Notes from the Reno Races
Dispatches from the 2007 National Championship Air Races.
- By Larry Lowe
- Air & Space magazine, September 2007
(Page 3 of 5)
Not that everything is completely back to normal. The first accident on Tuesday left experienced racers analyzing the event as professional pilots always do, asking themselves what chain of events left Steve Dari with no more options. His crash had been an operational accident, not a racing accident, and could just as likely have happened elsewhere. That helped the pilots tuck the incident in the back of their minds and move on.
Thursday’s accident was a far more dramatic blow to the collective psyche. Second year jet racer Brad Morehouse got tangled up in the wake turbulence of the jet in front of him, flipped through a roll and slammed into the ground, shattering the airplane and instantly extinguishing Morehouse’s life. The debris ricocheted into the air and came to rest in a long flaming swath across the show center, the smoke obscuring the home pylon.
The photo in the Reno Gazette-Journal the next day was dramatic, but not as powerful as it might have been. The press corps self-censored some of the worst pictures, providing images to officials for use in analyzing the accident, but foregoing significant fees by not releasing them for publication.
Late Friday, I polled the pilots in Sport Class, who delivered a calm, deliberate and consistent message. It had probably been wise to pause, but the consensus was that they know how to police themselves, and were good to go. You could look them in the eye and know it wasn’t the macho talking.
Friday, noon: Three accidents in four days
A somber mood. Racing has been suspended for the remainder of today after a mid-air collision in a Formula One race this morning took the life of Gary Hubler of Caldwell, Idaho. Following on the heels of another accident Thursday that killed Brad Morehouse, who was flying an L-39 Albatros jet, race director Mike Houghton decided to call a halt. The unprecedented move will let the presidents of each racing class review the situation with the pilots and make certain "their heads are in the right place" to continue racing, said Houghton.
Hubler’s fatality is the third in four days, and has taken everyone here aback. I’ll have a fuller report once we get more details.
Wednesday evening: The calm before the storm