Reno Air Races Looks Ahead to 50th Anniversary - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno Air Races Looks Ahead to 50th Anniversary

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Planes have been zooming around the Reno Championship Air Race course in Stead for decades. It's the only race of its kind in the world. Last September, racers and fans paused to remember ten spectators and a pilot who were killed in a crash in 2011. The accident that happened two years ago will never be forgotten, but this year marks the 50th anniversary of the air races and organizers are looking ahead to that milestone.

Air Race CEO Mike Houghton says it's been a challenging journey back from the events of 2011. "It's like most adversity," he said. "People rally around that and you find out how strong people really are." Houghton credits the board of directors for moving the event forward.

Now, air race volunteers and staff are working together to make this 50th anniversary special. A new "Birthday Bash" will raise money to help pay the bills. "We'll have a fundraiser on Saturday night and a great show. Sequestration has impacted some of the elements of our show. We aren't planning on any military demonstrations at all," said Houghton.

Instead, this year's show will feature the Patriot Jet Team which performed last year as well. "They are a group of former Thunderbirds and Blue Angels. They're highly skilled, they fly the L-39 and their signature move is with red, white and blue smoke." In addition to the jet team other civilian performers have been added to the 2013 show.

Security measures are in place to keep the air race fans safe. Houghton said he's been asked about the events in Boston and how they will affect security. "We implemented some programs back in 2002, after 9/11. We've got some security screening that has been in place since then."

Houghton says he understands some of the emotion following last week's bombings at the marathon. "It affected me personally very emotionally," he said. "Because I could relate with what everyone was going through there. Our hearts went out to the event organizers and the fans and the runners, because we have been there, so we could relate."

As for the historic aviation event that draws people from all over the world to Reno, Houghton is eager to celebrate five decades of Championship Air Races in Reno. "We're going to take a breath, look back at everything we've accomplished. Then turn around and look forward and keep moving."

Written by Jennifer Burton

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