e-book Reno: Air Racing Unlimited

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Pylon judges also track pilot positions are their pylons so that race announcers can call our leaders as they fly by the grandstands.

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Reno Air Races' New Warbird Unlimited Class Attracts Top Flight Entrants

Comment ThisisReno does not accept anonymous comments. Real first and last names only, please. And nothing personifies this attitude better than the Reno Air Races -- the fastest motor sport in the world. There are several classes of airplanes that race, but the "Unlimited Class" pits the aircraft most people associate with Reno against each other.

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These highly modified World War II fighter planes scream around a closed course at speeds exceeding mph, just feet apart and yards off the ground. To say the races are "exciting" is the understatement of the century! Braces and cases While more could be done to increase horsepower in Unlimited planes, reliability would suffer. Instead, aircrews concentrate on making sure the pilot can sustain all the power available without destroying the engine or airframe.

For example, Dago Red mechanics have added several braces to handle bending and fatigue stresses on the airframe created during 6. They've also added braces to resist the torque generated by the engine, super-charger, and prop. Mechanics have reinforced the accessory drive case with various gussets and bearing-locator plates, as well. This case is a complex casting located between the crankcase and the super-charger.

CAF Increases Presence at Reno Air Races

It houses drives for the coolant, oil, hydraulic, and fuel pumps. It also contains drives for the magnetos, camshafts, generator, supercharger, and starter. The original casting suffered cracking and bearing-bore distortion due to stresses from the power needed to run the supercharger. Another tough problem to over-come for mechanics is crankcase distortion at race power.

Announcement Carries Serious Controversy

The propeller shaft is higher than the centerline of the crank, and this imposes a severe bending and twisting moment that cracks the front of the case. Adding large diagonal braces contains this bending moment. But distortions of the inside of the case also create problems: fractured main bearing caps and web fractures in the case.

This was solved by putting metal bars on the sides of the case, and an aluminum bar across the top of the engine. At last year's race, Dago Red 's team kept their plane alive until the finish and held off a determined challenge to win the gold. Shortly after the race, they tried for a course record: a mph lap.

Dago Red was barely off the ground before its pilot was forced to call "Mayday. But Dago Red will be back. Her mechanics will find better bearings and stronger piston rods. And chances are they will eventually break the mph barrier. Like the Wright brothers in their Dayton bicycle shop and the hot rodders in their Detroit garages, mechanics and aircrews at Reno will continue to push past each new limit that stands in their way.

Formula 1 Class planes are all powered by the hp engine found in Cessna s, the Continental O They peak at about mph during a race. The Sports Class contains production-model kit-built aircraft with engines smaller than cu in. Each class has a distinct course, but they are arranged in concentric circles, with the Unlimited course being the longest at 8. Strategies for all planes are roughly the same: fly fast and turn left at the pylons. Planes must fly above the pylons about 50 ft and below 1, ft, an FAA restriction. To start the race, pilots once used to run to their planes, hop in the cockpits, start the engines and take off, all 24 planes aiming for the quickest line around the first pylon.

Needless to say, many aircraft never made it past that first turn. Today, planes gather overhead on a lead plane prior to the start of the race. Planes with the fastest qualifying times form up closest to the lead, much like Indy racers lining up on the pole position. To begin the race, the lead or pace plane takes the 24 planes down the start corridor and onto the course. If no one jumps the gun or passes the pace plane, the pace pilot declares "Race start," and pulls up and out of the way. The first plane to complete eight laps wins the race.

Although the racing class is called "Unlimited," there are still a few restrictions.

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  5. Another Unlimited Class Plane. They are big! - Picture of Reno Air Racing Association?
  6. They must be powered by piston engines, prop-driven, and capable of pulling 6 g 's. As long as the plane meets these rules, it's no-holds barred.

    How Reno Racers Keep Their Cool

    They can be home-built kits, assembled from scratch, found in a junk yard, or bought new off a lot. They can use anything from exotic fuel blends to nitrous injection, composite materials or salvaged aluminum, and carry any piston engine they can cram onto their airframe. Machine Design brought to you by. Mechanics and ground crews use skill and ingenuity to turn old warbirds into modern-day racers.