Ninety-degree temperatures, the Blue Angels, and the youngest pilot ever to win the Unlimited Gold race are what most race fans will remember about the 2009 National Championship Air Races & Airshow in Reno, Nevada. But the five days of accident-free racing were memorable also for small moments and a few milestones: California test pilot Dave Morss finished his 200th race, for example, more than any pilot in the history of the races.
If you didn’t make it to Reno this year, take a tour through the pits with the Air & Space staff. That’s where the big Unlimiteds wait for their turns at the pylons, and race team trailers offer some of the best vantage points to watch the action on the course. In this photo, the crew, friends, and family of Miss America watch from the top of the trailer (surrounded by an F4U-4 Corsair, the P-40N Parrothead, and the P-51D Sparky) as the Silver Unlimited airplanes try for the best speeds in a heat race. (Pilots thread a needle during the heats: They need to fly fast enough to earn a forward position for the money race on Sunday, but can’t push the engines so hard that there’s nothing left for the race that counts.) North American T-6 Texans, which compete in their own event, are lined up on the flightline.
See the gallery below for more photos from the 2009 Reno air races.
Miss America, owned and raced by Oklahoma neurosurgeon Brent Hisey, took the trophy in the Unlimited Silver race on Sunday, September 20. A modified 1944 P-51D, Miss America has taken home six trophies since its first race in 1969.