One of the things that I learned from reading Paul Dye’s coverage of last year’s Reno Air Races was that everybody uses tape to cover gaps and seams. Racers will do anything (within the rules, mostly) to eke out that last fraction of mile per hour. Although I’ve never raced an airplane, I have entered my fair share of motorcycle and bicycle races. You learn pretty quickly that, if someone is going 1/100th of a mile an hour faster than you, you will never, ever catch them.
Between heats at Reno the pit crews do the usual: pull cowls and covers and attend to this and that. When it’s back together, it’s not 100 percent together until the tape goes on. Miles of it.
Early in the week, I noticed that most of the planes had tape that either matched the paint scheme or was translucent (the Bowlus Gap Seal variety, I’m told). By today (Friday) not so much! At least one team appeared to have run out and resorted to plan B: aluminum ducting tape, as in the stuff found in the aviation aisle at Home Depot.
I think after gas and oil, the tape concession at Reno would be the next best thing. You can’t have too much tape!
Hats off to all the crews at Reno who get their entry to the flight line. Whether it’s cleaning the bugs off the windscreen, changing an engine or applying the tape to gain (or not lose) an edge, they get it done!