Thunderbirds and NAHI Return to Reno Air Races

Tickets for the annual pylon races are already on sale.

USAF Thunderbirds
The USAF Thunderbirds will return to the STIHL National Championship Air Races in September for the first time in nearly 10 years.USAF Thunderbirds

Speedy airplanes separated into six classes: Unlimited, Jet, Sport, T-6, Formula One, and Biplane, are once again set to battle it out around the pylons at the STIHL National Championship Air Races, scheduled at the Reno-Stead Airport on September 11 through 15. Returning for the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform their mind-blowing team formation show, featuring nearly 40 maneuvers around the show-center west of Reno, Nevada.

The Thunderbirds cancelled several shows last year after a team member, Thunderbird 4 slot pilot Major Stephen "Cajun" Del Bagno, crashed during a training exercise. But the highly skilled pilots are back in full force this year with a schedule that includes performances in 36 locations around the country, which began with its stellar flyover during Super Bowl LIII on February 3.

Another returning fan favorite in the National Aviation Heritage Invitational (NAHI), featuring a variety of stunning vintage aircraft competing for the Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage Trophy. If you are the proud owner of an exquisite antique airplane, click here to enter the competition. Registration is open until August 15, but space is limited, so don't wait if you want a chance at winning the trophy. "Each competing aircraft must be at least 45 years old and restored to airworthy condition," said Colin Powers, chief judge. "Aircraft are judged on authenticity, quality of workmanship, attention to detail and technical merit."

A panel of five judges will choose the winner in five categories of airplanes: Classic Aircraft, Contemporary Aircraft, Large Aircraft and Military Aircraft. There is a trophy awarded for each class. The overall winner will be honored with the Neil A. Armstrong Aviation Heritage Trophy, which remains in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International Airport. An additional People’s Choice Award Trophy will be given to the aircraft with the most votes from show attendees.

Ticket sales for the STIHL National Championship Air Races are already open. You can buy general admissions tickets, pit passes and other VIP experiences by clicking here.