Competition Begins at Reno Air Races - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Competition Begins at Reno Air Races

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The Reno-Stead Airport has been buzzing all week long, with pilots, vendors, and fans showing up for the 50th year of the National Championship Air Races.

Pilots have been taking their qualifying runs all week, and Wednesday the air races got underway, with pilots and aviation fanatics coming from all around the world.

"It's just really fun to get out there and be able to fly at 50 feet above the ground," Steve Senegal said.

Senegal races in the Formula 1 class.

While his AR-6 will fly up to 260 miles per hour, the airline pilot says the speed is not unusual, but the altitude is.

"Some people say we're risk takers," Senegal said. "We're not risk takers, we're risk managers. We'll go out and we'll think about everything there is to be thought about that can possibly go wrong."

"I consider this more as formation flying, except everybody wants to be the leader," Jay Jones said.

Jones has been coming to the Reno Air Races since 1997.

Competing against other elite pilots and pushing the envelope is something he says keeps him coming back, every year.

"It's really exciting," Jones said. "The competition, this year, is really close. There are five out of eight of us are within a second of each other."

Mike Houghton is the President and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association. He says about 200 pilots, worldwide, are qualified to race at this annual event.

"It's a very small, elite fraternity," Houghton said. "They've got a passion about racing but they also have a passion about the event and there's a lot of camaraderie."

Along with the races, fans can also check out the pits, with mechanics fine-tuning their planes.

The pilots say there's something for everyone.

"You see a lot of history," Senegal said. "You know, Bob Hoover is out here. We have astronauts flying out here. We've got airplanes, that fought in World War II, flying. And with actual history."

The air races run until Sunday evening.

Written by Paul Nelson

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