Aeroseums Blog

Aviation history, one article at a time.

Being a present at history, again.

In the last blog post I talked about being present at history, and how it was a wonderful experience. This blog post is about the other side of being at a historical event. Aeroseums was present and working with OnBoard Images part of a video crew at National Championship Air Races, more commonly known as the Reno Air Races. As you may know, the event ended early do to tragedy. Jimmy Leeward lost control of his aircraft resulting it in crashing just short of the VIP boxes resulting in the death of 11 and injuring over 60, many seriously.

Being present at history is not always a glamorous thing; in this case I am still haunted by the sights and sounds of that day, and I was over 1000ft away. This day broke the amazing safety record of zero spectators being hurt by a race aircraft in Reno Air Racing Association history of 47 prior years. What was lost was innocence. We are reminded that even attending what seems like a safe event can have risks. We don’t think of going to a baseball game as being dangerous, yet there are dozens of injuries a year at games from foul balls and bats. Attending any event has risks, even an aviation event. Does this mean we need to clamp down on these events? Personally I don’t think so, We just need to remember that there are risks. Does it mean nothing should be done? No. We should look at ways to lessen the chance of this happening again, but we need to know that already driving to an event such as this has higher risk then being there.

The National Championship Air Races are the last of their kind and nowhere else in the world can you see aircraft racing like you do at Reno. The T-6 and Unlimited classes race vintage aircraft at speeds up to 500MPH (T-6s go about 220MPH). The sound and sight of these World War II era aircraft is like noting else you will experience. Additionally, there are Biplane, Formula One, Sport, Super Sport, and Jet classes with each having their own rules and fun reasons to watch.

This is a time to come together and support the aviation community. We should not be afraid to go to air shows, air races, or any aviation event. Go forth and enjoy the heritage that is living before you. If you want some hard stats about the safety of aviation events in comparison to other industries, take a look at this great blog post over at Pit Lizard.

Think Kindness, a northern Nevada non-profit, is collecting donations for those hurt and affected by this tragic event. Visit for more information. If you were a spectator who sustained a physical injury contact Rich Boeschen of the Reno Air Race Association at (214) 530-5822.

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