Reno Air Races Get a New Name
This popular event is now officially known as "TravelNevada.com Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show Presented by Breitling." The name change is due to new and continuing sponsorships by the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) and watch maker Breitling. The reality is that even though the name is intended to acknowledge important and needed monetary sponsors, everyone will still refer to it as the Reno Air Races.
About the Reno Air Races
The 49th Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show, a whole series of activities centered around the actual air racing, will be held from September 12 through 16, 2012. The first air races were in 1964, and except for being suspended on 9-11-2001, have been held every year since. The event has grown in scope and popularity, attracting thousands of people from out of the area to mingle with the thousands of locals who attend the air races. Chief organizer is the Reno Air Racing Association (RARA).
If you aren't a pilot or big airplane buff, learn about the classes of race aircraft and how the races are staged. It makes the whole thing more fun and interesting if you have some clue as to what's going on.
Aerobatic Performances at the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show
The air show consists of performances by multiple aeronautical aces. There is always a headliner, which in the past has included the US Navy Blue Angels, the USAF Thunderbirds, and the Canadian Forces Snowbirds. In 2012, the Air Combat Command F-22 Demonstration Team at Langley Air Force Base will be here to wow the crowd with their amazing performance. Air show performances occur during times between races.
Tickets to the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show
There are numerous ways to buy Reno Air Races tickets and various ticket packages you can purchase. There will always be tickets and pit passes available at the gate, so there no problem gaining entry if you just show up. Note, however, that prices increase each day. The cheapest general admission tickets are $10 on Wednesday, September 12. By the time Sunday rolls around, they are $27 a pop. For advanced purchase, various ticket packages, reserved grandstand seats, pit passes, and hospitality tent seats are available online. You must buy an extra pit pass to access the area where crews work on the racing airplanes.
Security and Safety at the Reno Air Races
The Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show is a no-pets event. Dogs (except service animals) will not be admitted. There are other safety and security rules you should review before heading out to the races and show.
Getting to and Parking at the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show
Reno Stead Field Airport is about 8 miles north of downtown Reno on U.S. 395. There are big signs directing motorists to exit at Stead Boulevard (Exit 76). Turn right and follow signs to parking areas at the airport. Once at the site, there are numerous parking options available. One of those options is NOT on the streets in the nearby neighborhoods.
Shuttle Bus Service to the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show
For those staying at a hotel in Reno or Sparks, and others who would rather ride a bus than drive, there is a shuttle service available to take you to and from Reno Stead Field Airport. When you see how congested the traffic can get, you'll be glad you chose to forego the parking hassle. There will be departures from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and returns from 2 p.m. to one hour after the last race. Tickets are $11 one way and $20 round trip. It's $51 for weekend passes (Thursday through Saturday or Friday through Sunday). Season passes (Thursday through Sunday) are $68.
More About the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show
Despite the official schedule, weather and other unpredictable factors can affect when things actually happen. Air race officials suggest you do not plan your attendance around a specific race or show since it may not happen at the originally scheduled time.
Get the additional information you need to enjoy the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show at these links:
- Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show Schedule
- Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show Events Overview
- Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show Tickets
- Reserved RV Parking
Temporary Safety Closure of Public Lands for the Reno Air Races
Public lands around the Stead Airport will be closed to access during qualifying for the Reno Air Races in June and for a few days before, during, and after the event in September. The Washoe County Sheriff and Reno Police Department will patrol the area to enforce the closure. For more information, contact the BLM-Carson City District office at (775) 885-6000.
More Air Shows in the West
While the Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show is just about the best event of its type, there are other excellent air shows around the western United States. Check these out for more high flying excitement.
- Aviation Nation at Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas (November)
- San Francisco Fleet Week Air Show (October)
- California International Airshow (September)
- MCAS Miramar Air Show (September)
- Wings Over Houston Airshow (October)
Fatal crash at the 2011 Reno Air Races
The last two days of the 48th Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show were canceled due to a tragic accident on Friday afternoon, September 16. At about 4:20 p.m., the P-51 Mustang Galloping Ghost piloted by Jimmy Leeward crashed into the box seats area in front of the grandstands at Reno-Stead Field, killing Leeward. Ten spectators on the ground were also killed, bringing the crash death toll to 11.
This is the worst accident in the 48 year history of the Reno Air Races and the first crash in which spectators have been injured and killed. Prior to this incident, 16 deaths have occured at the Reno Air Races, including pilots and aerobatic performers.
Sources: Reno National Championship Air Races and Air Show website, Nevada BLM.