Biplane Class general news as of July 25, 2017

The Pylon Racing Seminar held on June 6th through the 10th was a success for the Biplane class. We had in attendance, six rookies, a certified racer, three crew members and four instructors. All rookies passed the class which included ground school and flight performance requirements. All received time on the race course as well. The actual September races are fast approaching with the deadline for submitting applications having come and gone. We have sixteen entries plus an additional four "race current" biplane pilots signed up as alternates. The Reno Air Race Association allows  race entered pilots to also list an alternate pilot, if so desired. By doing so, a "current" biplane class race pilot can qualify as an alternate during race week and therefore maintain his or her race pilot currency with the Association. This year, biplane pilot Eric Zine, is doing double duty. Not only is he entered in the races with his Race 17 biplane, he is now biplane class Secretary. We will be training him in ALL aspects of biplane class management. That means runway op's, various paperwork and record keeping. Finally, he will be learning about our relationship and working with the Reno Air Racing Association which is quite involving. Returning as the balance of class officials are as follows: Dennis Brown, V.P. and in charge of all flight evaluation, PRS training and anything safety related in our operations. Bob  Zaha, who as a flight instructor himself, serves us well as an experienced class official for many years and working between our class and the Association and everything in between. Mike Stubbs as current class President and Treasurer keeping the books and class history alive and well on the planet. Jerry Aberle as our new class Technical Inspector of which we are excited for his participation this year. The famous U. S. Air Force event announcer, Leo Williams, will be color announcing for our class along with the Association's regular announcer in the grandstands. Birch Entriken will continue to add his vast racing and class management experience as our Rules Committee  chairman. Mike Stubbs' wife, Patricia, will be working high up in the Reno Air Racing Association's office with their Executive Secretary, Lori Crown. We feel we have all the right people in the right places to be able to continue managing the biplane class as best as possible. An interesting piece of information is that of our sixteen entered pilots in this year's event, we have pilots coming from as far as Georgia, Texas, Washington State, Tennessee and Indiana. And remember, we fly our aircraft from home to the races. So coming from afar means lots of fuel stops and leg stretching. We are very happy that Dennis Brown, our V.P. of all things flying, will be with us this year despite his contract to fly airshows in China. I'm sure he will have plenty to share about his experiences in that country. Well, that's about it for now. I will write more in the near future as more news becomes important to share on our site.

Mike Stubbs, President

The Tom Aberle story

His story begins in 1966, when he assisted a friend bringing a Starduster biplane to the races. During the week, his friend told him to go and fly 10 laps on the course in the airplane. Bob Downey, then Biplane Class President, watched Tom fly the course and told the plane owner that Tom was good to go (no PRS back then!). And so, his storied career began. In 1968, Tom won the consolation race at 144 mph. The trophy was a silver plated giant snifter out of which Tom drank Benedictine and Brandy that Sunday evening. So as Tom says, "the hook was set." Air racing has been a large part of his life ever since. Along the way, Tom has raced in other locations including St. Louis, Missouri, and of all places, Mexicali, Mexico back in 1980. He tried to compete with some of the Super Biplanes of the era including Cobra, Sorceress and Sundancer, but in his words, his racer "didn't have enough." In 1986, Tom was the fastest qualifier but finished second in the race. In 1987, Tom won the "Gold". Tom's fortunes really changed in early 2003 when he showed a new friend a raw, previously flown Mong fuselage truss which Tom had already done some modifications on with the intent of making it a new racer. His friend had two questions. Number one, will it win? And number two, can you have it ready for Reno this year? The answer to question one was "yes" and on question two, the answer was "possibly." With money available, ten or so workers assigned, and two "visionaries", it was ready to fly. Their 2003 arrival in Reno was in the middle of the night, planned that way to reinforce the racer's name, "Phantom." Final assembly occurred the next morning and when the FAA wondered if the plane had yet been flown, Tom's quick wit mentioned to them that his butt was still sore from flying the necessary 40 hours in 11 days. And yes, that plane "Phantom", would go on to win nine times with Tom at the controls and  one more time with Andrew Buehler flying it. In 2015, Tom set new records with the fastest ever Biplane qualification speed of 284 mph. He also set records in all three Heat Races throughout the week. Unfortunately, a pylon light failure prevented his setting a Gold Race speed record by only a few seconds. Imagine a first race win in 1968 at 144 mph to a qualification record of 284 mph in 2015. It is amazing just how much fun race pilots have with their toys!