Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reno: Sept 12 summary

Today was simply amazing. I really think we could write a good TV script from today's events. It had a little bit of everything. I'm tired (a good tired) so I'll try to sum it up briefly and effectively.

1. People. All kinds of people. People from other countries, locals, and those of us from various parts of the USA. All there for one thing - the thrill of good racing and all it has to offer. Listening to the comments as we watched the air show or the racing was enlightening. I have to admit - I really got a kick out of some of the ladies in the crowd during the Raptor demo - "Can a jet really do that?" along with lots of ooh's and ah's and slack jaws. Race fans all over the grounds were willing to share what they know about the different pilots and planes, or they'd just simply share their past experiences. It was all fun to listen to and learn from. Equally enjoyable were the children. Seeing their interest gives us all hope for next generations. (Note: Thanks again to Roger for loaning me a better camera - now I just need to learn how to use it better! I had to trash some that I had hoped would be worthy of sharing also.)

Thrilled to be in the cockpit!

It starts in the world of "make believe"

2. Racing action. The drama experienced from the May Day in the Silver Unlimited, and then Rare Bear's gear door incident in the Unlimited Gold had my heart thumping while I prayed for successful landings. Both prayers answered. I linked to very adequate summaries on AAFO. In addition to the drama outlined above, the race was truly a competitive race. Another great summary can be found here, and I echo those who commented. It was remarkable!

3. NAHI. As I left Stead, I began to really absorb the significance of what the National Aviation Heritage Invitational means to aviation history. I was present as Rolls-Royce presented a check for $75,000 to Mike Houghton, President of the Reno Air Racing Association pledging their support for the future of the Heritage Trophy. I think most will agree that those who restore old warbirds and vintage aircraft do it as a labor of love, but seeing something like this live on as a way to recognize that labor really strikes a chord with me. It was a priviledge to be present! (Thank you, Jeff Lee, for the "heads up"). I have pictures of most, if not all, of the entries, and I'll get those posted to a gallery when I return to Indianapolis.

Tomorrow morning, I'll be talking to the crew of "American Beauty" about their work with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Below is a Press Release about their efforts:

Aircraft "Race for the Cure" in 45th National Reno Air Race

Father of Board Member Jon O'Connor Races the P51 Mustang "American Beauty" to Win Funds for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation

The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has announced that board member Jon O'Connor's father, John M. O'Connor, will "Race for a Cure" in the 45th national championship air races and air show in Reno, Nevada. The races, which started in 1964, are returning from September 10-14 with six classes of racing aircraft and a first-class air show including some of the top aerobatic performers and military aircraft. O'Connor will be racing his P51 Mustang "American Beauty". If the "American Beauty" wins, all proceeds will be donated to the Reeve Foundation.

Several members of the United States aviation community have been directly affected by paralysis, including John M. O'Connor's son Jon. "This 2008 Race for the Cure embodies the same spirit of competition and love of aviation held by the late Christopher Reeve," said Reeve Foundation board member, Jon O'Connor. "We are excited to get the American Beauty in the air at the races this year and hope to come home with a win for the Reeve Foundation!"

During the festivities, race spectators will also enjoy static air displays, merchandise, refreshments and the much anticipated closing awards banquet. The Reno air races will be held in Reno Stead Field. For more information about the air show and how to obtain tickets please visit

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