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National Championship Air Races 2005

Reno / Nevada

- by Gerhard Schmid, translation by Jurgen Binnemans -

The most exiting moments are the overtaking maneuvers that can be seen in the T-6 Class at the Reno Air Races. These neck to neck races are the result of the very similar participating airplanes of the type North American T-6 "Texan", as well as their Canadian under licence manufactured "Harvard" and the NAVY version "SNJ". All machines have the same 600 HP strong Pratt & Whitney Wasp R-1340 radial engine and all airplanes are unmodified.

The Length of the T-6 race course is 5.06 miles. The start takes place is the same way as the Unlimited Class, Sport and Jet Class. The Start is given by pilot Steve Dilda in the pace plane. In the T-6 class speeds up to 240 mph are reached.

This year Mary Dilda came in first in the T-6 Class. Mary is the only female pilot in the T-6 Class.

taxi Several days before the beginning of the race the teams are at the Stead airport, to prepare themselves with practice flights. Pilot, mechanics and machine want to be optimally prepared.
#70 Jim Thomas with his brightly polished SNJ-4 #70 "Mirage" reserved the fifth place in the Bronze Class. With 205,3 mph it is 30 mph slower than the fastest participants of the T-6 Class.
abendflug After a work filled day, the last daylight is often used for entertainment flights, with passengers. In the race the pilot sits alone in the cockpit.
#9 Bud Granley with the #9 "Lickety Split "in the morning at Pylon 8. Bud took the sixth and last place in the Gold Class.
formation For formation flights the North American AT-6 the optimal airplane. There are no substantial power differences. That is what makes the T-6 races so exciting, because the skill of the pilot usually makes the difference.
duel #64 "Red Knight" with pilot Keith McMann at the stick overtakes Jim Eberhardt with the #30 "Archimedes" at Pylon 8. In the end Keith was 0.7 mph faster than Jim. They came in 3rd and 4th place in that Bronze Class.
#6 In 1999, 2000 and 2003 Nick Macy with #6 "Six Cat" took the trophy home. Here his team does an evening engine test run. In 2005 the team reached the 3de place in the T-6 gold.
#90 Gene McNeeley comes with hisT-6C from Port Orange in Florida. The painting of his #90 is the classic checkered flag design.
Pace Plane This is "Felix", the pace plane. Steve Dilda from Memphis, Tennessee starts the T-6 races and during the race he circles over the race course in case of an emergency. For example: if a pilot loses his forward view due to an oil leak, he helps the pilot land.
#42 If you look closely at Chris Rushing's #42 "Sugarfoot" , you can see silver-shining strips. These are adhesive strips, they seal openings. Such "Tuning" is permitted and with 216,7 mph Chris became Saturday's winner in the Bronze Class and got to race in the Silver Class.
#12 John Zayac rolls with his SNJ-6 #12 "Thumper" to runway 08. At the end of the race week John occupies with 212,6 mph the fourth place in the Silver Class.
#30 Jim Eberhardt in the cockpit of its #30 "Archimedes" in close-up. The adhesive strips can be clearly seen, they reduce the air resistance.
start The start of the T-6 Class. Steve Dilda with the pace plane opens the race and pulls away upward while each pilot in the field tries to fly first into the course.
#75 This blue SNJ-6 #75 "Warlock" flown by Al Gloss. The previous winner of last year lost in 2005 to Mary Dilda, the only female pilot in the T-6 Class, and finished in the second place in the Gold Class.
low In the first lap of the 5.06 miles long course, the pilots fly in the western part of the racing course and are still close together.

In this picture you can see six machines!

duel Mary Dilda attacks with the #22 "Two OF Hearts" Al Goss with the #75 and passes him a few seconds later, just after Al slowed down due to technical problems. The speed difference between the two amounted to 3.5 mph at the end.
duel The fight for the places is intense. It is a bit ike overtaking Trucks on the highway. For the spectators it's an exiting thing to see.
#22 A view into the cockpit of the winner. The full-time female airline pilot Mary Dilda with the #22 "Two OF Hearts" at Pylon 8. With 237,2 mph, the always happy Mary, left all the other pilots of the T-6 Class behind her.
duel This picture shows a race of the Silver Class. Dennis Buehn with the #4 is passed by John Zayac with # 12. Further on the outside Gene McNeeley with his white #90 is trying the same thing. It the end it's Zayac - McNeeley - Buehn.
#21 Tom Campau with #21"Mystical power" was 10 mph slower than Mary. The film producer of Hammond Lake in Michigan reserved fourth place in the Gold Class.
duel Frederic Telling with #89 "Baby Boomer" passes Gene McNeeley with #90 at pylons 8 and 9.
#21 Tom Campau after the race. The strain of the race and the heat in the cockpit makes one thirsty...
homepylon Joey Sanders with #5 "Big Red" briefly before he doubles Dennis Buehn with the # 4. The "Home Pylon" in the background is the finish line. Sanders wins the Silver Class, Buehn reserves the last seat. The speed difference amounts to 8.6 mph.
Continue to   >>>Part 5


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