked as unusual. Suddenly, the L–29 stopped climbing and rolled right, veering away from the course, then back to the left, but the particular nose had dropped plus the jet maintained the shallow descent, left wing low, into the ground.

“We can confirm that during the Jet Gold Race on the third panel there was a fatal incident at Outer Pylon 5 today, ” the Reno Air flow Racing Association wrote in a statement posted on social media. “There will be an investigation conducted by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). All other pilots landed safely and race operations for 2022 have been hanging. ”

The particular “world’s fastest motorsport, ” as the long-running event is billed, will be not new to tragedy. In 2014, USA Today reported that “in the 51-year history associated with the Air Races, 19 pilots have died during racing. ” Others have lost their lives preparing to competition, including  Sherman Smoot, a race pilot who was killed during a test flight on September 2. Race aircraft were decorated this year with tributes to Smoot.  

The deadliest event occurred in 2011 when air race initial Jimmy Leeward and 10 spectators had been killed after Leeward’s highly modified North American P–51D Mustang Galloping Ghost crashed into the particular crowd right after a trim tab failure made the aircraft impossible to control.

The devastating end to the 2022 races topped an already disappointing week due to a low spectator turnout as well as low visibility from wildfire smoke.

“We can’t see the pylons a quarter mile in front of us, ” said Unlimited Precious metal Hawker Sea Fury race pilot Bernie Vasquez. “It’s one thing to go out there and qualify like that by yourself…but if we’re going to have six airplanes all within the same area going for the exact same pylon, it’s just not safe. ”

Despite smoke being in the particular forecast as well as the overall risky nature of the sport, Vasquez says he keeps coming back to Sparks because “it’s like a family reunion. I’m 43 years old, I’ve been doing this for 25 of those 43 years so these people are as close to me as my family, family. ”

Another group of longtime air competition supporters plus spectators are Reno locals Peggy and Jeff Kreck. “The first race we came in order to Bob Hoover started it. It was so cool hearing him say, ‘Gentlemen all of us have the race’… and I just love the noise. ”

Although the future of the races may be uncertain, air flow race pilots are looking forward to seeing the next generation take flight in Reno. “We’re bringing up a whole new generation now, ” stated Vasquez as he watched young Owen Swager pedal away in his Dreadnought pedal plane. “I’m no longer the kid in this, I’m right now one associated with the old guys, I’m not taking this very well, but it is what it is. There’s a whole brand new generation we are looking at. ”

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