The 2019 Stihl National Championship Air Races have reached full speed at the Reno–Stead Airport. Qualifying races wrapped up on Friday, and medal races begin on Saturday morning and continue through Sunday afternoon. The Reno Air Races is now part of the Grunt Style Air Show Majors, a six-stop tour uniting the most prestigious air shows in the country.
Planes are divided into six classes for racing: Biplane, Formula 1, Jet, Sport, T-6, Unlimited. Some classes allow for significant customizations while others require “stock” planes.
Pure speed determines the results of some races, but others are one mostly by cleverness and skill on the part of the pilots. All races take place on ovoid courses ranging in length from just over 3 miles to just under 8 miles, depending on the class of the planes racing.
A variety of demonstration flights complement the races. Acrobatic planes draw circles above the grandstands. The Commemorative Air Force flies historic military aircraft.
The USAF Thunderbirds will perform both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In addition, the permanent and countless temporary hangars are full of planes of all varieties and pilots willing to tell visitors all about them.
Andrea is a freelance photographer and mountain enthusiast. She discovered the Great Basin on her first trip to California 15 years ago and finally made the move to Reno in 2019. Her favorite stories investigate efforts to strike a balance between conservation and recreation. Andrea has made images for a variety of publications, websites, and conservation organizations. In her free time—and sometimes for work!—she enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, snowshoeing, and lazy days in camp with her husband.