|F7F-3N Tigercat "Big Bossman" Reno Air Races 2006|
I made it out to Stead's Fenceline in time to set up my camcorder to capture the Silver Heat 2B Friday.
What a sight greeted me when the racers came down the chute and I heard the Pace Plane pilot radio: "Gentlemen, you have a race!" Two big dark aircraft were among the three leaders. When they rounded Pylon 5 of the Unlimited Race Course, I saw the two dark horses were Grumman F7F-3N Tigercats!
Twin engined racers are rare at Reno. There was a P-38, "White Lightning" that campaigned through the 80's and into the 90's before the aircraft was purchased by an aviation trust...for it's protection. There's not many P-38s left that are airworthy and unmodified. Aviation History is important, and accurate examples of historic aircraft need to be preserved. I miss seeing pilot Lefty Gardner racing around Stead's pylons, but I understand the Greater Good, too.
So Friday, two F7F-3Ns were out front. In first place, racer "Here Kitty Kitty" was blazing the trail with Texan Stew Dawson at the stick, contesting from a very low altitude...he was nearly raising a cloud of dust! Behind him was the Reno favorite p-51 Mustang "Merlin's Magic", followed by the second Tigercat, "Big Bossman"
What a sight...and oh yes, whatta sound! The field was all Mustangs and the two big twins, churning through the high desert air. The Mustangs run a water-cooled inline 16 cylinder Rolls Royce "Merlin" engine. It's responsible for generating the Classic Fighter Fly-By Sound. Hear it once, and you'll never forget it.
The Big Twins run the Pratt and Whitney R-2800 aircooled radial engines...their deep throated sound is emblematic of Allied Air Superiority over Europe during WW2. It's the same engine that powered the P-47 Thunderbolt.
Hearing seven of these big warbirds racing right down on the deck, and wingtip to wingtip is something you'll never forget...It truly is...The Sound Of Freedom.
So, how was the weather out in the sagebrush hills? The wind came up, and there were very high harbinger clouds overhead. I heard from SisterSweetly, she reported rain at her place a half an hour north of Eureka, CA. Her report dovetails nicely into Reno's AFD:
RAIN IS ALREADY OCCURRING ALONG A FRONTAL BOUNDARY THIS AFTERNOON
FROM ABOUT CAPE MENDOCINO NORTH TO OR/WA. HOWEVER MODELS INDICATE
THAT THIS FRONTAL BOUNDARY WILL REMAIN STALLED OVER NWRN CA AND OR
THROUGH ABOUT SATURDAY AS THE UPPER LOW MAKE VERY LITTLE EASTWARD
PROGRESS. PUSHED BACK THE TIMING OF THE RAIN BY ABOUT 12-24 HOURS
FOR THIS REASON. NOT ONLY HAVE THE MODELS CONTINUED TO TREND LATER
WITH THE PRECIP...BUT THEY ARE ALSO TRENDING DRIER. TEND TO THINK
THE DRIER SOLUTION IS MORE REALISTIC AS OUR WEAKENING CLOSED LOW IS
FORECAST TO RAPIDLY TRANSITION INTO AN OPEN WAVE AS IT MOVES ASHORE
OVER NRN OR AND WA ON SUNDAY. REGARDING RAIN CHANCES...A SSW-NNE
ORIENTED JET OVER NRN CA AND CNTRL OR WILL FAVOR LOCATIONS IN THE
FAR NRN SIERRA AND SRN CASCADES. FOR AREAS TO THE EAST...THE COLD
POOL ALOFT IS NOT EXPECTED TO ARRIVE UNTIL SUNDAY EVENING AND EVEN
THEN IT MAY ONLY SKIRT OUR NORTHERN ZONES. WITH LESS THAN OPTIMAL
INSTABILITY AND JET PLACEMENT...FEEL THAT LITTLE IF ANY SPILLOVER
WILL OCCUR SOUTH OF ABOUT I-80. TIMING WISE...FRONTAL BOUNDARY
SHOULD MOVE INTO LASSEN AND THE SURPRISE VALLEY LATE SUNDAY MORNING
OR EARLY AFTERNOON AND THEN INTO THE TAHOE BASIN AROUND LATE SUNDAY
AFTERNOON. COULD BE SOME LINGERING SHOWERS ACROSS THE FAR NRN AREAS
MONDAY MORNING...OTHERWISE DRY.
So, it's all over but the Bench Racing for Friday. Saturday is a new day, and the racers will "wick it up" a little more. These racers walk a fine line between victory and disaster. They've gotta win their Qualifiers, but they have to preserve their engines so they can really race on Sunday.
Air racing, while it's the Fastest Motorsport in the World, it's also the most expensive...day in and day out. God bless these guys for spending themselves into the Stone Age just to entertain us!