68.6 F

National Championship Air Races get underway with 9/11 tribute and United States Air Force Thunderbirds performance



With a short but moving observance to recognize the 10th anniversary of the tragic events and ensuing heroism of September 11, 2001, the National Championship Air Races formally got underway today. The 9/11 tribute was in addition to the annual remembrance the event pays during the first opening ceremonies to pilots, volunteers, friends and family lost over the past year. The somber celebration provided a poignant and inspiring start to the largest pylon air racing event in the world.

“It was 10 years ago, on this very day that we were forced to make the difficult decision to cancel the Reno Air Races. And, while it was a challenging time for this event, it was trivial in light of the global events that would forever change the course of history” said Mike Houghton, president and CEO of the National Championship Air Races during his opening remarks. “Despite the deep sorrow and sadness I felt as I thought about my fellow countrymen, I also found myself inspired and filled with pride as stories of unheralded heroism began to trickle out about the numerous selfless acts performed that day. Today, let’s take a moment and remember all those that were lost, their families, the heroes of that day and the service men and women who bravely continue to fight for our freedom and our right to take to the skies.”

Fittingly, the day also featured a very special, fast-paced, full-length performance from the United States Air Force Thunderbirds. Arguably, the most recognized military demonstration team in the world, the Thunderbirds’ stay in Reno is limited to the Wednesday and Thursday event due to unusually high demand. The larger-than-average midweek crowd was also treated to exhilarating performances from the United States Navy Leap Frog Team, the Shockwave Jet Truck, the arrival of the L-39 Patriot Jet Team and qualifying heats of all six racing classes.

“We are so thrilled, on a day when we recognize courage, bravery, service and patriotism, to have the Thunderbirds join us in this tribute and celebration; they are nothing short of awesome,” said Houghton. “The incredible precision, skill and discipline exhibited by all of the military demonstration teams and performers who grace these skies are truly representative of this entire event and a great was to usher in our 48th annual event.”

World-class racing and entertainment continues Friday with a special salute to the United States Armed Forces, practice demonstration from the F/A – 18 Super Hornet fighter plane and performance from the L-39 Patriot Jet Team.  Additionally, some of air racing’s most recognized names and most legendary planes are also scheduled to take to the skies, including two-time defending champion Steve Hinton and his Unlimited race plane, “Strega;” Will Whiteside and the Unlimited fan favorite “Voodoo;” and, retired Air Force pilot Heather Penney, daughter of air race champion John Penney and one of the first pilots scrambled to patrol the skies of Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001 immediately, preceding the terrorist attacks.

The 48th Annual National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno is the premier air racing event in the world.  The Air Races take place held Sept. 15-19, 2011 at the Reno Stead Airfield and will feature the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and the F/A – 18 Super Hornet Demonstration Team.  For tickets or more information please visit www.airrace.org or call (775) 972-6663.

This Is Reno is your source for award-winning independent, online Reno news and events since 2009. We are locally owned and operated.