Wednesday, October 13, 2010

2010 Reno Air Races

This is way past due and I'm sure I'm the only one who cares about this many pictures, but it's time for the big Reno Air Races post!
The races go from a Wednesday to a Sunday every year mid-September but we leave for Reno on Thursday after Travis and Ben work a half day.
Before we left, Emmett had to check out Uncle Kevin's tailpipe.

We finally got on the freeway a little after 6pm (which is pretty typical)... and means we arrive in Reno about 6am. ugh. It's a long night of driving. Travis drives until he can't anymore while I try to nap, which I suck at in the car. So when he's done I take over on pretty much no sleep and he sleeps the last couple hours to Reno.

We had a beautiful sunset as we headed south on I-5.

Last year we drove our van while everyone else was in one of two motor homes. That meant when we got to Reno at dawn, Travis and I had to try and get some sleep sitting up in the van since the boys' car seats don't let you lean back. We were going to tent it last year but it ended up being SO windy that the boys had to go in the motor home while Travis and Emmett and I crammed in the back of the van with the seats taken out. Total nightmare. So this year we contemplated a hotel room like Travis' cousins had done last year. Then Travis found a guy advertising a travel trailer for weekend rentals on criagslist. After checking it out, we had found the perfect answer! It was super nice and had room to sleep Kevin and Megan too.

So here's the digs. There's a full size bed with a twin bunk in the back (Avery slept on top and Kevin on bottom and the first night Avery fell off on Kevin's knee and jacked it up. Kevin is impossible to wake, so he had no idea until he woke up and I asked about it and he realized his knee hurt!) Carson and Emmett slept on the converted dinette and Megan slept on the fold-out couch.

Travis and I slept in the queen behind the curtain at the front. It was SO nice to pull in to Reno and move everyone to a bed to finish the morning instead of still being crammed in the van!

Just about the first thing Emmett did Friday morning was check out our tailpipe.

Seriously, kid?

Setting up camp between our trailer and Ben's motor home. Josh flew his boys and John and Cheryl down Friday morning so there wasn't a a second motor home this year.
Kevin,Ben Josh,Travis,John,Shane,Reno

Set up had to pause occasionally to glimpse the planes racing.

Friday afternoon we hit the static displays. Avery and the other family got separated from us, so Travis and I took our little men around. They got to get in this plane and "fly"


We ran into Rare Bear (a favorite and always one of the leaders in the main event Ultimate class race)
Rare Bear,Reno

Rare Bear is based here at Stead Field so he travels through the crowds down by the static display instead of being in the pits at the opposite end of the grounds.
Rare Bear,Reno

Moving on to the military displays


Waiting our turn to "fly"



The size of all of these aircraft always amazes me.


Such a handsome pilot!

Look, we found Avery!

On Saturday we saw something new! Even Ben, who has now been 11 years straight, hasn't seen them do this before. These are the Sky Typers. The whole message went across the entire sky in front of the stands and read: Breitling Timepieces Presents The Reno Air Races. A special edition Breitling chronograph (an uber expensive watch) is one of the prizes and they are the "official timekeepers" of the races.

The kids do surprisingly well sitting in the stands for long periods

Time to get our race on! and stunts and military demonstrations... That F/A-18E Super Hornet does one pass where the announcer says something like "now watch as the Super Hornet passes at speeds nearing mach 1!" Oops, you mean at mach 1? On Friday's demo he was definitely pushing the limit because we all heard a little boom. Obviously it was nothing compared to really breaking the sound barrier but we heard what we heard, he must have been close, and it added some excitement.

A classic race picture as the pack rounds the first pylon at the right of the stands

One of the stunt pilots practically every year is Kent Pietsch. He has three shows. First he "dangerously appears" on the scene in the middle of another stunt pilot's act and proceeds with a comedy show. He flies like he's drunk - it's impossible that a plane can be flown the way he does! He also loses parts like his right aileron seen missing in the right side picture, a (spare) tire and even some toilet paper that he then flies through.
Kent Pietsch,Reno

His second act is landing on a little motor home. The motor home speeds down the runway and as Kent tries to touch down he can't actually see the motor home below him. He gets all three wheels down. Sunday the winds were ridiculous and the bottom picture shows the best he could manage out of three attempts.
Kent Pietsch,Reno

The third show is a dead stick (all power off) routine where he starts at 6000 feet and glides down with lots of loops and twirls, finishing by landing and rolling to a stop with his nose touching someone's outstretched hand.
Kent Pietsch,Reno

Smoke-N-Thunder is another show with a jet car racing an airplane. The jet car has to wait until the plane is directly overhead and then starts and typically overtakes the plane. On this particular day his timing must have been off because he didn't catch the plane before his parachute had to be engaged.
jet car,Reno

Leaving the stands Saturday most of us piled in to Ben's Ranger. Angela was holding Carson and Emmett in the front seat for me while I jumped out to get this picture. I'm not sure the Ranger is meant to seat 12... This made for a pretty bumpy ride for Damon and Logan in their wagon, but they loved it.

All the walking back and forth on the blacktop and through the dusty RV camp leads to some seriously dirty kid toes. Carson's looked like he was dragging the top of his toes they were so dark in spots!

There are six race classes at Reno. Biplanes, Formula One, T-6, Sport, Jet and Unlimited. The Unlimited is the main event with all the favorite names that fans remember. The final gold race on Sunday is reserved for them.
On Saturday's qualifying Race, Voodoo (a favorite along with Rare Bear and last year's winner Strega, and the now missing for 2 years Dago Red - where is he?!) had a mayday. He broke a valve and they were up until 4am getting the engine fixed. Saturday evening we went to the pits to look around and watched Voodoo's crew work on the engine for a bit.

Notice what's hanging from the scaffolding? Big surprise when that's also what their big main banner in their tent is...

Travis, Kevin, Jake, Shane and Josh hanging out in our travel trailer. Shane's an import to the family like me, but oh, the stories about the other four growing up...
Actually I learned something new about my husband this trip. I mentioned how we've all heard a million times about Josh getting his eyebrows blown off by lighting gun powder that they thought was black powder (it burns slowly instead of in a bang) but I wanted to hear some new stories. So Kevin has gotten such a bad rap for always getting in trouble but it turns out good-boy Travis was basically "the supplier!" He was the one who always had a stash of mischief for them to play with. He was the one who had the gun powder stowed under his bed on that fateful day for Josh's eyebrows. I had no idea about that!

Ben bought a gun. Alli had to try it. My eyes and ears hurt afterward. It had lots of colorful lights and it was obnoxiously loud with several different shooting patterns that just kept going on and on...

Sunday is the big final day with all the races for gold. This is the day we stake out a large section for the whole family since most stay there all day and that's the day the stands get crowded. We had four rows here. Avery and Carson were up front with me; Kevin, Megan, Ben, Travis with Emmett second; John, Cheryl with Joel, DeAnna, Angela with Alli and Shane (ducking down with only his neck showing for some reason) in the third row; Jake with Logan and Josh with Damon in back.

By this time Avery had hit up the Jelly Belly booth to spin for a prize several times. He won a tattoo and water bottle his first time with me and later Angela got him the orange Jelly Belly pin. Travis got the wings for him somewhere too. I also spun a wheel at a casino booth and finagled a different colored little stuffed whale for each boy. Avery's favorite color is orange, blue for Carson and green for Emmett since the colors were a pretty close match to their respective bedroom wall color.

Gimme a drink! Man, just the dregs again. Why don't you ever let me have any.

Staying in the stands the whole day means napping in the stands too.

The Reno crowd definitely isn't as interesting as say a monster truck rally crowd, but since my eyes were abused with one outstanding specimen last year (scroll to the very bottom of the post to see him) I couldn't help but be on the lookout for anyone like him. I don't think there is anything like that guy last year.
I did find some great hair tho. The picture on the left really isn't doing this great mullet justice and I had to do a double take to get the one on the right. Why would someone wear that? Especially in the heat?

Last year the Blue Angels were in residence, this year it was Canada's Snowbirds. They were amazing in formations, but not having jets as speedy as our Blue Angels or the Thunderbirds, some of the excitement was missing.
09-18-10 IMG_6082,6377,6060,6161 +ss

I do have a thing for the near-miss fly-by's though. Maybe it's just because I like to see if I can manage a picture.


Here's some of the top dogs lined up and ready for the Unlimited gold race. Strega on the left was last years winner and had pole position coming into Sunday's race.

But then this happened during the Super Sport gold race right before. It shows the crash slow then faster.
plane crash,Reno

He broke a rod in flight and lost his engine. He had to mayday but when he landed he bounced and that's when a gust of wind knocked him off course into the dirt where he hit a bump that threw him in the air and he started cartwheeling.
The pilot was fine though, these two pictures show him on a gurney but not strapped down, head held up and then leaning over.
plane crash,Reno

Here's the wreckage.
plane crash,Reno

As a result the Unlimited gold race was canceled for the first time in the 47 year history of the Reno Air Races. They said the pilots didn't feel the wind was a problem to take off or land in, assuming a sound plane, but if someone had to mayday... What. A. Serious. Bummer.
So Strega was awarded first since that was his position coming in from the qualifying races, but the qualifying races aren't flown to the max. They all save themselves for Sunday. And poor Voodoo's crew had been up until 4am getting Voodoo fixed to race. Such a let down for everyone.

So then it was time to head home.

On the way back, about 28 miles from Reno on Hwy 395 we passed the shoe tree near Hallelujah Junction, CA.
shoe tree,Reno

I love this lucky shot I managed blindly pointing the camera back at the tree.
California,desert,shoe tree

Again, we made it through traffic and hit the freeway about 6pm for another long night of driving and getting home around 6am Monday morning. I must be getting old, because I swear I was still recuperating from the weekend a week later.


Laura said...

Looks like such a fun weekend! And that wreck - oh man!!

thebluemuse said...

Gorgeous photos! Makes me anxious for Reno already!!