Racing an airplane, against
other pilots in other airplanes,
wingtip-to-wingtip, at maximum
speeds and at uncomfortably low
But you can feel this is
real—in the high-desert
heat, the kerosene-tinged aroma of jets
screaming past, and
the scent of hot aircraft engine oil when
the piston engines
stop turning and start
creaking as they do so.
This is the Reno Air
(RARA) annual Pylon
Racing Seminar (PRS),
most definitely not a
Hollywood movie. A
palpably real air of drama underlies the scene, not
pilot-to-pilot competitiveness but a me-versus-myself
aura among 39 aviators who face the rigors of training
to enter the thin ranks of certified pylon racers.
Numerous EAA members participate here, as
seminar students, instructors, and graduate-level
mentors—those certified racers already occupying
space where the rookies seek to go: a slot to compete
in September’s National Championship Air Races
and Air Show.
A group of T-6s round Pylon 1
during a mock race.
Among the pilots gathered from around the
world were three who brought vastly different
backgrounds, in life and in flight, to their pursuit of
aviation’s most unique certificates.