Reno Promises Exciting Lineup of Events and Races

The STOL Drag Racing Demonstration features two taildraggers racing on a precision course that requires the airplanes to stop, turn around and land in specific areas. Reno Air Race Association

The Stihl National Championship Air Races are set to take off next week, from September 11 through 15, at the Reno-Stead Airport west of Reno, Nevada. The annual event features performances and displays that promise to thrill adults and kids alike.

For the first time this year, NCAR is testing out a STOL Drag category. The STOL Drag Racing Demonstration is just that, a demonstration. But should it prove to be a success, STOL Drag is likely to become a new race class, the first to have been added for nearly 20 years when the Jet Class begun.

The STOL Drag concept was founded by Kevin Quinn, who also, about a decade ago, spearheaded the rapidly growing High Sierra Fly-In, which attracted nearly 450 airplanes and 2,000 people last year. The STOL Drag competition requires exceptional precision of the pilots. Two airplanes race against each other, barely off the ground, on a ¾-mile straight course. At the end of the line the pilots land, stop, turn around and race in the opposite direction. The first to arrive at the start line and stop then moves on to the next round. Landing prior to the halfway mark or the finish line results in immediate disqualification.

The exhilarating race concept caught the attention of Reno Air Racing Association’s CEO Fred Telling. “This is an exciting new idea, something that we’ve never seen before, and we knew we had to find a way to get it to the races,” Telling said.

Other exciting events for this year’s NCAR include the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds F-16 Fighting Falcon formation team, aerobatic champion Rob Holland flying an MX Aircraft MXS-RH, the VFA-122 Demonstration Team flying two FA-18 Super Hornets, aerobatic performer Michael Wiskus in a Pitts Biplane and the Commemorative Air Force flying a variety of warbirds. The grounds will include a sizable STEM Education Discovery Zone including exhibits from the Global Robot and Drone Deployment (GRADD) and the Nevada Business Aviation Association (NVBAA). And, as usual, NCAR promises some terrific air racing in the Unlimited, Jet, Sport, T-6, Biplane and Formula 1 Classes.

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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