A New Racing Class at Reno?


Anyone that has an interest in air racing knows that the National Championship Air Races held in Reno, Nevada each September bring racing in a number of different aircraft classes. The biplanes, Formula 1, and Sport classes all feature homebuilts. The T-6, Unlimiteds, and Jet classes bring the noise and speed of the warbirds. But these classes aren’t static, and over the years, new groups have appeared. It might take awhile for them to take hold, but where there are airplane drivers arguing over the speed of their particular machine, there is the possibility of a race!

This year at Pylon Racing School, Peter Zaccagnino showed up with a trailer with the familiar Sonex logo – and out of it rolled “Sharkie” – the gray SubSonex belonging to designer and head of Sonex Aircraft, John Monnett.  Zaccagnino (three time Gold winner at Reno) proceeded to assemble the little jet and take it around the course, to the smiles and cheers of everyone at Stead field. Running as a proof of concept, the jet satisfied both the Reno Air Racing Association and the FAA that it could fly the course safely – and to everyone else there, it proved it could look good doing it.

Zaccagnino responded to our questions about future plans.

“JETS and more JETS… We have 2 factory jets that can be raced, I have a customer that is going to build a jet for the races, I will likely build one this winter for racing and we would like 2 more to make it to PRS 2019. We are currently writing the rules and will use a small course for the jets with 2 pilots per jet getting qualified at the next PRS including myself.”

He said that the schedule for this September is already pretty booked up, but they are looking for opportunities to “use the Subsonex in some capacity”.

SubSonex trailer
The SubSonex trailer was towed to Reno behind Pete Zaccagnino’s RV, demonstrating a very economical logistics model for the SubSonex to participate in air racing and air shows.

They are also looking at the potential for other venues.  “In the past several days we have met and spoken with the Chinese promoter and Portugal. They love the idea of packing up 6 SubSonex planes in a container and shipping for the races.”

(For full disclosure, Kitplanes Editor in Chief Paul Dye is now waiting on delivery of his own SubSonex kit – and while he has no plans to race it, he’d love to see a flock of the little jets running around the pylons.)


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