Biplane Class news for June, 2019

June in always a busy month for us with the annual Pylon Racing Seminar and planning for the September races. But let me start with some sad news. Tom Aberle, a mainstay in our class passed away on June 15th. Tom’s participation in biplane racing dates all the way back to the beginning of the Reno Air Races in 1964.

If there was ever an icon in biplane racing, it was Tom. I had the fortune to not only have him around for many talks drawing from his experience, but to have raced with him back in the 1980’s and 90’s. We will miss him so very much. I’m sure he will have blue skies and tailwinds from now on. I’m also confident that he will be with us each September watching over us with other important biplaners, Stan brown, Don fairbanks, Steve Brown and more.

June 4th through the 8th, saw our annual Pylon Racing Seminar being held at Reno Stead Airport. The biplane class hosted five new rookies and two certified pilots who wanted some extra course time. Attending as one of the five rookies was (surprise!) Lt. general Robert Schmidle, USMC, Ret. Dennis Brown and I still are not sure who was training who. But, racing a biplane low level around the course ain’t the same as a gun run in Iraq in an F-18, right General? Oh well, I have to learn how to direct a three star General with respect!

During PRS, the Reno Air Racing Association arranged through their new marketing firm, Foundry, to have one of Reno’s main TV station reporters ride around the pylons with, guess, the biplane class! So Dennis Brown placed the man in the front seat of his two place Pitts and flew the course. This was shown on Reno TV the following week and if it is still available, go to http://nevadasportsnet.com/nsn-daily/pylon-racing-unique-to-reno-air-races and enjoy the interview. A great ad for the races and in a Biplane!

As of right now, June 30th, we have 21 entries in the biplane class for September. A long way up from 2017 when we had only 13. The dates for September are: racing on Wednesday the 11th through Sunday the 15th. Pilot entries must be in place and checked in by Saturday the 7th. Practice starts on Sunday the 8th, with both practice and qualifying starting on Monday the 9th. Tell your friends. Biplane class custom t-shirts will be on sale for class members and supporters on Sunday the 8th.

Mike Stubbs

Biplane President

2018 Post race week letter to all.

October 7, 2018

Any landing that you can walk away from is a good landing! Right? Well, I suppose. This year’s race week was a little better than 2017 in that we fielded three more race planes. Meaning 16 in all. We have received several notifications from our racers that were not able to attend this year due to aircraft not quite ready to fly or race. So we are hoping that in 2019, we might break 20 entries or even come close to our magic number of 24 for a full field. The Reno Air Racing Association’s website is up-to-date with information on the outcome of all six race classes. You can visit them at airrace.org. Our winners this year were Andrew Buehlar flying Tom Aberle’s Phantom and winner of the Gold race. Our winner of the Silver race this year was Jeff Lo, flying Miss Dianne.

Also for 2018 was our own internal competition for the most consistent time from a racer’s qualification time versus their final medallion race time. We award 1st, 2nd and 3rd spots for this event. Those winners were Tony Higa in first, Casey Erickson in 2nd and Jeff Lo in 3rd. Flying around our 3.1 mile course as accurately and consistently as possible takes lots of practice and experience. Many of our racers are very good at this type of flying. Because of that, the top three awards went to three pilots who were just a bit better than many others in this contest. Each year, we award our Stan Brown trophy to the pilot who increases their speed over the previous by the largest amount. This year, the winner of this award was Anthony Oshinuga who in fact, won the same award in 2017.

With 16 racers, we planned on racing 3 heat races and the final medallion race for a total of four races each for both the Gold and the Silver cups. The first of those heat races was to be held on Wednesday the 12th. Unfortunately, the “winds of Reno” caused us to cancel those two races in the interest of safety. Biplanes are difficult enough to fly without cross winds that exceed the pilot’s ability to maintain directional control.

Another interesting note was that we fielded three 2 place Christian Eagles this year. We sort of had a race within a race, you might say. Maybe next year, we will have our own trophy for the fastest 2 place biplane.

Our annual awards banquet was held on the evening of the 12th and was well attended. We have been lucky over the last number of years in that we have our banquet at Pinocchio’s restaurant in Sparks. They treat us well and the food is always first class. This year’s speaker was Phil Starbuck. Phil is the creator of our GPS competition equipment used in our class timing competition as mentioned above.

In conclusion, everyone is looking forward to next year’s race and what winner(s) will be in the limelight. If we are able to field more aircraft as I mentioned earlier, we will look good in everyone’s eyes.

Mike Stubbs

Biplane president

2017 POST SEPTEMBER RACE WEEK LETTER FROM PRESIDENT MIKE STUBBS

Biplaners,

I am now ready to write my post-Reno letter to all of you generally recapping our participation in this year’s National Championship Air Races.  I wanted to wait until we were able to evaluate the Bracket Challenge competition results and the awarding of prizes to our 1st, 2nd and 3rd place contestants.

Just before our arrival at Stead, I was expecting 16 biplane entries for this year. By the time Sunday the 10th rolled around, we were at 13 entries. Our new Tech Inspector, Jerry Aberle,  completed all inspections by Saturday night which allowed anyone who wished to practice on Sunday to be able to partake. The weather was very threatening over that weekend with afternoon rain, wind, thunder and lightning. Fortunately, by Monday AM, we were able to take the course with more practice and qualifying. By Tuesday, we were divided into two metal groups, Gold and Silver.  Throughout the week, we ran eight aircraft in the Gold and five in the Silver. Our Wednesday night annual Biplane Class Banquet was, as usual, very well attended where our guest speaker was RARA’s own Air Boss Greg “Shifty” Peairs. Also in attendance from RARA were Terry Matter and his wife, Lori Crown, Debbie Giese and Robbie Burgess. The event was held at Pinocchio’s in Sparks, where we have been meeting for 6 or 7 years now. They do a wonderful job providing a buffet style dinner and a spacious room for the meeting. At the banquet, we awarded our annual DSM award to a great pilot, Phil Ensley. Phil’s radio transmissions which were broadcast everywhere in the world, were the best!  We also awarded the annual Stan Brown perpetual trophy to Anthony Oshinuga, for the most improved qualification time over the previous year.

Throughout the week, we hosted several FAA representatives at each of our heat and medallion races. On the final race on Sunday the 17th, both of the attending FAA folks informed me that after all of the week’s races, the Gold race and its runway change (winds) which were called in the middle of the race, was handled professionally by all our Gold race pilots. They launched on runway 8 and recovered on runway 26. We earned more points that day, with the FAA. The winner of the Gold race on Sunday was Andrew Buehler flying race 62, “Phantom.” Our Silver winner on Saturday, was the ever smiling Jeffrey Lo in his race 6, “Miss Diane.” Our 2017 "Rookie of the Year" award from RARA, was given to Scott Thomson in his race 23X. Also attending and flying as official "alternate" pilots, were Rob Caster and Philip Ensley. By participating in at least one heat race, they keep their RARA race pilot currency alive and well.

With regard to our first annual Bracket Challenge contest, seven pilots were able to turn their GPS loggers on for both their qualification runs and their medallion laps. BEFORE we did the math work using Phil Starbuck’s data printouts, Dennis Brown and I realized that we needed to establisha math rule that fairly applied to ALL participants. Since all seven pilots actually ran more than two qualification laps as well as completed more than six race laps, we decided on the following method of comparison of the qualification versus medallion course times. We took the average of each pilots two official qualification laps for their base qualification time. Then we took only five of the race laps and averaged them, as not everyone completed six laps because of being lapped during the race. We also ignored the first staging lap as well as any cool down laps which were obvious on Phil’s data printouts. The winner of first place and $500, was Andrew Buehler in race 26 with a tiny difference in times of just .09 of a second. Second place and $250, went to Tony Higa in his race 31 with a time difference of only .834 of a second. Finally, third place and $100, went to Alan Hoover in his race 84 with a time difference of 1.135 of a second.  Congratulations to these three for their consistent times on the race course.

I do not want to fail to thank Leo Williams who was our color announcer with RARA’s announcer in the grandstands. Also in attendance was past president Jeff Watkins. Jeff looked well despite, no doubt, being over worked by the California Highway Patrol as a lead officer in their aero division. The work accomplished by Dennis, Bob Zaha and our newly elected Secretary, Eric Zine, was extremely helpful, as no one person could ever manage a race class at Reno by themselves. By the way, Dennis Brown is back to work on our PRS Syllabus with some notes in his hands from the FAA whereby they want some standardization in all race classes written into the Syllabus before next year’s PRS. Speaking of PRS in 2018, we are waiting for information about the Stead runway rebuild scheduled for next year and whether they will be able to even hold the annual PRS.  I would think that by the Class President’s meeting with RARA’s Board next February, we will know what they will be able to do regarding this important issue. It is also important for all of you to know that our biplane class did receive the needed bi-annual accreditation from the FAA based on our rules, syllabus and other procedures as submitted to them by Dennis and myself. If a race class cannot earn that approval from the FAA every two years, then they would not be allowed to race at Reno.

In conclusion, I want to say that our experience with the FAA, RARA, and their independent Contest Committee was a wonderful and smooth experience for all of us in leadership. I believe we have attained a point in biplane racing history where our relationship with these groups is the best it has ever been. They trust us completely and we do all we can to work within their required regulatory perimeters, so as to maintain that trust. This is why when we need consideration from one of them over some matter, they respect and listen to us accordingly.  There are dozens of things that happen over what I call our eleven days in Reno each year. Some printable and some not. I have tried to present the highlights as I saw them and if I have left out anything or anyone, my apologies.

 

Sincerely,

Mike Stubbs

President, Treasurer & Slave Driver.