Do the Reno Air Races Have a Future?

Reno Air Races

The aftermath of the tragic accident during the 2011 Reno Air Races, when 11 people died as a result of a P-51 Mustang crashing into the box-seat area in front of the grandstands, is still having negative effects for organizers of the half-century old event. The accident has skyrocketed insurance costs for the competition, and, as a result the 2014 Reno Air Races are being threatened by financial challenges.

A letter from the Reno Air Race Association's (RARA) president and CEO Mike Houghton, posted on the Reno Air Race website, announced that the event has been in the red for three consecutive years and that the organization needs to raise $500,000 by mid-December. RARA has also been forced to make some tough decisions in the process, imposing furloughs and wage and benefit cuts, and reducing its staff from seven to five people. While the contact information on the website has not yet been changed, one of the positions that was eliminated was that of Valerie Miller-Moore, director of marketing and public relations.

Another potential threat to the future of the races is the reduced number of Unlimited Race participants. The 2013 event did not attract enough of the roaring warbirds to warrant Bronze heats, resulting in fewer races. And while the Patriots Jet Team served as a terrific replacement, the lack of a military jet team performance may have deterred some people from attending this year's event.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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