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PHOTOS: ‘Bittersweet’ goodbye to the Reno Air Races

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The 2023 National Championship Air Races kicked off its 59th — and final — season this week in Stead. The event, which has taken place annually since 1964 at the Reno-Stead Airport, features high-speed air racing, vintage aircraft, aerial performances, military displays and a wide range of exhibits.

The races have been ended by the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority citing regional growth and safety concerns. Over the course of the event’s history, there have been 20 fatal accidents that have claimed the lives of 21 pilots and almost a dozen spectators. In 2011, an accident killed 10 people and injured 69 others when a vintage World War II-era airplane crashed into a crowd of spectators.

As of Thursday, there have been no reported injuries or accidents at this year’s event.

The Reno Air Racing Association has also had financial struggles for several years. In 2022, the organization’s board members and executive director asked the Board of County Commissioners for financial support because of a 40-50% jump in event costs.

Linda Dawson, a 25-year volunteer for the event, told This Is Reno that the end of the races in Reno was “bittersweet.” 

“Some part of me is happy, but i’m pretty involved and really love the races and will be sad,” she said. Dawson added it was her 45th year attending the event and said this year’s attendance was “noticeably higher” and most people, as usual, “seemed pretty nice.”

Some spectators were also disappointed about the decision to end the event. Ed Mulsoff, who said he has been attending the air races for 58 years, was disappointed to see it go. 

“I only missed year two, the second year, because my first daughter was born,” he said. “I’ve never been home for that kid’s birthday since.”

Mulsoff agreed it was sad the event was ending in Reno and said he hoped it could relocate someplace nearby.

General admission tickets and pit passes remain available for purchase for the remainder of the event, which continues through Sunday, Sept. 17. Scheduled activities run from 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

More information is online at https://airrace.org/.

Eric Marks
Eric Markshttp://ericmarksphotography.com/
Born in 1971, Eric Marks was fortunate enough to grow up in a time and family where photography and literature were normal parts of his life. His parents were always enthusiastic and supportive of his photography as a child, and encouraged him to read and write as much as possible. From 2005 to 2012 he owned an award-winning, international, high definition video production company, and has produced video and photography in over 14 different countries on four continents. Eric majored at the University of Nevada, Reno in English/Writing and Art, graduating with English and Photography degrees in 2013, and again with an Art degree in 2018. He teaches all genres of photography at Truckee Meadows Community College, is a freelance photojournalist for several publications, and offers private photography instruction.

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