Warning, this article will be extremely pic heavy!
I had another month this year when for whatever reason the stars aligned and I was able to attend two somewhat related events of great enjoyment. The America’s cup yacht race and the Reno Air Races.
This year the races were held in San Francisco, with the races occurring so close to my home I felt I was obligated to see them. Then I saw actual coverage of the races on TV. I had previously thought very little of yacht racing. It struck me as absurdly boring watching even the fastest boats in the world navigate around some body of water. The stakes seemed low and the risks seemed lower.
Not anymore, the America’s Cup yachts for the past few years border on the absurd. They are gigantic catamarans that fly, or to be more accurate hydrofoil across the water at speeds in excess of 40 MPH. Even some of the sailors and engineers have said that they have pushed technology a bit too far with these designs as a minor screwup can soon lead to capsizing and death with these 13 story tall wing driven monsters.
Yes, that’s right, these things have wings not sails.
This is the best photo I could get of the Emirates Team New Zealand boat, after it’s fifth win against Oracle Team USA. The Americans started off the series penalized two races for improper use of weights in some previous race. But it looks like the Kiwis are going to walk off with the cup pretty soon.
While watching the races was fun on a bun the drive in and out of the city was incredibly aggravating. I think from here on out I will do all further traveling in San Fran by train. That is an environment which seems incredibly hostile to cars. Although the new bay bridge is quite impressive.
The day after I came back from San Fran I was off to the Reno Air Races. Honestly, it’s the only thing I enjoy about living in this region that I probably can’t enjoy anyplace else. How it is done is simple, you fly low, go fast and turn left. Also you try not to die, the atmosphere is quite interesting. It’s mostly for fun, but it must be taken seriously, the most experienced pilot in the world, someone with thousands of hours in fast jets or even a space shuttle commander can show up for the first time at the air races and they will be a rookie like all the rest of the first timers.
As I said in a phone call last year the races are as close to an aviation themed lib par as you can find on the planet. As shown in the photo above they even had guns for sale at an airport. Additionally someone in the government must have been listening to that Feens episode as there was no military presence this year due to the sequester. Although it was made clear by many that they were missed.
Race classes are the light sport class, consisting of aircraft which can best be described as modified commonly available private planes.
The winner of this years gold biplane race, Phantom.
The formula ones, which I failed to take any real good pictures of.
The AT-6 class, consisting of unmodified World War Two era training aircraft.
Sorry about the crappy photo quality, it was taken with an experimental long range lens for the iPad mini which has failed me spectacularly.
Then there are the fastest classes, starting with the jets.
I love watching the jets, most all of them are former Warsaw Pact training aircraft. Polish Iskra’s and Aerovodody L-29 and L-39 Delphins and albatrosses. To our fans in the former eastern bloc I hope you enjoy all of those bananas, oranges and blue jeans we sent you. We certainly enjoy your aircraft.
Finally there are the unlimited racers, what most people come to see. I was cheering the loudest for this beast.
Precious Metal, the worlds only flying Rolls Royce Griffon powered P-51 Mustang. Flown by Thom Richard, who I happen to be friends with on Facebook. Great guy, greater aircraft. Note the device right behind the pilot, that is a gyrostabilized camera.
However the unlimited gold this year went to the racer Voodoo.
Flown by a young chap named Steve Hinton, who is simply one of the finest pilots I have ever seen in my life.
One other thing of note, the jet man Yves Rossy appeared at this years races. Though I must admit his act is extremely difficult to see. Above his safety altitude of 2,000+ feet he is just a tiny dot dancing across the sky.