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National Championship Air Races 2005

Reno / Nevada

- by Gerhard Schmid - translation by Jurgen Binnemans -

In 1964, when the first National Championship Air Races were organised in Reno, Nevada, some welcomed the Unlimited Racing Class with mixed feelings. The fundamentalists among the Air Racing fans had the opinion that no production aircrafts of militarily mass production origin should participate. The original goal should be the contest between homebuilders in making the fastest construction possible. Bill Stead, the founder of the new races in Reno, wanted a several-day-event with many different racing classes and show acts to make it a never-ending celebration of highlights. Thus in 1964, four Mustangs and three Bearcats participated in the Unlimited Class and are since an important component of the Races.

Today the Unlimited Class is divided into three sub-groups, the Gold, Silver and Bronze Class. After qualification with a minimum speed of 300 mph the pilots/planes are put into the three Race classes according to their speed. It makes little sense to put the FM-2 Wildcat, with a top speed of 300 mph, in the Races "Class of the Top Planes" with speeds that nearly reach 500 mph. In this way the pilots of the Bronze Class have the opportunity to fly exiting races in their nearly standard machines.

#11 Brent Hisey came, to the joy of lots of fans, in his Stars and Stripes painted P-51D "Miss America" from Oklahoma City. The joy did not last very long...
#2 In the official program of the Reno Air Races 2005 you can read on Thomas L. Camp's business card "Professional Race Pilot". This occupation is just as exotic as his FM-2 "Wildcat" at the Reno Races.
#11 Due to technical problems Brent could not qualify as usual for the Silver and/or Gold Class, but was listed in the Bronze Class. And then followed the "out" - a mayday, engine trouble...
#2 In the race Tom flies always a narrow course around the pylons with only few meters between the plane and the pylons. With 276,8 mph he was about 50 mph slower with its FM-2 then the second last racer.
#11 The many working hours of the mechanics didn't help either - the Reno Races 2005 where over for Brent and his team, even before they truly started.
#2 Tom understands how to offer a good motive to the photographers at the pylon. On the second race day he was however disqualified for it - he simply flew too low...
#21 Joseph Thibodeau with his Mustang "Crusader" #21 also gets prematurely out of the race. On the second racing day with 347,7 mph he qualified for the Silver Class. The following day Joe couldn't start anymore.
#2 #25 No real duel: Dave Morss with #25 "Polar Bear" overtakes Tom Camp with # 2, at pylon 8. The speed difference is more than 50 mph.
#19 Jim McKinstry steps into the cockpit of his Yak-3 #19 "Shiska Suka". In 2005 there was only one Yak-3 in the racing field. That is clearly less than in the past years, when there was a proper Yak camp forming.
#25 The "other" Mustang in the participant field: the most common Mustangs are D-models. But this North American is the much rarer P-51A. For the first time at the Races, the mechanics of this team had already lots of work to do.
#19 On the way to the taxiway 08 Jim happens to pass alongside the photographer platform. The Yak-3 is as far as possible in standard condition. Except the Allison V-1710 engine and parts of the avionics.
#25 The experienced test pilot Dave Morss flew the #25 "Polar Bear" in the Bronze Class. On the last day with 334,4 mph he took the second place. Besides Dave himself, the owner of the Mustang, Gerald Gabe, was happy.
#19 Here "Shiska Suka" shows her elegant silhouette. Pilots describe the Yak-3 as a particularly beautifully historical fighter. With 329,8 mph Jim McKinstry terminated a race in the Bronze Class in fourth place.
#25 Dave offered the photographer some beautiful flypasts with "polar Bear" at pylon 8...
#9 Jimmy Leeward and his highly polished P-51D #9 "Cloud Dancer". The picture shows Jimmy with an engine test run in the dusk.
#25 #9 ... and with "Cloud Dancer" he found a comparable opponent. Here Jimmy Leeward overtakes "by the book" , this means on the outside. In this way he does not lose the slower airplane from his field of vision.
#9 Jimmy Leeward is very well-known for his very clean flight on the ideal line. In the final race on Sunday he won with 343,4 mph the victory trophy of the Unlimited Bronze Class.
#44 The eye catcher in the Unlimited Bronze Class, this P-51D "Sparky" sponsored by an American candy factory, with Brant Seghetti from Vacaville, California, at the stick.
#9 " I in the picture?" Jimmy Leeward seems to say with this deep flyby at the Pylon #8.
#44 With 330,5 mph Brant occupied third place after Jimmy Leeward and Dave Morss. He referred Jim McKinstry with the Yak-3 "Shiska Suka" with only 0.7 mph to the fourth place.

continue to.... >>>Part 7



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