Tickets for This September's Air Races Now on Sale
Paul NelsonChannel 2 News
More than six months after Jimmy Leeward's plane crashed into a crowd of spectators, killing 11 people and injuring dozens more, Reno Air Racing Association President and CEO Mike Houghton says things are moving along as they work to continue the National Championship Air Races.
"It's been, obviously, a little more strenuous task, this year, because we've got a lot of concerns," Houghton said. "We've got a lot of concerns for our fans that were injured, here, and we want to make sure we do the right thing for them."
But the fate of the air races still lies in the hands of others. A waiver still needs to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, and permits have to be granted by the City of Reno and the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority.
"The airport's been extremely supportive," Houghton said. They obviously have got some concerns, which are not a big surprise, I think, to anyone and we are working with them through these concerns."
Airport officials say they are also happy with the cooperation between the two parties and discussions are moving forward as planned.
"We've had three great committee meetings, with the air racing team, talking to them in good faith, and the ball is now back in their court," Reno-Tahoe Airport Spokesman Brian Kulpin said. "They've actually asked us for a delay before they come back to us and continue to talk about the permit that they need."
That's partly because the Air Racing Association is waiting for the Blue Ribbon Review Panel's findings, next month. That could help determine what changes, if any, are necessary to keep this event around for its 49th year.
"We're looking at issues regarding changes we're going to make to the race course, changes we're going to implement and we need to get concurrence from other bodies to do that," Houghton said.
Houghton says things are moving along quickly and expects to get the insurance policies in place and prepare for June's Pylon Seminar, which is basically a training session for pilots.
"Things are progressing, in a fashion, that were set up from a timeline standpoint," Houghton said. "Yeah, it's crunch time in a few areas, but it's not late yet. So, we're still moving along appropriately."
In January, the organization announced that the 2012 event would take place Sept. 12-16, 2012 at Reno-Stead Airport. Tickets are available online at www.airrace.org or by calling 775.972.6663.
In light of the tragedy of last September, the Reno Air Racing Association is planning a world-class memorial and tribute, as part of this year's event, to those who lost their lives and for their family and friends. More details will be announced later this year.
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