School, Pylon Style

Bob Mills in the red “Super Six” readies his flight of four Sport Class racers for a formation flight this morning at Reno-Stead field.

Pilots interested in polishing pylons at the National Championship Air Races learn their trade at the Pylon Racing Seminar, or PRS as all the cool kids say.

The official PRS school begins Monday and runs all next week, but many racers are already here at Reno-Stead where a formation clinic is in full swing. As the Sport class sees formation flying as the underlaying fundamental of pylon racing, gaining a formation clinic stamp of approval is a requisite for PRS entry in the Sport class. It’s also fun, with many racers saying they enjoy the clinic and PRS more than the races because there isn’t the competitive and time pressures of the big air racing weekend.

For us it’s a low-key opportunity to catch-up with the racers and ferret out their latest speed secrets, not to mention their attitude towards Reno-Stead going away after next September’s races. In short, their collective attitude towards a post-Reno future is somewhat apprehensive to upbeat. Count us in the upbeat camp as there is simply too much interest and passion for pylon racing for it to disappear. Certainly there are plenty of racers here at PRS. We haven’t counted spinners here today, but there are enough for at least four flights of Sport racers, along with several Jet flights. The F1, T-6 and Unlimited classes are scheduled for later in the week, so they’re not expected here yet.

We’ve only been at Stead for a few hours, but so far the formation clinic is going well. A few cowlings have come off for light-duty tweaks or look-sees, but mechanical mayhem has been thankfully nil and the flying routine. Well, as routine as winging around with your race buddies gets.

The big sour note is the Biplane class is not here for PRS, foretelling a complete shut-out of the Biplane class in September. The problem is an intramural lawsuit inside the Biplane class and their subsequent resignation from Reno participation. We had been hoping a positive resolution would appear, but it hasn’t yet.

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Tom Wilson
Pumping avgas and waxing flight school airplanes got Tom into general aviation in 1973, but the lure of racing cars and motorcycles sent him down a motor journalism career heavy on engines and racing. Today he still writes for peanuts and flies for fun.


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