The National Championship Air Races return to Reno for its 53rd year this week.
Photo courtesy of www.airraces.org
The weather is predicted for clear skies and early attendance numbers are through the roof, tracking ahead of last year’s races by 10% according to president and CEO of the Reno Air Racing Association, Mike Crowell. Attendance last year was up by 8% to total a whopping 150,000 attendees. Crowell hopes that this year’s will fall between 160,000 and 175,000.
The races will begin today, September 14 and run until Sunday the 18 at the Reno Stead Airport.
“The weather right now – knock on wood – looks good with beautiful mornings and nice afternoons,” Crowell said. “If we get great weather, I think we’ll see a boost in attendance.”
The Blue Angels Navy Squadron will make an appearance this year for the first time since 2009. In combination with the micro-drone racing, the Angels are expected to drum up even more interest in the event. The association has also picked up a new key sponsor just in time for this year’s event. Power manufacturer STIHL has committed to a two year sponsorship from 2016 to 2017. An additional deal was inked with Costco to sell tickets at 25 of its stores throughout the West for the first time.
NBC Sports will be broadcasting a one-hour special on March 27 featuring last year’s event and will be returning this year to film for next year’s broadcast special. This time around, NBC plans to film material for three one-hour specials that will be show two weeks apart next year, with the final special broadcasting in April. They believe that more folks will tune in for the series as opposed to just the one-hour feature.
“Reno is growing by leaps and bounds but… there’s still a huge audience out there that we haven’t touched,” Crowell said.
A “Drone Zone” exhibit will be featured this year, expecting to draw an additional 7,000 to 12,000 new visitors. In addition, there will also be events involving smaller unmanned aircraft and the micro-drone race that attendees can enter into.
Larger drones will be on displace at the Drone Zone and more than 130 planes will be taking part in the races. Classes of aircraft will include biplanes, Formula One, sport, T-6 and jets. There’s also the Unlimited class which is typically dominated by WWII fighters like P-51 Mustangs and F-8F Bearcats.
For more information on the Reno Air Races and to purchases tickets, visit www.airrace.org. The entry fee for the Drone Zone air races is $40 and includes general admission to the National Championship Air Races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
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