Photos: Reno Air Races 2016

National Championship Air Races make changes and gain new title sponsor.

While there were fewer than a dozen Unlimited-Class airplanes participating in the 53rd National Championship Air Races outside Reno, Nevada, the 2016 edition of the show had a lot to offer. Around 120 airplanes, from tiny Formula One racers to roaring jets and military fighters, flew at anywhere from 200 to 500 mph around closed pylon courses; the U.S. Navy Blue Angels put on a terrific show; and Michael Wiskus and Jim Peitz thrilled the crowds with their aerobatic routines. As icing on the cake, two F-4 Phantoms made several fly-bys. The airplanes are the last two of their kind in the Air Force and will be retired by year's end.

On the show grounds, spectators could get up close and personal with the race planes. There were also several military displays, a drone race course and vendors of all kinds. People come from all over the world to attend this unique event. Here is a taste of what can be seen.

Reno Air Races
A T-6 "drag race," in which two T-6 airplanes line up side-by-side on the runway and battle it out for a lap, was introduced last year.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Stihl came in as the title sponsor for the 2016 and 2017 races after Breitling decided to drop its sponsorship.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
A USAF Thunderbird F-16 was on display and visitors could just about climb into its cockpit.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Sparky was one of fewer than a dozen Unlimited racers, this one a P-51 Mustang, that showed up this year.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The drone area allowed visitors to race drones around an arched race course.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
There has been a growing number of Vans airplanes entering the Sport Class, and the company was one of a handful of aircraft exhibits at the show.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Thom Richards' airplane Hot Stuff had engine trouble and was unable to start the final race. Unfortunately the airplane was struck from behind on the runway, a terrifying incident that was caught on film.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
It takes a lot of skill to fly in formation with several other airplanes around the pylons.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The Formula One race airplanes are so tiny that two can comfortably fit into a small trailer.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The air boss, Gregory "Shifty" Peairs, here at the computer at the Reno-Stead control tower, remained calm and collected despite the excitement of several race-pilot maydays.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Several exhibits, such as this U.S. Air Force display, were targeted to the younger generation.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The roaring Unlimited-Class airplanes showed up in much smaller numbers as owners are reluctant to putting their highly valued airplanes through the stress of racing.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Andy Findlay, who races a race-modified Lancair in the Sport Class, introduced Stihl to the National Championship Air Races three years ago.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The Biplanes and Formula One racers fly a tight pylon course that is only a little more than 3 miles long.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Reno Air Race Association's chairman John Agather played guitar with his band, the Juantanamos, in a hangar on the field on Saturday night.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The race courses are marked by pylons placed to indicate the path of four different courses based on the class of airplanes. Airplanes often fly as low as the pylons themselves at speeds of anywhere from 200 to 500 mph.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The last two F-4 Phantoms flying in the USAF, which will be retired this year, thrilled spectators with a few fly-bys.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The United States Navy Blue Angels aerial formation display was no disappointment.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
While the grandstands and box seats were not as packed as they were a decade ago, there was still a good turnout.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
Unlimited Class crowd favorites Rare Bear and 232 did not compete this year. Instead they were parked in front of the VIP chalets.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The Formula One hangar was jam-packed with airplanes.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The Blue Angels' F/A-18 fighter jets dominated the ramp at the Reno-Stead Airport.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
VooDoo, flown by Steven Hinton, had little competition this year in the Unlimited Class. But the sights and sounds of the old fighters still make the race fans' hearts beat faster.Pia Bergqvist
Reno Air Races
The Reno-Stead Airport is normally uncontrolled. But the tower is bustling with activity during race week.Pia Bergqvist