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Reno 2010 Good and Bad

Well, it looks like this week has gone down in the history books as one of Reno’s finest and one of Reno’s worst. Not that anyone got hurt (no one did) but as a glorious week that ended up caught by the wrath of mother nature. The winds at the end of this day were ferocious, causing the cancellation of the T6 Gold race and the Unlimited Gold. Never before in the history of the Reno Air Races has this ever happened. They did try to run a race at 4pm in the Supersport Gold. All was going fine until #75 Rapid Travel, piloted by George Giboney, had a mechanical failure. He attempted a landing but didn’t have much runway and ended up cartwheeling across the desert.

Luckily he was able to walk away. But one of my favorite airplanes was totaled. It was rather strange: both he and the other Thunder Mustang encountered problems with crosswind on landing, but the winner of the race #71 Bad Intentions (Mike Dacey) had no trouble landing. Now, both Mustangs had a wide wheelbase with a tailwheel, but Bad Intentions had landing gear like a shopping cart. Hmmm… It was just plain lucky no one got hurt! At 5 pm, with winds blowing sustained at around 50mph they called the races off for the first time ever due to weather.

It was a good descision in my opinion, even if 100000 people were disappointed they didn’t get to see the final Sunday races. The winners were determined by their respective finishes in the Friday and Saturday races.

I spent the day well. I got up at 5am, quite refreshed by a good night’s sleep to head off to the races to get some sunrise shots. The planes always look so pretty in the early morning sunrise, and no crowds are around to spoil the shot. My camera was eating batteries like candy, but luckily I had a pocketful from the hotel gift shop. I went to the press shack and got a ramp vest and headed out to see what I could see. I wasn’t dissappointed. Scarlet morning skies with warbirds shining. I was in heaven. Well, sort of in heaven. It was cold and there was a good wind blowing, but the wind lent itself to lenticular clouds rising from the west over Peavine Mountain and it was gorgeous!

After taking about 100 photos I headed over to the T6 Racing Association’s headquarters for an early morning breakfast. Biscuits and gravy with scrambled eggs. Most delicious breakfast ever. The coffee was excellent and the food… well I wolfed it down too fast to comment on that but it must have been good for me to eat it so quickly. Not that I was hungry: I’ve been eating very well here in Reno. The T6 Racing Association is an awesome group of people dedicated to saving and promoting the T6 legacy. T6’s were the main Navy trainers in WW2, and continue to this day to be an awesome example of American engineering. Our grandfathers did well to design such a beautiful airplane.

After breakfast it was time to be a photographer again. I headed off down towards the grandstands to see what I could see. There are myriads of different displays and knicknack stands and food vendors. A person could never take it all in in one day. So much to see, so many things to explore; it is a dreamer’s paradise. Especially if one’s dreams include aviation.

All too soon it was afternoon and the wind picked up. I went and put my hat (given to me by the Raju Grace jet team) in the Warlock trailer to keep it from being blown off my head. I saw several people lose their new hats across the tarmac. At one point, near the grandstands, I looked down to see a $20 bill being blown past me. A spectator jumped over the ropes and onto the tarmac to retrieve it. Darn! Almost had it! The wind was howling fierce. I was sure any minute planes would start blowing over like dominoes. I felt really bad for the organisers of the races (the Reno Air Racing Association) because here weather was stopping the: #1 paratrooper display, #2 the T6 Gold race, #3 the aerobatic

display, and finally, after a near-disasterous attemp at the supersport gold race, the biggest event of the day #4 the Unlimited Gold race… It

was a melencholy end for us in the Warlock pit. Here it was the last day ever of the Warlock pits, and we were seeing the day ruined by wind.

Somewhat ironic. But we took it in stride, and many of us vowed to come back again next year, even if we will no longer have a team.

We all went to the awards banquet at 6pm. Some tears were shed. Saying goodbye for the year has never been an easy thing here, but this year with the loss of our pilot and our plane and our crewchief made it even more poignant. It all seemed meaningful, but it all was coming to an end. The week had given us a chance to remember Al Goss, but now we were going to eat a meal, watching everyone recieve their trophies, and we knew Al should’ve been recieving his. Then the announcer called the Warlock team to the stage. We all lined up on the podium as nearly 400 people gave us a standing ovation. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Being part of something special is a good thing. Being part of a legacy is something else. Being part of both has meant the world to me in the past six years and I will forever be a Warlock. Proud of being part of such a wonderful group of people. We were all invited to be part of other teams there. Perhaps I will go to the races again, perhaps not. But it is a memory I will cherish forever.

I headed back to the hotel. As I was going in I decided to drop by the bar for a beer. I decided, looking at the bartop poker to try a twenty in the machine and play some dueces wild. It ate my first twenty. I debated and decided to drop another twenty. And I hit the royal flush. Without the dueces. $1388 dollar progressive. Looks like karma just paid for my vacation. But it sure was a pleasure.