Moose Peterson reports:
Yesterday The Reno National Championship Air Races kicked off its golden anniversary event. In fact Wednesday marked the first day of the 50th Reno Air Races setting the stage for an exciting Sunday’s final Gold Races. With a record number of entrants in the Sport Class, a bursting field of Formula, a great Biplane Class and fast T6 Field, many remained focused on the Unlimited Class. The day started with fourteen Unlimiteds, one less than the day before as Strega lost its canopy in a practice flight on Tuesday. Though a new canopy is enroute for Strega, the loss of the canopy causes it and its pilot Matt Jackson to the back of the pack when their racing begins on Friday.
The leaders of the pack as of the end of flying today are:
Steve Hinton in #5 Voodoo, P-51D Mustang @492.699
Jeff LaVelle in Race 39, Glasair III @403.059
Tom Aberle in Phantom, modified Mong Sport @259.444
Rick Vandam in American Spirit, L-39 Albatross @509.817
Nick Macy in Six-Cat, T-6G @ 243.722
Steve Senegal in Endeavor, David Hoover AR-6 @ 254.858
All eyes are on Steve Hinton in Voodoo, Robert “Hoot” Gibson in 232 Sea Fury and Stewart Dawson in Rare Bear for the Unlimited Gold. All three are one, two and three right now with Thom Richards in Precious Metal in sixth. It’s going to be some great racing!
Tonight the rest of the Heritage aircraft flew in and it is one impressive bunch of aircraft! We are thrilled to see more than 30 beautifully restored aircraft on the ramp this year, all vying for the Neil A. Armstrong National Aviation Heritage Trophy. Included this year is a rare Lockheed Electra (which will be making her permanent home at the Seattle Museum of Flight after the Air Races), and a 1926 Travel Air 4000, the oldest flying Travel Air in the world, among many others that depict our rich aviation history.
SoCal CAF is here as well bringing their gorgeous aircraft, which practiced their aerial performance today. As they took to the skies their Bearcat, Hellcat, Spitfire, Zero and Mustang, even though it was only a practice session, it stopped the crown in their tracks, riveted by the aerial display in the sky.
One of the most exciting aircraft brought to Reno by the CAF SoCal Wing had to be their Supermarine Spitfire, One of only 957 Mk XIVs that were built. It was the first Spitfire in large-scale production with the V-12 Rolls Royce Griffon 65 engine, and entered service in 1944. The Mk XIV was the most successful of all the variants at destroying V-1 flying bombs, accounting for 300 kills. In October 1944 a Mk XIV had the distinction of being the first to destroy a jet-powered Messerschmitt Me 262.
This Spitfire was built at the Aldermaston factory in Berkshire, England and then delivered to the Royal Air Force. The aircraft was shipped to Karachi, India in July, 1945 for anticipated operations in Southeast Asia. In 1947 it was transferred to the Indian Air Force.
In 1983 the aircraft was found badly damaged in Patna and was returned to England. It was restored and flew again at Cranfield in 1983. The aircraft was painted in the colors of the South East Asia Command.
In 1985 the aircraft was purchased by David Price and shipped to Los Angeles. That year the aircraft won an award at the Oshkosh Air Show. Now owned by the CAF, this Spitfire Mk XIV is at the CAF, Southern California Wing‘s Hangar at Camarillo Airport.
The stage has been set for an amazing week celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the races, and we look forward both to witnessing the spectacle as well as well as sharing it with you!