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National Championship Air Races 2006

Reno / Nevada

- by Gerhard Schmid, translation by Jurgen Binnemans -

At the end of the Second World War propeller-driven aircraft reached their power limits. Nevertheless some fanatic amateur handicraftsmen succeeded to increase the maximum speeds up to more than 500 mph, or 800 km/h. These sophisticated race-airplanes fly each year in the National Championship Air Races in the American city of Reno.

One after the other of the favourites of the Unlimited Class quitted in this year’s race. Dago Red, Rare Bear, Strega… who all have registered many records and victories in Unlimited air racing.  They all had to capitulate with technical defects. After several years, a new star is in the sky of the Unlimited Class, “September Fury”, and the strongly modified Hawker Sea Fury of Michael Brown. And it looks like this fast Racer will also in the future trill the fans.

And if you did not make it to Reno in 2006 - here is our   >>>Book-tipp

#1 / #117

Near miss? No, there is sufficient distance between the powerful, twin-engine Tigercat “Big Bossman” and the Sea Fury “Bad Attitude”. But it looks spectacular.

#105 To view again and again is Stewart Dawson's Hawker Sea Fury “Spirit of Texas”. It is always good for a placement in the centre zone of the group of gold. This year it was place 5 with 428,753 mph.
#117 Bill Rheinschild with his Hawker Sea Fury “Bad Attitude” in the eastern part of the race course. He reserved the seventh and last seat in the Gold Class - with 408,200 Mph.
#13 Like each year Howard Pardue (very well-known in the Warbird-Scene) was here with his two Racers #13 and #14. And as usual Nelson Ezell flew the Sea Fury in the Unlimited Gold race. This time at place six - with 409,068 Mph.
#19 The Yaks were weakly represented in 2006. Jim McKinstry participated for the second time in the Unlimited Class , with his Yak-3 “Shiska Suka”. His result: third place in the Unlimited Bronze with 316,887 Mph. Technical support of the team came unexpectedly by the German Yak specialist Achim Meier.
#14 Warbird collector Howard Pardue in his Grumman “Bearcat”. With 382,948 Mph, in his far as possible standard fighter, he gets in the centre zone of the Silver Class racers
#2 Reaches just for the participation in the Unlimited Class the demanded speed of 300 Mph: Tom Camp with his FM-2 Wildcat “Air Bisquit”. To be there and participate is everything and the public enjoys the round fighter, even when it comes in last.
#25 Testpilot Dave Morss war wieder mit der schönen und ebenso seltenen P-51A "Polar Bear" dabei. Niemand erwartet von einem solchen Flugzeug Rekordzeiten, gerade deshalb war der erste Platz in der Gruppe Bronze mit 344,211 mph beachtlich.
#33 For Will Whiteside it was the first participation in an Unlimited Race. His Yak-3U was ready just briefly before the races, but there was no time left for the paintjob.
#38 Ron Buccarelli did not have much fun as pilot of “Rare Bear” this year, but he also brought the Griffon Mustang “Precious Metal”. This beautiful Racer made the third place in the Unlimited Silver with 391,366 Mph.
#33 Even last year Will Whiteside spoke about his dream as a Sport Class participant to fly in the Unlimited Class. One year later he finished 7th in Unlimited Silver - 352.497 mph fast.
#47 The famous yellow Mustang “Ole Yeller” - the previous aerobatics airplane of Bob Hoover - was brought back to the Races by John Bagley. 367,711 mph and a fifth place in the Unlimited Silver is a solid result.
#44 The second place in the Unlimited Bronze is for the stock Mustang #44 “Sparky” with Brant Seghetti at the controls. Brant was 321.467 Mph fast, but in the end only 4 planes lasted in this race.
#4 Two Unlimited Gold Racers taxiing to the start. The five time winner #4 “Dago Red” in front, this year brought to Reno by Dan Martin. Unfortunately damage to the engine already arose with the first test flights, which grounded the team.
#5 Bob Button was qualified seventh with his colourful Mustang “Voodoo” with a measured speed of 435,924 mph. Bob did not participate at the following races due to technical problems.
#8 Runs like a clock, it also has just as many gear wheels in the powerful 28 cylinders radial engine: The fast Hawker Sea Fury #8 “Dreadnought” of the brothers Dennis and Brian of Sanders with the pilot Matt Jackson in the cockpit. 453,559 mph was enough in the final for place 2.
#77 Engine test run early in the morning. The winning team of the previous year prepares the legendary Grumman Bearcat #77 “Rare Bear” for the following race flights. Ron Buccarelli qualified with 455.774 mph.  Later he landed with major damage to the engine.
#7 Morning engine test run with the six times Unlimited Champion #7 “Strega”. The polished fuselage looks like a glider surface. A few minutes later “Tiger” starts with test flight.
#77 The picture does not let a doubt arise. The piston #1 burned trough, a large quantity of engine oil was pumped thru the hole in the engine. Rare Bear was out of the 2006 Races.

Here everything still looks OK, but one lap later Bill “Tiger” Destefani had to pull out of the race with an engine failure. The series of dnf (did not finish) continued.

#9 Jimmy Leeward provided a small surprise with his bright-polished P-51D “Cloud Dancer”. With a racing canopy and an aerodynamically optimized radiator he was fast enough for the Unlimited Gold. After qualifying with 434,887 mph he had to land shortly after the start due to technical problems.
#911 / #31 Dan Vance in the yellow-red Sea Fury #911 “September Pops” when overtaking the slower Mustang #31 “Speedball Alice”. The Mustang was 80 mph slower than the Sea Fury. "Speedball Alice", owned by the Vance Family, was flown by Brant Seghetti.
#81 One of the most beautiful Mustangs in the participant field is Daryl Bond's TF-P-51D “Lady Jo”, an original trainer version P-51. Here pilot Rob Patterson passes Pylon #8. With 326,928 mph Rob finished place 8 in the Unlimited Silver Class.
Race In the first laps of the race the participants of the Unlimited Silver Race still fly in a close group around Pylon #8. Dan Vance leads the field with the Sea Fury #911 “September Pops” and wins finally with 405,749 mph.
#99 Always reliable: Mike Keenum's Hawker Sea Fury #99 “Riff Raff” with the former astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson in the cockpit. In 2006 the long participating Unlimited team reached fourth place in the Gold Race.  The speed in the final reached up to 437.083 mph.
#232 The September Pops Air Racing Team of Michael Brown was extremely successful this year. Michael Brown, owner of the team, in the cockpit of the fast Sea Fury “September Fury” #232 became Unlimited Champion 2006 with 481,619 mph.
#86 One of the most extreme Unlimited Racer returns from a morning test flight: John and Marcia Moore's Yak-11 “Czech Mate”. For many years in the cockpit: the experienced NAVY and airline pilot Sherman Smoot.
victory Lots of joy and happiness, Michael Brown has reached his goal, victory in the Unlimited Class. But Air Racing is a sport, in which nothing happens without a good team. The September Pops crew enjoys the champagne shower …
#86 With 445,817 mph, Sherman Smoot was racing around the course with the 2,600 HP strong R-2800 propelled Yak-11 #86. The team finished third in the Gold class.

Continue to >>>Teil 6 (german)



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