As the World War II planes fire up their engines and head out onto the race course, they have to fly about 75 feet lower this year. Mike Houghton is President and CEO of the Reno Air Races.
“So that they are closer to the ground and if there is a problem the airplane is not going to have any debris that could fly further.”
They want to avoid debris flying into the crowd. But crowd safety may come at a cost to pilots.
“The problem we as the racers see is that it actually forces the facer planes into a smaller area.”
Jim Dale, Crew Chief for 232, a Hawker Sea Fury says the 250-foot altitude limit boxes-in pilots between the pylons, other planes and the ground at 450 miles an hour.
“So, it actually created an unsafe condition where they could have allowed the aircraft to fly in a larger area and it would have been safer.”
He says the regulations went into effect despite pilot concerns. Dale says during a pylon racing seminar this summer under the new regulations, two jets actually touched, fortunately no one was hurt.