Reno Enters the Jet Age
They're not as fast as the top Unlimiteds, but the national air racing organization is gambling on jets to boost attendance.
- By Carl Hoffman
- Air & Space magazine, September 2002
(Page 4 of 4)
“A Gold racer is like pure adrenaline,” confesses Holm, “and an L-39 is nothing like a Gold racer. It’s the difference between a VW and a Ferrari Testarossa. That extra 100 mph and 80 inches of manifold pressure is what makes ’em come to life. If you can’t run an Unlimited Gold racer, then Reno loses its appeal for me.”
But some hope that ultimately, the tame L-39s will be superseded by a wilder generation of jets. To match the heady romance of noise and heat and danger with jets would require an Unlimited jet race, with pilots flying on the edge whatever they brought to the course. It’s a compelling proposition, and one that everyone knows would recapture the glory days of cutting-edge air racing. That remains a dream to many who prowl the pits of the air races, a dream that will move one step closer to realization if the first jet races come off without incident. “It’s a possibility,” says Houghton. “It might work,” says Vandam, “but first we’ll have to prove we can come out and fly jets safely.” Whoa, says the FAA’s Clarence Bohartz. “I’ve already got my neck stuck out! That’s way down the road, and for that you’d need a race course that takes up half the U.S.!” Reno, at any rate, seems ready to push the envelope.